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Supreme Court Decision Weakens Federal Anti-Corruption Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in Snyder v. United States that the federal law prohibiting state and local officials from accepting anything of value from persons that may be intended to influence official actions does not apply to acceptance of “gratuities” after the official action has been taken. Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, issued the following statement:

“The Supreme Court decision today opens the door to state and local officials setting out a tip jar for ‘gratuities’ from thankful government contractors and others seeking official favors. In a 6-3 decision, the conservative majority ruled that a gratuity after-the-fact is not prohibited by the federal anti-corruption law.

“This ruling undercuts one of the most important anti-corruption statutes used by prosecutors to hold to account government officials who accept money in exchange for official actions. Whether cash is handed to an official before or after the award of a government contract or other favorable official action, accepting cash for favors should be barred.

“Until today, it seemed apparent that the text of the statute covered this situation. In light of this decision, it is up to Congress to revise the text to restore that common-sense prohibition against corruption.”