According to the general legal outline that surfaced in the trial of Senator Bob Menendez, quid-pro-quo agreements between “abiding friends” can never be considered corruption or defined as ‘bribes’ because,.. just like non-public officials or business associates, close friends would do favors to help and repay each other.
In essence the legal definition of bribery for public officials now comes down to how long the two parties have known each other, and if they can show an abiding friendship. If two parties can show an “abiding friendship“, of undefined duration, no action taken by one party -to the benefit of the other party- can ever be considered bribery, regardless of the scope of the action.
You can bet a social networking strategy and Christmas Card lists of a whole bunch of politicians and public officials will be much longer this year. Everyone involved in paying-off public officials will now begin creating evidence of a much deeper friendship – which is now a proven legal defense.
(Reuters) – The corruption trial of New Jersey’s Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez ended in a mistrial on Thursday, after the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on bribery, fraud and other charges.
Menendez, 63, a longtime fixture in the state’s political circles who first joined the Senate in 2006, was accused of accepting private flights, campaign contributions and other bribes from a wealthy patron, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, in exchange for official favors.
The hung jury was a victory for Menendez and a major setback for federal prosecutors in what was the Justice Department’s first high-profile corruption trial since a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year limited its ability to bring such cases.
It was not immediately clear whether prosecutors would seek to retry Menendez, who is running for re-election next year, and his co-defendant Melgen. In a statement, the Justice Department said it would “carefully consider next steps in this important matter.”
[…] The case was seen as a test for prosecutors in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling vacating the bribery conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. In doing so, the high court narrowed the grounds for corruption cases.
The trial judge, Williams Walls, strongly considered a defense motion to throw out the case mid-trial in light of the McDonnell decision before deciding against it. (read more)