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"Alabama public corruption trials focus on bribes vs. donations"

The Birmingham News reports: Campaign contributions are the lifeblood of politics. But when exactly does a campaign contribution be­come a bribe? That's been a central question in the state's last two major public corruption trials as prosecutors ac­cused public officials of swapping donations for offi­cial actions. Defense law­yers say the line is fuzzy be­tween what is legal and what is not and say they hope the U.S. Supreme Court will review the bribery conviction of former Gov. Don Siegelman and offer up some clarity.

But others say that, if the line is drawn too tightly, then it would be nearly im­possible to prosecute poli­ticians for trading official actions for donations. ...

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in upholding Sie­gelman's conviction on the bribery charge, found that, while there has to be an ex­plicit agreement to swap money and action, it doesn't have to be verbalized. Jurors are free to interpret the ac­tions of defendants in deter­mining whether there was a corrupt deal, the court ruled.

Siegelman's lawyers have argued that loose standards and lack of clarity from the courts are dangerous and could lead to overzealous prosecutions. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama public corruption trials focus on bribes vs. donations | al.com

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