The Federalist Society Teleforum: The Chilling Effect? United States v. Ring

Location: Washington, D.C.
After one mistrial, Kevin Ring, a former associate of Jack Abramoff's who was involved in the Indian lobbying scandal, was convicted of honest services fraud and sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for giving meals and event tickets to public officials with an intent to corrupt them. The trial judge allowed evidence of legal campaign contributions, which prosecutors said showed how Ring gained access to public officials, although the judge told the jurors to not consider the contributions as part of the "illegal stream of benefits" Ring was charged with providing officials.

In Skilling v. United States (2010), the Supreme Court held that to prove "honest services" fraud under 18 U.S.C. §1346, the government must prove bribery and quid pro quo--an exchange of a thing of value and an official act taken in response. Ring's appeal was recently argued before a panel of the D.C. Circuit. Does this prosecution threaten to chill, even criminalize, a broad range of innocent conduct, particularly campaign contributions and standard "wine and dine" lobbying practices?

Timothy O'Toole, who represents Kevin Ring, will discuss these and other issues involved in this important case during this hour-long teleconference.
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