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United States ex rel. Joseph v. Cannon

642 F.2d 1373 (1981)

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United States ex rel. Joseph v. Cannon

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

642 F.2d 1373 (1981)

Facts

Howard W. Cannon (defendant) was a United States Senator from Nevada. Chester B. Sobsey was a paid member of Cannon’s staff, working as his administrative assistant. Cannon authorized Sobsey under Senate Rule 43 to solicit, receive, and distribute Cannon’s campaign funds. Senate Rule 43 acknowledged the personal allegiance that a staff member owes a senator and the discretion a senator needs in assigning duties to his staff members. Cannon ran for reelection in 1976. During the reelection campaign, Sobsey worked extensively on the campaign while still receiving a salary from the Senate. There were no explicit rules against a staff member doing work on a senator’s reelection campaign, but the Senate had considered enacting limits on campaign work. A committee advised senators to use their best judgment to avoid having paid staff members spend a substantial portion of their time on campaign work but noted that as long as a staff member did not neglect his Senate duties, he should not be barred from working on a senator’s campaign. Joel D. Joseph (plaintiff) filed a lawsuit against Cannon in federal district court alleging that Cannon violated the Fair Claims Act by having Sobsey work on his reelection campaign while Sobsey was still a paid member of his staff. The district court dismissed Joseph’s complaint. Joseph appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Robinson, J.)

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