|Karl Rove at RNC breakfast
Updates on Karl Rove, Don Siegelman, Whataburger, and more . . .
Karl Rove went loopy at a Republican National Convention (RNC) breakfast yesterday, ranting about Alabama-related issues--even though he was not asked about them.
Craig Unger, of Vanity Fair, was on hand for a Tampa event that featured Rove as guest of honor. Unger, author of the newly released Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove's Secret Kingdom of Power, participated in a question-answer session--and that seemed to set Rove off. Unger describes the scene:
Finally, Rove chose to comment on me, my new book, Boss Rove, and my Vanity Fair piece of the same title, when I rose to ask him if he had taken shots on Fox News at so many of Romney’s rivals—Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and others—in consultation with Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. When I identified myself as being with Vanity Fair, Rove interrupted, “Yes, of course you are. . . . This is where Unger’s gonna flack his book. Go ahead, Unger. Launch away!”
Calling my book “an entertaining work of fiction,” he said, “Unger’s got an interesting book: I’m responsible for the murder of Mike Connell,” Rove’s computer guru who died in a 2008 plane crash and was said to be knowledgeable about allegations of electoral fraud in Ohio in 2004.
Unger took issue with Rove's characterization of the book, and that seemed to turn Rove's attention to Alabama--for some unknown reason. Rove fired back about Connell and took a clear shot at Jill Simpson, the Rainsville attorney and former GOP operative who was a key whistleblower in the Siegelman case:
“It’s very artfully close to saying that,” Rove said (about Connell). “He also depends upon a nut . . . who claims that I personally got her to investigate Governor Siegelman of Alabama,” Rove continued, referring to Democrat Don Siegelman, who was convicted of campaign violations in a prosecution that many Democrats believe was politically motivated.
Without uttering her name, Rove refers to Simpson as a "nut." But he fails to mention that she testified under oath before Congress--something Rove did not do--regarding her participation in a conference call that included discussions about setting up Siegelman for a political prosecution. And we have yet to see anyone successfully shoot holes in Simpson's testimony--although a number of folks have tried.
Don Siegelman Will Be Sent to Oakdale, Louisiana
Former governor Don Siegelman has received noticed that he will be sent to a prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, upon reporting to federal custody on September 11. Pam Miles, who operates a political listserv from Huntsville, Alabama, issued a press release yesterday about Siegelman's assignment. Miles' release was titled "This Is Pure Meanness," and she states:
On August 3rd at resentencing Judge Fuller granted a motion for Don to self-report and said that he would request that the BOP place Don at a facility “as near Alabama as he can be designated.”
While Talladega is only 49 miles away and Maxwell Air Force base only 97 miles Judge Fuller must have thought that Don’s enthusiastic supporters like me would be viewed as way too much of a distraction if Don were in Alabama.
Pensacola, however, is only 251 miles away, about a 4 and ½ hour drive for Don’s wife, Lori.
But oh no, apparently even Pensacola is too near Alabama for the Judge, because Don just received notice that he is assigned to Oakdale, Louisiana, a 17-18 hour, 900+ mile round trip.
What kind of hardship is this on Siegelman's family? Miles provides insight, and she also touches on the unlawful outcome in the Siegelman prosecution:
As you may remember Lori, Don’s wife, lost an eye in a horrific automobile accident with a drunk driver in 1984. She would have difficulty driving the 17-18 hour, 900+ mile round trip to Oakdale and back. It would be very dangerous and nearly impossible for her to drive it alone.
This is nothing but punitive. It is outrageous that the Judge is sending Don to prison at all for something that wasn’t a crime. It’s never been a crime to appoint a contributor to something. Where do Ambassadors come from? From people who raise money for whomever is elected president!
If it was not for Richard Scrushy being the contributor and for the government pressuring Nick Bailey who was facing 40 to 100 years in prison to lie there would not have been a conviction.
The conviction makes me sick, the extreme sentence makes me sick, and putting Don as far from his family and friends AS POSSIBLE . . . MAKES ME ANGRY.
Texas Monthly Shines Light on Whataburger's Battle With Debt Collector
Long recognized as one of the best magazines in the country, Texas Monthly (TM) has weighed in on Whataburger's efforts to stand up for an employee who was the target of unlawful harassment from a debt collector.
