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If You’re Going to Bribe State or Local Officials, Make Sure You Have a Solid Retainer Arrangement

Former Central Falls mayor Charles Moreau is about to be set free “after serving half his two-year sentence” on corruption charges (background available from Michelle Smith of the Associated Press, here), as a result of a First Circuit Court of Appeals opinion from June of last year. Two key factors made the decision in USA vs. Fernandez directly relevant to the Moreau case.

1. Moreau was apparently convicted of accepting not a “bribe” but a “gratuity”. What’s the difference? The First Circuit quotes a 1999 Supreme Court opinion to explain…

[F]or bribery there must be a quid pro quo — a specific intent to give or receive something of value in exchange for an official act. An illegal gratuity, on the other hand, may constitute merely a reward for some future act that the public official will take (and may already have determined to take), or for a past act that he has already taken.

2. The court then notes the structure of Federal statute…

§ 201(b) targets (primarily) federal officials, while § 666 targets non-federal officials who happen to have a connection to federal funds. It is reasonable to assume that the federal government viewed corrupt federal officials involved in the receipt of bribes as more culpable.

…where § 201(b) makes “bribes” and “gratuities” illegal, while § 666 (yes, that’s really the number) makes only “bribes” illegal.

According to Ms. Smith’s report, with the gratuity conviction no longer valid in the First Circuit because Moreau was a local and not a Federal official, Moreau and the prosecutors have made a deal where he will plead guilty to a bribery charge, in return for a sentence of time served.

If you need one sentence to explain to your friends and neighbors the law that led to this outcome, this should do: While it’s illegal to engage in a la carte bribery of state or local officials in the US, you’re OK under Federal law if you’re able to buy them off on a retainer basis.

Journalism in Defense of the Status Quo

To the Providence Journal, the only thing anybody needs to know about the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is that we can’t disprove allegations that we’re just a phony front group for the forces of evil.

Ninth Circuit Says You Don’t Have to Explain Your Reason for Wanting to Exercise the Right to Bear Arms

The Ninth Circuit says that California’s requirement that “good cause” be shown in order to obtain a concealed carry firearms permit is unconstitutional. Rhode Island law requires “a proper showing of need”, when trying to obtain a concealed carry permit from the Attorney General.

Rejected alternate title: “It’s Not a Right, if it Depends on Some Guy in Sarasota”.

Akash Chougule: School Choice Can Bridge the Gap

One policy that would serve President Obama’s objective of reducing income inequality is school choice.

The “Business Voice” on Legislative Commissions

The Providence Chamber of Commerce joins those who think of government revenue first.

Why the “Skills Gap” Talk Is Offensive

The government’s constant drum beat that it needs more resources and authority to shape the lives of its people is nakedly offensive.

Changing the terms of debate doesn’t seem possible… until it seems inevitable

Libertarians and moderates who don’t think the Left’s strategy with same-sex marriage is transferable to economic issues should consider Rolling Stone and Shakespeare.

Beware Statists in Libertarian Clothing

Some libertarians have been encouraged to see the liberalization of laws on social issues, but they should go beyond the cliché that politics makes strange bedfellows and wonder why they have the company they do.

The Utility of the Chill

The strategy of creating a politically correct chill around certain subjects creates the opportunity to wrap a political agenda in an invincible cloak.

Katz in Today’s ProJo: Participation In Boycott of WPRO Is Evidence That the Person Is Not Fit to Hold Office

Ed Fitzpatrick’s column in today’s Providence Journal is about the public union led attempt to boycott WPRO until they fire John Depetro. As preamble, I repeat my own take on this brouhaha: I don’t agree with Depetro’s use of those epithets. They were nasty and unnecessary. However, if Depetro had made his comments about the [...]

Clash of the Two Visions on the Cultural Table

Josh Barro eliminates context and distorts the statements of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, perhaps because his sights are set on excluding Christianity from the public square.

And ain’t they so superiah?

Cultural disagreements on National Review Online elevate the Duck Dynasty affair to a political battle between creative free expression and totalitarian evolution.

The Exeter Recall

In voting for the March 11 resolution to remove firearms permitting authority from the town of Exeter, the Town Council majority chose the path that comes all too easily to Rhode Island officials: passing serious decisions to someone else. But just because many Rhode Island politicians accept this as normal doesn’t mean the citizens of Exeter have to — and it is healthy that they haven’t.

Thoughts Upon Reading Evangelii Gaudium: 2, Autonomy

A central concept in need of exploration within Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium is that of autonomy, and the responsibilities that it imposes and allows on all people, regardless of position.

Taveras’s First Major Policy Proposal of Questionable Value

A universal pre-K proposal from Providence Mayor Angel Taveras may be fighting the current of research showing such programs to be of dubious benefit.

Thoughts Upon Reading Evangelii Gaudium: 1, Introduction

Setting the context for review of the economic sections of Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium.