Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gas Tax for Free and The N.C. Board of Election Lawyer in Never Never Land

Let's start off this post to say that there should never be a time where a candidate for local, state or federal office in a campaign buys gas or any other item just to make a point because to many people this could be considered buying your vote.

We have seen a lot talked about this issue and the local TV station in News 2 do some inquiring with the State Board of Elections for a report that was very interesting to listen to here is that report CLICKHERE.

Then we have the State Board of Elections lawyer Don Wright send me this via email:
 Here is the first of two e-mails. I have added the article about recent cases about the need for quid pro quo.
See out below
Don Wright
The Supreme Court Eviscerates the "Honest Services" Statute
Courts have long interpreted the mail fraud and wire fraud statutes (18 U.S.C. §§ 1341-1351) as criminalizing not only schemes to defraud victims of money and property, but also schemes to defraud victims of intangible rights such as "honest services."
The statute, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1346, provided that a "scheme or artifice to defraud" includes a "scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services." Critics of § 1346 suggest that honest services fraud is a made-up crime with no real foundation. Courts, however, have found violations when there has been a breach of duty of loyalty, an intent to deceive, and conflicts of interest while taking official action that furthers that undisclosed interest, or when there has been undisclosed self-dealing, as well as when someone has received a bribe or kickback from a third party as a quid pro quo for some advantage from the employer.
Last term, the Supreme Court heard three cases concerning the honest services fraud statute: Black v. United States, Weyhrauch v. United States, and Skilling v. United States. On June 24, 2010, as anticipated, the Court sharply limited the scope of § 1346, invalidating the use of the statute except in cases involving bribery and kickbacks. Skilling v. United States, 561 U. S. __ (2010).
The ruling is a devastating blow that deprives prosecutors of an important tool in their efforts to fight public corruption and a disaster for good political governance. Prosecutors have long used § 1346 to target public officials who engage in malfeasance without evidence of a quid pro quo - the direct exchange of an official act for something of value. Honest services fraud typically has been charged when politicians have been offered a stream of value: i.e. meals, tickets and trips in exchange for a series of acts, but prosecutors are unable to tie any specific gift to a specific official act.
Despite the Court's assertion that the core of the honest services statute remains intact, a rash of prior convictions likely will be vacated and in the future, corrupt officials will have an easier time escaping accountability for their misdeeds. If Congress fails to rectify this disastrous decision, a broad range of public corruption will be largely immune from federal prosecution.
The Supreme Court stated specifically that if Congress wants to allow honest services fraud to be used in cases beyond those involving bribes and kickbacks, it needs to specify exactly what conduct is prohibited.
-----Original Message-----
From: Melvin, Lauren []
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:08 PM
To: Bartlett, Gary
Cc: Wright, Don; McLean, Johnnie
Subject: Re: Question regarding Trudy Wade for Senate event
Ok, thank you.
Sent from my iPhone
On Apr 18, 2012, at 12:04 PM, "Bartlett, Gary"<>> wrote:
Not a violation using signs, shirts and caps. This is a freedom of speech issue protected by the Bill of Rights. There was no quid-quo-pro in offering something of value in turn for their vote. It was open to the first 100 people regardless of age, citizenship, voting status or party.
From: Melvin, Lauren []
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 2:40 PM
To: Bartlett, Gary
Subject: Question regarding Trudy Wade for Senate event
Dear Mr. Bartlett,
Regarding the “Trudy Wade for Senate” campaign event in Whitsett this past Saturday…I know you advised Ms. Wade that her discounted gas event was lawful, but also offered this warning:
"Please note that if you or your campaign verbalizes or acts in a manner that could be reasonably construed as requesting a person's vote in conjunction with the event, those facts could put you or your campaign in violation of the law."
Our television station did attend this event, where Ms. Wade and all of her volunteers were wearing “Trudy Wade for Senate” shirts. There were also “Trudy Wade for Senate” signs displayed at the event.
You can find our story here:
Additionally, a viewer brought this to my attention as well.
Please explain -- how is this different from soliciting votes?
Lauren Melvin
Lauren Melvin
WFMY News 2
Then we see from the News 2 report where the Chairman of the State Board of Election Gary Bartlett chimed in on the issue of State Senate candidate Dr. Trudy Wade's workers who were wearing t shirts and signs promoting Trudy Wade for Senate all over the publicity stunt. 
Here's what State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett said:
"Not a violation using signs, shirts and caps. This is a freedom of speech issue protected by the Bill of Rights. There was no quid-quo-pro in offering something of value in turn for their vote. It was open to the first 100 people regardless of age, citizenship, voting status or party."
Hence, there was no violation

Getting this type of ruling opens up the Pandora's box for any candidate all over the state to do whatever they want to do as long as you do not say "VOTE FOR " which will be considered a quid pro quo but let's give you another issue that can happen which will be legal even in this senate race.

One of the other candidates is Justin Conrad who's family owns the Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants all over the triad and they have some restaurants in the area where he is campaigning for the senate seat. Now under the direction of our Board of Election it would be illegal for Justin Conrad to say vote for me and i will give you a free meal at Libby Hill. But let's give you a scenario that would be acceptable to the State Board of Election. Let's say that the election will be next Tuesday and Justin Conrad has well over $10,000 in his campaign coffers it would be legal under what the state is saying for Justin Conrad to have signs in front of Libby Hill to say Justin Conrad for Senate along with all his waiters and waitresses to have t shirts on as well and when the patrons of Libby Hill come up to the counter to pay they could let the people know that Justin Conrad paid for your meal and that would be legal under that State Board of Elections. How absurd.

Let's take it to the worse case scenario on this issue where you could feasibly sit outside a polling booth and hand out $10 bills to people walking by and just say Justin Conrad wants to say have a blessed day and this would be legal under the direction of the BOZOS from the State Board of Elections.

The State Board of Election along with their lead Attorney Don Wright are dead wrong on this issue and if they proceed with similar rulings it will open up a whole new can of worms and the State Legislature needs to tighten up these laws to never have a situation before a election where a candidate is paying for people's gas during campaign season or any season for that matter.

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