Common Cause Statement on Supreme Court Decision, McDonnell V. United States

NEW YORK, NY (06/27/2016)(readMedia)-- The Supreme Court ruled today in favor of the plaintiff in McDonnell V. United States, overturning ex-Governor Bob McDonnell's conviction on corruption charges. McDonnell had been convicted in 2014 on a slew of corruption charges, related to interactions he had with a private corporation.

In response, Susan Lerner, Executive Director for Common Cause New York, released the following statement.

"The Supreme Court lives in a fantasy land that defies the common sense understanding of two New York juries. Today's ruling in McDonnell V. United States could have dramatic effects on New Yorkers and their government. By confirming that a pay-to-play culture is an inherent part of day-to-day politics, the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates for special interest groups to influence politicians, at the expense of American democracy. The decision could also affect the cases surrounding Dean Skelos and Shelly Silver, as well as the abiity of federal prosecutors to target and eliminate corruption in government."


In 2014, Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell and his wife were indicted on corruption charges, charged with fourteen different counts all related to accepting gifts from Jonnie Williams, a CEO of a corporation with business before the state.

In return for accepting vacations, loans, and designer watches and apparel, McDonnell promoted Williams' product, Anatabloc, hosting events for him and encouraging state and private universities to conduct research on the supplement. He indicated that he had paid back the loans to Williams at the time of his indictment.

After a trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, he was found guilty, convicted of honest services wire fraud, and extortion and obtaining property both under color of official right.

McDonnell appealed the decision, but in July of 2015, the Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction. McDonnell again appealed to the Supreme Court, and in August 2015, the Supreme Court ordered that McDonnell remain free pending its decision. The court agreed to take the case in January of 2016.