Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Siegelman Case Hits the Media Spotlight

Two media outlets in the past 24 hours have presented in-depth reports on the Don Siegelman case.

Greg Privett, investigative reporter at television station WHNT in Huntsville, prepared a story of more than eight minutes that ran last night. You can watch Privett's report by going to the WHNT Web site and clicking on "Siegelman's Second Chance" under Top News Videos.

Privett starts by noting that Siegelman's second chance will come when his appeal is heard in about two weeks by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

The report spotlights the broad implications of the Siegelman case. "If they can do this to me, as former governor of the state, they can do it to you," Siegelman says.

We can certainly identify with that sentiment here at Legal Schnauzer, considering that I was wrongfully terminated at UAB because I write a blog that deals with the Siegelman case, among other topics.

Privett notes that the U.S. Department of Justice will undergo major changes when President-Elect Barack Obama takes office in January. But Siegelman says citizens should continue to push for answers regarding his case and other possible wrongdoing by the outgoing Bush administration.

"If we don't hold people accountable, these new U.S. attorneys won't take this as seriously as they should," Siegelman says. "If they don't, it's likely to happen again."

On the Web, Huffington Post reporter David Fiderer presents "Scandals Surrounding Don Siegelman's Prosecution: A Quick and Easy Primer, Part I."

Fiderer expertly lays out the web of Republican relationships--Karl Rove, Bill Canary, Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, Bob Riley--that came together to produce the Siegelman prosecution.

It all started, Fiderer writes, with the Rove/Canary connection that solidified in the 1990s:

Rove was recruited for work in Alabama by a Republican operative named Bill Canary, a former chief of staff at the RNC. The two had bonded while working on the 1992 Bush-Quayle campaign, from which Rove had been fired for unauthorized leaking.

While both men were originally from out of state, they both established roots in Alabama, since both married politically active women who hailed from there. Rove's wife, Darby Tara Hickson, had worked in his political consulting firm, whereas Canary's wife, Leura, was an attorney in the state attorney general's office and later at the Justice Department. Rove bought a second home on the Alabama gulf coast. Both men maintained two bases of operations in and out of the state. Rove, of course, worked in Texas.

Through 2001, Canary continued working in Washington, where he was President and CEO of the American Trucking Association.

Canary recruited Rove to work on 1994 campaigns for Alabama Supreme Court justices. Rove's tactics were notable for their dishonesty and viciousness. He directed Republican candidates to call their opponents "ambulance chasers." He ran ads alleging that one Supreme Court Justice, Ernest Hornsby, made a practice of shaking down trial lawyers for campaign contributions. He started a whispering campaign against Mark Kennedy, a Democratic candidate and founder of the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, by alleging that Kennedy was a pedophile.

Abramoff entered the picture shortly after George W. Bush became president in 2001:

Jack Abramoff's most important client was the Mississippi Choctaw Indian Tribe, which ran a casino across the state border near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Abramoff's job was to quash any competition, which included Don Siegelman's pet cause, a state lottery for Alabama. Lottery proceeds from the would have helped cover tuition at state colleges.

The Choctaw Tribe forwarded Abramoff about $16 million for various political influence schemes. Abramoff relied on other crooks - Ralph Reed, Michael Scanlon, Grover Norquist - to launder money within Alabama, where it was used to help defeat a 1999 voter referendum to establish a lottery. The 2006 Senate Report revealed corrupt activities among Abramoff, Reed, Scanlon, and Norquist. But it also had a notable omission. As first reported by HuffPost's Sam Stein, documentary evidence also implicated Governor-elect Bob Riley.

On December 10, 2002, Michael Scanlon, Riley's former press secretary and an Abramoff cohort, now a convicted felon, emailed Abramoff, alerting him that a Choctaw representative, "definitely wants Riley to shut down the Poarch Creek operation, including his announcing that anyone caught gambling there can't qualify for a state contract or something like that."

In other words, they wanted Riley to continue what he'd been doing for years.

Fiderer notes that Riley, so far, has avoided having his connections to Abramoff closely scrutinized:

Riley's ties to Abramoff were first publicized in late 2005 and figured to become a campaign issue in the 2006 governor's race. But the issue of Republican corruption was neutralized by the prosecution and conviction of Don Siegelman. The Senate Report was released on June 22, 2006 right after jurors in the Siegelman trial had begun deliberations.

1 comment:

maeme said...

In your write up your wrote of Rove buying a house along the Alabama coast. I find that interesting since he also owns a home in Florida along the western panhandle coast.

It would be of great interest to many if we could discover just how much he is worth.

I also don't understand how Grover Norquist can launder money and always walk away with no legal ramifications.