In the article “What ‘Pay to Play’ Ruling Means For School Leadership” published by the Association of California School Administrators’ Leadership magazine, Partner Gregory Rolen discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s 8-0 ruling to vacate the corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, and how California School Board Trustees can avoid accusations of pay to play or quid pro quo conduct.
McDonnell had been initially prosecuted under the Hobbs Act, which is nearly identical to California’s Penal Code § 68. “The California equivalent to the Hobbs Act is Penal Code Section 68, which reads, ‘Every officer, employee, or appointee… who asks, receives or agrees to receive any bribe, upon any agreement… that his or her vote, opinion or action upon any matter then pending, or that may be brought before him or her in his or her official capacity, shall be influenced thereby, is punishable by impris¬onment in state prison,’” Rolen explained.
“Trustees exercise influence in many ways. They ‘provide direction’ on matters concern¬ing school policy, finances, personnel, con¬tracts, and let us not forget the bully pulpit of the dais. Trustees control the careers of most school administrators,” Rolen wrote.
In effort to prevent accusations of engaging in pay to play conduct, Rolen encourages all Trustees to avoid any actions or behavior which may be misconstrued as conflicts of interest. “Meeting with constituents may be conscientious public service, but it can be fraught with peril when constituents give the official something of value,” he said.