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blaisepascal
A friend of mine posted a friends-only LJ post (which appears to be deleted) in which she stated that she didn't have a problem with Spitzer hiring prostitutes per se, but the "Mann Act" violations -- having one of the prostitute cross state lines for sexual purposes -- bothered her, as being pretty close to human trafficking.

As I understand it, "Kristen" was required by her employer to travel from DC to New York City to perform work-related duties. Aside from the nature of some of the duties, how is that different than my employer sending me to Bedford MA for a week of training, or belmikey's employer sending him to South Korea for a few days, or skreidle's employer routinely sending him all over Virginia, DC, and Maryland at odd hours to keep their customers happy? Why is that required business-related travel acceptable, but Kristen traveling from DC to NYC for her job[1] not?

Update, clarification: I know about the Mann Act, and I know it makes it illegal to transport people across state lines for immoral purposes. My question isn't "Is a prostitute travelling from DC to NYC for work illegal?" but more like "Should it be illegal?" What distinguishes out-of-state work for a call-girl from out-of-state work for a tech support guy?[2] Sure, the work itself is illegal, but should traveling for the job be?

[1] you cannot believe how hard it was to avoid "customer service" jokes. Oops. Failed.
[2] I've also been resisting the joke that on-site tech support guys and call-girls both travel for the purpose of servicing their customers equipment. Again, I failed.

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One presumes that the laws against crossing state lines for illegal purposes are there to discourage people from taking advantage of differing state laws. It might also have to do with the notion that when one crosses state lines, one enters a different jurisdiction, and thus, when caught, require both sets of entities to spend their resources on dealing with the fallout.

Just hypothesizing - I suppose I could actually look up the history of the Act, but I'm lazy.

laws against crossing state lines

From what I was just reading the issue is states rights. The federal government can not make laws against prostitution because that is a state right. But the federal government can regulate business between states.

For instance: It is legal in Nevada to hire a prostitute. But if you take her for a drive out of state you can be prosecuted under the Mann Act for "trafficking". Theoretically you could be prosecuted even if prostitution was legal in the neighboring state as well. Once you cross a state line you are under the jurisdiction of the federal government not any individual state.

I agree with you it was "work related travel" not "human trafficking".

Most laws against Human Trafficking specify the use of force or fraud against the victim. But the Mann Act seems to apply even if both parties are willing and no money is involved.

And then there is the New York State Human Trafficking Law which Spitzer himself helped pass. It "Creates a class B felony for those who engage in sex trafficking" which seems to me to cover work related travel for prostitutes, even if they are willing. Although I could not find a copy of the actual law just press releases about it.

While everyone squacks[1] about the sex aspect on the Mann Act, it was actually written to make crossing state lines to perform an illegal act a federal crime. They could conceivably go after someone who intentionally goes across state lines to beat someone so badly that they end up in the hospital, and might if the person admits in a confession that they intentionally drove from Ithaca, NY to Roselle, NJ to beat the victim unconscious.

The fact that Kristen had to travel wasn't illegal, but her job was. A niggling point, but an important one. The order to go, and the actual travel wasn't, but the moment that the sex trade began with Spitzer [2], it became a Mann Act violation.

[1] Not a misspelling.

[2] Given the subject, and his last name, why has there not been any 'Swallower' jokes? (Because not everyone is as crude as me? *grin*)

That wasn't quite what I said, but that's a moot point. I did not have the time to be as thorough in developing the thought as I would have liked, so I deleted it - because I still need to focus on work (once I return from lunch).

You misunderstand.

It's not that the transportation is really a crime in and of itself (unless it's proven to be human trafficking).

It's that it makes what would otherwise be a local crime a federal one, because it becomes a question of interstate commerce.

My understanding is that the travel isn't illegal - until the moment the illegal act starts. An odd and overly legalistic consideration, but important.

The travel isn't illegal, per se. The travel gets considered illegal if it was for the sole purpose of committing a crime, once the crime has begun.

That's how I understand the law, at least.

The Mann Act has a very interesting history: what it was designed to do, at least initially, was to prevent "White Slavery". It's very archaic in language - and among other things, was used to get Heavyweight Champ Jack Johnson in legal trouble. His real trouble is that he was taking white women (who was indeed a prostitute) across state lines in the early 1900s - Johnson was the first African-American Heavyweight Champ.

Here's more detail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mann_Act

It's been kept on the books much like a number of other laws - in order to catch criminals guilty of other acts the Feds don't yet have a good case for. For example, they never caught Al Capone for Racketeering. They got him for failing to declare income taxes on his earnings - even though the earnings themselves could never be documented. They inferred it from Capone's fabulous wealth and lifestyle. It's not the exact law: the Income Tax Act of 1913 was designed to tax people engaged in legitimate trades. For these reasons, sometimes the law is unchanged, because its application in certain circumstances (such as this one with Governor Spitzer) may still apply in rare circumstances as a convenient "gotcha" law until more serious charges can be applied.

Now that said, "should" there be a Mann Act? Probably not - it has a negative racial connotation and probably should be replaced by a more modern statute. But right now, Congress is frying other, bigger fish.

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