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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 63770 Find in a Library
Title: CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND FEDERAL BRIBERY LAW
Journal: HARVARD LAW REVIEW  Volume:92  Issue:2  Dated:(DECEMBER 1978)  Pages:451-469
Author(s): ANON
Corporate Author: Harvard Law Review Assoc
Harvard Law Review
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: Harvard Law Review Assoc
Cambridge, MA 02138
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: DISCUSSION CENTERS ON CLEARLY DEFINING BRIBERY AND GRATUITY OFFENSES WHILE PRESERVING LEGAL FORMS OF CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EFFECTIVE SANCTIONS AGAINST CONDUCT THAT IS GENERALLY CONDEMNED.
Abstract: THE FEDERAL BRIBERY STATUTE SPECIFIES TWO OFFENSES THAT MAY BE COMMITTED BY PUBLIC OFFICIALS WHO RECEIVE CONTRIBUTIONS: BRIBERY AND GRATUITY. BRIBERY IS COMMITTED WHEN FEDERAL OFFICIALS ASK, DEMAND, OR AGREE TO RECEIVE ANYTHING OF VALUE FOR THEMSELVES IN RETURN FOR BEING INFLUENCED IN THEIR PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL ACTS. DONORS COMMIT BRIBERY WHEN THEY GIVE MONEY TO OFFICIALS WITH THE INTENT TO INFLUENCE ANY OFFICIAL ACT. HOWEVER, THE GRATUITY OFFENSE DOES NOT EXPRESSLY REQUIRE PROOF OF CORRUPT INTENT OR PROOF THAT VALUE WAS GIVEN SPECIFICALLY IN RETURN FOR PERFORMANCE BY THE OFFICIAL. THE DIFFICULTY OF DISTINGUISHING THESE TWO CRIMES FROM LAWFUL CONTRIBUTIONS ARISES IN MANY COMMON AND GENERALLY ACCEPTED CAMPAIGN FINANCING SITUATIONS. THIS VAGUENESS IS PARTICULARLY TROUBLESOME IN RELATION TO THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION IN BUCKLEY V. VALEO IN WHICH THE COURT REVIEWED THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE FEDERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN ACT (FECA), AS AMENDED BY CONGRESS IN 1974. IT AFFIRMED THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE CONTRIBUTION LIMITS IMPOSED BY FECA BUT REJECTED ITS EXPENDITURE LIMITATIONS AS AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL INFRINGEMENT OF RIGHTS OF FREE SPEECH AND POLITICAL ASSOCIATION. THE COURT ALSO UPHELD THE FECA DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS. THE MAJOR DIFFICULTY IN THE FEDERAL BRIBERY STATUTE IS ITS FAILURE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN ELECTORAL AND NONELECTORAL CONTEXTS. FECA, HOWEVER, DOES PROVIDE A DETAILED AND COMPREHENSIVE CONGRESSIONAL DETERMINATION OF THE SIZE AND FORM OF CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS THAT CONGRESS JUDGED TO BE LEGITIMATE. CORRUPTION STATUTES AND CAMPAIGN REGULATIONS SHOULD PROVIDE ELECTION CANDIDATES WITH CLEAR GUIDELINES DEFINING THE SCOPE OF PERMISSIBLE CONDUCT, WHILE PRESERVING THE PUBLIC INTEREST IN EFFECTIVE PUNISHMENT OF IMPROPER BEHAVIOR. A SIMPLE AMENDMENT LIMITING THE REPRESENTATION EXCLUSION TO PAYMENTS MEETING FECA REQUIREMENTS WOULD CLARIFY CANDIDATES' AND CONTRIBUTORS' LEGAL OBLIGATIONS BY HARMONIZING FEDERAL REGULATION OF THEIR CONDUCT AND WOULD STRENGTHEN THE COMMITMENT TO PURGE THE CAMPAIGN PROCESS OF CORRUPTION. CASE NOTES ARE PROVIDED. (PRG)
Index Term(s): Bribery; Federal regulations; Judicial decisions; Laws and Statutes; Political influences; Unlawful compensation
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