We reported on the Whataburger story over the weekend, and I was pleased to learn that Texas Monthly cited our work in its blog post yesterday. That puts Legal Schnauzer in some mighty fine journalistic company. From "What An Employer!" a piece by TM reporter Jason Cohen:
At Open Salon, Roger Shuler, who also writes the Legal Schnauzer blog, openly applauded Whataburger’s actions:
If you are an everyday American consumer and get a hankering for fast food, you might want to consider a run to your local Whataburger. The Texas-based company deserves your support for its willingness to stand up to one of the biggest bullies in the debt-collection industry. In fact, this debt collector is even bigger than most Americans realize because, unbeknownst to many, it is owned by a banking behemoth.
Shuler, who had his own personal experience with NCO, goes on to explain NCO’s ties to JP Morgan Chase. He concluded, “That means Whataburger, on behalf of an employee, is taking on the largest private corporation in the world. I know who I will be rooting for in that fight.”
Let's hope TM continues to follow this story. Legal Schnauzer definitely will be on it.
Honesty Will Not Be Tolerated In the U.S. Department of Justice
Jesselyn Radack apparently was naive when she graduated from Yale School of Law and took a job with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 1995. How naive was Radack? She actually thought her superiors at DOJ would take it seriously when she raised questions regarding abuses of due process.
How did her superiors react to her concerns? They tried to ruin her career, and Radack lays it out in a new book titled Traitor: The Whistleblower and the "American Taliban." Radack will discuss her experiences when she appears on Andrew Kreig's My Technology Lawyer (MTL) Washington Update radio show at noon (EDT) Thursday, August 30. You can listen to the interview live at the MTL Web site.
To what depths has the DOJ fallen since George W. Bush became president in 2000. Kreig provides disturbing insights in an article about the Radack book:
In 1995, a brilliant, newly minted Yale Law School graduate named Jesselyn Radack began work at the U.S. Justice Department to fulfill her dream of public service. Six years after becoming an ethics adviser in the headquarters of the 100,000-employee department, she found herself a pariah after suggesting that government attorneys should not provide false information to the courts in a federal terrorism prosecution. . . .
"The Justice Department forced me out of my job" she writes, "placed me under criminal investigation, got me fired from my next job in the private sector, reported me to the state bars in which I'm licensed as an attorney, and put me on the 'no fly list.'"
Her offense? She believed, erroneously as it turned out, that the Department would not want to use illegally obtained evidence in its prosecution of John Walker Lindh, an American convert to Islam. He had been imprisoned by Afghan warlords in November 2001 soon after the U.S.-led NATO invasion of the country after 9/11.
Yes, the Bush DOJ viciously attacked a government lawyer for suggesting that the department might want to abide by the rule of law. Writes Kreig:
Radack advised against further federal interrogation of Lindh without a lawyer present because his parents had retained counsel. Later, she blew the whistle when she learned that the department destroyed evidence of her advice, and then withheld the evidence from a Virginia federal court, where Lindh faced charges of murder and treason in a high-profile prosecution helping inflame the public in the earliest stages of the war.
Radack's gripping tale describes a culture clash at the Justice Department between due process advocates and conviction-hungry zealots. The story has implications far beyond the Lindh case or indeed any of the terror cases. Readers of the Justice Integrity Project's site know of documented prosecution misconduct in criminal and civil cases in other cases, including the federal frame-up of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in Alabama.
Mississippi Judge Tosses Convictions In a Case That Sounds Familiar
A federal judge in Mississippi has overturned several convictions in a corruption prosecution that sounds an awful lot like the Don Siegelman case in Alabama.
U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers threw out convictions against Lee Garner and Ray Shoemaker, who had been convicted on a kickback-bribery scheme involving a medical center in Batesville, Mississippi. The key government witness was a man named David Chandler. Reports Patsy Brumfield, of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal:
Thursday, Senior U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr. threw out all four guilty verdicts against Garner and two against Shoemaker alleging a conspiracy to profit from beefed-up business for Garner.
Garner was accused of an illegal agreement for Chandler to receive $5 per nursing hour Garner was billed in exchange for Chandler's influence to ensure it was paid in a timely manner.
Garner's side insisted it was nothing more than a business deal, while the government claimed it was a bribe that padded Garner's fees to the hospital.
In his ruling last week, Judge Biggers ruled against the prosecution on that issue. And he didn't stop there, going on to scrutinize Chandler's testimony:
The government also claimed Garner offered Shoemaker $25,000 to influence additional nursing services, and the jury agreed.
But Biggers threw that verdict out, saying Chandler never heard any such conversation between the men and no other evidence was introduced to prove it.
In the Siegelman case, chief prosecution witness Nick Bailey hinted at an illegal quid pro quo in his testimony, but evidence showed that he never heard any such conversation between Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy.
Do federal judges have one standard for bribery in Mississippi and another one in Alabama? It sure looks that way.