An end-run around Citizens United: passing state laws that ban rewarding campaign donors with political favors

Ray Metcalfe ("two term Alaska state legislator, Alaska’s 2016 Democratic Party Nominee for U.S. Senate, and whistle-blower whose actions resulted in the indictment of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens") has published model legislation that builds on the 9-0 Supreme Court decision in the corruption case of Virginia Governor McDonnell, a precedent Metcalfe interprets to mean that "While Citizens United guaranteed corporations the right to exercise political speech through political spending, Citizens United did not guarantee corporations the right to receive political favors in return.."

Metcalfe's model legislation makes it a Class C felony for "for public officials to legislate or engage in the formal exercise of governmental power to regulate or otherwise create competitive advantages for, or direct appropriations to themselves, their business partners, their clients, their immediate family, persons who have given them gifts, their past, present, or sought-after employers, or their contributors, including contributors to independent expenditure campaigns intended to increase the probability of their election," rising to a Class A felony if the Trial Court also finds that a public official who has violated (a) of this section, also engaged in an 'official act,' resulting in, or attempting to result in, a quid pro quo intended to convey something of monetary value, for something of monetary value in return. In return includes past or future campaign contributions."

After his work getting Ted Stevens indicted, Metcalfe worked with the FBI for two years on a string of corruption charges against Alaska state legislators that resulted in bribery convictions for four lawmakers and six lobbyists, so he's not playing around here.

While the legislation seems exciting (I am not a lawyer, so this is something that I'm only cautiously optimistic about), the project is pretty shoe-stringy, and Metcalfe is seeking donations and signups to build the project out.

(a) It is a class C felony (1 to 5 years prison) for public officials to legislate or engage in the formal exercise of governmental power to regulate or otherwise create competitive advantages for, or direct appropriations to themselves, their business partners, their clients, their immediate family, persons who have given them gifts, their past, present, or sought-after employers, or their contributors, including contributors to independent expenditure campaigns intended to increase the probability of their election.

(b) The penalty is increased to a class A felony (5 to 20 years prison) if the Trial Court also finds that a public official who has violated (a) of this section, also engaged in an “official act,” resulting in, or attempting to result in, a quid pro quo intended to convey something of monetary value, for something of monetary value in return. In return includes past or future campaign contributions.

(c) It is a class A felony to receive an appropriation or secure a competitive advantage over competition for profit through regulation or statute by inducing public officials to violate (a) of this section.

(d) Prohibited conflicts and official acts by public officials shall be narrowly construed. It is not applicable to contributions effecting votes on public policy unless that public policy also has a narrowly focused and substantial monetary impact on a select few. It is applicable to transactions with narrowly focused monetary consequences. Actions affecting legislation and/or regulations which similarly impact a broad spectrum of the population, and have relatively minor fiscal impacts incidental only to implementation, are exempt. Members of deliberative bodies may absolve themselves of potential conflict by entering their conflict into the record and refraining from voting.

(e) For purposes of governing limitations of actions, in a prosecution under this act, the statute of limitations begins to run with the last act associated with the violation and continues for ten years.

(f) The provisions of this Act are independent and severable. If any portion is found to be unconstitutional, the remaining portions remain enforceable.

A Game-Changer in Combating Corruption [Ray Metcalfe/Bribestop US]

(Thanks, Joshua!)