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The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments to appeal former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s corruption conviction, in a case that could set new limits on the relationships between politicians and donors, analysts say.

McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison in 2014 for accepting more than $165,000 from a businessman in gifts, getaways and loans.

But the former Republican governor is maintaining that he never did anything as the state’s chief official to benefit that donor – an argument that could turn out to be “the stronger one,” says Judge Andrew Napolitano.



“Virginia is the rare state that does not prohibit gifts. Most states would not let a governor receive gifts of this amount, no matter the purpose,” said the Fox News senior judicial analyst.

He noted that Virginia now has a rule prohibiting gifts to elected officials, when “at the time it didn’t.”

The argument in defense of McDonnell has been supported by Attorneys General on both sides of the aisle, said Judge Napolitano.

“Their argument is, ‘If you can go to jail because you received a gift and didn’t do anything in return, or because you threw a dinner party for somebody in the governor’s mansion, then a prosecutor could find somebody who accepted a cup of coffee and indict them for that.’”

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