Andrew Kreig, executive director of the Justice Integrity Project, shines new light on the Siegelman case--and its ties to major national stories, in a new piece at OpEd News. Here is how Kreig summarizes the latest on the Siegelman story:
Imprisoned businessman Richard Scrushy, a defendant in the most controversial federal prosecution of the decade, last week repeated his call for the presiding judge to remove himself, even as the disputes widened to include reported Supreme Court contender Elena Kagan, up to $50 billion in scandal-ridden Air Force contracts, and Karl Rove's best-selling new memoir.
Scrushy, who was Siegelman's codefendant, renewed his call for trial judge Mark Fuller to remove himself from the case. Reports Kreig:
Scrushy, now serving a seven-year sentence for arranging $500,000 in donations to a non-profit at the request of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, requested last week that Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery rule on recusal requests filed last summer, or else withdraw.
Scrushy and Siegelman have argued that the judge is disqualified after being enriched by $300 million in Bush-era contracts via the judge's closely held company Doss Aviation for such services as refueling Air Force planes and training pilots.
Speaking of the Air Force, Kreig follows up on his report from last week about the Siegelman prosecution and its possible ties to a tanker contract that could be worth $50 billion. Alabama is expected to be the site of a major assembly plant if Europe-based EADS wins the contract over U.S.-based Boeing--and Kreig now provides insight from Siegelman himself. Writes Kreig:
The EADS-led plan would replace Boeing Corp., the previous tanker builder. Years ago, EADS used competitive intelligence agents to show that Boeing had bribed an Air Force procurement officer. My article noted that an EADS victory would enable an assembly plant in Alabama, as advocated by four European heads of state, major global financiers and some U.S. politicians.
"The ring of truth in the article," Siegelman wrote me last week after publication and follow-up, "is that Republicans wanted EADs, and I was close to Boeing because I had helped them expand their National Missile Defense Center in Huntsville and had them locate a manufacturing facility for the Delta IV and Delta II Rockets in Decatur, AL."
Kreig shows how the Siegelman case could have an impact on the process to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by retiring John Paul Stevens. That's because one prominent contender, U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, has taken controversial positions regarding the Siegelman matter. Writes Kreig:
A bipartisan group of 91 former state attorneys general from more than 40 states have since formed an unprecedented coalition filing a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court and arguing it should hear Siegelman's case because his actions did not constitute a crime.
But Kagan, now widely reported as a leading candidate to ascend from her post as Justice Department solicitor general to become her friend Obama's nominee for a Supreme Court vacancy, urged the high court in November to deny Siegelman a hearing.
She cited technical legal arguments devised with the assistance of DOJ's trial prosecutors. Since the 2006 convictions DOJ has withstood complaints that include: political prosecution with Rove, judge-shopping, jury tampering, lying about the recusal of Alabama's top prosecutor, firing a DOJ whistleblower, and suppressing evidence that DOJ tried to blackmail its central witness.
Karl Rove has stepped into the fray while promoting his new book. Writes Kreig:
Concurring with DOJ's view is former White House advisor Rove, now on book tour promoting his memoir "Courage and Consequence" that denies any improper role by him, others in the Bush White House, prosecutors or the judge.
Also, Rove mocks whistleblowers and congressional Democrats alike who have become involved in the Siegelman/Scrushy case.
One Rove target is California Congressman Adam Schiff, the House Judiciary Committee's chief interrogator last July asking Rove about his role in DOJ prosecutions. In his book, Rove says Schiff "was clearly not prepared."
Rove also attacks Jill Simpson, an Alabama lawyer who became a key whistleblower in the Siegelman case. Writes Kreig:
Rove wrote also in "Courage" that a Democratic committee staffer privately disparaged to him Republican whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson. She is an Alabama lawyer from rural Rainsville who had stepped forward to provide the committee in 2007 with sworn testimony and documentation of the court record on military contracting.
She alleged a plan by her fellow Republicans as early as 2002 to frame Siegelman, and later steer the case to Fuller. Her testimony said that Riley's son Robert confided to her in 2005 even before Siegelman was indicted in his second trial that Fuller hated Siegelman and would "hang" him. Robert Riley has issued a statement denying her claim, but has not been called to testify.
Simpson responds that the facts would become obvious if Congress for the first time summoned witnesses for a public hearing under oath, or if the Supreme Court would examine the court filings on Fuller's conflicts. Siegelman, released on bond in 2008 by federal appeals court Democrats promptly after CBS 60 Minutes alleged GOP misconduct, also seeks Supreme Court review and a first-ever congressional hearing.