"Edit Update: Feb. 18, 2011) Judges throw out Hobbs Act Violation. How is this fair to the other politicians running for office? If a politician is anyone who runs for office, then it should not matter whether they actually win or not, no?
The Federal Hobbs Act case being tried by federal appeals judges in Philadelphia apparently has never occurred before. The defendants are trying to get the Federal Hobbs charges removed because they were not politicians at the time of the apparently illegal deeds they are alleged to have done. The Federal Hobbs Act violation that is being considered is the accepting of funds by a politician in exchange for further favors under the color of right.
This case is really a huge deal on many levels. What I did not understand were a couple of the judges questions and analogies, and more importantly, what wasn't asked. One judge seemed to be implying that it would be wrong to charge someone for burning their own house down just because the house was in what could be called "escrow". I don't really get that analogy. There were other prospective home buyers interested in that home and the act of burning the house down ruined the chances for others to buy the home.
What concerns me are the other, honest candidates that don't promise favors in exchange for money NOW, TO HELP WIN THE RACE. Violating the Federal Hobbs act under the color of right at the expense of other political candidates should therefore be on the table, no?
On the other hand, the government could easily meddle in ANY RACE since every candidate receives donations and anyone could then accuse them of accepting the money in exchange for favors after the candidate is elected. Although, since the government accusing political candidates of Hobbs Act violations apparently has not come up before, so maybe it would not be an issue.
The other issue that is not being brought up is, once a candidate gets signatures to become eligible to run for a political position, they are in fact a politician running for office. You don't become a politician by running and winning office, you become a politician once you convince enough people to sign your petition to run for office.
Otherwise, somebody who runs for office and loses could never call themselves a politician.