A federal appeals court has upheld the bribery conviction and prison sentence of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Siegelman was not entitled to a new trial. The judges also upheld Siegelman's 78-month sentence.
The ruling is the latest legal blow to Siegelman, who has been fighting to overturn his 2006 conviction in a government corruption case. A federal jury convicted Siegelman of appointing former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a state board in exchange for campaign donations.
Siegelman, a Democrat, had argued that a prosecutor with ties to GOP politics remained involved in his case despite her recusal. Federal judges said there was no evidence she influenced the prosecution team
Siegelman is projected to get out of prison in 2017.
See below for an appearance of mine on Thom Hartmann's television show in 2013 discussing the status of the Siegelman case at the time. Hartmann describes him as "America's Political Prisoner". The appearance coincided with the dismissal of the conviction against former Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for money laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars. 113 bi-partisan former state Attorneys General have stated that what Siegelman was convicted of had never been a crime until he was charged with it.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller (the former head of the Alabama GOP and George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who oversaw Siegelman's trial and sentencing after refusing to recuse himself despite long-held grudges against the popular Democratic governor) remains a free man. His criminal record has been expunged despite having been arrested for allegedly beating his wife in a hotel room last summer. (911 call here and embed below.) Unless impeached by Congress, Fuller will retain his $200k/year seat on the federal bench for life.
The Texas response to Operation Jade Helm 15, a collective Rightwing hallucination concerning the belief that the U.S. federal government is about to invade the state (no, seriously) has probably made enough news for one lifetime.
What hasn't made enough news is that former Gov. Rick "Oops" Perry, another presumptive 2016 GOP Presidential contender, is still boots-deep in legal trouble.
Specifically, he's still facing two felony indictments on charges of abuse of office and coercion of a public official after threatening the head of the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County (Austin) district attorney's office with denial of funding. The DA in question, Rosemary Lehmberg, was arrested for DUI in 2013 and refused to resign in its wake.
The latest developments in Perry's case wouldn't get picked up for a House of Cards storyline because they're so outlandish. But take it from a native Texan: it's just government business as usual around these parts...
If you're looking for Tom DeLay and Karl Rove, they're still on the lam, fugitives from justice, as Siegelman serves out 6.5 years for something that was never considered a crime before in the history of this nation.
Oh, and I do love this graphic that Thom's folks used at the top of our segment...
Sign the petition asking President Obama for a pardon for Siegelman right here...
* * *
UPDATE 10/5/13: I was also on Hartmann's radio show the day before the TV show appearance seen above. We talk about largely the same things, though with a few additional details here and there, such as more info on Siegelman's 2002 "stolen" re-election. Thom's radio show is also video taped (and played live on Free Speech TV and elsewhere). The video segment of my radio appearance with him follows below...
Picking up on The BRAD BLOG's exclusive statement from the imprisoned former Governor Don Siegelman (D-AL) in regard to the alleged $20 million money laundering conspiracy by the currently-acquitted Tom DeLay, former convict Jack Abramoff, fugitive from justice Karl Rove and others to take down Alabama's popular former Governor, I was joined by Siegelman's son Joseph on this week's KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast.
Not familiar with the outrageous prosecution and conviction of Siegelman? Or of what appears to be his blatantly stolen 2002 election (on a Diebold paper ballot electronic tabulator?) This is great episode to listen to, as it also includes a lot of background and a few clips from my interview with the former Governor just days before he was ordered back to federal prison last year.
But before you get outraged all over again, we started off the show with a rarely heard good news segment to help soften everything else a bit. Yes, there have been a number of things to be happy and/or encouraged by, of late...though admittedly it's been very hard to notice.
Now, the last Democratic governor to serve Alabama is speaking up for himself, in a statement he's furnished to The BRAD BLOG from federal prison, slamming DeLay for what he describes as his part in a $20 million criminal conspiracy with convicted GOP uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and others to defeat him in his bid for re-election, and to ensure he never took office again.
Siegelman is currently serving a 6.5 year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana for something that 113 bi-partisan former state attorneys general agree had never been regarded as a crime until Siegelman was convicted for it. (Watch 60 Minutes' 2008 story on Siegelman's outrageous prosecution here.)
In his statement, the former governor speaks out against "The Hammer" and hammers him hard for what he describes as collusion to "engineer a money laundering scheme to defeat me in my race for re-election as governor and to elect Karl Rove's and Tom DeLay's Republican colleague from the U.S. House, then Congressman Bob Riley."
