Law & Crime

Legal and Criminal

McDonnell Decision: Legal Consequences

Jun 27, 2016
The Associated Press

The Supreme Court decision today overturning the corruption case against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell could have far-reaching legal consequences.

Reading his opinion from the bench today, Chief Justice John Roberts said the court has to look past the tawdry nature of the Rolex watch and the designer clothing a wealthy businessman used in an effort to buy power and influence. Instead, Roberts says, justices need to focus on whether McDonnell carried out any official act. In doing so, the court has now drawn a much more narrow definition of what it means for an elected official to conduct an official act.

“It could make it more difficult for the government to bring those kinds of prosecutions in the future."

That’s Carl Tobias at the University of Richmond Law School.

“The court doesn’t necessarily think so because it says more limited interpretation of official act leaves ample room for prosecuting corruption."

White collar defense attorney Michael Levy says the new boundary leaves open some kind of relationship between money and power.

“There is a constitutionally accepted role of money in politics today. And what the court has said is just because there is money and there is politics doesn’t necessarily mean there’s necessarily corruption."

The case will now go back to the appeals court, which will decide whether prosecutors can bring another case against McDonnell under the more narrow reading of official act.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife are breathing a sigh of relief today, after the United States Supreme court threw our their convictions for corruption and conspiracy. 

Creative Commons/David K

In 2014, almost 1,000 people died from opiate overdose in Virginia -- and that number is trending upwards, not down. A state task force created a number of proposals to help stem the epidemic, and Governor Terry McAuliffe signed three of those measures into law today. The primary goal? To help prevent addicts from acquiring drugs.

Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is fighting back against Republican criticism that his executive order restoring voting rights to former felons. The governor tells Virginia Public Radio’s Michael Pope that the clerical errors were from bad data from the Department of Corrections.

Creative Commons

The news that federal officials are scrutinizing campaign contributions to Governor Terry McAuliffe sets up another potential showdown between federal prosecutors and high-ranking elected officials in Virginia. It’s latest in a series of investigations in recent years. But  investigations don’t always lead to charges.