18 U.S.C.S. § 666(a)(2) was a valid exercise of congressional authority under Article I of the Federal Constitution, notwithstanding that the statute did not require proof of a connection between the federal funds and the alleged bribe.
Petitioner real estate developer, who proposed to build a hotel and retail structure in the city of Minneapolis was indicted for offering bribes to a city councilman. The charges were brought under 18 U.S.C.S. § 666(a)(2). Before trial, petitioner moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that § 666(a)(2) was unconstitutional for failure to require proof of a connection between the federal funds and the alleged bribe as an element of liability. The trial court held that the law was facially invalid as outside Congress's power to legislate. The appellate court, in reversing, concluded that § 666 was a necessary and proper exercise of congressional power. The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the appellate court’s judgment.
Could a real estate developer be indicted under 18 U.S.C.S. § 666(a)(2) without requiring prosecutors to prove a connection between the federal funds and the alleged bribe as an element of liability?
While not every bribe or kickback offered or paid to agents of governments covered by 18 U.S.C.S. § 666(b) would be traceably skimmed from specific federal payments, that possibility portended no enforcement beyond the scope of federal interest because corruption did not have to be that limited to affect the federal interest. It is enough that the statute conditioned the offense on a threshold amount of federal dollars defining the federal interest and on a bribe that went well beyond liquor and cigars. Congress's decision to enact 18 U.S.C.S. § 666 only after other legislation had failed to protect federal interests was further indication that it was acting within the ambit of the Necessary and Proper Clause, U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 18.