Is It Now Too Hard To Prosecute Politicians For Corruption?

Feb 7, 2018

With guest host Indira Lakshmanan. 

Senator Bob Menendez sees his bribery case dismissed after a hung jury and a judge’s decision. A former Virginia governor, meanwhile, saw his charges vacated at the Supreme Court, leading to a domino effect from Louisiana to New York. We’ll ask if it’s gotten too hard now to prosecute politicians for corruption.

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Randall Eliason, professor of Law at George Washington University. Former Assistant United States Attorney. Contributing columnist for the Washington Post. (@RDEliason)

Abbe Lowell, defense attorney who represented Sen. Bob Menendez in his bribery trial.

Tara Malloy, senior director at the Campaign Legal Center.

David Debold, partner at Gibson Dunn. Former Assistant United States Attorney.

Norm Eisen, senior fellow at Brookings. Former Special Counsel and Special Assistant to President Obama for Ethics and Government Reform. Chair and co-founder of CREW. (@NormEisen)

From The Reading List:

Washington Post: Robert Menendez’s trial shows the bar to prove corruption just keeps rising — “As long as we have a system of privately financed campaigns for which politicians are allowed to raise money, we must require compelling evidence to charge political contributions as bribery. After all, a politician accepting a donation and later taking actions favored by the donor is simply politics as usual — it happens every day. But requiring a higher level of proof also means that only the most blatant and clumsy corrupt officials will be subject to prosecution. Those careful enough not to make explicit deals are safe.”

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez was accused of trading favors for $700,000 in donations and lavish vacations, but last week the corruption case against him collapsed. It was another setback for the Justice Department, which prosecuted former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell for accepting a Rolex and Ferrari rides for setting up meetings, only to see his conviction vacated. This hour, On Point: Have courts made it too hard to find politicians guilty of corruption? —Indira Lakshmanan

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