Phillip A. Hamilton, a former Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates accused of leveraging his office and power over the budget of Old Dominion University to set up a side gig at the school, was convicted Wednesday on one count of federal program bribery and one count of extortion under color of official right.
As TPM previously reported Hamilton pushed through a bill to give a center at the university $500,000 per year in exchange for being made director of the program, a position which paid him $40,000. From a DOJ press release:
Evidence at trial showed that Hamilton took numerous steps to conceal this arrangement, including telling ODU officials not to mention his name in connection with the center to members of the Virginia Senate Finance Committee; advising an ODU official to tell a Virginia senate staffer that the official, and not Hamilton, was the director of the center; and unsuccessfully attempting to persuade ODU leadership not to release incriminating emails in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that ODU had received.
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.
“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.
“Mr. Hamilton abused his political office for personal gain,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement. “His sweetheart deal ensured that only he would be considered for a position he created and shepherded through the Virginia General Assembly. Americans deserve more from their representatives, and today a Virginia jury showed that citizens will not tolerate these abuses.”