When Is A Bribe Not A Bribe?

I can't answer the question in the post title -- apparently no one has told me all the rules, but I would have called this a "bribe" rather than a "gracious gesture," as Kevin Drum does:

The latest rumor making the rounds is that maybe
Barack Obama will pay off Hillary's $11 million loan to her campaign if
she quits the race. I suppose that makes some kind of sense "” and it
would be a gracious and unifying gesture from Obama

If Newt Gingrich had paid a fellow politician $11 million to drop out of the Spearker's race against him, that would have been a, what?  Gracious gesture?  I doubt it.


  1. Booklegger:

    It's a private contract between private actors. Provided Clinton isn't removed from ballots, the rights of any other persons are unharmed. They can still vote for her, it just won't mean a hill of beans.

    Since that's not too far off from the current situation... :)

  2. David:

    Doesn't the money have to come from the Obama campaign - and be donated to the Clinton campaign. Seems like $11 million should violate limits of McCain-Feingold.

    I'm sure I'm wrong on this - because it seems like its been done before...

  3. Scott:

    Wow. Does this mean President Obama will let Boeing pay off Lockheed to drop out of the bidding for a particular contract? I love the future.

  4. Larry Sheldon:

    It might be sill.
    It might be stupid.
    It might be un-necessary.
    It might be ill-advised.
    It might be wrong in some way.
    But it is not (I sincerely hope) bribery.

    Bribery is the payment of money to an official (elected, appointed, or hired) to influence the perfomance of official duties by that official.

    I hope Shrillary is not an official anything in this transaction.

  5. Mesa Econoguy:

    When Is A Bribe Not A Bribe?


    When Monica Lewinsky’s cover trail doesn’t involve several Pentagon desk Generals.

    But that was a “private matter,” wasn’t it?

    If I were a political dirt-digger, perhaps affiliated with some non-Clinton-affiliated organization, I would start with the Pentagon promotions in say, 1997, perhaps in the nuclear non-proliferation intel area.

    Hypothetically speaking....

  6. M. Hodak:

    It could be viewed as an investment. He pays a little now to save a lot later.

  7. dearieme:

    An article in one of the British papers suggested that part of the pay-off would have President Obama nominate Bill Clinton for the Supreme Court. I do hope they were joking.

  8. Larry Sheldon:

    If the judgeship is part of the intent, then it would be a bribe.

    It isn't clear to me why it is important to sort out the label details, isn't "graft" inclusive?

  9. Mesa Econoguy:

    I’m not 100% sure, but I believe Bill Clinton would be ineligible to serve in the Court due to his disbarment as part of his perjury punishment.

    He was (and may still be) prohibited from practicing in front of the Court. But who knows? Our legal system is so screwed up it probably would allow a perjurer to serve as an officer and arbiter…

  10. Aaron:

    Eh. I don't know about that. It's a private contract. Is it any worse than giving Hillary a vice presidential slot (in other words, a free ticket to the second highest public office in the land) to get her to drop out? Even if one considers it bribery, I'd it's the best kind of bribery. After all. Doesn't let Hillary anywhere near the Oval Office. Any bribery to that end would be just fine with me.

  11. bob r:

    "I’m not 100% sure, but I believe Bill Clinton would be ineligible to serve in the Court ..."

    We should be so lucky. The u.s. constitution does not place _any_ restriction on the _past_ history of people as an eligibility criteria to become a u.s. judge. It does specify that they "... shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, ..." (Art. III, Section 1.)

    Considering the moral qualities of most politicians, I pretty sure the only "Behaviour" that could get someone evicted from office is something that also lands said judge in prison. And I am not so sure that _is_ sufficient -- just that it is a necessary condition.