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Lobbyist’s Sentence for Bribery Upheld

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<i> From Associated Press</i>

The bribery convictions and 6 1/2-year prison sentence of Clay Jackson, once the dominant insurance lobbyist in Sacramento, were upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the trial judge properly told the jury how to decide whether Jackson’s tape-recorded $250,000 offer to a state senator was a bribe. The court also emphatically rejected defense arguments that the prosecution violated Jackson’s constitutional right to represent his clients.

“Jackson’s bribery, money laundering, and mail fraud schemes provide such a clear and extreme case of corruption that there is no danger that legitimate lobbyists could confuse 1st Amendment political expression with the type of behavior for which Jackson was convicted,” Judge Alfred Goodwin said in the 3-0 ruling.

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Defense lawyer Harold Rosenthal said an appeal was planned. He said the ruling could discourage legitimate lobbying activity by failing to require proof that a bribe was offered in exchange for a specific official action.

Without that clear-cut distinction between legal contributions and illegal bribes, Rosenthal said, “people are going to be deterred from exercising important constitutional rights.”

U.S. Atty. Charles Stevens of Sacramento issued a statement saying Jackson’s “trial was fair, and the lengthy jail term is richly deserved.”

Jackson was the most prominent non-government figure tried in an FBI undercover vote-buying investigation at the Capitol that snared several legislators.

One was Sen. Alan Robbins, who agreed to act as an undercover informant in order to reduce his sentence.

Robbins, then chairman of the Senate’s insurance committee, tape-recorded a series of meetings with Jackson in 1991. At one point the two discussed the desirability of steering a workers’ compensation bill, opposed by Jackson’s clients, to Robbins’ committee. Robbins asked how much it would be worth, and Jackson said $250,000.

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