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Supreme Court to decide whether federal law criminalizes gratuities

The Supreme Court has decided to hear Snyder v. United States, No. 23-108 wherein a former mayor of Portage, Indiana, James E. Snyder, was convicted for accepting a payment of $13,000 from a trucking company after the trucking company won a bid to sell garbage trucks to the city. While now ex-Mayor Snyder claimed the payment was related to a transaction with his personal consulting business (and as the trucking company’s owner testified to in trial), the U.S. government supplied evidence that the payment was given as gratuity when the mayor approached the trucking company after its success in the bidding and selection process. The district court determined that Mayor Snyder was in violation of section 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B), which makes it a federal crime for a state or local official to “corruptly solicit[,] demand[,] … or accept[] … anything of value from any person, intending to be influenced or rewarded in connection with any” government business “involving any thing of value of $5,000 or more.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed.


The question before the Supreme Court is “Whether section 666 criminalizes gratuities, i.e., payments in recognition of actions the official has already taken or committed to take, without any quid pro quo agreement to take those actions.” The case is scheduled for argument during in 2024. By analogy, the case may have implications under Missouri state and local conflicts of interest laws as some may argue §105.450 RSMo. contains similar quid pro quo requirements (prohibiting an elected official from acting or refraining from acting “by reason of any payment, offer to pay, promise to pay, or receipt of anything of actual pecuniary value paid or payable, or received or receivable, to himself or any third person, including any gift or campaign contribution, made or received in relationship to or as a condition of the performance of an official act”). See e.g., Section 105.450(1) RSMo.

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