Many years ago, I spent a morning in the Pima County courthouse in Tucson, Ariz., talking politics with Conrad Joyner, one of the county supervisors. Joyner was running for Congress. I asked him if he expected to have any trouble raising money for his campaign. Joyner looked at me as if I had been born yesterday. “Are you kidding?” he said. “With all the zoning cases I’ve got coming up on the county board?”
I walked out of that courthouse trying to make sense of what I had just heard. Joyner seemed to be telling me he planned to extort campaign money from real estate developers who wanted his vote. Or maybe he just wanted the developers to think his vote was for sale so that he could pocket the money for his campaign and then vote his conscience. Either way, there was something sleazy about it. But if there were no conversations about a deal and no quid pro quo, the law couldn’t touch it. That didn’t seem quite right.