Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Don Siegelman, with no Rolex and no Ferrari, remains in prison while SCOTUS overturns Robert McDonnell's convictions, based on receipt of $175,000 in gifts

Don Siegelman
Don Siegelman yesterday reacted with disgust and sarcasm to news that the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) had overturned the convictions of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife, who had received more than $175,000 in gifts (including a Ferrari ride and Rolex watches) from a constituent. Meanwhile, we have discovered a legal issue that might make it unlikely Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy will receive any benefit from the McDonnell ruling.

Siegelman, the former Democratic governor of Alabama, remains in federal prison at Oakdale, Louisiana, because of his conviction in a case that involved no personal benefit to him, no evidence of an illegal "quid pro quo" agreement with Scrushy, and no sign that Scrushy wanted Siegelman to take "official action" that might benefit him.

With all that in mind, it's easy to understand why Siegelman might show disdain for Monday's SCOTUS ruling in McDonnell, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts. Dana Siegelman Kinkade, the former governor's daughter, released the following statement yesterday:

Dad's response to McDonnell Case Ruling:

"I would have been better off if the HealthSouth CEO had given me a Rolex and a Ferrari NOT to appoint him to the non-paying C.O.N. board on which I wanted him to serve and to which he begged me not to appoint him."

In the government's case against former Alabama's Governor Don E. Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, there was no quid pro quo much less an express one. There was no personal benefit or self-enrichment scheme. Richard Scrushy, the CEO of Fortune 500 HealthSouth, spent five years in prison because the judge told the jury could infer or imply a corrupt agreement because a campaign contribution to a ballot initiative referendum could be considered something of value to to the Governor because he advocated the referendum's approval by the voters.

"I feel sure Mr. Scrushy would have gladly paid me not to reappoint him to his 4th four year term to a time-consuming board." The McDonald ruling does nothing to answer George F. Will's call:

"Until the court clarifies what constitutes quid pro quo political corruption, Americans engage in politics at their peril because prosecutors have dangerous discretion to criminalize politics." Wash Post, 2/12/12

Don E. Siegelman

Governor of Alabama, 1999-2003

I outlined yesterday three pathways to freedom that the McDonnell ruling might provide for Siegelman. And I still think that might be possible. But our followup research revealed a legal issue that could mean McDonnell doesn't offer much for Siegelman.

America's federal bribery laws are a confusing mishmash, covered under several different statutes, written in language that is largely unintelligible. In fact, the statutes are so confusing that courts often turn to case law to determine what is, and is not, illegal.

The Siegelman case, for example, largely was governed by McCormick v. United States, 500 U.S. 257 (1991). He and Scrushy were prosecuted under 18 U.S. Code 666, which is known as the "federal funds bribery" statute and generally applies to cases involving campaign contributions. (Scrushy's donation to help pay down debt for the Alabama Democratic Party, after Siegelman's lottery proposal had been defeated, was considered a campaign contribution.)

McDonnell, however, was prosecuted under 18 U.S. Code 201, a general bribery statute that usually does not involve campaign contributions. On the case-law side, McDonnell invoked Evans v. United States, 504 U.S. 255 (1992), which tends to involve bribery outside the context of a campaign contribution.

The bottom line: In Siegelman, Scrushy gave a campaign contribution. In McDonnell, constituent Jonny Williams showered McDonnell and his wife with gifts, which went directly to them, but he apparently did not make a campaign contribution. That means the two cases are covered by different law -- Siegelman is covered by the 666 statute and the McCormick case; McDonnell is covered by the 201 statute and the Evans case.

That might not be good news for Siegelman and Scrushy. If they seek review based on McDonnell, a federal judge easily could rule, "These cases present very different facts. Siegelman was about a campaign contribution, and McDonnell was not. Siegelman was governed by 666 and McCormick, while McDonnell was governed by 201 and Evans. We have different facts and different law -- and that means the Siegelman defendants can receive no relief from McDonnell."

There is a flip side to that, however. Both cases were prosecuted under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S. Code 1951, so that might give Siegelman lawyers an avenue to argue that the new definition of "official act" outlined in McDonnell should apply to Siegelman.


Anonymous said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but

The acronym is IOKIYAR.

Lynda said...

I'm just a viewer from afar (AZ - Pima County), but the Siegelman case seemed so similar to the nasty Texas cases that brought Rick Perry into power & turned Texas Red broke my heart. I wish you all the best in your search for true Justice.

Robby Scott Hill said...

I don't think it's an accident that any of us are here tonight. If you're over 40 & you don't have a Rolex, a Ferrari & your own personal jet complete with backyard landing strip, it's because you haven't understood God's Word the way His messengers Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts & Adolf Hitler did. You need to get right with the Lord. If you trust in God, He will shower you with many blessings. It doesn't matter what kind of problem you bring Him. What's your problem? The wife won't put out? Black guy at work got your promotion because of affirmative action? Jews getting all your money? The 1st Self Righteous Church will inspire you to get Civil Rights laws over turned, make a run on the Jewish banks & get some nookie. Your newfound wealth will make your wife so wet, she'll open up those legs & bring forth a half dozen Aryan kids. The dumbest one will become a Shelby County Jailer & the not too bright one will get disability. Don't worry about the one who manages to graduate high school because your new found wealth will get him into a private Christian law school where he'll learn the art of screwing others to make the Klavern/Hunting Club even richer. The three girls will make lots of babies to go off to war & kill Brown People before they can come over here & sell 10 karat gold at the mall & build motels. God Bless America & Make America White Again except that Jeezus & all the Prophets weren't White, but that's OK because if Jeezus & all them Prophets were alive today, they'd be White, by God & not some kind of Coloreds with kinky hair like the Muslims & Jews, except that them Jew Boys is OK now I reckon cuz Pat Robertson said them is God's Chosen People even though grandpa & tha ol' timey preacher man said them Jews were Christ killers & a cursed people back when I was a kid, but since Pat Robertson said them Jews is cool now & that we should send money & shit to convert them to Jews Christianity, I guess they're OK. It ain't easy being a bigot in the South these days cuz you can't get White Men to do their duty & them Jews & Italian Catholics have the money. So, we'll let them into our new Krazy Kosher Klan. The Aryans only Klans are theologically correct, but they are broke. If Jews & Catholics want to pay dues, God will use their money to His glory. Nobody can tell what they look like under them sheets & hoods anyhow. Bring God your fears & your doubts. He will lift you up. Amen?

Anonymous said...

Call me CT, but sounds to me like SCOTUS took the McDonnell case and overturned the convictions BECAUSE it involved similar but different statutes and case law. That seems like the perfect grounds to let McDonnell walk while keeping Siegelman in prison and not reviewing his case.

Itsmehoney said...

Siegelmam should petition the court once again

Anonymous said...

Well, Jim Ziegler seems the be confused and was saying that Siegelman could be freed because of this ruling. It's confusing as hell, and they'll find a way to screw you. Siegelman had more attorneys general sign his brief than McDonnell by the way. The descion was unanimous while Siegelman's case wasn't even heard. I look foward to the documentary, and hope Don goes on a crusade after he gets out.

Anonymous said...

Great work LS! Thanks again for bringing complicated issues to us in ways we can understand. You are right in your wheelhouse when you do that. Keep it up....there is enough data out there to keep you busy for years, and that's just in the state of Alabama!