Let’s resume our legal and moral analyses of illicit promises, shall we? Why are such promises worth studying? Although the idea of an illicit promise may sound esoteric, exotic even, such promises are not infrequent, especially given the increase in federal and state criminal laws as well as evolving and expanding conceptions of morality. On pp. 3-4 of my work in progress “Breaking Bad Promises” (footnotes omitted), I mention the following recent examples, including the 2019 college admissions scandal, acts of alleged collusion between Donald J. Trump and foreign officials, and Robert Kraft’s massage parlor visits:
Several high-profile individuals … have recently been accused of making illicit promises or participating in schemes involving illicit promises. Consider the prominent actress Felicity Huffman, who was accused of paying someone to take her daughter’s college admissions entrance examination. Although, legally speaking, Ms. Huffman and dozens of other parents were charged with mail fraud and honest services fraud, their alleged wrongdoing consists of making multiple illicit promises. Consider also the oft-repeated allegations of “collusion” against President Donald J. Trump. More recently, a whistleblower has accused President Trump of attempting to obtain an illicit promise from Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of the Ukraine. Or consider the pending criminal prosecution of Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots football team, who was charged by the State Attorney’s Office of Palm Beach County, Florida with two counts of soliciting prostitution at a massage parlor. Prostitution, sex for hire, and human trafficking are paradigm cases of illicit agreements.