(CN) - The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell's appeal of conviction on public corruption charges.
McDonnell was convicted on charges that he used his office to help Jonnie Williams Sr., whose company made a diet supplement, in return for $177,000 in loans, free vacations and a wide array of luxury gifts the businessman provided the governor and his wife.
McDonnell has maintained the gifts were simply gifts and therefore legal, and that no quid pro quo occurred as extended no more than routine political courtesies to Williams.
A jury disagreed, concluding in September 2014 that the governor's actions on behalf of his friend amounted to corruption. The Fourth Circuit later upheld the conviction, for which the former governor was sentenced to two years in prison.
His wife, Maureen McDonnell, received a sentence of a year and a day in prison,
"This is the first time in our history that a public official has been convicted of corruption despite never agreeing to put a thumb on the scales of any government decision," McDonnell's brief says.
Last year, the justices said McDonnell could stay out of prison while it considered whether to grant his writ of certiorari.
As is their custom, they did not explain the rationale for their decision to take up the case, but did limit their review to only one of the two cases McDonnell presented: whether "official action" is limited to exercising actual governmental power, threatening to exercise such power, or pressuring others to exercise such power, and whether a jury must be so instructed.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.