Quid Pro Quo at Old Dominion

A Virginia state legislator, Republican Phillip Hamilton, apparently used his job to give half a million dollars to set up the Center for Teacher Quality and Educational Leadership at Old Dominion University. In return, Hamilton became director of the center. The cushy part-time job paid him $40,000 a year.

According to a piece in Talking Points Memo by Ryan Reilly:

[Hamilton] was convicted Wednesday on one count of federal program bribery and one count of extortion under color of official right. Hamilton will face up to 10 years in prison on the bribery charge and up to 20 years for the extortion charge when he is sentenced on Aug. 12, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The center apparently was supposed to “train teachers for success in urban school environments.”

“Bribery and extortion are never just the cost of doing business in government. Today’s guilty verdict should serve as a reminder to every legislator of the trust the public has in our elected officials,” Neil H. MacBride, the top federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that, elsewhere in the boardrooms of the Republic, Federal Communications Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker will leave the agency to become the top lobbyist at Comcast. Four months ago she approved the cable giant’s controversial $13.75 billion purchase of NBC from General Electric.

This sort of behavior is entirely legal, though ethically it’s pretty damn similar to what Hamilton was doing. Baker will no doubt get paid more than $40,000 at her new job.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer