Cornyn Bill to Crack Down on Public Corruption passes Judiciary Committee

Advances bipartisan measure to restore integrity, trust in government

WASHINGTON-The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to crack down on public corruption, provide additional resources to investigators and prosecutors, and toughen penalties for public corruption offenses. The Public Corruption Prosecution Improvements Act, S.1946, now moves to the full Senate for consideration. Sen. Cornyn is a member of the Judiciary Committee and Vice Chairman of the Ethics Committee.

"Public corruption is not a Republican or Democratic problem. It's not just in Washington, D.C. either. It is a problem in statehouses and city halls across this country," Sen. Cornyn said. "This legislation strengthens our efforts to combat public corruption by making substantive reforms to public corruption laws, and by giving prosecutors new tools to use in their battle against corrupt officials. We must restore integrity and Americans' trust in their government. This legislation sends a strong message and demonstrates just how serious we are about stamping out this problem."

The Public Corruption Prosecution Improvements Act strengthens the enforcement of U.S. federal laws for public corruption offenses by increasing the maximum punishments on several offenses, including theft and embezzlement of federal funds, bribery, and a number of corrupt campaign contribution practices. Also, a total of $100 million will go to the Department of Justice and the Offices of Inspectors General for combating public corruption.

The bipartisan legislation will do the following:

  • Toughen the prohibition against bribery in connection with programs receiving federal financial assistance;
  • Increase maximum penalties for theft of government property, bribery and other public corruption offenses;
  • Include certain government theft and bribery offenses as predicates for racketeering prosecutions and wiretaps;
  • Revise the definition of "official act" for purposes of public corruption prosecutions;
  • Establish a six-year limitation period for the prosecution of certain public corruption crime relating to bribery, theft of government property, mail fraud, and racketeering; and
  • Revise prohibitions against mail and wire fraud to include the taking of any other thing of value (in addition to money or property) in the commission of such crimes.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee's Airland subcommittee.