After I wrote yesterday about the race for a seat on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, a disturbing question came to mind:
Has Republican strategist Karl Rove succeeded with his long-running campaign to intimidate Democratic candidates for statewide offices in the Deep South?
In his seminal reporting on the Bush Justice Department, Scott Horton of Harper's magazine has raised numerous important points about the motives behind political prosecutions, such as the Don Siegelman case in Alabama and the Paul Minor case in Mississippi.
Two points, in particular, are rattling around in my head at the moment:
* The goal behind the Mississippi prosecution apparently was to dry up a key source of financial support for Democratic candidates. Paul Minor, an attorney who had become wealthy from bringing successful litigation against the asbestos and tobacco industries, was one such donor--in Mississippi and beyond. Minor was a major supporter of John Edwards' presidential campaign, and Horton has reported that Bush strategists had fingered Edwards as the most likely threat to Dubya's re-election in 2004. That evidently helped make Minor a target for the Bush DOJ--along with state judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield, who had received Minor's campaign support. Minor, Teel, and Whitfield all are in federal prison for crimes that, as we have shown in an extensive series of posts here at Legal Schnauzer, they did not commit. The message? If you give to Democratic candidates in a deep red, Deep South state, you will come to regret it.
* The goal of the Alabama prosecution apparently was to eliminate a Democrat who had a troubling habit of beating Republicans in statewide elections. Siegelman had done it four times--in races for secretary of state, attorney general, lieutenant governor, and governor. Rove and Co. evidently decided, "By God, he's not going to get re-elected as governor." And they used a federal investigation, and disappearing vote totals overnight in heavily Republican Baldwin County, to accomplish that goal. The message? If you are a Democrat who beats us at the ballot box in a deep red, Deep South state, we will make you pay.
Those messages came to mind after I wrote yesterday that Presiding Judge William C. Thompson, a Republican, is almost certainly going to be re-elected to his seat on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals--even though he is demonstrably corrupt. I know Thompson is corrupt because I had an appeal before him in 2005, and Thompson swept the unlawful trial-court judgment under the rug by issuing a no-opinion affirmance.
Thompson appears to be a shoo-in for re-election because Democratic challenger Kimberly Drake has not been able to put up much of a fight. My post drew the following response from Robert Sullivan, Drake's campaign manager:
To quickly and briefly respond to the Legal Schnauzer blog, we’re putting up as much of a fight as we can, given our resources.
Thompson does lead Drake in campaign contributions--this is Alabama and a Democrat will always face an uphill battle. He is a beneficiary of the same backers as Shaw (Greg Shaw, running for Alabama Supreme Court) and is another product of Rove’s gaming of Alabama’s elections.
However, Kim has TV spots scheduled to appear this week, as are some radio spots. She has given interviews with several newspapers and a radio station. She also appeared at the judicial fundraiser and candidate forum at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
In the mean time, Drake is still a mother of three and a lawyer, while Thompson has time to fritter away.
We are also reaching out to Christians, who are unhappy with Thompson. Politics makes for strange bed fellows.
This is not over.
I hope Sullivan is right, and I didn't mean to imply that Drake isn't doing the best she can do. In fact, she has two sure votes here in the Schnauzer household, and I encourage all Alabamians to vote for her.
My main point was this: Bill Thompson needs to be booted out of office, and it's a crying shame that the Alabama Democratic Party could not help a candidate (either Drake or someone else) put up a serious fight. For two or three years now, I've been trying to tell Alabama Democratic leaders that I can prove the all-Republican Court of Civil Appeals is corrupt--and I've been willing to go public with it. But Democrats have not been able to take advantage, and as a result, Bill Thompson almost certainly will get another six years on the bench.
But back to Karl Rove: Is it possible Democrats could not give Thompson a fight because they were afraid to do it, even afraid to win?
Why would Kim Drake, or any other Democrat, want to solicit significant donations, and why would any donor want to give? Look what happened in the Paul Minor case next door in Mississippi!
Why would Kim Drake, or any other Democrat, want to push too hard for victory? My God, what if she actually won? Look what happened to Don Siegelman!
As we sit here now, just a few days from the November 4 election, we know that a Democrat has a pretty good chance of winning the White House and taking back the Justice Department from Republican criminals. But neither Drake, nor any other Democrat who might have run against Thompson, knew that at the outset.
If I had been in their shoes, knowing what had happened in the Siegelman and Minor cases, I might have given Bill Thompson a free pass, too.
Hopefully, next Tuesday will be a red-letter day for Democrats--and for justice. And hopefully, Rove & Co. someday will pay big time for the crimes they have committed.
But for now, Rove's legacy of threats and intimidation still has teeth. And it shows in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.