Monday, May 11, 2009

Bush Did the Same Thing That Landed Don Siegelman in Prison

Recent Texas governors, including George W. Bush, took major donations from people and then appointed them to state boards and commissions.

That comes from an article in the Houston Chronicle, spotlighting a common political practice that landed former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman in federal prison--under the Bush Department of Justice.

Neither Bush, nor other Texas governors, was investigated or prosecuted for their appointments.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Texas Governor Rick Perry (a Republican) has received almost $5 million in donations from people he appointed to state boards and commissions. And the newspaper reports that other Texas governors, including one who goes by "Dubya," have followed the same practice.

Siegelman, you will recall, accepted a $500,000 donation for an education-lottery campaign from Birmingham businessman Richard Scrushy and then appointed Scrushy to a health-care oversight board--one he had served on under three previous governors.

That transaction led to their prosecution and conviction on federal corruption charges. Scrushy is serving a federal-prison sentence as we write this, and Siegelman might be headed back to prison after the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of his conviction.

So why isn't Rick Perry on his way to the federal pen? There are several reasons: (1) He's a Republican, and only Democrats have been targeted for such "crimes" in the era of Bush. (Why do you think they call them political prosecution?); (2) Such transactions, while they might appear unseemly, have never been considered crimes under federal law. They only became crimes when Karl Rove, "Bush's Brain," initiated a jihad against Democrats over the past eight years.

Want to talk about hypocrisy? Get this line from the Chronicle story:

Appointees represent a significant lever or power to any Texas governor, an office with comparably limited powers. Perry’s predecessors, Ann Richards and George W. Bush, also accepted donations from appointees.

In other words, Karl Rove's boss practiced exactly the same behavior that has turned Don Siegelman into a federal "criminal."

What a country.

As for Siegelman, he isn't just sitting around saying, "WTF." He is making every effort to help Americans understand the hypocritical and bogus nature of his (and other) political prosecutions.

Reports Sam Stein of Huffington Post:

A lobbying effort to persuade the Justice Department to intervene in the politically tainted case against Don Siegelman has intensified in recent days, as a deadline for appealing the charges against the former Alabama Governor nears.

After being released on appeal bond last spring, Siegelman was convicted in March by a Court of Appeals on charges of bribery, conspiracy and obstruction for appointing a prominent donor to a state post. Now he is pushing for a rehearing of his case--which critics say was orchestrated by state and national Republican officials--with the hope of replacing the three-judge panel with a larger eight-judge panel that comprises the entire 11th Circuit. He should hear a decision on his appeal any day.

"If we get a rehearing then we have a few months to pursue options with the Department of Justice," Siegelman told the Huffington Post in an interview. "If we don't, then I'm going to be re-sentenced to prison by the same judge and prosecutors which I say, parenthetically with an exclamation point, is probably the most bizarre twist yet. I'd be still fighting the same right-wing [Karl] Rove-anointed and Bush-appointed prosecutors even with [Barack] Obama and [Eric] Holder in charge."

Federal intervention appears to be unlikely, Stein reports:

The DOJ says there is virtually nothing it can do when it comes to Siegelman's appeal. "Because Mr. Siegelman has requested the full 11th Circuit Appeals Court to review the recent ruling by the three-judge panel, the Department will continue to litigate this matter in the courts, not in the media," said DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney. "The decision whether to hold an en banc hearing is the court's, not DOJ's."

Siegelman recently received support from Professor Bennett L. Gershman, author of the book, Prosecutorial Misconduct:

"I have never encountered another prosecution in which it appears so clearly that the prosecutors were zealously bent on pursuing an individual, rather than on a crime," reads the note, obtained by the Huffington Post. "As an example of bad faith prosecution, the Siegelman case may be without parallel.... There is no better example of the corrosive effect on the reputation of the Department of Justice... than the prosecution of Don Siegelman."
Meanwhile, TPM Muckraker recently reported that Rove is expected to testify before Congress in early June.

Here's a question someone might want to ask Rove right up front: As governor of Texas, George W. Bush routinely appointed his donors to boards and commissions. Why did that same behavior, when practiced by Alabama Democrat Don Siegelman, suddenly become criminal under Mr. Bush's Justice Department? Please explain.


Anonymous said...

Siegelman and Scrushy, with their lottery designs, were probably targeted by Abramoff, as well. (It's pretty amazing how Abramoff's ongoing trials and tribulations manage to avoid the news. Foggo, Duke Cunningham, etc.––most Americans have never heard the names.)

Little has been said of how Don Siegelman lost the election at the Baldwin County sheriff's department. That, in itself, would be reason for them to silence the man in prison.

Anonymous said...

Do people from other areas use law, police, jails, & prisons as tools for personal destruction against enemies? Or it this practice more prevalent in the southern states?

legalschnauzer said...

Good question. I think you've seen it in AL and MS over the past eight years because Karl Rove has strong roots in those states. He also has numerous acolytes in those states.

I think it's about a Rove mindset more than a Southern mindset.

Anonymous said...

It's actually far worse than that.

They can throw anyone in jail anytime they want. They pursue Democrats on ALL levels, including local:

'"The Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove" highlights only a very small number of many cases across the country where tactics used by the [Bush] DoJ are questionable, if not illegal.

It is necessary to examine not only the methods...but the motives.'


Anonymous said...

Former NC Governor under investigation.

"Several of the businessmen who provided the planes to Easley were appointed to the boards of state agencies and universities."