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article imageDid Gingrich commit a felony promising Palin appointment?

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jan 20, 2012 in Politics
Newt Gingrich, in an interview with CNN 's Wolf Blitzer, promised to reward Sarah Palin with a presidential appointment. He made the promise a day after the former Alaska Governor offered an endorsement of his candidacy on Fox News.
Palin had told Fox's Sean Hannity: "I want to see this thing continue because iron sharpens iron. If I had to vote in order to keep it going, I would vote for Newt."
It was after Palin's unofficial endorsement, that Gingrich, in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, promise to reward Palin with a presidential appointment. According to Daily kos, Gingrich said: "I was honored and delighted last night when she said if she were in South Carolina, she’d vote for Newt Gingrich...I would ask her to consider taking a major role in the next administration if I’m president."
In the view of the Daily Kos writer, Gingrich's promise sends a message to other top ranking GOP personalities whose endorsement count that "endorse me and get a presidential appointment." According to Daily Kos, Gingrich's action is a "clear violation of 18 U.S.C. § 599." Daily Kos tells Gingrich: "...you've earned yourself two years in jail (unless the violation was unintentional, in which case it's only a single year in jail)."
Daily Kos quotes the relevant sections of U.S. law it alleges Gingrich violated:
"Whoever, being a candidate, directly or indirectly promises or pledges the appointment, or the use of his influence or support for the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
Daily Kos draws the reader's attention to the word "indirectly" and concludes: "...promising Palin her Quid Pro Quo via Wolf Blitzer's TV show comes under the heading of an indirect promise."
Did Gingrich commit a felony?
The story on Daily Kos has generated some online buzz with people expressing their views on whether or not Gingrich has committed a felony and whether he should be prosecuted. Others have been speculating on what sort of "major role" Gingrich has in mind for Palin. Most people commenting online say Gingrich might have been thinking of having her as Vice President.
This reporter sampled a few considered opinions on online forums and concluded that the overall consensus among Americans seems to be that Gingrich did not commit a felony.
Daily Paul is appalled that Gingrich could make such potentially costly slip. The writer exclaims: "What i...t!" But most readers commenting do not think that Gingrich committed a felony, though "Terrho8er" commenting wonders: "This is the second time. What is the point of having laws like this if people are too afraid to enforce them? Where will it end?"
"Mashimaros" argues: "The way he made the statement he probably could construe it as not being a 'pledge' or 'promise' of appointment, because he did not mention a specific position." "Rupert Pupkin," however, sets the general tone of consensus: "He could argue that his promise wasn't for the purpose of procuring support for his candidacy because he already had her support when he said it." "Nrose" supports "Pupkin": "That's what I was going to say. I doubt the law applies when the person has already given their support."
"RedDot" adds to the preponderance of considered opinions that Gingrich did not breach the law, saying: "He technically didn't offer a position, but he came as close it as possible without doing so. He also covered his butt by putting out a disclaimer that it would be inappropriate to actually do so."
The debate on RonPaulForums.com goes along the same line as Pupkin's, that Palin had already given support before Gingrich promised her a position.
"Jp5065" argues that, "The law says you can't promise a position in exchange for someones support; Palin has already given her support to Gingrich." "Angelac" agrees saying: "Yes, but if he offered her the position in exchange for the voters' support...I think the statute was written to avoid Chicago-style political favors, but it's an interesting question." Another forum member "mwkaufman" comments that: "This came up earlier with Bolton or Kissinger or whatever. No, it's not illegal and shouldn't be. If he bribed her that's one thing, but suggesting people would be welcome in your administration is not even close."
Beorn agrees with "Jp5065" and "Angelac," saying: "He might not have violated it since the interview was after he procured the support." Only "thoughtomator" disagrees, saying: "Yes he did, but he will not be prosecuted because we no longer have the rule of law."
More about Newt gingrich, Sarah palin, Felony, Appointment
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