Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is released from solitary confinement, where he landed after discussing Robert McDonnell case with Washington Post

Don Siegelman
Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has been released from solitary confinement at the Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, Louisiana.

Siegelman was sent to solitary confinement last week after he was quoted extensively in a Washington Post (WaPo) article about the case of former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, whose 2014 conviction on public-corruption charges was reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) last Wednesday. The nation's high court twice has declined to hear Siegelman's case, even though it presents issues that are almost identical to those in the McDonnell case.

Many of the issues raised in the McDonnell case could have been resolved in 2010, or maybe even earlier, if SCOTUS had heard the Siegelman case. That the high court is hearing the case of McDonnell (a Republican) while ignoring the case of Siegelman (a Democrat) raises all kinds of ugly questions.

Those issues get even uglier when you consider that Siegelman wound up in solitary confinement just days after discussing the McDonnell case with Washington Post reporter Robert Barnes. Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) claimed Siegelman was punished mainly for selling a shirt to raise funds for a documentary, called Atticus v. the Architect, about his case.

I'm not sure anyone, especially Siegleman, is buying that. Here is what he said in a letter to supporters about his return to the general prison population:

For unsaid reasons, I was directed to go back to the camp. Just had dinner with a group of guys, have a new bed assignment. I should be getting my personal property back from the "Special Housing Unit" tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted on any new developments

What prompted BOP officials to make such a stupid move in the first place, so closely aligned with the Washington Post interview? Here is Siegelman's best guess:

I suspect the BOP figured out that my donating a T-shirt to raise money for the International Documentary Association, to help produce a documentary on "The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman," was protected by the First Amendment. . . .

All is well for the moment. . . .

Court records show that McDonnell, his wife, and family received $177,000 in luxury items from businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., but McDonnell supporters say evidence shows the former governor never took official action on Williams' behalf. The gifts were legal under Virginia law.

That factual scenario is quite different from the one in Siegelman, but the cases still raise similar legal issues. Writes WaPo's Barnes:

“Quid pro quo” translates from the Latin to “something for something.” McDonnell’s attorneys acknowledge the governor got something — Virginia’s laws did not forbid the gifts — but said he gave nothing.

Siegelman’s case is the reverse. He gave Alabama health-care executive Richard Scrushy a new term on an important industry regulatory board. But Scrushy’s offering was a $500,000 campaign contribution to push a referendum measure for a lottery that would benefit the state’s underfunded school system. (Note: This information from The Washington Post is inaccurate, and it has been widely misreported at numerous news outlets. Please see Editor's Note at the end of this post for explanation.)

“The Siegelman case was different from all others,” Siegelman said, in the detached tone of the Georgetown Law graduate that he is. “There was no personal benefit, not a penny of any financial gain. There wasn’t any self-enrichment scheme. There was no testimony of a quid pro quo, much less an explicit or express quid pro quo. And the contribution was not even to me but to a ballot initiative.”

Andrew P. Miller, a former Virginia attorney general, agrees with Siegelman, a Democrat, and McDonnell, a Republican. Miller helped drum up support for both men as they presented their cases to the Supreme Court.

“I’m bipartisan in my concern about this,” he said.

Experts who have followed both cases say they see similarities--and differences. Writes Barnes:

The similarity [Milller] sees is that both men were rising stars in their respective parties brought down by prosecutors appointed by the president of the opposite party.

Grant Woods, a former Republican attorney general from Arizona, said that, if anything, Siegelman had the bigger complaint.

“The Siegelman case to me is a complete travesty of justice from start to finish,” Woods said. The McDonnell case, on the other hand, “is just more of an interesting legal question.”

Editor's note: The information from The Washington Post regarding Scrushy's alleged $500,000 donation to Siegelman's lottery campaign is inaccurate. That figure has been misreported numerous times at multiple news outlets, including ours. We attempted to set the record straight in an April 8, 2013, post titled "Richard Scrushy: Convictions in the Siegelman case are grouded in former aide's flawed testimony."

Scrushy says prosecutors repeatedly told the press during the 2006 trial that he gave Siegelman $500,000 to support the then-governor's education lottery campaign. The story obviously has legs because 10 years later--just last week, in fact--The Washington Post was repeating it. Scrushy, however, has said multiple times--in 2013 and again this week--that it is not true.

We will provide details on the actual events in an upcoming post, but here is the gist of it:

* Scrushy gave $250,000, via HealthSouth, to help the Alabama Democratic Party pay down debt from the lottery initiative, which already had been defeated. Scrushy gave no money to support the lottery campaign.

* A Maryland company, Integrated Health Services (IHS), gave $250,000 for the lottery campaign, but Scrushy said he was not involved with that.

* Scrushy only agreed to help pay down the Alabama Democratic Party's debt after former Alabama Power CEO Elmer Harris asked him to. And Siegelman, Scrushy said, played no role in that effort.


Roves piercing said...

It's one thing if it happens in Virginia, and a whole different thing when it happens in Alabama.

Anonymous said...

You are correct, Roves, and it also makes a difference whether the target is a Republican or a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

The media may always belong to the left but the right has the court system on lock down.

Anonymous said...

Karl Rove ally Ed Gillespie was closely associated with McDonnell. Sounds like the former VA Guv. has Rove and Gillespie in his corner. Maybe that's why SCOTUS took the case?

Anonymous said...

LS: Many thanks for posting this. Clowns and circuses dominate the media while Siegelman languishes. Total miscarriage of justice.

Anonymous said...

I just read were they are waterboarding our governor Don? Under orders from Carl Rove and Federal Judge LongDick. Nothing would surprise me with them two.

Anonymous said...

I still get confused by this. Elmer Harris of Alabama Power testified that he asked Scrushy to serve on that board. Nothing gained by DS but yet he still is in prison.

Anonymous said...

This is America. This is the best country in all the world where human rights are protected, respected and where equal justice is "FOR ALL" no matter what race, religion, creed or financial assets. We were raised and publicly schooled (brainwashed) to believe this. According to some, justice and the "system" is the same (and as dirty) as it has always been and if that is so, then every person who ever believed in this system, and ever been forced to study "CIVICS" or "Government in public schools to believe this system is honest and upright - should have a lawsuit for being mislead and forced to believe what is NOT TRUE.

The truth is in the USA, money rules and if you don't have it then you don't have a case and you can't hope to win in any event. And.. if you piss off the wrong people they're going to take all your money one way or another so you can never win. That's the game - the AMERICAN game. The concepts of eugenics and Nazi Germany and anti-semitism originated in the USA. We're not as "honorable" as we want the world to believe.

Ed Snowed Us said...

Has anyone heard a word from Mr. Scrushy after he cleared the clutches of prison and parole?
Someone posting as him claimed the DOJ tried to force him to LIE on the stand to nail Siegelman for serious jail time, in exchange for a jail-free penalty.