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Friday, February 13, 2009

Is Artur Davis Selling Out Siegelman--And Democrats?

We posted recently about U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) and his ties to GOP "consultant" Dax Swatek.

The post drew a mixed response. A number of folks wondered why it's a big deal that Swatek gave Davis $250 in 2004. Unfortunately, Swatek is only one of many connections Davis has to people who have corrupted our business and political climates.

Let's deal with Swatek first.

Given that Davis has announced his intentions to run for governor in 2010, I would argue that his association with Dax Swatek is important for two reasons:

* Swatek is not just any GOP consultant. He has documented ties to Bill Canary, Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Alice Martin--the very people who played central roles in polluting our political and justice systems. The concern isn't that Swatek is a "pro-business" conservative; it's that he has connections to sleazebags and comes from a family with a history of sleaze in the legal profession;

* The Swatek donation represents only a sliver of the connections Davis has cultivated with the "pro-business" crowd. (Actually, we should call it the "corrupt business" crowd. Legitimate, honorable people can be pro business.)

Let's ponder Davis' connections to Bill Canary, president of the Business Council of Alabama. Canary, of course, is the gentleman Alabama attorney and whistleblower Jill Simpson identified as being central in a plot to conduct a bogus prosecution of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. And Canary's wife, U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, conducted the Siegelman prosecution, despite her myriad conflicts in the case.

From his seat on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Davis once appeared to be genuinely interested in getting to the bottom of the Siegelman affair. But some observers, particularly Glynn Wilson of the Locust Fork World News & Journal, questioned Davis' interest in justice. Wilson even went so far as to hint that Davis actually was trying to protect Bill and Leura Canary by not pushing for them to be called to testify in Washington.

In a new book by journalist Gwen Ifill, Davis says that most Alabamians will ignore the Siegelman matter in the coming months and that the whole subject will fade from view by 2010.

Davis' comments raised hackles in progressive circles throughout Alabama. And when Davis announced that he would leave his seat on the Judiciary Committee in order to run for governor, it added fuel to Wilson's argument that his heart never was committed to justice in the first place.

Perhaps the most disturbing notion is that Davis might have tried to protect Bill and Leura Canary. When Karl Rove balked at testifying before the Judiciary Committee, citing executive privilege, Siegelman said publicly that going after Rove directly was not the best strategy anyway. A former prosecutor, Siegelman said cases usually are built from the bottom up, and he suggested that the committee target the Canarys--before going after Rove.

That has yet to happen, and Wilson suggests Davis played a role in making sure it did not happen while he was on the committee.

Why would Davis want to protect Bill and Leura Canary? We can think of 4,450 reasons. According to opensecrets.org, that's the number of dollars Davis has received from the Business Council of Alabama and The Capitol Group, both headed by Bill Canary.

Here is a breakdown of the campaign contributions from Bill Canary, in chronological order by name of the donor organization:

* Capitol Group--$1,000 (6/23/03)

* Business Council of Alabama--$750 (3/15/04)

* Business Council of Alabama--$1,000 (8/8/05)

* Business Council of Alabama--$1,000 (6/1/06)

* Business Council of Alabama--$500 (3/30/07)

Here is what the Inside Alabama Politics newsletter says in its February 6, 2009 issue:

Davis' leaving the House Judiciary Committee is widely viewed as an effort on his part to put distance between him and former Gov. Don Siegelman and Siegelman's legal problems. . . .

With the Judiciary Committee trying to force former presidential adviser Karl Rove to testify, Davis' presence on the committee could have been harmful to his hope of securing some business backing for his gov. run. He is known to be cultivating some big B'ham business interests in that regard, and getting caught up in a tug-of-war with Siegelman folks could nullify his courting of business that listens to Bill Canary.

Here is something that Artur Davis, and many citizens, probably have lost sight of: Organizations such as the Business Council of Alabama and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have honorable sounding names, and they once might have operated in honorable ways. Many members of those organizations might still have honorable intentions. But some folks near the tops of those organizations have become amoral outlaws, who have bought our judgeships and corrupted our justice system for their own greedy purposes.

Consider Bill Canary. If Jill Simpson's statements are accurate--and she made them under oath before representatives of Congress--Bill Canary is a criminal. And that would make the Business Council of Alabama a glorified criminal syndicate.

(A personal note: Isn't it interesting that Malcolm Portera, chancellor of the University of Alabama System, is a member of the BCA? And isn't it interesting that I was unlawfully terminated from a job in the system that Malcolm Portera oversees? Isn't it interesting that Malcolm Portera reportedly is one of UAB President Carol Garrison's biggest booster and probably saved her job when her personal life caused UAB massive embarrassment not long after she arrived. Much more coming soon on Carol Garrison's personal peccadillos. She has quite an interesting history, one the folks at the University of Louisville and the University of Tennessee know a whole lot about. Talk about ethical and personal baggage!)

