Sunday, August 12, 2007

Siegelman's Letter to Riley

This might be old news to some readers, but I came across it the other day, and it was news to me.

In June 2006, the Associated Press reported that former Governor Don Siegelman sent a letter to Governor Bob Riley advising that contributions to Riley's failed 2003 campaign for a $1.2 billion tax increase would have to be considered a "thing of value," under a federal prosecutor's view of a bribery charge in Siegelman's trial.

Siegelman goes on to state that Riley's Amendment One tax proposal was structured identically to Siegelman's lottery referendum, which led to Siegelman's prosecution on corruption charges. "While you also raised funds for an issue that was important to you, I stand firm in my belief that you committed no crime."

The letter went on to state that Riley had received campaign contributions from developers who received state incentives for a Huntsville project.

The Birmingham News is my main source of state news, and I don't recall seeing this story. And evidently it had little in the way of "legs" because I see no signs that the press looked into the issues Siegelman raised.

Interesting that a Riley spokesman responded by using putdowns and name-calling, as opposed to making a substantive response. That's usually a sign that someone has no substantive response.

Anyone out there seen the full text of Siegelman's letter? Anyone know what became of this project in Huntsville?


Anonymous said...

June 21, 2006

Governor Bob Riley
State Capitol
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36130

Dear Governor Riley:

As you know, in my case, the U.S. Attorney has used language calling any political contribution a “thing of value” regardless of whether a candidate derives any personal benefit from it.

In an Associated Press story this morning, acting U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin said – regarding the lottery referendum – “A campaign contribution is a thing of value. The lottery would have benefited the governor whether he got the money or not. It was part of his platform.”

Governor, I simply want you to know that I am well aware that your Amendment-One tax increase proposal was structured identically to the lottery referendum. While you also raised funds for an issue that was important to you, I stand firm in my belief that you committed no crime.

I would therefore urge your appointed Attorney General, Troy King, and your campaign advisor’s wife, the U.S. Attorney, not to investigate or indict you as they have me.


Don Siegelman

Anonymous said...

The letter was a Don Siegelman stunt. First, Riley never personally guaranteed a loan on behalf of the amendent one effort. THAT's the thing of value. had Sielgelman not extorted that money out of Scrushy he (Siegelman) would have been personally liable for half a million dollars.

Second, it tells Alabamians EVERYTHING they need to know about Alabama Democrats that they don't see anything wrong with "pay for play" tactics. There is nothing wrong with individuals or groups contributing money to candidates who shares share their beliefs and values. But it has been SOP in Alabama to give contracts to legislators to make sure they support your initiatives (two0year college system), or to overturn elections that don't go your way (Joe L. Reed and Patricia Todd) or to extort money for appointments (Siegelman and Scrushy).

Alabama's Democrats have been so corrupt for so long that they have no idea about what is legal and what isn't.

legalschnauzer said...

A couple of questions:

* If Riley didn't guarantee a loan on behalf of Amendment One, did someone else? If so, who? Did Riley just have more fundraising prowess than Siegelman had?

* Does the Huntsville biotech project--where a Riley supporter received state support after making a campaign contribution--count as "pay for play?" How is that different from Siegelman/Scrushy arrangement?

Anonymous said...

The main reason that Riley didn't guarantee any loans for the Amendemnt One effort is that they didn't take out any loans. They operated on the principal that they would spend only what they raised.

As for the biotech donation, it came three months after, not before, the announcement of the location of the research institute in Alabama. In addition, the state's economic development support for the biotech park had broad bipartisan support. At the ceremony announcing the location of the institute to Huntsville's Cummings Research Park and speaking in favor of the institute were Roger Bedford and Bud Cramer.

It helps to get your facts straight.

legalschnauzer said...

You might want to check 18 U.S. Code 666, Theft or bribery concerning programs receiving Federal funds.

The fact the biotech project was announced in the press, followed by the donation to the Riley campaign, is irrelevant.

It also is irrelevant as to other federal statutes, including conspiracy and honest services mail/wire fraud (18 U.S. Code 1346).

Anonymous said...

Um, you have to PROVE quid pro quo. There has been no evidence of anything other than a donation by some people who agreed with Riley on the importance of biotech research.

I'm starting to understand why you have lost all your court cases.

Anonymous said...

Let me make the point that the issue of distinction, as noted in the earlier post, is the testimony offered by aides to Siegelman and Scrushy that a quid pro quo existed relating to Scrushy's arrangement of the $500,000 contribution. Testimony in the trial stated Siegelman demanded and Scrushy agreed to pay the money in exchange for the CON position. It cannot be said that such testimony relating to similiar quid pro quos exists for Riley's tax reform referendum. I won't speak to the earlier posters other comments, but basically this is a basic fact presented at the Scrushy/Siegelman trial that seems to be missed by Siegelman's supporters. Without that testimony, I would have to agree with Mr. Schnauzer's assertion that this was just politics as usual, but not criminal. But of course, with that testimony, the jury decided the actions were criminal.

No attempts by Siegelman or others to draw parallels to other fundraising efforts will compare without people willing to testify that the deal was cut. Now we can argue whether that evidence offered at Scrushy/Siegelman trial was significant enough to prove the quid pro quo, but obviously the jury thought it was.

legalschnauzer said...

