OFFICIAL ACT by Elected Officials

The United States Supreme Court in McDONNELL v. UNITED STATES held that an “official act” is a decision or action on a “question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy.” That question or matter must involve a formal exercise of governmental power, and must also be something specific and focused that is “pending” or “may by law be brought” before a public official. To qualify as an “official act,” the public official must make a decision or take an action on that question or matter, or agree to do so. Setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event—without more—does not fit that definition of “official act.”

The federal bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. § 201, makes it a crime for a public official to “receive or accept anything of value” in exchange for being “influenced in the performance of any official act.” An “official act” is a decision or action on a “question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy”; that question or matter must involve a formal exercise of governmental power, and must also be something specific and focused that is “pending” or “may by law be brought” before a public official. To qualify as an “official act,” the public official must make a decision to take an action on that question or matter, or agree to do so. Setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event — without more — does not fit that definition of “official act.”

2016-09-02T22:15:26+00:00 June 27th, 2016|Legal News|