A former GOP Congressman called the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman a "political assassination," in an interview this week on a Los Angeles radio station.
Parker Griffith, who represented Alabama's Fifth District in the U.S. House of Representatives, said the Siegelman case produced an unjust conviction that was orchestrated by tainted federal judge Mark Fuller. Griffith appeared with Dana Siegelman, the former governor's daughter, on Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett, from KPFK, Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles.
Fuller was acting on the orders of Bush-administration strategist Karl Rove, according to a report on the Griffith interview from Andrew Kreig, of the Justice-Integrity Project. From Kreig's article:
A Republican former congressman provided new momentum Nov. 26 for the current petition drive to free former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, from his unjust prison sentence.
Former Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith . . . described Siegelman's seven-year sentence as a "political assassination" in a remarkable interview by Lila Garrett on KPFK. Garrett hosts a Los Angeles-based radio show. The interview can be heard nationwide in the second of the show's three segments.
The Pacifica Network show featured also Siegelman's daughter, Dana, 27. The younger Siegelman is leading the petition drive with sign-ups here. The drive's goal is to persuade President Obama to pardon her father, 67, from convictions in 2006 on hoked-up corruption charges.
Griffith, a 70-year-old physician from Huntsville, Alabama, was a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party in 2009. He served one term in Congress before losing in the 2010 Republican primary, after his party switch. From the Kreig report:
"There was not a finer man that wanted to do more for the state than Don Siegelman," said Griffith, 70, a physician. He said authorities unfairly convicted the former governor in what appeared to be a Karl Rove-orchestrated plot concocted with the help of the federal trial judge, Mark Fuller.
"This was a political assassination," Griffith continued. "This judge was trying to prove to the Karl Rove faction that he could carry out an assignment."
As Kreig notes, Griffith is not the first conservative to criticize the Siegelman prosecution. Grant Woods of Arizona, who was co-chair of the John McCain campaign in 2008, and newspaper columnist George Will are among the others. But the Griffith statements have special resonance, Kreig reports:
Griffith is probably the most prominent critic from Alabama to combine blunt language and strong, recent GOP credentials in office. Griffith joined the Republican Party in 2009 while representing Alabama's Fifth District in the state's northern-most district surrounding Huntsville. He served one term in Congress from 2009 to 2011 before losing in a 2010 Republican primary following his party switch. Most in public office and in the major media, in Alabama and around the nation, have lost interest in Siegelman's plight after years of court reversals for him.
You can listen to the interview by clicking on the following link to the KPFK archives. Scroll to Connect the Dots for November 26, 2012 and click on the play link. Here are more highlights from Parker Griffith's portion of the interview:
On Don Siegelman's strengths as a politician:
Don was an unbelievable man of the people. He could outwork any opponent and was seen as a threat to the Southern Strategy of Karl Rove. He probably was the last major populist governor. Bill Clinton is known as our first black president; Don Siegelman was the first black governor of a Southern state. He was a man of all the people.
On Alabama's dysfunctional political environment:
I see this as a state that has always had a poisoned atmosphere in its political system. . . . Karl Rove took the mantel of the hit man or goon squad for Bushes, and he had disciples who were dependent on a Republican administration for favors and largesse.
On the sorry state of our federal justice system:
This Judge Fuller is a weak individual . . . and he has demonstrated that over and over on bench. . . . Don Siegelman was taken out of the political arena, and the charge he is in prison for is laughable. . . . We are surrounded by educational-lottery states, and Don wanted to do that for the children of Alabama. He met a tremendous amount of resistance . . . from casino money pouring into Alabama because surrounding states were benefiting from our citizens crossing the borders.
On the profound implications of the Siegelman case:
This justice system, that we grew up hearing in our civics classes and around our tables was impartial and that it was fair and not politicized, we now know that’s not the case. We’ve seen that over the last several decades in many, many areas.
In Alabama, as it relates to Don, it came down so obviously to a political decision that it’s an embarrassment--not only to the state, but to the Justice Department.