In an appearance on Friday's Fox & Friends, Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano claimed that it may be illegal for Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) to vote for the health care reform proposal because of his brother Scott Matheson's nomination to the federal bench. After being asked if it puts “more pressure on the congressman, the brother, to vote no on health care, because now it's being exposed,” Napolitano declared: “Yes. There's a statute called the honest services law, which basically makes it a crime to do the right thing for the wrong reasons.”
Don't bother trying to figure out what Napolitano is talking about. It's a bizarre and baseless claim.
The larger point here is that there is no evidence that, if Rep. Matheson voted for the health care reform proposal, it would be for the “wrong reasons.” In fact, basically everyone involved in the nomination has stated that the idea that Scott Matheson's nomination has anything to do with Rep. Matheson's vote is ridiculous. According to Politico, Rep. Matheson's spokeswoman “called the question 'patently ridiculous,' saying there was no deal made between her boss and the president that guranteed [sic] Scott Matheson's nomination in exchange for Rep. Matheson's vote.” Politico also reported that a “White House official calls the charge 'absurd.' 'Scott Matheson is a leading law scholar and has served as a law school dean and U.S. Attorney. He's respected across Utah and eminently qualified to serve on the federal bench,' the official said.”
But you don't have to take the White House's and Rep. Matheson's word for it. According to Politico, a spokesperson for Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah said the exact same thing: “Sen. Bennett has heard of all kinds of pressure being applied and offers being made to Democrats for votes on health care, but Scott Matheson's nomination is not one of those because it has been in the works for a long time.”
To be clear, neither Napolitano nor anyone else has pointed to any evidence whatsoever that Scott Matheson's nomination may cause Rep. Matheson to cast his vote on health care for the “wrong reasons.” Indeed, all available evidence indicates that the nomination and Matheson's vote have nothing to do with each other. Nevertheless, Napolitano has launched the desperate attack that if Matheson votes a certain way on the health care reform bill, he may be a criminal.