McDonnell v. United States
United States Supreme Court
579 U.S. 550 (2016)
Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife (defendants) accepted over $175,000 in gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams. Williams’s company sought Virginia medical university studies to gain FDA approval of a supplement called Anatabloc, an anti-inflammatory drug. The McDonnells arranged meetings with officials, hosted governor’s mansion events, and contacted other officials to encourage studies. The government charged the McDonnells for engaging in “official acts” in exchange for gifts and loans. The trial court broadly defined “official act,” reasoning that it could mean anything related to Virginia’s business and economic development. The jury convicted, and the McDonnells appealed. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, but the United States Supreme Court granted review to clarify what qualifies as “official acts” under federal bribery and extortion laws.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Roberts, C.J.)
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