"I know first-hand, personally --- what I'm about to tell you is not hearsay," Siegelman writes about the alleged scheme to remove him from office through a late night ballot tampering scheme. He explains how the conspiracy resulted in robbing him of his 2002 re-election after it had already been called in his favor by all the networks. Later, before Siegelman --- the only person to hold all four top statewide offices in Alabama history --- could run for Governor again, he says the same cabal worked to have him thrown in jail on what appear to be trumped up charges brought by a Bush Administration prosecutor who also happened to be married to Riley's Chief of Staff.
In the fiery, no-holds-barred statement (posted in full below), Siegelman cites Abramoff's own book, Capitol Punishment, in which he says the former GOP lobbyist "admits for the first time to money laundering to the tune of some $20,000,000 dollars 'to stop Siegelman.'"...
Following Thursday's 2-to-1 decision by a three-judge panel from an appellate court in Texas overturning the 2010 felony money laundering convictions of former U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R), the Travis County District Attorney announced her intention to seek a review of that decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
"We strongly disagree with the opinion of Judges Goodwin and Gaultney that the evidence was insufficient," Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg said in a statement. "We are concerned and disappointed that two judges substituted their assessment of the facts for that of 12 jurors who personally heard the testimony of over 40 witnesses over the course of several weeks and found that the evidence was sufficient and proved DeLay's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
She said her office is "preparing a response to this opinion and will ask the full Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the ruling."
I've been poring over both the majority decision [PDF] by the three-judge panel's two Republicans, and the dissent [PDF] issued by the Democratic Chief Justice of that court. I'm no expert here, and I'm trying to learn more, but the majority's decision seems to invoke some fairly impressive tortured logic in order to overturn the 12 jurors finding that DeLay committed these crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.
Nonetheless, that logic, twisted or otherwise, may well work at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the court of last resort for criminal matters in the Lone Star State...
Ironically enough, I had the opportunity to speak for a few minutes with former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in federal prison over the weekend. Siegelman, a Democrat, has so far served nearly two years for a "crime" that had never before been considered a crime before he was found guilty of it. He is likely to serve many more years in prison for the charges brought by Republicans, including a federal prosecutor whose husband was the Chief of Staff of Siegelman's gubernatorial rival Bob Riley, a team of folks, including the judge, who are all good friends of Karl Rove and who are said to have "coached, cajoled and threatened" the star witness in the case.
Today, in the meantime, Tom DeLay, the former Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, who was convicted of money-laundering hundreds of thousands of corporate dollars in Texas to give them to candidates --- something which has been an actual crime for decades in the state --- was acquitted of all charges by a 2 to 1 decision of a Texas appeals court.
DeLay never served a day in prison. Siegelman, on the day he was convicted, before the appeals process could even begin, was literally shackled and carted away. The basis for Siegelman's conviction has subsequently been challenged in a letter signed by a group of 113 bi-partisan former state attorneys general.
For the record, when I spoke with Siegelman from his federal penitentiary in Oakdale, Louisiana over the weekend, he seemed to be in incredibly good spirits. At least that's the impression he offered during our very short chat. I can only imagine how dispiriting it must be today, however, for him to read the news about DeLay.
• My interview with Siegelman and his daughter Dana, from just over one year ago, after he had finally been released on appeal after serving nine months, and just one week prior to being ordered back to prison, can be heard right here.
UPDATE 9/21/13: DeLay is not entirely out of the woods yet. Here's a more detailed explanation of the court's decision in which the two partisan-elected Republican judges reversed the conviction, while the lone Democrat (the Chief Justice of the Third Court of Appeals in Texas) dissented. As I explain in that follow-up, the Travis County D.A. has now vowed to seek a review of the lower court's ruling at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, though she may run into partisan concerns at that higher court as well.
[I'll have a few assorted updates and follow-ups in the U.S. Chamber Plot debacle soon, but there have been a few items of note that I didn't want to lose here entirely. This is one of them. - BF | UPDATE: I've now added an addendum to the bottom of this article.]
If there's anything we've learned over the recent decade, it's that if you're a Republican, or if you're among the favored corporate elite of any party in this nation for that matter --- as highlighted yet again by the U.S. Chamber's planned $12 million hit-job on U.S. citizens (including yours truly and family) and other progressive journalists and organizations --- there are a completely different set of laws that apply to you. Namely, very few of our laws actually apply to you at all. Feel free to break them with impunity!
Nonetheless, over the past week, there have been what we might call a "spate", comparatively, of Republicans actually being held accountable with prison sentences, albeit very small ones. These come on the heels of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Corruptionville)'s conviction last November on all counts in a corporate money laundering conspiracy in TX used to get GOP candidates elected in TX, and subsequently change the balance of power in the U.S. House. (He is currently appealing, naturally). But it's nice to see some, if very few, of these charlatans, for a change, not get off completely scot-free. Here are three cases, including yet another case of a Republican working to keep American citizens from casting their legal vote in an election...
