One of the most despicable political weapons Democrats frequently use is the criminalization of ordinary political conduct. Republicans have used it in some cases as well, but by far the practice is more widespread and abused by Democrats, especially with respect to high profile office holders. In the last decade, Rick Perry, Tom DeLay, Ted Stevens and Scott Walker have all been subject to criminal charges or investigations based on conduct that appellate courts later found was not even unlawful.
Facing a criminal prosecution is ruinous both financially, politically, and to a person’s morale and peace of mind. And now you can add the name of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to that list. In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court overturned McDonnell’s criminal conviction as being based on conduct that was not illegal, and further held that if it was illegal, lobbying would effectively have become illegal in America without anyone noticing.
Certainly, the conduct of McDonnell (and his wife) was unbecoming and distasteful. Even Republicans widely criticized the crass manner in which the McDonnell family courted gifts from the lobbyists at issue. But the criminalization of the matter made it entirely more serious and likely cost Ken Cuccinelli any chance of election in Virginia. As with Ted Stevens in Alaska, an improper criminal prosecution was successfully used to obtain an important office for Democrats, even if the conviction was later overturned.