CHICAGO -- Today’s Supreme Court ruling could greatly benefit former Governor Rod Blagojevich. The High Court made it harder for prosecutors to use federal fraud statues.
Today’s case involved former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell who was convicted on federal corruption charges in 2014. He was found to have received gifts, money and loans in exchange for official acts.
The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision vacated McDonnell’s conviction. The justices were concerned that federal laws allow prosecutors to mistake common favors with criminal acts.
So the justices defined what an official act is. How does this connect to former Governor Blagojevich? He was convicted of bribery, attempted extortion, and wire fraud -- some of that related to the trade of President Obama’s old Senate seat.
Under this ruling, perhaps Mr. Blagojevich’s actions could be seen as business as usual not a felony. In the Blagojevich case, no money exchanged hands. In the case of Governor McDonnell, there was money involved: $175,000 in gifts. All legal.
WGN legal analyst Terry Sullivan told us the justices obviously felt the federal corruption statues go too far:
“What the Supreme Court said was that you can’t just said that he took something and not prove that he did something about it. In other words, that he did something illegal. The Supreme Court really chastised the government and I think they’ve been waiting for this opening and I think that’s one of the reasons knowing that this case was coming down the line and I think that’s one of the reasons that they denied Blagojevich an appeal to the Supreme Court because they knew they were coming down with this case.”
Former Governor Blagojevich’s wife Patti reacted to today’s Supreme Court ruling with this Facebook post:
“Who knew that it was legal to accept $20,000 in designer clothes, $50,000 in loans, $15,000 for your daughters wedding, a Rolex watch, trips and other gifts totaling over $170,000 from someone who wants a favor from a governor??? Sometimes I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone….and still waiting for justice.”
Blagojevich’s legal team told WGN they are now focused on the former governor’s resentencing on August 9. Perhaps the judge will be more lenient in light of today’s ruling.