Last week, as many readers (at least those who follow corruption issues in the U.S.) are probably aware, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order allowing former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to remain free on bail while his appeal is pending, a signal that the Supreme Court is likely to hear his case. As readers of the blog are also likely aware, I think that the appeals court that affirmed McDonnell’s bribery conviction decided correctly, meaning that the Supreme Court should either decline to hear the case, or should take it and affirm it. I really don’t think I have much more to say about the substance of the legal issues, and I wouldn’t bother posting about it again, except that an op-ed in last week’s Washington Post (by C. Boyden Gray, former White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush) got me so bloody angry that I just have to weigh in on this again, if only to point out the absurd consequences of the position advocated by Mr. Gray and others who argue that the conviction should be overturned.
The linchpin of Mr. Gray’s argument is that the alleged “official acts” that Governor McDonnell provided to private businessman Jonnie Williams (in exchange for lavish gifts, loans, and other tangible benefits) were “nothing more than speaking with aides and arranging a single meeting between an aide and [Mr. Williams],” and that criminalizing such routine conversations and meetings would be absurd. Described that way, McDonnell’s acts do indeed sound innocuous. But Mr. Gray’s characterization is so flagrantly misleading that there’s only one word to describe it, and it’s not a word I can use on a family blog. Continue reading