McDonnell v. United States

Topic(s): 
Campaign Finance
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Case Description: 

In this case, former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell challenges his conviction on bribery charges for accepting money and gifts from a dietary supplement promoter in return for various actions to favor his business interests. McDonnell argues, among other things, that the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decisions including Citizens United v. FEC bar an interpretation of the bribery laws that covers his conduct because they hold that it is not “corruption” when politicians merely provide “access” and favoritism for their supporters. Public Citizen, together with Democracy 21, has filed an amicus brief supporting the government. The brief explains that the Court’s campaign finance decisions are inapplicable because this case does not involve campaign contributions or other First Amendment-protected conduct, and even if it did, the Court’s decisions do not hold that quid pro quos in which officials provide favorable treatment in return for campaign contributions are constitutionally protected.