The prosecution of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell could have far-reaching effects on federal public-corruption cases, making it easier for prosecutors to bring charges against those accused of abusing their official powers, legal experts tell the Washington Post. The case, assuming it survives an appeal, could encourage prosecutors to pursue similar charges against officials who take not-so-obviously significant actions on behalf of their alleged bribers and make it easier for them to win convictions.
“I think the case clearly pushes the boundary of 'official act' out a bit farther, and I think that's quite potentially important,” said Patrick O'Donnell, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis. “It's striking that here, McDonnell was not convicted on any traditional exercise of gubernatorial power. It wasn't about a budget or a bill or a veto or appointment or a regulation.” The McDonnells were convicted of conspiring to lend the prestige of the governor's office to Richmond businessman Jonnie Williams Sr. in exchange for $177,000 in gifts, vacations and sweetheart loans,