Today, I am going to discuss Rudy Guliani and his starring role in the soon to be a hit, made for the small screen not ready for prime time bit players mini-brained TV series “Ukraine.” Kind of like “Dallas”, but without the charm of big city homicidal oilmen or their slutty, backstabbing, petty gossipy, housewives of Texas wives. Coming soon to an impeachment inquiry near you.  

It has spawned my interest in a little known federal law I would venture a guess very few Americans, including most if not all of the Trump cabinet are aware of. I have always liked things that are obscure.

For example, I have been known to spend an inordinate amount of time looking for music that “no one” has ever heard of, much less heard. I was into “world music” before there ever was such a generic all-encompassing term. Back then, we called it “Nonesuch Music”, named after the label that released recordings from India (Ravi Shankar), Indonesia (Gamelan), Japan, (Koto) and so many other viable, vibrant and interesting musical communities not readily available on the radio or in your favorite chain record store. Licorice Pizza comes to mind, you might find a disc or two at Tower, but that was about it. Of course, today all the musical wonders of the universe, including sound recordings of Saturn’s rings are available via the Internet. NASA calls them “Spooky Space Sounds.”

https://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/features/halloween_sounds.html

I’m not sure the celestial sounds of our universe are going to make the Billboard Top 40, but it is somehow strangely reassuring to me they are available, for free, at the click of a mouse.

For those of you who have read this column before, you know I also have a penchant for obscure documents. In past Rants, I’ve explored such little known, but important, early American documents as the Fairfax County Resolves, a set of resolutions adopted in 1774 by Virginia. Written in part by George Washington and George Mason, the Resolves were Virginia’s “wish list” of political reform measures sent to King George in an effort to avoid a war for independence that, at least for the moment, neither side wanted. The Resolves also contains a rather testy and explicit threat to King George should he choose to continue to ignore the freemen of Fairfax County and their request (demand?) for the preservation of their Lives, Liberties and Fortunes.

“Resolved that this Colony and Dominion of Virginia can not be considered as a conquered Country; and if it was, that the present Inhabitants are the Descendants not of the Conquered, but of the Conquerors.”

https://www.loc.gov/collections/george-washington-papers/articles-and-essays/fairfax-resolves/

The Conquerors, you’ve got to love that. At least I do.

Now, I also re-confirm my similar predilection for somewhat less than what one might call common knowledge statutes, in particular, those addressing criminal law. And I prefer the white-collar variety. International is interesting. too. Graft and corruption in the smoke filled, possibly with a hookah these days, backrooms of golf courses and brothels. Ah, the life.  

So today, for your database and further entertainment, I offer up that little known federal law,the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FCPA addresses American citizens both at home and abroad who seek to offer “gifts” and other “payments” to foreign officials in return for “special treatment” in their countries. In short, if it would be illegal to do it here, it’s also illegal to do it there.

To make a case under the FCPA you need to find a “causal connection” between three key elements;

  • The use of American “Interstate Commerce,” meaning phone lines, the Internet, even the US Post will do.
  • The Defendant offering something of “value” to a “foreign official”. The terms value and “foreign official” are defined broadly including persons including government officials and persons of political parties.
  •   The defendant knowingly, corruptly, or willfully sought to influence an official act or to secure an improper advantage.

Hence, our not-so-bright Star of the now-playing Ukraine series begat my interest in this vague, enigmatic, almost esoteric, Act regulating the actions of American citizens and their illegal attempts to gain an unfair, anti-competitive advantage by wrongfully influencing foreign businesses and governments?

Why, that would be the burgeoning presidential scandal in the Ukraine, also soon to be known as the subject matter of the first article of the impending presidential impeachment.

Rudy, if you are listening, forget about Hilary’s emails. You need to take a look at the FCPA, and fast. I’m thinking, you, as a private citizen and attorney have no particular immunity from prosecution under executive privilege or whatever mythic super power Trump might make up next. Quintessential fall guy if you ask me. Oh, and that bit about being crazy, the SDNY won’t fall for it, but I thought you might know that, considering you used to play an honorable role there.

 

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