Friday, August 15, 2008

More on the Ordeal of Wes Teel

I was pleased to receive a strong response to our recent post, "Message From a Political Prisoner," about former Mississippi state judge Wes Teel.

I was even more pleased to learn that voices far bigger than mine are bringing the Wes Teel story to public attention. Teel is one of three people wrongfully convicted in the Paul Minor case.

Here is a comment Scott Horton, of Harper's magazine, left at Mark Crispin Miller's News From Underground blog:

Wes Teel is sitting in a prison in Atlanta, GA, today. He is a political prisoner, one of a handful of political prisoners serving time because of the machinations of Karl Rove. I spent several months researching his case, and traveled down to Mississippi repeatedly to interview those involved with it.

Right now, the federal prosecutors involved are busy denying that they had anything to do with it. That's because they know it was a political hit job designed to hit Democratic fundraising for judicial races in Mississippi. In fact, the U.S. attorney who brought the case, Dunn Lampton, was found guilty of far more serious election fund raising violations than were charged against Teel--I pulled the data from the FEC files.

The difference is that, with respect to Republican violations, the matters are handled as civil and swept under the carpet, and with Democrats they are charged as corruption.

The other outrage in this case goes to the federal judge who tried the case, and who changed his rulings between the two trials in a transparent effort to insure a conviction. Why? It surely wasn't coincidence that, through this entire period, the Bush Justice Department was dangling the prospect of a promotion to the court of appeals in front of this judge--a promotion which they then dropped when the case was over.

I discuss all of this in the current broadcast of "Ring of Fire," in an interview with Sam Seder subbing for RFK Jr.


The Ring of Fire interview can be heard here.

Also, Horton discussed the Wes Teel case on the Peter B. Collins radio show. You can hear the interview by going here and scrolling down to the Wednesday, August 13, episode at Hour 2.

This is an excellent interview. Horton describes Teel as "collateral damage" in the Bush Justice Department's efforts to shut down Paul Minor, the biggest donor to the Democratic Party in Mississippi.

"Karl Rove and Haley Barbour decided they were going to have a 'Mississippi Makeover,'" Horton says. "So they went after the man who was the 'well' for Democratic funding in the state. They saw Paul Minor as a threat, and they wanted to cut off his funding. And the prosecution had the desired effect--contributions to the Democratic Party dropped off 75 percent in Mississippi from one election to the next."

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