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Monday, February 16, 2009

Artur Davis Disses Siegelman Supporters

Artur Davis wants to be the Democratic nominee for governor of Alabama in 2010, but he has a strange way of going about seeking the nomination.

One of Davis' strategies apparently is to alienate supporters of former Governor Don Siegelman, who is arguably the most successful Democrat in Alabama history, having been elected secretary of state, attorney general, lieutenant governor, and governor.

But consider this exchange from a recent interview Davis gave to the Alabama blog, Doc's Political Parlor:

Question: What if someone were to say that you are elected to represent us the best you can, and Alabama is better served when you are on the House Judiciary?

Answer: Other than a few bloggers out there who are frankly obsessed with the Siegelman issue for better or for worse, no one thinks that I was elected to be on the Judiciary Committee and represent Gov. Siegelman’s interests. I spoke out, if you will, in defense of Gov. Siegelman’s interests because I thought that that was the right thing to do. I still think so. And I think there is a very fair chance the 11th Circuit Court will reverse his conviction. They could do it any day now. That’s not any inside knowledge. That’s based on how long these things take and how quickly they could happen, from my days of practicing.

Davis exhibits arrogance and self-centeredness in this answer. Siegelman supporters are "obsessed?" That's quite an insult there, Artur, to a lot of folks who might be inclined to vote for you. I guess seeing someone made a political prisoner in the United States isn't worth being "obsessed" about? Oh wait, that issue isn't going to help your run for governor.

Two things are particularly galling about Davis' comment:

* He hints that there is a "cult of personality" around Siegelman--I can't speak for everyone who supports Siegelman. But I feel--as Siegelman himself has said--the case is not just about him. His is only the best known of many cases where people have been harmed by those connected to the Bush Justice Department. Most people I'm aware of are "obsessed" about seeing that our justice system is cleaned up and victims are made whole from the damage they've incurred. Those victims include Don Siegelman, but they are hardly limited to him.

* Davis hints that if Siegelman wins on appeal, the whole matter will be over--Perhaps this is what Davis meant when he said he hoped to see the matter "fade away" by 2010. But a Siegelman win on appeal won't do anything to determine who corrupted the justice system to bring the case in the first place. It won't do anything to determine who brought similar cases in other states. It won't do anything to determine who caused nine U.S. attorneys to be fired for failing to bring political prosecution. And it won't do anything to compensate Siegelman and others for the damages they have suffered. If Siegelman wins his criminal appeal, the story of our broken justice system will still be in the early chapters.

On another issue, it's hard to understand why Davis continues to say that Republican Bob Riley has been a good governor, despite mounds of evidence to the contrary. I can only assume this is a bouquet that Davis throws to the "corrupt business" crowd.

The three-part Davis interview at Doc's Political Parlor can be viewed here:

* Artur Davis in the Parlor, Part I

* Artur Davis in the Parlor, Part II

* Artur Davis in the Parlor, Part III

While we are criticizing Davis on certain fronts, it seems only fair to praise him for a number of good points he makes. In Part I of the interview, he hints that he would look at boosting corporate tax rates in Alabama:

Question: On the subject of creating a long-term strategy for education and expanding the education initiatives you mentioned, how would you address the funding issue?

Answer: We are going to have re-visit our corporate tax structure. We obviously have to be competitive with the rest of the Southeast, but we can’t afford to offer a deal that is substantially better than the rest of the Southeast unless we are getting a heck of a return. We are not getting enough of a return with our strategy of undercutting all the rest of the states.

Whoever becomes the next governor is going to have to frankly make a hard decision and be candid with the people of Alabama about what our priorities are. I’m not going to judge those priorities sitting here now because they will evolve over the course of the next year and a half. But I would say that I’m not interested in raising taxes on individuals in Alabama, and I’m not interested obviously in a tax structure that would be counterproductive in terms of recruiting businesses though I think we have a long way to go before we reach that point.

In Part III, Davis floats several good ideas about a possible cabinet, particularly a position focusing on alternative energy:

Question: What might your cabinet look like generally and specifically?

Answer: Two things I would like to see.

Tennessee has a cabinet level officer that deals with alternative energy. That’s a very good idea, having someone on a cabinet level who focuses on alternative energy strategy for Alabama, recruiting alternative energy producers to come here, maximizing what we already have, working to make sure that the things we do in this state are consistent with what are going to be a lot harsher and stricter federal laws when it comes to carbon emissions. We need someone who is doing that full-time. That’s no longer a combination of a bunch of offices. We need a full-time person working on that.

If there is a way to get in that in the budget to do that and create that entity, I would do it. And frankly given how many extra positions we have right now at the sub-cabinet, I’m pretty sure there is a way to move the money around and do that.

I have always thought that there may be some room to consolidate the state Banking and Insurance Commissioners into one person. And I do have some thoughts about that given some things that are happening in the economy right now, the interplay between the two. Consolidating those two into a Financial Services Department would, I think, be a helpful event and, candidly, a selling point to also attract someone to do the job. As Gov. Riley would tell you, as Walter Bell would tell you, it’s hard to persuade people to do either of those jobs. If you combine the two of them it might be easier to persuade someone to do it because of the interesting policy challenge there.

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