The Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section (“PCCRS”) enforces federal laws enacted to protect the public as a whole from corrupt government officials and to protect the individual rights of all people afforded by the United States Constitution. The types of cases addressed by PCCRS can be separated into three broad categories:
In general terms, corruption cases arise when a local, state, or federal public official receives things of value in exchange for performing, or failing to perform, official acts contemplated by the authority of their position. The public grants authority to officials and, in return, is entitled to receive honest services from all who serve in the government. The prosecutors and professional staff in PCCRS prosecute officials – such as politicians, law enforcement officers, government executives, and correctional officers -- who violate the public trust for the sake of self-enrichment.
PCCRS also handles violations of federal campaign finance laws. Politicians, along with their staffs and donors, are required to comply with laws that cap the amount that donors can give to a candidate for any particular election. Candidates for federal office must file reports with the Federal Elections Commission (“FEC”) detailing the identity of donors, the amount donated, and all expenditures of the money donated to a campaign. The FEC makes all of these reports available to the public via their website. PCCRS prosecutes federal campaign finance violations in order to promote fair elections in our democratic system.
PCCRS also prosecutes individuals, whether they be private citizens or public officials, who criminally violate the constitutional rights of individuals. The use of excessive force by law enforcement under the color of law is an example of how public officials can violate an individual’s civil rights. Private individuals who commit violent crimes motivated by bias – commonly known as hate crimes -- also violate federal civil rights laws. Hate crime laws recognize and defend the rights of all individuals, regardless of their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Hates crime laws also protect an individual’s right to engage in activities, such as the free exercise of religion, and protect property rights by criminalizing the destruction of religious property such as churches, synagogues, and mosques.