Friday, June 29, 2007


Seven years is a long time, especially when you don’t deserve a day.

The Associated Press has reported that former Democratic Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for bribery on June 28.

The charge was bribery, but according to an “L.A. Times” article from June 26, he didn’t really do that. Instead he was convicted of “persuading a rich business executive to put $500,000 into a campaign for a state lottery to support education.”

That’s not bribery.

“Hey highwayscribe, you penniless bohemian so-and-so, what the heck do you know about bribery?” (you might ask)

Well, if you came to highwayscribery every day, (and you don’t) you might know the highway scribe’s essay on bribery for the TRACE Institute, won “honorable mention” and that while writing that piece, the scribe learned bribery is very difficult to define and even harder to prove in court.

As such, the feds use all kinds of end-runs like mail fraud and wire fraud for convicting people on what is supposed to be a simple quid pro quo of money-for-political action on behalf of the giver.

The reason we focus upon this otherwise obscure issue for anyone other than Alabamians, is that Siegelmen says his prosecution was engineered by Karl Rove. And if you read the L.A. Times article linked above, you might agree that he has a point.

According to that report Democrats and Republicans alike agree, too.

If you don’t read the piece, then please know that Siegelman, first elected governor back in 1998, was something of a threat in an otherwise Red State fiefdom given his ability to get blacks and whites to vote for him.

Some “protege” of Karl Rove, Bill Canary, led the successful attempt to unseat Siegelman in 2002. His wife, Leura Canary, a Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney (who didn’t get fired recently), actually supervised the case for a time before Siegelman’s lawyers blew the whistle on her.

Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican activist, filed a sworn statement in the case, “that she was on a party conference call in 2002 when she heard Bill Canary tell other campaign workers not to worry about Siegelman because Canary’s ‘girls’ and ‘Karl’ would make sure the Justice Department pursued the Democrat so he was not a political threat in the future.”

It gets deeper and uglier, but highwayscribery gets off here to point out this is not novel. You can go back to the Reagan Administration’s prosecution of Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry for evidence of Republican U.S. Attorneys going after Democrats in their urban strongholds.

A few years ago, the city of San Diego got its first Democratic majority in history only to see U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, a Bush appointee (just chased out), indict three of them (all Democrats) on bribery and, yes, wire and mail fraud charges.

One guy died of a heart attack before the trial, another’s looking at jail, and the young and promising Michael Zucchet, wanders downtown a sadly broken man.

And there goes your Democratic majority in San Diego.

This kind of thing not only removes Democrats and progressives from positions of power, it also discourages any with a mind to enter public service.

Which brings us to the whole business of Al “Gonzo” Gonzales, the firing of U.S. Attorneys, and charges by Democrats (who ought to know), that the firings happened because these officials refused to take marching orders from Rove on issues political and important to the White House.

According to a “San Diego Union-Tribune” dispatch, Democrats have filed subpoenas to White House operatives.

President Bush is, of course, “firm” in his insistence he and his employees respond to nobody in the world. They will provide no documents relative to how they treated the Department of Justice as a political wing of Rove’s partisan operation.

What they know is that they can wait for Congress to sue them, lie low, and pick up their presidential pardon (and medal of honor), on they way out the door.

Yes, tough as it is to conjure, this gang will be gone in under two years.

What they’re less clear on is what happens if White House operatives are cited for contempt of Congress; a prospect raised in today’s article.

But if you can ignore a Congressional subpoena for one thing, can’t you ignore it for anything?

Probably. But then we’d come full circle, assured through their disdain for the contempt charges that they are truly...


No comments: