“Honest Services” to NYT Readers?

Once again, the New York Times has spotlighted the controversial “honest-services” law currently on the U.S. Supreme Court docket.

The honest-services law, on the federal books since 1988, broadly requires that public and corporate officials act in the best interests of their constituents or employers.

It has become an important tool for federal prosecutors, who used it successfully against the lobbyist Jack Abramoff and many of his associates. It is an element of the cases against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois; the former New York State Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno; and former Gov. Donald E. Siegelman of Alabama.

Hey, what about the Pride of  Boston’s North End, Salvatore F. DiMasi, who’s facing federal charges of honest-services fraud for “scheming to steer multimillion-dollar contracts to a Burlington software firm, Cognos, in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments” to himself and assorted cronies.

From a Boston Globe report last month headlined, “DiMasi, Vitale seek dismissal of charges:”

Former House speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Richard Vitale, his friend and former financial adviser, asked a federal judge yesterday to dismiss the corruption charges against them, challenging the law that US prosecutors have used to go after politicians and business leaders.

In a 17-page motion filed in US District Court, their lawyers argued that the “honest services fraud’’ law being used to prosecute DiMasi, Vitale, and two other men is “unconstitutionally vague.’’

Flash forward to this Monday, when the Times reported:

The Supreme Court will hear three cases concerning the honest-services law in this term, with two coming up for oral argument [today].

Later in the piece:

The third case, to be argued later in the term, involves Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron. He is arguing that the honest-services law is unconstitutionally vague.

Shades of Sal DiMasi!

The Times has been down this road before disrespecting DiMasi (as the hardworking staff recorded here).

Why all the hatin’ on Sal?

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