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July 2016 , Page 15 

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NACDL News: Supreme Court Rejects Expansive Interpretation of ‘Official Act’; Vacates and Remands Former Virginia Governor’s Case

By Ezra Dunkle-Polier, Katherine Holden, and Ivan J. Dominguez

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In an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, on June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected the government’s expansive interpretation of what constitutes an impermissible “official act” under the federal bribery statute, the Hobbs Act, and the federal honest services statute.

The government had alleged that “official acts” for the purposes of these statutes included merely arranging meetings, making introductions and hosting events in connection with the business interests of a constituent, Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams, from whom former Gov. McDonnell and wife Maureen accepted loans, gifts and other benefits. Gov. McDonnell, per the opinion, contended “that merely setting up a meeting, hosting an event, or contacting an official — without more — does not count as an ‘official act.’” The Court agreed, holding that “[t]aking into account the text of the statute, the precedent of this Court, and the constitutional concerns raised by Gov. McDonnell, we rej

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