You bring us right back to the issue of selective prosecution. Of course there has been no evidence of a quid pro quo in the Riley matter because there evidently has been no investigation of the Riley matter.

There's an organization known as the FBI that is supposed to look into such matters. But under the Bush DOJ, the FBI seems to become interested when a Democrat is involved in a questionable transaction and it seems to be asleep at the switch when a Republican makes a similar transaction.

Again, under the law, it is irrelevant whether Riley received the contribution after announcing his support for the biotech venture. What matters is the communication between the parties. And that is what was investigated in the Siegelman matter and should be investigated in the Riley matter.

The evidence that led to Siegelman's conviction at trial came out as the result of an investigation. It didn't come from thin air.

Why no investigation in the Riley matter? That's the issue.

Seems to me that conservatives would be as outraged as anyone about the apparent double standard in the Bush DOJ. "Tough on crime" and "rule of law" are supposed to be two primary doctrines of conservatism. What happened to them?

I will be posting more about the actual law in the next few days.

Anonymous said...

The whole selective prosecution argument is bogus. If you get caught breaking the law, you don't get a free pass because others doing the same thing might not have gotten caught. If that were the case, no DUI convictions would ever hold up because there were other people who drove drunk and didn't get caught. The same would be true for speeding tickets, drug convictions, murder, etc.

No one has made any allegation of any wrongdoing by Riley. There has to be a reason to open an investigation and just because two things happen together does not mean that one caused the other (unless, of course someone testifies and produces evidence that they did--as in the Siegelman, Scrushy case).

Anonymous said...

ps--you wlays say you are going to get to a discussion of the actual law and the actual case, but you never do. You just throw around vague accusations. It is no wonder that no one in the legal system takes you seriously.

Anonymous said...

OK, now I'm going to agree with the other poster and say you are absolutely out of your mind, Mr. Schnauzer. To suggest that the Riley quid pro quo exists, but it just hasn't been found is just the kind of crazy BS that all these partisan Siegelman people have been trying to say about the other crazy issues they've tried to make the country care about relating to his trial. That's just an absurd premise on your part and it shows that essentially you are irrational and shouldn't be taken seriously. Let me also say that I suspect you are guilty of a murder, but it just hasn't been investigated yet. But boy, watch out when it is. How irresponsible are you to suggest that parallel.

You've lost this argument, just on logic alone. So your continued attempts to force someone to prove a negative -- Riley DIDN'T offer quid pro quo -- is not worth even responding to. I suggest now you'll argue that Judge Fuller cut a huge business deal, earning hundreds of millions of dollars, with one of the prosecutors in the Siegelman case to ensure Siegelman would be convicted. Oh, wait a minute, another irrational idiot already has suggested that

Get in line, then.

legalschnauzer said...

Imagine this: I drive drunk one night and get home without getting caught. On the same night, you drive drunk, and before you can get home, a police officer pulls you over and you get nailed for DUI.

Lucky for me, unlucky for you. But nothing wrong with it. That's how our system works.

Now imagine this: The police officer sees me and pulls me over, but then realizes that we were fraternity brothers. Even though I'm falling down drunk, he lets me go. The same officer pulls you over, but doesn't know you. He writes you up.

That's more than unlucky for you. That's wrong.

There is evidence, enough of it that Congress is interested, suggesting that the Bush DOJ is essentially Riley's "fraternity brother."

He does something fishy? Let's look the other way. A guy from the rival frat does something fishy? Let's investigate and write him up.

All Americans should be concerned if that is happening.

I never said a quid pro quo exists on the Riley matter. No one knows because no one has looked into it. My point is this: Published reports suggested Siegelman did something fishy, and the DOJ investigated. The same thing should happen in the Riley matter.

And your statement that no one has suggested that Riley did nothing wrong is not accurate. Roy Moore and Lucy Baxley both squawked about it, and the Mobile paper, and others, reported on it. In fact, Moore used legal language, suggesting he thought a crime had been committed.

For more on this issue, see today's post.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting way to twist the facts in a way that distort the truth, but nearly make your point. First, I suggest you look at the facts of how the Riley contribution was handled. How was it reported? How clear and transparent is the transaction? Second, do the same with the Siegelman lottery transaction. Then you may have a sense of the absolute difference in the cases, just on their face.

Why did Siegelman hide the transaction? Why did Scrushy? Does the fact that Riley's support was so clear that enables you to claim foul tell you that perhaps it's more akin to the basic concept that political supporters contribute to their candidates' causes? Then ask yourself, was Scrushy ever a political supporter of Siegelman's?

Once you answer these questions correctly, you'll see how flawed your reasoning, no matter how blinded by your own partisan or personal motives, is that led you to believe you could argue that point effectively.

Siegelman's letter to Riley was a ruse and your efforts to promote the premise from it without identifying the flaws in your thinking is just lazy. Now I could answer each of those questions for you, but it's about time you did a little work on your own to prove or disprove my point. I don't mind someone who may disagree with me, but I do mind someone who's too lazy to check the facts of their own argument.