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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Federal prosecutors' awareness of political corruption at the state and local levels has recently increased concomitantly to the incidence of disclosures and prosecutions of similar corruption at the federal level. Because local law enforcement officials have frequently been unable or unwilling to pursue local political corruption, federal prosecutors have increasingly assumed responsibility for the policing of non-federal political criminal activity, even in the absence of definitive statutory grounds. In this article, the author examines the legal basis upon which federal prosecution of local political corruption is conducted. It is asserted that existing federal judicial and legislative limitations provide an inexact foundation for federal prosecution and, in actuality, promote potentially unconstitutional discretion on the part of federal prosecutors who pursue local corruption. The article identifies several constitutional issues arising from this prosecutorial discretion, especially noting the areas of the separation of powers and other federalism concepts. The article concludes with suggestions for means of limiting the discretion of federal prosecutors in the pursuit of non-federal political corruption.