I suspect many folks read Scott Horton's work at Harper's.org with great interest but also with a somewhat detached view. Wrongful convictions . . . sleazy prosecutors . . . corrupt judges . . . people being ruined financially . . . people having their freedom taken away for political reasons.
Those are the kinds of things that happen to other people, right?
That would have been my mindset several years ago. But not anymore.
Horton is the nation's primary chronicler of Republican sleaze in the Age of Rove, and he tends to focus on the wrongs that have been committed against prominent political figures--Don Siegelman in Alabama, Paul Minor in Mississippi, Georgia Thompson in Wisconsin, and so on.
Horton's reporting and analysis invariably makes for fascinating reading. And all too often, it hits uncomfortably close to home for your humble blogger. In fact, I'm stunned at the number of times I've been reading a Horton post and said to myself, "My God, this sounds like it's coming right from my own life."
The techniques that Republicans use to cheat and harm innocent people are at the heart of Horton's work. And I've had an up-close-and-personal view of these techniques for going on 10 years now.
Two recent Horton posts provide examples of how his work strikes a chord here at Legal Schnauzer. First there was a post about the release from federal prison of Lanny Young, a chief accuser in the Siegelman case. Horton makes several key points in the post:
* A source told Horton some time ago that Young's two-year prison sentence merely was for show. Young would be released by year's end, the source said. And the source was right on the money.
* The Birmingham News is playing its usual stellar role in selling the Young story to the public. News' reporter Kim Chandler cites two reasons for Young's release: He is being threatened by other prisoners, and he cannot complete a drug-rehab program because of a chicken-pox outbreak in the prison system. Horton makes it clear that he isn't buying either of these explanations.
* The theory behind the prosecution of Siegelman was that he personally benefitted from Richard Scrushy's donation to a campaign. According to that theory, there currently should be 146 criminal investigations of George W. Bush and Karl Rove and people connected to them. Horton notes that 146 individuals made or procured donations of $100,000 or more for the Bush-Cheney campaign and then received appointments in the administration. Some cabinet members are included in this crowd. But where are those prosecutions for bribery and honest-services mail fraud and conspiracy?
Horton hits really close to home with his final paragraph, which refers to the shenanigans of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who clearly was biased in the Siegelman case and created an uneven playing field. Horton notes that the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to an impartial judge.
Horton is referring to the due-process clause of the 14th Amendment. That is what "guarantees" all citizens--me, you, Don Siegelman--the right to an impartial judge. The 14th Amendment also "guarantees" equal protection of the law.
Siegelman clearly did not get an impartial judge or equal protection, and I know what that feels like. I went before Shelby County Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner, who repeatedly ruled contrary to clear law in favor of the opposing party. And this benefitted the opposing party's attorney, William E. Swatek, who has direct ties to the Alabama and national GOP hierarchy--Bill Canary, Bob Riley, Karl Rove, Alice Martin--through his son, GOP "consultant" and campaign manager Dax Swatek.
Did I get an impartial judge? Not even close. I would have come closer to getting justice in Afghanistan.
And then there is Horton's post about the GOP phone-jamming caper in New Hampshire in 2002. A new book is coming out that will provide details about the scheme, and Think Progress has produced an article showing that the Bush White House was involved.
Three GOP operatives ended up in prison for their involvement in the case. But Horton notes that the prosecution did not come until after the 2004 election.
This kind of politicization of the U.S. Justice Department hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer. For almost a year and a half, I've provided information to both the FBI and the Birmingham U.S. attorney's office about criminal wrongdoing by Republican judges and at least one lawyer in my case.
The FBI has simply ignored me, even though it has a special Web site for reporting white-collar crime and public corruption. The Web page appears to be legit. But if your allegations are of wrongdoing by Republicans in Alabama, the page is just for show.
U.S. attorney Alice Martin has tried her best to ignore me. But she finally responded once I had her personal e-mail address. And eventually, she made it clear that she was taking affirmative steps to ensure that my case would not see the light of day. I'm sure she thought I would be too dumb to realize that by sending my complaint to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, she was sending it to the wrong agency--and therefore to oblivion.
But I know exactly what she was pulling, and I will be reporting on the "Malice of Alice" in the near future.
My key point: Don Siegelman, Paul Minor and other powerful folks are not the only targets of GOP dirty tricks. Such tricks also can be used against regular folks like you and me. In fact, just in the past week or so, I've seen signs that dirty tricks are continuing to come my way. Some involve my personal property. And another apparently involves my job. I will be sharing these curious events with readers here at Legal Schnauzer.