Politics postsWednesday February 27, 2008
American Political prisoner?
The basics. Siegelman, a Democratic governor in a Republican state, was running for reelection in 2002 when word leaked to the press that he was being investigated by federal prosecutors; he narrowly lost that election to Republican Bob Riley. The investigating prosecutors were both appointed by Pres. Bush and one of them, Leura Canary, was the wife of Republican consultant Bill Canary.
Two years later, as Siegelman was gearing to run for governor again, he's indicted on charges stemming from an alleged Medicaid scam. The case goes to trial. And on the first day the judge throws it out. Says the government has no case.
Then the investigation expands. For eight months Leura Canary is heading it — despite the fact that her husband ran the campaign for Siegelman's opponent, Gov. Riley. The charge is now bribery. The jury deadlocks once, twice, then votes to convict. The problems? The chief witness against him testified in exchange for a reduced sentence on corruption charges. The smoking gun, a check, was actually cut days after the witness claims seeing it in Siegelman's hands. And the supposed quid pro quo of campaign contributions ($500,000) for political favors (the contributor being reappointed to a hospital board) was, according to Grant Woods, a Republican and the former attorney general of Arizona, not bribery at all; it was politics. Akin to putting the President of the United States in jail because he gave a contributor an ambassadorship.
Even so, Siegelman was sentenced to seven years and led away — literally — in manacles, something unheard of for white collar criminals, let alone a former governor.
There's more: He said/she said about Karl Rove targeting Siegelman in 2002. Allegations that Karl Rove directed the DOJ for political advantage.
Fifty two attorneys general of both parties have asked Congress to investigate.