The Short Version: Public Corruption

The Short Version: Public Corruption

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, determine why an issue is important, and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story. Last week in The Short Version, Cleo Abram blogged about the strike by Verizon workers, but the meta of it all remains the future of labor and unions in this and other technologically advanced countries. This week, the subject is the fine line between what constitutes political favors and political corruption. The case of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is the Rolex in the room.

 If you missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, the stories appear.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

Cleo Constantine Abram of the “The Short Version,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben argues on behalf of the federal government in McConnell v. United States (more of his opinion below)

Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben argues on behalf of the federal government in McConnell v. United States (more of his opinion below)

Bob McDonnell, the 71st Governor of Virginia, was indicted on federal corruption charges exactly ten days after he left office in 2014. McDonnell and his wife were found guilty on most of the charges.

The scandal resulted from $177,000 in gifts from a political donor in exchange, the government’s argument goes, for organizing political meetings and facilitating access to government officials. To be found guilty of these political corruption charges, McDonnell had to have taken an “official action” quid pro quo, meaning he took that action because of something of value (like a Rolex) he received. The former governor was given a reduced sentence of two years, but allowed to remain free while he appealed the case in higher courts.

This past Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard the first oral arguments in the case, McDonnell v. United States.

Why is it important to you?

If you’re interested in setting up a meeting with a public official, pay attention. By establishing what qualifies as corruption, this case may limit how all politicians and the public interact in the future.

Maybe this isn’t surprising, but politicians on both sides are rooting for McDonnell. Federal officials from every administration since the early 1980’s wrote to the Supreme Court that McDonnell’s conviction “will cripple the ability of elected officials to fulfill their role in our representative democracy.”

The question in this case is: where is the line between legal political favors and illegal corruption?

Debate it!

This debate is something special. Because the case was just argued before the Supreme Court, we’re using excerpts from the real arguments in that debate.

Should Bob McDonnell be found guilty of the corruption charges against him?


Why “The Short Version” on TIO:

Eight+ years ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)

And now, this new weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance. (Though we won’t go political, or rather we won’t show bias in the upcoming election.)

“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist at Precision Strategies, a political consulting firm.

Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.

More about Cleo Constantine Abram:

Cleo Abram 2

Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist at Precision Strategies, a political consulting firm born of the Obama 2012 presidential campaign.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski!

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