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Robert Flow is a legal writer and content marketer who investigates leads and tracks down interesting stories.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously vacated the conviction of former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell for bribery. McDonnell received loans, gifts and other benefits from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of a company that wanted Virginia’s public universities to conduct scientific research on a nutritional supplement that he developed. McDonnell hosted events and set up meetings on behalf of Williams. However, the court adjudged that McDonnell’s actions were not an “official act” as defined by the federal bribery statutes and the instructions to the jury in his conviction in regards to defining official acts were overly broad.

Key Takeaways:

  • In a unanimous 8-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has vacated the political corruption convictions of former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell.
  • McDonnell and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, were convicted for accepting $175,000 in loans, gifts, and other benefits from Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams while McDonnell was Governor.
  • The bribery statute requires the public official make a decision or take some action on the question or matter before such conduct becomes an “official act.”

“McDonnell maintained that setting up meetings, hosting events, or contacting officials about anatabine — without more — does not make an official act because they “are not decisions on matters pending before the government.””