In another thread, fishtail threadjacked with a detailed run down of possible laws Nathan Deal and his Chief of Staff might have broken. I’ve asked him to refine his post a tad, and here it is…
What laws has Nathan Deal broken: Here are a few.
1. First, there is 31 USC 1301. Though it makes no mention of enrichment, it strictly prohibits ANY use of taxpayer funds for ANY purpose for which they were not authorized. Deal would not be enriched by issuing a $1 million check to Chris Riley, but it would be illegal. (In actuality, they tried that to the tune of $90,000 and Riley got caught and had to return the cash. In that case they claimed ignorance of overpayment rules, and so far have not been further punished to date, but a prosecutor could well decide that, given that Riley would have had to certify that he had received training in those rules, he therefore was criminally liable — as Deal would be for certifying that the payment was made legally.)
2. Regardless, just so as not to let this bit of Orwellian double-speak pass, enrichment means acting to better yourself financially from what your position might otherwise be had you not acted. If the monopoly was done away with — which is what Deal was trying to prevent — then he would have been worse off. By moving to preserve it, he was attempting to enrich himself. Nice try.
3. There may be corruption here going back to Deal’s originally obtaining the franchise, which could be an ongoing criminal enterprise.
4. There is no circumstance in which Riley committed a crime but Deal did not, because Deal signs the monthly payroll sheet saying that Riley’s salary was solely used to employ him to do official business. That is the import of 18 USCA 1001. 31 USC 1301 forbids the misuse of government resources, and 18 USCA 1001 makes it a felony to sign a false statement about the use of those resources — Riley’s time. Riley is not allowed to have outside employment working for Deal’s firm, nor is he legally allowed to undertake Deal’s personal business as a favor, so the only legal possibility is that he did so as a staff member. Even were he to claim that he could be acting in some other capacity, the use of his official email not only to schedule the meeting, but to negotiate for legislative provisions makes it abundantly clear that he and Deal are using office resources, most notably staff, for Deal’s personal gain (or avoidance of loss, if you prefer, for legally and of course morally, they are no different).
5. As to the constituent issue, you should read the whole report. The House Ethics Manual — the document which defines the purposes for which the monies allotted to Members of Congress is appropriated — strictly prohibits the use of House staff for personal financial interests. That prohibition is absolute, and does not allow for staff to pursue constituent concerns that are in the direct financial interest of the Member of Congress.
6. As a matter of commonsense credibility, we have only Riley and Deal’s testimony that there were any such constituent contacts. Deal states that constituents told him that they could not get information on the program, but his own legislator, who the revenue commissioner said “hotboxed” him about the provision in question at the meeting, admits that no constituent other than Deal and his business partner contacted him. So, let’s decode that: If Deal and Riley have not perjured themselves (a distinct possibility), then in all likelihood the “constituent” in question is Deal’s own business partner. The law is not that easy to get around. Of course, again, as the report notes, it doesn’t matter one bit whether there were “constituent” concerns, because it’s still not legal for Deal’s staff to pursue them. And, uh, since when do Congressmen command state department heads for three meetings on an issue for which there is ZE-RO federal involvement?
There’s just no daylight for the partners in crime here. My opinion? Yeah, but also that of a unanimous panel of six bipartisan investigators. Think a jury would see it any differently? Only if it was made up of Deal’s “constituent”.
7. As an aside, Nathan is fortunate that the statute of limitations has actually run from the time he started this enterprise – when he was in the legislator. Bobby Whitworth went to prison for doing a lot less and getting a lot less money.