Gov. Blagojevich prosecution

Jonathan Miller jmiller at swlaw.edu
Tue Dec 9 12:03:02 PST 2008


Keep in mind that the Criminal Complaint here alleges that he offered to follow Obama instructions on the appointment in return for a range of possibilities, from getting his wife appointed to well-paying charitable boards, to a variety of public and private posts for himself.  The Cabinet post was just one of the offers that he made.  If a politician says that I will trade a Senate seat for any one of the following: a) my appointment to a high paying position with a charity where there is no need for me to do any work, b) my wife´s appointment to high paying Boards, or c) my appointment to a Cabinet post, it looks much less problematic as a prosecution.  Some of the news reports have distorted it a bit.  (By the way, the taped phone conversations also show that he felt that Obama´s people completely rejected all his proposals.)
 
Jonathan Miller
Southwestern Law School

________________________________

De: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu en nombre de Curtis, Michael K.
Enviado el: mar 12/9/2008 11:39
Para: Volokh, Eugene; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Asunto: RE: Gov. Blagojevich prosecution



This sort of use of bribery statutes is open to grave political abuse,
since horse trading is common.  The temptation to selectively go after
ones political opponents (or enemies in the Nixon world) is too great.

Michael Curtis

-----Original Message-----
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Volokh, Eugene
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 12:00 PM
To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Gov. Blagojevich prosecution


        Governor Blagojevich is accused of a wide range of corrupt
behavior, including attempts to get private sector jobs and other
financial benefits in exchange for his appointing someone as Senator in
place of President-Elect Obama.  But one small item struck me as
particularly interesting (see
http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/acrobat/2008-12/43789434.pdf):

 "Defendants ROD BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, together with others,
attempted to use ROD BLAGOJEVICH's authority to appoint a United States
Senator for the purpose of obtaining personal benefits for ROD
BLAGOJEVICH, including, among other things, appointment as Secretary of
Health & Human Services in the President-elect's administration ...."

"ROD BLAGOJEVICH has been intercepted conspiring to trade the senate
seat for particular positions that the President-elect has the
power to appoint (e.g. the Secretary of Health and Human Services)."

        It's certainly true that a position as Secretary of Health &
Human Services is of financial value, and it pays more than the
Governorship of Illinois.  So I take it that under normal bribery
statutes, it might well be that trading a Senatorial appointment for a
cabinet position is illegal just as is trading a Senatorial appointment
for cash.  But is it constitutional to prohibit this sort of political
horse-trading? 

        Eugene
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