Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Alabama GOP "Attacks" 60 Minutes

The Alabama Republican Party has unleashed a ferocious rebuttal to 60 Minutes' story about the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. But somehow, I don't think the folks at CBS are too worried about the GOPers' retort.

You can check out the Alabama GOP's version of truth and fiction related to the 60 Minutes story here. It involves six "fictions" the GOP claims was part of the report. Let's examine the GOP's fictions a little closer:

No. 1
GOP: Reporter Scott Pelley identified William Canary as "campaign manager" for Bob Riley in 2002. The actual campaign director was Toby Roth. Canary was an "informal advisor."

Legal Schnauzer: We'll give the GOPers half a point here. Technically, 60 Minutes got this wrong. But Pelley's key point was this: Canary was involved with the Riley campaign while his wife, Leura Canary, was overseeing the investigation of Riley's opponent, Siegelman. That is true, and it represents a pretty clear conflict of interest.

No. 2
GOP: Pelley stated that Jill Simpson had "worked for" the Republican Party and was a GOP "operative." Mike Hubbard, Alabama Republican Party chair, says "we can find not one instance of Dana Jill Simpson volunteering on behalf of the Alabama Republican Party."

LS: Simpson stated under oath that she volunteered for Republican causes and was in regular contact with Rob Riley, son of Alabama Governor Bob Riley. Simpson also has submitted letters and phone records to support her claims of contact with Riley. Hubbard's statement in a news release hardly compares to Simpson's sworn statements that were subject to questioning in Congress. No points for the GOP here.

No. 3
GOP: Simpson presented zero evidence to support her claim that she was asked to do opposition research by Karl Rove. Simpson never offered these claims about Rove when testifying before the House Judiciary Committee staff.

LS: When testifying before Congressional staff, Simpson was responding to questions and was required to stick to subjects that were put before her. Multiple journalists have reported that Simpson told them of her involvement with Rove well before she was interviewed by 60 Minutes. Also, Simpson's attorney says her client has proof of communication with Rove but is withholding it while Rove refuses to answer questions under oath about the Siegelman case. No points for GOP.

No. 4
GOP: Simpson alleged that William Canary told her she would "not have to do more intelligence work." This was the first time she had made this statement.

LS: This was reported in connection with Canary's statement that "his girls" would take care of Siegelman--a reference to U.S. attorneys Leura Canary (Bill Canary's wife) and Alice Martin. GOPers can't seem to get it through their skulls that there is a difference between making an affidavit, answering questions under oath before Congressional staffers, and answering questions in a television interview. In the first two circumstances, the goal is to make a narrow statement or give a narrow answer to the question asked. In a televised interview, not under oath, the interviewee has more freedom to provide details. The fact that Simpson added some details in an interview situation does nothing to hurt her credibility. No points for GOP.

No. 5
GOP: The cases against Siegelman in the northern district and the southern district were the same.

LS: Now it's the GOP having trouble with facts--serious facts. Pelley never said this, and a look at the show's transcript proves it. Pelley said the first trial, in the northern district, involved an alleged Medicaid scam. On the second case, in the southern district, Pelley says Siegelman was indicted on "new charges." And Pelley correctly states that the primary charge for which Siegelman was convicted was bribery. GOP loses two points for this substantive misstatement.

No. 6
GOP: Pelley said Siegelman was convicted only for the bribery related parts of his indictment. But the former governor also was convicted of obstruction of justice.

LS: The GOP scores no points with this weak effort. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure obstruction of justice is what might be called a "piggyback" charge, one that can be brought only in conjunction with something else. In that sense, it is similar to conspiracy. You can't have a conspiracy unless it involves a conspiracy to commit another crime. And you can't have obstruction of justice unless it involves someone trying to interfere with investigation of another crime. The obstruction of justice charge was directly related to the bribery charge, so Pelley's statement was correct.

The verdict? The GOP's effort to take on 60 Minutes results in a loss, by 1 1/2 points. And I would say I was using a pretty generous scoring system for the GOPers.


Lee P said...

Siegelman's conviction on obstruction of justice was in a matter unrelated to the Scrushy contribution/appointment. From MSNBC:

"Siegelman, 61, and Scrushy, 54, were convicted last year of bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud. The government accused Siegelman of naming Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s 1999 campaign for a state lottery for education. The defense contended there was no quid-pro-quo or personal benefit.

"Siegelman also was convicted of obstruction of justice for trying to hide money given by a lobbyist for a motorcycle."

Anonymous said...

Great job Schnauzer! Could you do a point by point on Lee Roops opinion piece in yesterdays Huntville Times concerning the "blackout" at WHNT TV during the Siegelman broadcast?