Don Siegelman got sentenced to jail this week, again, for exchanging a seat on a hospital regulatory board for a 500k contribution to a lottery referendum.
Federal law makes it a crime to corruptly solicit or accept money with the intent of being rewarded or influenced in official actions, and prosecutors have said campaign contributions can be part of such a scheme.
That he didn’t control the referendum’s campaign money, nor did it directly benefit Siegelman, makes that first prong a little nebulous, but convicted he was.
Conversely, Paul Ryan has received 60k early in his career from Dennis Troha, who was indicted for campaign finance violations. He then advocated for the passage of a law that would directly benefit Troha:
While Troha was under indictment, the Journal Sentinel revealed that Congress had two years earlier passed a measure that allowed his trucking firm, JHT, to haul more trucks on each route. The paper obtained bank records showing that JHT had paid a consulting firm owned by Troha $107,238 and that such fees would continue until 2010 because Congress had passed the legislation.
The paper reported that Ryan had been one of several congressmen pushing for the legislation and had signed a letter in support.
So that’s pretty much all you can do, on the record, to get a bill passed if you are Congressman. But that doesn’t amount to quid pro quo, why? Because advocacy for a cause as a legislator will always be constituent services. In an executive position where unilateral action (appointing someone to a board, who, by the way, was already on that board) can effectuate the intended result of the bribe, it will always be more suspicious – even the donations themselves are legal. Unlike in the Troha scandal:
When John W. Erickson, a top Troha associate, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in September 2007, court documents said he, Troha and other alleged conspirators had directed illegal contributions to more than 20 politicians. Troha and others had “identified public officials who supported Indian gaming and/or the relaxation of restrictions on interstate trucking,” prosecutors wrote.
The only politician identified by name in the documents as having received contributions from Erickson was Ryan. (WaPo)
One of the many ways being a legislator beats being an executive.