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Mitch Perry Report for 6.28.16 – SCOTUS ruling on McDonnell case must delight compromised politicos across the land

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday unanimously overturned former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s conviction on corruption charges.

In case you’ve forgotten, McDonnell and his wife Maureen accepted more than $175,000 in nice gifts, such as $6,000 Rolex watches and $20,000 in designer clothing from a dude named Jonnie Williams, who was swarming around the couple in hopes that the governor would help some of his businesses, most prominently diet supplements.

But apparently there was never a smoking gun.

“There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the majority opinion. “But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.”

 The High Court said there was no “quo” in the quid pro quo allegation.

I do believe those politicians whose reputations are shall we say, a bit unsavory, were high-fiving anybody with their arm reach yesterday when they read the news.

Corruption? No doubt New York lawmakers  Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos  and their lawmakers were pleased after the SCOTUS decision.

Sheldon was the state assembly speaker, Skelos the Senate Majority Leader. The two men were separately convicted of various bribery and fraud charges last year and immediately ejected from office. They haven’t served any time yet, as their bail-pending-appeal hearings were postponed until after the McDonnell decision came down.

Susan Lerner, executive director of good-government group Common Cause/NY, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that the court “lives in a fantasy land that defies the common sense understanding of two New York juries.”

“By confirming that a pay-to-play culture is an inherent part of day-to-day politics, the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates for special interest groups to influence politicians, at the expense of American democracy,” Lerner added.

The McDonnell case could complicate the feds charges against New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Melendez, who is accused of using his office to benefit a South Florida optometrist in exchange for more than $1 million in gifts and campaign contributions.

In other news..

The Reverend Manuel Sykes won’t be the ballot this year in the HD 70 race, and it’s all because of a missed signature.

Eric Lynn says that despite what it might look like, he’s doing remarkably well in fundraising as he gets nearer the two-month timespan before he’ll face fellow Democrat Ben Diamond in the HD 68 race.

Both candidates were endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County over the weekend, while Lynn exclusively earned the backing from the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women.

And Stacy Frank, who had become seriously ill with cancer in recent months, passed away over the weekend. The Hillsborough Democrat will be fiercely missed by her friends and family.

Last week’s vote by the Hillsborough MPO to include the controversial TBX into the Transportation Improvement Program is still upsetting local residents in Tampa. On Monday, two critics of the FDOT proposal blasted the Tampa Bay Partnership’s support for the program, and said that an email that was sent out by an official with the group last week was meant to “intimidate”the four MPO members who opposed the project.

Rick Scott was in Tampa, where we asked him if he would be actively campaigning for Carlos Beruff, now that he’s spoken so highly of him in the Senate race vs. Marco Rubio.

The Governor was in Tampa at an event with those working to combat human trafficking in Florida, along with Attorney General Pam Bondi and Dover Republican state Representative Ross Spano.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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