Public Corruption

Date01 July 2022
AuthorEthan Cantor
PUBLIC CORRUPTION
I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1230
II. BRIBERY AND ILLEGAL GRATUITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1231
A. Elements of the Offenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1231
1. Thing of Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1232
2. Public Official or Witness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1233
3. Official Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1235
4. Intent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1236
a. Bribery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1236
b. Illegal Gratuity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1238
B. Defenses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1238
1. Entrapment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1239
2. Due Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1239
3. The Speech or Debate Clause . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1240
4. Other Defenses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1241
C. Penalties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1241
1. Bribery Offenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1243
a. Offenses Involving Public Officials . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1243
i. More than One Bribe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1243
ii. Value of Greater than Six Thousand Five
Hundred Dollars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1244
iii. High-Level and Sensitive Positions . . . . . . . . 1245
iv. Immigration Official. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1246
v. Facilitating Other Offenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1246
vi. Unknown Value or Incommensurate Effect . . 1247
b. Offenses Involving Witnesses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1247
2. Illegal Gratuities Offenses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1248
a. Offenses Involving Public Officials . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1248
b. Offenses Involving Witnesses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1249
III. CRIMINAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1249
A. Unauthorized Compensation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1250
1. Elements of the Offense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1250
a. Covered Persons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1251
b. Particular Matter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1252
c. Compensation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1252
d. Services Before a Governmental Forum . . . . . . . . . . 1253
2. Defenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1253
B. Limitations on Activities of Government Officers and Employees 1254
1. Covered Persons. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1254
2. Particular Matterand Agent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1255
1229
3. Exceptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1256
C. Limitations on Revolving DoorPost-Employment Activities. 1257
1. Elements of the Offense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1258
a. Covered Persons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1258
b. Representation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1260
c. Knowledge and Intent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1260
2. Elements of the Offense by Subsection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1261
D. Acts Affecting Financial Interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1264
1. Elements of the Offense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1265
a. Officer or Employee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1265
b. Participated Personally and Substantiallyin a
Particular Matter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1266
c. Knowledge of Financial Interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1267
2. Exceptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1268
3. Defenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1269
E. Illegal Outside Salaries for Federal Employees . . . . . . . . . . . 1269
F. Penalties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1271
IV. THE HONEST-SERVICES DOCTRINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1272
A. History of the Honest-Services Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1272
1. Shushan and the Early Honest-Services Cases . . . . . . . . . 1272
2. McNally. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1273
3. Section 1346 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1274
B. The Current Honest-Services Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1274
1. Skilling and Black. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1274
2. Elements of the Honest-Services Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . 1275
a. Defraud of Honest Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1275
b. Bribes and Kickbacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1276
I. INTRODUCTION
Congress has enacted several statutes to deter and punish acts of corruption
involving government officials.
1
This Article examines several of the enumerated
crimes relating to public corruption. Section II examines federal bribery and illegal
gratuity offenses. Section III explores criminal conflicts of interest, including the
federal unauthorized compensation offense and statutes that limit activities of gov-
ernment officers and employees during and after their terms of employment.
Section III also analyzes the statutory provisions governing government officials’
participation in activities in which the official has a financial interest, as well as
1. Chapter 11 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code is captioned Bribery, Graft, and Conflicts of Interestand contains
a majority of the bribery, illegal gratuity, and criminal conflicts of interest statutes discussed in this article. See
also 18 U.S.C. § 666 (criminalizing theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds); 18 U.S.C.
§ 1951 (criminalizing extortion under color of official right affecting interstate commerce).
1230 AMERICAN CRIMINAL LAW REVIEW [Vol. 59:1229
improper acceptance of outside compensation. Finally, Section IV discusses the
honest-services doctrine.
II. BRIBERY AND ILLEGAL GRATUITY
In 1962, Congress enacted a package of conflict-of-interest legislation that sig-
nificantly revised the federal bribery statute.
2
These revisions formed part of an
intricate web of regulations . . . governing the acceptance of gifts and other self-
enriching actions by public officials,including statutory prohibitions on bribery
and illegal gratuity.
3
This section outlines the four elements of the bribery and ille-
gal gratuity offenses and then explains potential defenses and penalties.
A. Elements of the Offenses
Section 201 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code prohibits bribery and illegal gratuity.
4
To prove bribery, the government generally must establish: (1) a thing of value
was given, offered, or promised to (or, in the case of a recipient, demanded, sought,
received, or accepted by); (2) a present or selected public official; (3) to influence
an official act; (4) with corrupt intent or intent to influence (or to be influenced).
5
Section 201(a) sets forth the relevant definitions of public officialand official
act.
6
The elements of the illegal gratuity offense are set forth in § 201(c)(1).
7
To
prove illegal gratuity, the government must establish: (1) a thing of value was
given, offered, or promised to (or, in the case of a recipient, demanded, sought,
received, or accepted by); (2) a present, past, or selected public official; (3) for or
because of any official act performed or to be performed by such public official.
8
2. 18 U.S.C. §§ 201209. For a brief history of federal conflict-of-interest statutes and the original purpose of
the modern conflict statute, see Van Ee v. EPA, 202 F.3d 296, 30508 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (discussing historical
context for the federal bar on federal employee representational services). For an analysis of the 1962 legislation
that consolidated and modernized federal conflict-of-interest statutes, see Memorandum from the Attorney
General Regarding Conflict of Interest Provisions of Public Law 87849, 28 Fed. Reg. 985 (Feb. 1, 1963)
(comparing previous law to 1962 Act). See generally William M. Welch II, Comment, The Federal Bribery
Statute and Special Interest Campaign Contributions, 79 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY 1347 (1989) (explaining
the history of federal bribery legislation).
3. United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers of Cal., 526 U.S. 398, 409 (1999) (discussing federal statutes and
regulations outlawing various kinds of gratuities).
4. 18 U.S.C. § 201.
5. See id. § 201(b); see also United States v. Valle, 538 F.3d 341, 34445 (5th Cir. 2008) (outlining elements
of § 201(b)). This Article will not address bribery offenses involving fraud or violations of lawful duty as these
offenses are prosecuted less frequently. For examples of bribery cases involving fraud, see cases cited infra note
12. For examples of violations of lawful duty, see cases cited infra note 13.
6. 18 U.S.C. § 201(a)(1)(3) (defining the terms public official,” “person who has been selected to be a
public official,and official act).
7. Id. § 201(c)(1)(A)(B) (defining the offense as applied to the offeror and as applied to the offeree or
recipient).
8. Id. § 201(c).
2022] PUBLIC CORRUPTION 1231

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