Judge Pat Priest sentenced Tom DeLay to three years in prison.
The three-year sentence was on the charge of conspiring to launder corporate money into political donations during the 2002 elections.
On the charge of money laundering, DeLay was sentenced to five years in prison, but that was probated for 10 years. That means he would serve 10 years’ probation.
DeLay was taken into custody but he was expected to be released as soon as he posted an appeals bond.
UPDATE:WaPo now has more, including details on the only one to testify on behalf of DeLay at the sentencing hearing today: former Republican U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (who has his own legal issues).
Another big show tonight as I guest-host the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show this week. (Note: We're off tomorrow, but back on Friday!)
We'll be BradCasting again LIVE tonight from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 9pm-Midnight ET (6p-9p PT). Please join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! The LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG during the show as ever, so come on by while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates around the country and also on Sirius Ch. 146 & XM Ch. 167. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at affiliate GREEN 960 in San Francisco or via MikeMalloy.com.
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Commercial free audio archives are below (and the chat room archive is below them.) Lots of interest stuff tonight, some great calls, and plenty to be thankful for...somehow...including my thanks to Mike and Kathy for allowing me to fill in. My favorite call tonight: Curtis in the third hour. Mike is back tomorrow with a Thanksgiving "Best Of" and then I'll be back again Friday night! See ya then! Happy holidays and enjoy the archives until then...
Tom DeLay, the former U.S. House majority leader whose name became synonymous with the Republicans' controversial rise to power in the Texas House, was found guilty today of laundering money in connection with the 2002 elections.
DeLay was charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money. He faces a possible sentence of 5-99 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine on the money laundering charge, and 2-20 years in prison and a possible $10,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.
Prosecutors earlier said they believe the DeLay case is the first such criminal charge ever filed over Texas' century-old prohibition on corporate contributions in state political races.
Delay, a Republican who was nicknamed "The Hammer" because of his heavy-handed style, was accused of conspiring to funnel $190,000 of corporate money through the Republican National Committee, which sent $190,000 in campaign donations to seven GOP candidates for the Texas House.
State law prohibits corporations from giving donations to candidates directly or indirectly.
[Updated: Former Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH) responds to this article. Ney, convicted for his dealings with Abramoff, including a trip to Scotland, suggests Feeney may have been helped off the hook by friends in high places. See details and Ney's comments in UPDATE at bottom of story.]
Late last week, alleged vote-rigging conspirator and former three-term Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL) was informed that the Department of Justice was dropping their two year probe into his 2003 lobbyist-paid junket with Jack Abramoff to play golf in Scotland, according to his attorney Robert Luskin (who also happens to be Karl Rove's criminal attorney).
The DoJ's investigation was stymied earlier this year by an appellate court decision disallowing their subpoena of Feeney's statements to the U.S. House Ethics Commission on the basis of Constitutional separation of powers. As we noted last month, the friendly Feeney finding was likely to foul the fed's felony fact-finding against the failed former Florida Congressman.
The Ethics Commission had, themselves, let Feeney off the hook on the last day in which Republicans controlled the panel before Democrats took over in 2007. He would agree to pay just $5,643 for the private plane trip and swanky vacation with rightwing lobbyists, despite court papers declaring the trip to have been worth approximately $20,000...
WASHINGTON – Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, has agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges related to his dealings with the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, lawyers and others with knowledge of the investigation said Thursday.
A guilty plea would make Ney, a six-term congressman, the first member of Congress to confess to criminal charges in the Abramoff investigation, which has focused on the actions of several current and former Republican lawmakers who had been close to the former lobbyist.
People with detailed knowledge of the investigation said Ney had entered an in-patient facility in recent days for treatment of alcoholism, making it uncertain whether he would appear at a court hearing to announce the plea.
We've also long reported on Ney's "good luck" in winning $34,000 at a London casino owned by some good friends...at the exact same moment he owed exactly that much in credit card bills. Says The Times...
Another person familiar with the department’s investigation said that at least one of the criminal charges in Ney’s guilty plea would involve the accuracy of his claim in a House financial disclosure statement that he won $34,000 in a private London casino during a trip in 2003.
The casino winnings had also been under scrutiny by the Justice Department in part because the amount of the winnings coincided to a surprising degree with the amount of debt outstanding on Ney’s credit cards.
