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Myron Thompson opinion on definitions of bribery

Myron Thompson opinion on definitions of bribery

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Published by Weld for Birmingham

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Published by: Weld for Birmingham on Jul 31, 2012
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11/07/2013

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IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISIONUNITED STATES OF AMERICA))v.) CRIMINAL ACTION NO.) 2:10cr186-MHT MILTON E. McGREGOR,) (WO)THOMAS E. COKER,)LARRY P. MEANS,)JAMES E. PREUITT,)HARRI ANNE H. SMITH, and)JARRELL W. WALKER, JR.)OPINIONDuring both the original trial and the retrial ofthis public-corruption case, the court in itsinstructions to the jury provided a definition of a quid  pro quo. The court is of the opinion that theseinstructions should be memorialized and made moreaccessible to the public.I. THE COURT’S JURY INSTRUCTIONSExtortion,federal-programsbribery,andhonest-servicesmailandwirefraudaredifferentcrimeswithdistinctelements. For all these counts, however, the
Case 2:10-cr-00186-MHT-WC Document 2469 Filed 07/24/12 Page 1 of 33
 
2courttreatedaquidproquoasanelementoftheoffense.Cf.UnitedStatesv.Siegelman
 
,640F.3d 1159,1170(11thCir.2011)(notingthattheSupremeCourthasnotyet considered whether the federal funds bribery,conspiracyorhonest services mail fraud statutesrequire” a quid pro quo). For counts alleging theoffering of a campaign-contribution bribe, the courtdeveloped a heightened quid pro quo standard and instructed the jury that:“For a defendant to be guilty under thisstatute, the government must prove thatthere was a quid pro quo. The term ‘quid pro quo’ is Latin for ‘this forthat,’ or ‘these for those.’ For all ofthe alleged bribes in these counts, thething of value allegedly promised orexchanged took the form of a campaigncontribution. Campaign contributionsand fundraising are an important,unavoidable and legitimate part of the American system of privately financed elections. The law recognizes thatcampaign contributions may be given toan elected public official because thegiver supports the acts done or to bedone by the elected official. The lawthus also recognizes that legitimate,honest campaign contributions are givento reward public officials with whom the
Case 2:10-cr-00186-MHT-WC Document 2469 Filed 07/24/12 Page 2 of 33
 
3donor agrees, and in the generalized hope that the official will continue totake similar official actions in thefuture.“Lobbyists, as well as privateindividuals and other entities, oftendonate to the political campaigns of public officials and there is nothingillegal about this practice. Officialacts that advance the interests of alobbyist’s clients, taken shortly beforeor after campaign contributions aresolicited or received from the lobbyist,can, depending on the circumstances, be perfectly legal and appropriate.“Therefore, the solicitation oracceptance by an elected official of acampaign contribution does not, initself, constitute a federal crime, eventhough the donor has business pending before the official, and even if thecontribution is made shortly before orafter the official acts favorably to thedonor.“However, when there is a quid pro quoagreement, orally or in writing, thatis, a mutual understanding, between thedonor and the elected official that acampaign contribution is conditioned onthe performance of a specific officialaction, it constitutes a bribe underfederal law. By this phrase, I meanthat a generalized expectation of somefuture favorable action is notsufficient for a quid pro quo agreement;
Case 2:10-cr-00186-MHT-WC Document 2469 Filed 07/24/12 Page 3 of 33

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