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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Former Republican Congressman From Alabama Calls The Siegelman Case A "Political Assassination"

Parker Griffith

A former GOP Congressman called the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman a "political assassination," in an interview this week on a Los Angeles radio station.

Parker Griffith, who represented Alabama's Fifth District in the U.S. House of Representatives, said the Siegelman case produced an unjust conviction that was orchestrated by tainted federal judge Mark Fuller. Griffith appeared with Dana Siegelman, the former governor's daughter, on Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett, from KPFK, Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles.

Fuller was acting on the orders of Bush-administration strategist Karl Rove, according to a report on the Griffith interview from Andrew Kreig, of the Justice-Integrity Project. From Kreig's article:

A Republican former congressman provided new momentum Nov. 26 for the current petition drive to free former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, from his unjust prison sentence. 
Former Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith . . . described Siegelman's seven-year sentence as a "political assassination" in a remarkable interview by Lila Garrett on KPFK. Garrett hosts a Los Angeles-based radio show. The interview can be heard nationwide in the second of the show's three segments. 
The Pacifica Network show featured also Siegelman's daughter, Dana, 27. The younger Siegelman is leading the petition drive with sign-ups here. The drive's goal is to persuade President Obama to pardon her father, 67, from convictions in 2006 on hoked-up corruption charges.

Griffith, a 70-year-old physician from Huntsville, Alabama, was a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party in 2009. He served one term in Congress before losing in the 2010 Republican primary, after his party switch. From the Kreig report:

"There was not a finer man that wanted to do more for the state than Don Siegelman," said Griffith, 70, a physician. He said authorities unfairly convicted the former governor in what appeared to be a Karl Rove-orchestrated plot concocted with the help of the federal trial judge, Mark Fuller. 
"This was a political assassination," Griffith continued. "This judge was trying to prove to the Karl Rove faction that he could carry out an assignment."

As Kreig notes, Griffith is not the first conservative to criticize the Siegelman prosecution. Grant Woods of Arizona, who was co-chair of the John McCain campaign in 2008, and newspaper columnist George Will are among the others. But the Griffith statements have special resonance, Kreig reports:

Griffith is probably the most prominent critic from Alabama to combine blunt language and strong, recent GOP credentials in office. Griffith joined the Republican Party in 2009 while representing Alabama's Fifth District in the state's northern-most district surrounding Huntsville. He served one term in Congress from 2009 to 2011 before losing in a 2010 Republican primary following his party switch. Most in public office and in the major media, in Alabama and around the nation, have lost interest in Siegelman's plight after years of court reversals for him.

You can listen to the interview by clicking on the following link to the KPFK archives. Scroll to Connect the Dots for November 26, 2012 and click on the play link. Here are more highlights from Parker Griffith's portion of the interview:

On Don Siegelman's strengths as a politician:

Don was an unbelievable man of the people. He could outwork any opponent and was seen as a threat to the Southern Strategy of Karl Rove. He probably was the last major populist governor. Bill Clinton is known as our first black president; Don Siegelman was the first black governor of a Southern state. He was a man of all the people.

On Alabama's dysfunctional political environment:

I see this as a state that has always had a poisoned atmosphere in its political system. . . . Karl Rove took the mantel of the hit man or goon squad for Bushes, and he had disciples who were dependent on a Republican administration for favors and largesse.

On the sorry state of our federal justice system:

This Judge Fuller is a weak individual . . . and he has demonstrated that over and over on bench. . . . Don Siegelman was taken out of the political arena, and the charge he is in prison for is laughable. . . . We are surrounded by educational-lottery states, and Don wanted to do that for the children of Alabama. He met a tremendous amount of resistance . . . from casino money pouring into Alabama because surrounding states were benefiting from our citizens crossing the borders.

On the profound implications of the Siegelman case:

This justice system, that we grew up hearing in our civics classes and around our tables was impartial and that it was fair and not politicized, we now know that’s not the case. We’ve seen that over the last several decades in many, many areas. 
In Alabama, as it relates to Don, it came down so obviously to a political decision that it’s an embarrassment--not only to the state, but to the Justice Department.

25 comments:

Barb said...

My hat is off to Parker Griffith. Someone finally has the guts to speak the truth. And it comes from a Republican!

Anonymous said...

LS, I haven't listened to the full interview yet, but the quotes you highlight near the bottom of your post are mighty powerful. Can't wait to hear the whole thing.

Andrew Kreig said...

Nice article, Roger, and it's great that you took the time to get all of those powerful quotations on record.

More generally, so much of our "news" is unimportant -- as the two TV news anchors in Bangor, Maine underscored this month when they quite on air.

This stuff from Parker Griffith and Dana Siegelman is the real deal, however, and it's terrific that you're on the job, so to speak, to report it!

Gerry With A G said...

