Clean Up Government Act of 2011 (H.R. 1793 & 2572)

Introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the Clean Up Government Act of 2011 (H.R. 2572 and H.R. 1793), would make myriad changes to Title 18 of the U.S. Code to expand the scope of a number of federal criminal laws targeting fraud, theft, bribery, embezzlement, racketeering, and other forms of so-called public corruption. The bills would also increase the criminal penalties for certain public corruption offenses, expand the federal venue provisions for a wide range of federal offenses (including perjury and obstruction of justice), and broaden the applicability of the federal wiretap authorization statute. Originally introduced as H.R. 1973, Rep. Sensenbrenner re-introduced the legislation, with some minor changes, as H.R. 2572. 

Specifically, the provisions of the bill make the following changes to Title 18 of the U.S. Code:  

  • Expand the scope of the federal mail and wire fraud statutes (18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1343) to cover “money, property, or anything of value” (i.e. expansion to licenses, permits and other intangible items) and clarify that the theft and bribery provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 666(c) also apply to the same;  
  • Expand the predicate offenses available for the charging of RICO violations under 18 U.S.C. § 1961;    
  • Greatly expand the scope of the federal honest services fraud statute (18 U.S.C. § 1346A) to cover a broad range of “undisclosed self-dealing” by local, state, and federal government officials;    
  • Broaden the definition of an “official act” under the illegal gratuities portion of the bribery statute (18 U.S.C. § 201(c)(1)) and modify its language to prohibit gratuities given because of an “official’s or person’s official position or any official act” and not solely because of “any official act”;  
  • Decrease the protection of the "de minimus" threshold for federal embezzlement offenses by lowering it from $5,000 to $1,000;  
  • Broaden the scope of the federal venue provision (18 U.S.C. § 3237(a)) to allow for proper venue in “any district in which an act in furtherance of an offense is committed” and specifically widen the scope of the federal venue provision for perjury and obstruction of justice prosecutions (see 18 U.S.C. § 1512(i)); 
  • Extend the statute of limitations for public corruption offenses to six years (H.R. 1793 extends it to ten years) and  
  • Increase the maximum criminal penalties for several of public-corruption offenses, including ten-fold increases in some instances. 

NACDL published critical analysis of both versions of the Clean Up Government Act and is actively working against this troubling, problematic legislation.  At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on H.R. 2572, NACDL Member Timothy P. O'Toole testified on behalf of NACDL about the serious flaws present in the bills.  NACDL submitted a letter to House Judiciary Committee prior to its markup of H.R. 2572.  NACDL has also submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee about two Senate versions of this bill, S. 401 and S. 995, prior to the mark-up of those bills.  All of these materials are available below.

Legislative UpdateOn January 31, 2012, Senators Leahy and Cornyn introduced S.AMDT. 1483 to the STOCK Act (S. 2038) in an effort to enact various stalled public corruption proposals into law.  The amendment was substantially similar to H.R. 2572 and included an alleged Skilling-fix.  NACDL warned Senators of the dangerous nature of this amendment prior to its introduction and again on February 1, 2012, prior to a vote on the measure.  Read those letters here.  S.AMDT. 1483 was ultimately added to the Senate version of the STOCK Act but House leadership removed it from the version of the STOCK Act the House passed on February 9, 2012.  Read NACDL's Press Release on that vote here.  Several months later, in September 2012, the House Judiciary Committee reported H.R. 2572 to the full house, but no further action has been taken on it.

Resources on the Clean Up Government Act of 2011

NACDL Letter on H.R. 2572, Clean Up Government Act of 2011 (as amended) 

Section-by-Section Analysis of H.R. 2572, Clean Up Government Act of 2011 (as revised)  

Section-by-Section Analysis of H.R. 1793, Clean Up Government Act of 2011 (as originally introduced)   

Written Statement of NACDL Board Member Timothy P. O'Toole Before the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on "H.R. 2572, the Clean Up Government Act of 2011" 

Webcast & Witness Statements - House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on "H.R. 2572, the Clean Up Government Act of 2011" 

NACDL Letter on S. 401, the Public Corruption Prosecutions Improvements Act, and S. 995, the Public Officials Accountability Act  

Written Statement of Timothy P. O'Toole on behalf of NACDL Before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on "Restoring Key Tools To Combat Fraud and Corruption After the Supreme Court's Skilling Decision" 

Materials on the Public Corruption Prosecution Improvements Act of 2011 (S. 401 and S. 995) 

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