Monday, October 2, 2017

Montgomery theatre fills to capacity for screening of Don Siegelman documentary, as former governor puts final touches on a book about his political prosecution

A capacity crowd of more than 1,000 people turned out for a screening in Montgomery yesterday of Atticus v. The Architect, a documentary about the political prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. According to a recent article at Smashing Interviews, the public soon might be able to read a book about the case, written by Siegelman while he was in federal prison. Current Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it appears, will be cast as one of many villains in the story.

The documentary originally was set to be shown at the Capri Theatre in Montgomery. But former federal prosecutor Leura Canary, who helped ramrod the Siegelman case, serves on the Capri's board of directors and objected to the screening. The board voted to renege on its agreement to rent the theater for a group to show the Siegelman film.

With assistance from Alabama Political Reporter, the screening was rescheduled for yesterday afternoon at the Davis Theatre, on the campus of Troy University in downtown Montgomery. The Davis, with a listed capacity of 1,200, is nicer and significantly larger than the Capri (cap., 700). Based on a video posted yesterday at the Don Siegelman Film Facebook page, the Davis almost was filled before yesterday's 3 p.m. showing.

Siegelman spoke after the screening, marking his first public appearance in Montgomery since his release from prison in February.

A report at said the theatre was filled for the screening, including some big names in Alabama  politics:

According to tweets from Brian Lyman of The Montgomery Advertiser, VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and State Auditor Jim Zeigler are among those in attendance.

All of that should whet the appetite for those who would like to dive into a book about the Siegelman case -- and one is on the horizon. Marc and Melissa Parker, of Calera, publish Smashing Interviews (SI), and this is from their recent discussion with Siegelman. (Note: SI is a cool Web site, which goes well beyond politics and Alabama; The most recent interview is with Beach Boys legendary songwriter Brian Wilson. But back to Don Siegelman.)

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you begin writing your book while you were at Oakdale prison?

Don Siegelman: I did. I started writing actually in 2007 right after I got settled at Oakdale. I sent letters to a couple of friends and asked them to give me their thoughts, and they were responsive, I think one to humor me and the other to encourage me. Al Gore sent me to his New York agent in 2008, and I’ve had conversations with another agent on the west coast years ago, and he renewed contact after I got out.

But at that time, I submitted the first chapter and the synopsis of the other chapters that I had in mind and my general pitch as to why it should be published. I really wanted to write the book myself, and I didn’t want a ghost writer, so that propelled me to just keep writing while I was in prison and have everything pretty much on paper when I got out.

The book apparently will portray Jeff Sessions as the slimy sewer rate that he is:

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was it the FBI that brought charges against you?

Don Siegelman: It was not the FBI that brings the charges against me. It was retired FBI agents who worked for Sessions in Mobile who were hired by the Attorney General’s office as contract employees initially. But it was those employees, those retired FBI agents of Sessions, who worked constantly for nearly five years doing nothing but trying to build a case against me, first in 2004 which failed, and then again in 2006.

That suggests Sessions, while serving as U.S. senator, actively was involved in trying to prosecute Siegelman -- apparently with the assistance of Sessions protege and current U.S. Judge, Bill Pryor. Is that what a U.S. senator is supposed to be doing? Was Sessions using his office for political gain, and was Pryor helping him?

Siegelman also provides insight on Nick Bailey, the former aide who wound up being the government's chief witness against him:

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): And Bailey spent time in prison on bribery-related charges and was released in 2008.

Don Siegelman: Well, he had gotten himself into substantial debt and mortgaged his mother’s farm to invest in the cattle futures. All of this came out at trial, that he had pocketed $200,000 from different people, committed a number of felonies all with serious federal consequences, so he could easily have been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So Bailey made a deal?

Don Siegelman: This doesn’t come out in court. It comes out on 60 Minutes on February 4, 2008, that he was interviewed over 70 times and made to write and re-write his testimony over and over until he got his story the way the prosecutors wanted it. He did that in exchange for a commitment that they would recommend no time in prison, and that’s what they did.

Finally, Siegelman shines light on Karl Rove and the cavalcade of GOP crooks who made the political prosecution a reality:

Don Siegelman: We’ve kind of discussed the links to Karl Rove, but some of them we have missed. In 1999, I’m sworn in as governor. In less than two months, Karl Rove’s client, State Attorney General Bill Pryor, starts a Medicaid fraud investigation, which led eventually to a trial in 2004 where Judge U. W. Clemon said it was the most unfounded criminal case over which he has presided in his nearly 30 years on the bench.

Karl Rove’s client comes back into play in 2002 when Bill Pryor stops my hand recount, which would have proven one way or the other whether I won the race or whether there was electronic vote fraud. He seized the ballots and the returns and those ballots and returns have never been seen or counted since. Pryor certified them illegally two days before Alabama law allows for certification after which he was appointed to the federal bench in Atlanta on the Eleventh Circuit through which my appeals have to go. . . .

In 2002, it was Karl Rove’s client, Bill Pryor, who openly participated in stealing the election. Two other people were given credit for stealing the election. One was Rove’s employee, a woman named Kitty McCullough who later married and changed her name to Kelly Kimbrough and a guy named Dan Gans who claimed credit on his website. Dan Gans, immediately after the election was stolen, went to work for a Tom DeLay/Jack Abramoff related lobbying firm called the Alexander Group. So to answer the question about the political operatives, the players were substantial, and there were substantial ties leading to Rove, leading to the White House and going directly, of course, to Abramoff, Ralph Reed, (Michael) Scanlon and (Grover) Norquist.

No comments: