Prosecutors have responded to a new argument that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich submitted this week to a federal court considering his appeal. […]
Blagojevich’s lawyers say an April ruling by the high court found that soliciting contributions is corruption only when a politician makes explicit promises to take official action for a donation.
But prosecutors say that’s a misreading of the ruling in McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission. They say the high court didn’t conclude an exchange had to be explicitly stated to constitute corruption.
* The full response…
Pursuant to Fed. R. App. 28(j) and Seventh Circuit Rule 28(e), the government hereby responds to defendant-appellant Rod Blagojevich’s July 16, 2014 letter citing McCutcheon v. Federal Election Com’n, — U.S. —, 134 S.Ct. 1434 (2014) in support of his challenge to the jury instructions related to the quid pro quo element of criminal extortion in the context of campaign contributions. See Br. 51, quoting Tr. 5544.
As argued in the government’s brief at 55-57, the challenged instructions stated the applicable law consistently with this Court’s 2012 pattern instructions, and with the instruction approved in United States v. Giles, 246 F.3d 966, 971-73 (7th Cir. 1992). Where campaign contributions were involved, the instructions (like the instructions related to bribery and fraud) correctly conditioned a finding of guilt on proof that defendant attempted to exchange a specific requested exercise of his official power (including the Senate appointment, signing of the Racetrack bill, and implementation of the Medicaid reimbursement increase) for money or property in the form of such contributions.
In McCutcheon, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that campaign financing Constitutionally may be regulated to combat quid pro quo corruption or its appearance, but determined that the regulations challenged in that case— provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) related to aggregate contribution limits—were not appropriately crafted to meet that permissible objective, or to avoid unnecessary abridgement of associational freedoms protected by the First Amendment. 134 S.Ct. at 1441-42, 1456, 1462. Nothing in the decision suggests that an exchange of contributions for specific official acts is quid pro quo corruption only if the arrangement is stated “explicitly” or expressly. Accordingly, the decision provides no support for Blagojevich’s argument on appeal.