This decision overturned former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell's
conviction, making it more difficult for the US government, even when it
wants to, to prosecute officials for public corruption.

The Supreme court on the surface creates a higher standard for prosecuting
corruption, bribes, malfeasance, etc., positing that when an official
assists an affluent contributor in giving them access to other state
officials, in this case, and among others, researches at a University in
Virginia, although the public may find this reprehensible, that this is
not necessary illegal.

Monday's decision "leaves intact the ability of federal prosecutors to go
after official misconduct at the state and local level," said Columbia Law
Professor Richard Briffault, and frequent writer and commentator on
enforcing standards of ethics. Prosecutors, he said, "have to link up the
quid and quo more tightly and show that the gifts influenced real official

The Chief Justice, John Roberts Jr., said that the former governor's
actions were "tawdry" but agreed that instructions to the jury in his case
about what constitutes "official acts" were so broad, they could cover
almost any action a public official takes.

Here is that wondrous gift list for the Virginia Governor and his wife,
for his now probably legal efforts, if the prosecution drop the ball for
good now.

click here

Thus, this matter of definitions and also jury instructions most certainly
will become a technical loophole in the future to allow officials to push
the envelope in terms of what they can get away with, a sort of
"get-out-of-jail-free" card, straight from the United States Supreme Court.

"If the court below determines that there is sufficient evidence for a
jury to convict Governor McDonnell of committing or agreeing to commit an
'official act,' his case may be set for a new trial," Roberts stated in
the unanimous decision. "If the court instead determines that the evidence
is insufficient, the charges against him must be dismissed."

Just so the public doesn't get the wrong idea, and since they are already
totally outraged about the way government has devolved, Roberts made it
clear that "There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be
worse than that. But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris,
Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications
of the Government's boundless interpretation of the federal bribery

Former Governor McDonnell was mightily exuberant and grateful for the
reprise, in expressing his thanks for the decision. "Today, a unanimous
United States Supreme Court vacated my convictions, and it is a day in
which my family and I rejoice and give thanks. From the outset, I strongly
asserted my innocence. .".". I have not, and would not, betray the sacred
trust the people of Virginia bestowed upon me during 22 years in elected
office. It is my hope that this matter will soon be over and that my
family and I can begin to rebuild our lives."

This case revolved on $175,000+ in gifts and loans that the Virginia
Governor and his wife willingly received from a dietary supplement
executive, including a $6,000 Rolex and $20,000 in clothing, for assisting
CEO Jonnie Williams of Star Scientific to get in touch with researchers at
the University of Virginia and to officials to try get FDA approval for a
Star Scientific product.

McDonnell's lawyers maintained that he had never performed any official
action on behalf of Williams and his company, and the SCOTUS all agreed,
without exception. "Setting up a meeting, calling another public official
or hosting an event does not, standing alone, qualify as an official act,"
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in Monday's decision.

The Court remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th
Circuit to establish that there might or might not be enought evidence
that the former Virginia Governor agreed to perform any "official act."

Former Virginia Attorney General Andrew Miller, from the 1970's was angry
after oral arguments last April when coverage of the Supreme Court's
skepticism about the corruption statute was described in the media as
"'the Supreme Court gets ready to legalize corruption.'" (Seems kind of
like that, doesn't it, really?)
"It is total nonsense," Miller stated. "The problem instead are the
statutes enacted by the Congress, which utilize a vague definition of
prohibited conduct giving prosecutors an unchecked authority to go after
whomever they choose to go after for doing nothing more than routine
constituent services."

What few real watchdog organizations there are were distraught by the
decision. Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said that the ruling
"belies reality. If you show the facts in the case to any citizen, the
citizen will conclude that the public official has sold his office for
personal, financial gain."

"Federal bribery law is not enough to protect the integrity of our
democracy," said Daniel Weiner, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for
Justice. "Other common-sense protections, including reasonable limits on
both personal gifts and campaign contributions, are absolutely essential."

One huge case that will be directly affected by this decision is the
recent conviction of the one of the most corrupt politicians in the most
corrupt state capitol in America: Sheldon Silver, former President of the
New York Senate in Albany, convicted of corruption by United States
Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara, and sentenced to 12
years in prison in a $5 million corruption charge. Silver was scheduled to
start his term this week, but the federal judge had delayed that, pending
the Supreme Court's decision.

Silver's lawyers Monday announced the Supreme Court's decision "will be
central" in their appeal, Joel Cohen and Steven Molo said in a statement.
"The decision "makes clear that federal government has gone too far in
prosecuting state officials for conduct that is part of the everyday
functioning of those in elected office."

Tara Malloy of the Campaign Legal Center, stated that it becomes "even
more difficult to protect our democracy from attempts by officeholders to
peddle political access and influence to the highest bidder."

Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said that the ruling "belies
reality. If you show the facts in the case to any citizen, the citizen
will conclude that the public official has sold his office for personal,
financial gain. This decision is bound to further undermine the already
low confidence of citizens in government and public officeholders."

Roberts made his clarification quixotically vague and even more unclear
when he wrote:

"Conscientious public officials arrange meetings for constituents, contact
other officials on their behalf, and include them in events all the time.
If corruption is defined so non-specifically, government public servants
would avoid all service to their constituents, is basically his argument
and the resolution thereof.

"Officials might wonder whether they could respond to even the most
commonplace requests for assistance, and citizens with legitimate concerns
might shrink from participating in democratic discourse. None of this, of
course, is to suggest that the facts of this case typify normal political
interaction between public officials and their constituents. Far from it.
But the government's legal interpretation is not confined to cases
involving extravagant gifts or large sums of money, and we cannot construe
a criminal statute on the assumption that the government will 'use it

What would Roberts say if and when he may or may not see the compiled
evidence about the corruption, fraud, manipulation, vote "flipping," and
other horrendous crimes committed in this primary election series? The
very same US Attorney who prosecuted Sheldon Silver, Preet Bharara, was
asked to lead the effort into Federal Court to obtain a new repeat Primary
for New York. He never replied to scores if not hundreds of letters.

Same for the Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneidermann, who ignored
all of the letters and the 6700 signers of the petition asking him to
obtain a Federal Court order for a new NY primary.

The Chief Justice's trepidation about helping constituents rings kind of
true, for a moment, until the very next moment you consider that
staggering gift list that ended up in the Governor's cache, which Roberts
dismissed as "tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns."

"Unanimous" includes Sotomayor and Ginsburg, and I trust them to have
concurred only if they felt it was the right thing to do for what little
is left of America's Democracy. The effects of this unanimous Supreme
Court decision will become clearer perhaps too soon. (Don't forget what
Jimmy Carter said recently about the primaries and America in general,
that "we no longer have a functioning democracy.")

Watch what the pundits, professors, ordinary lower level judges, legal
scholars and experts have to say in the near future as they further
interpret this decision. I hope it doesn't open the door and pave the way
for levels of corruption like we routinely decry in Third World Nations,
yet routinely excuse and ignore in our own.

This all fits together in my seasoned skeptical and practical political
mind as just a further extension of all corporate manipulation of
appropriate government regulatory processes, like what the FDA should be
doing by statute, giving a green light to even greater abuses for those
who will gleefully push the envelope much further.

This shuts down critics of public corruption even when they are used so
sparingly and so intermittently, and sends a chilling almost shocking
message to progressives and to supporters of reform efforts like the only
one we trust to be President, Bernie Sanders.