I had never heard of Lila Garrett, but I like her style. Will have to check her out regularly via streaming. She compares Siegelman prosecution to the Bradley Manning case. Right on!

Anonymous said...

I have listened to the entire interview and I can't recommend it highly enough. Great questions from Lila Garrett and tough, insightful comments from both Parker Griffith and Dana Siegelman. Strong, strong stuff--and it badly needed to be said. Super post, LS. Thank you, thank you.

Black Lightning said...

My opinion of Parker Griffith just went through the roof. He was stupid to change parties, but he's made up for it with these courageous comments.

legalschnauzer said...

Andrew:

Thank you, and I hope folks will click on the link to check out your post from yesterday, providing valuable context on all of this. You were on top of the story.

Dana Siegelman and Parker Griffith make a powerful duo, and I really like Lila Garrett. Excellent radio, from start to finish, and your report is top notch.

Anonymous said...

When can we expect to see comments like this from another former Congressman, Artur Davis?

Redeye said...

Hate to be cynical, but this would have carried a lot more weight if a sitting republican congressman from Alabama calls the Siegelman Case a "Political Prosecution."

TLR said...

My favorite quote in the article, one of the best I've read ever:


Bill Clinton is known as our first black president; Don Siegelman was the first black governor of a Southern state. He was a man of all the people.

Anonymous said...

Parker Griffith rocks!

Spasmoda said...

Artur Davis can't comment until he gets approval from Billy Canary.

legalschnauzer said...

Redeye:

Agreed. Can you imagine Spencer Bachus or Mike Rogers saying this? Hah!

Or what about Shelby and Sessions? Heck, they helped make this fiasco happen. I wish Lila Garrett had been able to get into that angle, but she only had so much time.

Barb said...

Let's not forget Dana Siegelman's role in this. I'm guessing she enlisted Parker Griffith's help on this and got him on the show. That young woman is smart and tough, and she's going places.

legalschnauzer said...

Excellent point, Barb. Don and Lori Siegelman should be proud parents. And I gather that Dana's brother, Joseph, is heavily involved, too. Kudos to all of them.

Redeye said...

"Bill Clinton is known as our first black president; Don Siegelman was the first black governor of a Southern state. He was a man of all the people."

I find this statement to be condescending at best. Bill Clinton is not known to be our first black president, and Don Siegelman was not known as the first black governor of a southern state. Neither one is black, and will never be black. Toni Morrison described President Clinton in these terms because he was fair and treated African Americans as equals, as did Don Siegelman.

Our rich southern heritage teaches us that people who treat African Americans as equals are known as N word lovers, which I suspect is the real reason President Clinton was impeached and Governor Siegelman was prosecuted.

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/016594.php

TLR said...

I hear you, Redeye. I think Griffith meant well with that comment. But I see your point.

Your last point--about the real reason Clinton was impeached and Siegelman was prosecuted--is extremely powerful.

Spasmoda said...

Isn't it likely that the Rove Repugs really hate N-word lovers in the Red states like Alabama? The last thing the Rove crowd wants iw racial peace and even solidarity and places like Alabama. People like Clinton and Siegelman promote that, so they must pay a price.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate Parker Griffith's words, but does anyone think he would have spoken out like this if he was still in Congress?

legalschnauzer said...

I'm struck by Griffith's criticism of a federal judge. You almost never see that , unless it's some right-winger claiming a Dem appointee is a "judicial activist." But to see a prominent figure question the integrity and competence of a federal judge . . . that's a rarity.

Griffith is a physician, and that might be why he was willing to say this. A current or former Congressman who was a lawyer, as many of them are, almost certainly would not have spoken the truth about Fuller.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that is the reason for Clinton's impeachment although you are warm. Clinton was by no means a supporter of blacks in the sense you speak. Fact is that before passing welfare reform they were a target until a they realized the war on poverty was better fought against even the more vulnerable. So instead they targeted women and children of all races. The black were too risky and would have been political suicide for progressives seeing as the were a huge potential voting base. Welfare reform was what pitted Clinton's adversaries against him and rightfully so! It weakened an already weak system and US! To say this about Clinton is like saying Abe Lincoln was a human rights activist... naive. Monica Lewinsky saved his arse!

jeffrey spruill said...

Andrew Kreig:

Still going on your phishing expeditions?

Anonymous said...

I still say we need to get someone to compose a good letter and we start bombarding the Whitehouse with it via US MAIL. WITH A POSTMARK AND A STAMP.. That is more serious than an email. Plus it would help our Post Office.

Anonymous said...

If you are elected a Democrat or a Republican you should HAVE TO SERVE YOUR ENTIRE TIME until you are up for re-election in that party. If I voted for you LS and you were a Democrat I want you to stay in that party until your term is over. I did not vote for a Republican and it is not right for them to be able to switch parties in midstream.

James Greek said...

Parker Griffith/Dana Siegelman 2016!