Thursday, January 22, 2009

Does Artur Davis Care More About Politics Than Justice?

Some disturbing comments from U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) come to light today, raising this question: Does Davis really care about getting to the bottom of corruption in the Bush Justice Department?

A number of Alabama Democrats have raised questions about Davis' commitment to ensuring that justice is done in the Don Siegelman case and other apparent political prosecutions under Bush. Critics also have pointed out that Davis has taken money from business interests in an apparent effort to seek favor with white voters for a possible run at the governor's office in 2010.

Davis' comments, published in Gwen Ifill's new book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, add fuel to charges that he is less a man of principle and more a political opportunist.

According to Ifill, Davis seems concerned that the Siegelman case could harm his chances at running for governor, apparently because it would anger white, pro-business voters. Davis says he expects most Alabamians to ignore the Siegelman case, and he is "counting on it to fade away well before 2010."

Fade away? Doesn't exactly sound like a guy who is determined to see that justice is done and wrongdoers in the Bush DOJ are held accountable does it?

Davis claims he had no choice but to support a congressional inquiry into the Siegelman case and other apparent political prosecutions. As for Siegelman himself, Davis says, "Barely know him, barely know him."

Is Davis presenting a profile in courage here? Not hardly.

Alabama blogger and cyber journalist Glynn Wilson has raised questions about Davis' commitment to progressive ideas and the cause of justice. Davis' comments in the Ifill book indicate that Wilson is onto something.

Consider these stinging words from a Wilson post at the Locust Fork Journal in December 2008:

Some Democrats say Davis had to be “dragged kicking and screaming” into the (Siegelman) investigation, and to get a green light from Alabama Power Company to do it. Davis said the committee did ask for a contempt citation against Karl Rove, but he blamed it on “the leadership” in the House for not scheduling a vote in the full Congress. He said there would be time in the next Congress to continue the investigation, as indicated by the Senate Judiciary Committee press secretary in a recent story. But he would not give a clear indication he is pushing the issue.

“Look, I think everybody — except The Birmingham News – knew there was a taint and a cloud of suspicion around the Siegelman prosecution all along,” Davis said. He said “it will be up to the Eleventh U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Atlanta to decide the fate of Siegelman and Scrushy,” although he indicated the court’s decision could influence Congress in its investigation.

For his lack of a clear stance on that, and the recent information that has come to light about his close ties to Bill and Leura Canary in Montgomery, Davis has angered many of Siegelman’s supporters. And now charges are flying that Davis actually protected both Bill Canary, the head of the conservative Business Council of Alabama, and his wife Leura, the U.S. attorney who brought charges against Siegelman in Montgomery, by not pushing for them to be called or subpoenaed to testify before the committee in Washington. Attorneys across the state are still talking about the allegation that Davis is trying to figure out a way to help keep Canary on as U.S. attorney in Montgomery, even though Davis recently denied it on a left-wing political blog rather than offer direct answers to our questions.

Financial disclosure forms show that Davis has taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions form the Canarys over the years, far more than other Democrats. An analysis of his campaign contributions also reveals that only 8 percent of his money comes from Alabama, while much of it comes from New York and the lobby associated with the PAC advocating for the State of Israel.

Davis fired back on some of these charges at Left in Alabama. But his comments in Ifill's book leave us with these questions: Does Artur Davis really stand for something, other than seeking business support so he can become governor of Alabama? Were his actions on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee intentionally limited and intended for show?

One thing is certain: With his comments in Ifill's book, Davis has seriously alienated a number of progressives, liberals, and Siegelman supporters in Alabama. That alienation is chronicled in a Glynn Wilson post this afternoon at Locust Fork Journal.

Davis seems to have positioned himself as the "Barack Obama of Alabama." And many progressives have held high hopes for him. But more and more, he seems like a mushy middle-of-the-roader who is eager to kiss up to the business and political interests who have turned Alabama into a corrupt cesspool.

Perhaps Artur Davis needs to give some thought to whose side he really is on--and what he really believes.


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Roger! But one correction.

The statistic that "only 8% of Davis' campaign contributions come from Alabama" is wrong. I'm surprised that Wilson hasn't corrected what must be a typo.

Here's what I found:

In 2006, 79% of Davis' contributors were from Alabama.

In 2004, 89% of contributors were from Alabama.

The 2008 numbers aren't complete, but so far, Davis reports 79% of contributions from Alabama.

Anonymous said...
he he he