With both Ney and former Republican Majority Leader, Tom DeLay (R-TX) now facing indictments, that means there is only one remaining congress member who went on Jack Abramoff's golf junkets to St. Andrews, Scotland who has yet to be served with criminal charges: Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)
Feeney is currently facing a challenge for his seat by Clint Curtis, the man who has sworn in affidavit, video-taped congressional testimony and polygraph test that Feeney asked him to create vote-rigging software when they both worked at the same computer firm in Florida in 2000 (where Feeney was general counsel and registered lobbyist, even while he was also serving as Speaker of the Florida House).
Anyway, now that Ney is apparently going to jail for his Abramoff-related crimes, can someone other than The BRAD BLOGplease look into the hornet's nest surrounding the passage of HAVA, as aided and abetted by Abramoff's old lobbying firm, Greenburg Traurig, and Ney's former chief-of-staff-turned-Diebold-lobbyist, David DeStefano? Pretty please? Here's a nice place to get you started!
Over the weekend, AP reported that email from Tom DeLay's (R-TX) office to Jack Abramoff's office reveals that the indicted former-majority leader was quite aware of who was paying for his $75,000 trip to St. Andrews, Scotland to play golf in 2000.
All of which makes it likely that Bob Ney (R-OH) was similarly aware of who was paying for the lobbyist funded vacation to St. Andrews when he took a similar trip with Abramoff in 2002.
All of which makes it likely that Tom Feeney (R-FL), the third Republican Congressman to take the trip to hit the links in Scotland with Abramoff, he in 2003, was also aware of who was paying for it.
Feeney has done a fine job of flying under the radar on this matter up until now. But with DeLay now down and out, and Ney's chief-of-staff, Neil Volz, copping a guilty plea today --- making him the fourth such criminal to implicate Ney in the vast Right Wing Conspiracy --- we'd think it only a matter of time before the media start noticing Feeney's conspiratorial involvement as well.
[W]e learn about a new, particularly shameless perk: Abramoff helped pay for a two-night vacation of Ney's, without even bothering to funnel the money through one of his nonprofits. "In or about August 2003," the plea reads, "defendant VOLZ paid for part of a two-night trip to the Sagamore Resort at Lake George, New York, for Representative #1 and members of his staff. Defendant VOLZ assured Representative #1 that defendant VOLZ would be reimbursed for his payments by Abramoff." Apparently Ney didn't want his old chief of staff laying out the bribe - he preffered to get it from a familiar source.
That point may be useful as investigators and/or media take a closer look at Feeney and his other questionable trips, several of which are described here as part of CREW's "13 Most Corrupt" in Congress.
Secondly, Kiel reminds us about Ney's use of his pet bill, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, to help a few of his closest "friends":
We learned from prior plea agreements that Ney agreed to insert a line into the Help America Vote Act that would lift the Texas gaming ban on an Abramoff client, the Tigua tribe.
We've discussed how Ney used his authorship of HAVA and control of the House Administration Committee --- which he chaired until being forced to step down because of all of this --- in the past (almost one full year ago today, as a matter of fact).
More pointedly, however, we've reported on the roll Abramoff and Diebold played along with another former Ney chief-of-staff, David Distefano, in both passing HAVA in the first place, and ensuring it stayed intact as Diebold needed it to.
That story, in which funds were apparently funnelled through to Ney from both Diebold and Abramoff's firm Greenburg Traurig, has also been overlooked by the media in general. If they care to pick up that ball now, they can find a lot of still-uninvestigated open ends in our report right here.
Please feel free to let your media contacts know about both the Feeney issue and the Ney/HAVA/Abramoff issue, since both could use much more scrutiny by many more eyeballs.
We posted this video from ABC's This Week at Crooks and Liars yesterday. If you are a fan of DNC Chairman Howard Dean then you'll enjoy this video. For those that get physically sick at the sight of DeLay, you might want to skip the first 5 minutes.
Outgoing, indicted and disgraced Republican Rep. Tom DeLay spews the same hate-filled attacks on Democrats that we've heard for several years now. DeLay still manages to brandish the freshest Republican talking points.
Most notable was DeLay's attack on John Conyers' concerns that President Bush may have committed impeachable offenses. The Republicans believe that they can motivate their party to get out to the polls in November to save their favorite President from certain doom if the Democrats take control.
Howard Dean largely ignores DeLay's bluster. Chairman Dean has really improved the focus and delivery of his message. Dean doesn't dodge the tough questions. He delivers clear answers, straight talk and real hope the the American people. Having DeLay and Dean on the same segment really exposes the great disparity in the quality of their character.