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Suozzi Proposes Legislation to Close “Official Acts” Loophole that Resulted in Overturned Political Corruption Convictions

September 27, 2017
Press Release
Brian Fitzpatrick, Republican Congressman and Former Head of FBI’s Political Corruption Unit, Cosponsors Bill

Today, Congressman Tom Suozzi introduced the Close Official Acts Loophole (COAL) Act, a bipartisan bill with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) aimed at clamping down on corruption by elected officials. Suozzi’s bill is in response to the recently overturned corruption convictions of former New York State Senate Leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, along with the recent indictments of elected officials on Long Island.

Last year, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling narrowed the legal definition of “official acts” by elected politicians. The Court’s decision was cited in the vacated convictions of Skelos and Silver.

“We can’t allow corruption convictions to be overturned based on legal technicalities,” said Rep. Suozzi. He added, “Passage of the bipartisan COAL Act would clarify Congressional intent and close the loophole opened by the Supreme Court. Those who profit on the public’s trust for personal gain must never be allowed to avoid punishment when we have the power to fix it. While the bill will not have an impact on the existing cases involving Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver, we must close this loophole to stop this from happening in the future. I am open to hearing additional suggestions from prosecutors and others on how to further strengthen anti-corruption laws in New York State and the United States,” said Suozzi.

“As a former FBI anti-corruption special agent who put politicians from both parties behind bars, I saw firsthand the need to strengthen the statutory language governing political corruption cases.  Corruption can and does take many different forms, and we must provide investigators and prosecutors with all the tools they need to combat the erosive effects that corruption has on our system of government,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, former FBI Supervisory Special Agent and national supervisor for the FBI’s Political Corruption Unit.