The editors of Inside Alabama Politics evidently believe the business climate has become toxic. It notes that a number of business leaders would be turned off if Artur Davis actually tried to get at the truth regarding the Bush Justice Department in general and the Siegelman case in particular.

What's the thinking of these business titans? Apparently it's this: "We don't give a crap if we have political prisoners and a corrupt justice system in this country, as long as our beds are feathered. We want to be led around by the nose by criminal whack jobs like Bill Canary."

How sick is that?

And here's a question for Artur Davis? Do you really want to jump in bed with these people? What do you really stand for? And how many sleazy elbows are you willing to rub in order to bring "change" to Alabama?


mooncat said...

Does Davis have any "connections" (or "association") with Swatek or Bill Canary beyond accepting the contributions you cited? And those are rather small contributions in the political world. Somebody seriously trying to buy a Congressman would surely want to max out.

legalschnauzer said...

I'm not aware of any connections beyond the contributions described.

Would be interesting to know if Davis actively sought these contributions or merely accepted them.

Either way, I think it displays questionable judgments--particularly in light of Jill Simpson's sworn testimony regarding Canary & Co. And Davis gives every indication that he believes her testimony to be true.

I can understand him taking Business Council of Alabama money prior to the Simpson revelations. After all, the BCA sounds like a reputable organization. But if you take Jill Simpson at her sworn word, and I do, the BCA has become infested with some bad apples near the top.

Would be nice to see Davis stand up and repudiate that organization. Instead, he appears to be courting business interests for more money.

I've never written that I think someone is trying to "buy" Artur Davis. But I do think any investigationn of the Siegelman matter should start with Bill Canary--and it appears that Davis did not want that to happen.

David said...

Given Canary's history and his connections to Abramoff and Reed, he could have benefited Davis in ways not reported on his FEC report.

ALso, Canary was making over $ (00,00 a year in his job running the Amarican Trucking Association to move to Alabama to run the BCA making half as much. Makes one wonder. Also, isn't it odd that Rove married a second time to an Alabamaian? I wonder what her her connection is to Canary's wife.

Anonymous said...

Mooncat! How dare you suggest that Schnauzer is wrong. If you have any connection to anyone else, chances are you are responsible for Siegelman being in jail and for Schnauzer being fired -- OR YOU ARE AT LEAST PART OF THE COVERUP.

Anonymous said...

You demonstrate a little naivety regarding political contributions, sir. Like mooncat said, $250 is nothing in the political world and is not evidence of any kind of association that would warrant any desire for protection in the sense you described. Really, my dog could donate 250 dollars - but nobody would assume Davis would be beholden to my dog; unless, of course, there were someone looking for a conspiracy theory to launch against my dog. Hey! That dog eats Purina! Davis must be against all things Puppy Chow! Basically, I think you're digging for a story there..

Have you also considered that the BCA also gives the exact same amount of money to other members of Congress each year? It's because giving money is a function of their organization, and any interest group for that matter. It's standard practice, not a special sweetheart deal to give $750 (that wouldn't put a dent in anybody's war chest, especially not Davis's). Members of Congress are not suckered by that small amount of money (and definitely not $250). It's nothing to write home about.

Anonymous said...

Interesting - Who is Karl Rove's second wife?

mooncat said...

Thanks legalschnauzer. I had not heard of any connection either.


Dear Anonymous,

I also did not drive to Louisiana and personally bust Don Siegelman out of prison so I guess I must still want him incarcerated, huh? Oh, wait, neither did you. Or Davis. Or Barack Obama. Or anybody else for that matter.

Never mind.


legalschnauzer said...

Re: Rove's wife

Isn't her name Darby? Other than that, I don't know much about her. Perhaps someone knows about her ties to Alabama.

Anonymous said...

With a BCA contribution, it is not the amount given that counts, the fact that they have contributed to a candidate is a message to their members and the Republican propaganda organs, aka major newspapers and TV stations, about who to support. mooncat is wrong to try to minimize the BCA history of contributing to Davis. The Republican establishment treats it as important, Democrats would be foolish to ignore it.

Anonymous said...

The story is getting tiresome. Siegelman is simply waiting on a decision from the 11th Circuit right now.

What could Davis possibly be doing?

I'm sick of this smear campaign against Davis who did stick his neck out before Siegelman was released and asked for investigations. He could have done nothing then.

And yes I will agree with the other commenter who said you were naive about political contributions.

Schnauzer - You are quite a conspiracy theorist. At the point that it is so bizarre that it doesn't even make good fiction anymore.

Anonymous said...

Artur Davis has proven with his votes since considering a run for governor that he is unprincipled, and will sell out his own constituents to try and appear more conservative. His contributions are troubling, but not as troubling as his votes. BTW, didn't he accept a $5000 contribution from the TelCom industry, just before switching from opposing TeleCom immunity to supporting it?