June 30, 2006

Culture of Corruption Rules!

Hatched by Dafydd

Former Gov. Don E. Siegelman of Alabama was convicted yesterday of bribery, according to the New York Times:

After twice telling a judge it was deadlocked, a federal jury on Thursday convicted former Gov. Don E. Siegelman and a former HealthSouth chief executive, Richard M. Scrushy, on charges that they conspired in a bribery scheme seven years ago.

Two other defendants who had served in the Siegelman administration were acquitted on charges that they participated in a racketeering scheme during Mr. Siegelman's term in office.

Now, I don't know Mr. Siegelman from Adam. I don't make a practice of assiduously following the gubernatorial history of states other than my own. And of course, I know that Alabama is a very conservative state... but some Southern states do have Democratic governors.

Naturally, I was curious: is this more grist for Nancy Pelosi's mule? I skipped a bit then read a few paragraphs (or "grafs") further...

At a news conference after the verdict Thursday, the acting United States attorney, Louis Franklin, praised the jurors for holding Mr. Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy "accountable for what they did."

"The message to everybody else is that public servants have a fiduciary duty to the citizens of Alabama, and they should take that very seriously," Mr. Franklin said.

Yup, sounds good. Darned Republicans and their corrupt culture! Will their perfidy never cease? But still, there was that nagging feeling that it was a little odd that the Times had not yet mentioned any party affilliation for Mr. Siegelman. Some more grafs later (you understand I'm skipping other, even more boring grafs in between these excerpts):

The verdict came after a six-week trial and 11 days of deliberations. Mr. Siegelman was convicted of conspiracy, bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice. The jurors convicted Mr. Scrushy of bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud. The longest term, up to 20 years, is carried by the mail fraud convictions.

Mr. Siegelman's former chief of staff, Paul Hamrick, and his former transportation director, Gary Roberts, were cleared on all charges.

All right, all right; I've milked this goat for all she's got. Here's the payoff, which was probably visible from the first couple of sentences:

Mr. Siegelman, a Democrat, called the case a ruthless campaign tactic by Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican who defeated him four years ago. During the trial, Mr. Siegelman campaigned unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor, sometimes soliciting votes on the courthouse steps.

Having held most of the state's executive offices, Mr. Siegelman once cast himself as Alabama's first "New South" governor. Considered progressive, he was elected governor in 1998 on the promise to pay college tuition for Alabama students with an education lottery.

There you go: the Times was finally forced to admit that Siegelman was a Democrat... in the eleventh graf of the story!

It turns out that the lottery was a huge bust for Siegelman: it was presented as a ballot initiative, the centerpiece of the governor's economic package, and the state lottery campaign cost at least $2 million... which Siegelman personally guaranteed. When the initiative went down in flames -- defeated, in a simple twist of fate, by a counter-campaign by religious conservatives who opposed financing children's education by legalized gambling -- Siegelman found himself suddenly having to cought up a couple of million bucks.

Hence his desperate need for bribes: Scrushy funneled $500,000 into Siegelman's pocket in exchange for appointment to a state board that regulates hospitals; as the CEO of HealthSouth, Scrushy stood to gain a lot more than $500,000 from being able to craft regulations that benefited his own company at the expense, one presumes, of his competitors.

All right, now let's engage in a little bit of alternative history. Suppose the governor caught up in this had been a Republican instead of a Democrat. How many of you think that this New York Times story would have begun thus:

After twice telling a judge it was deadlocked, a federal jury on Thursday convicted conservative Republican Gov. Fester Bestertester and former HealthSouth chief executive, Karbunkle, on charges that they conspired in a bribery scheme seven years ago.

Mr. Bestertester, a former fellow governor of President George W. Bush and his brother Jeb Bush, was a very vocal champion of "clean government" until his arrest for bribery and mail fraud. HeathSouth is a conservative multinational corporation, much like Halliburton, the company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney; CEO Karbunkle was a frequent GOP fundraiser who had often met with the Republican governor for private, one-on-one "advisory meetings."

At a joint press conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid urged voters to end the "Republican culture of corruption," citing legal troubles by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, among many others.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 30, 2006, at the time of 8:01 PM

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Tracked on July 3, 2006 2:21 PM


The following hissed in response by: jgrif

You are correct surely. During the Katrina media contrived fiasco (which was a warm-up for the Global Warming hysteria to come), Haley Barbour, the present governor of Mississippi, took many hits.
Not for his excellent, hands on, 24-hours-a-day management of a desperate situation that never spiralled into a New Orleans nightmare. He and his wife stayed and lived on the Gulf Coast with his people.
Not for being the only one my brother's family (who live there) found to be straight on the major issues. EVERY day during the post hurricane recovery, Barbour held a statewide live TV item by item update about the situation (which was good for those who had power!). He was sturdy, energetic, haggard.
Babour had bee one of the few figures to correctly predict the scope of the storm surge AHEAD OF TIME. And warn people. Rural (too-white!) Ms Gulf Coast had minimal loss of life in comparison to
drowned Louisiana.
Barbour REFUSED to criticize the President. Supported Bush even before Congress. REported that the White House had given MS help when he needed it.
His critics said that Barbour was "playing politics" (Well,WHAT HAD THE MSM/Democrats wallowed in during the days after Katrina!?!!).

Barbour was just too conservative, you see. He was just being a Republican.
And, as Al Gore will chant, everyone KNOWS that George Bush CAUSED Katrina.
Hey, the Republicans aren't only corrupt--they're trying to END the world!

The above hissed in response by: jgrif [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 30, 2006 9:01 PM

The following hissed in response by: cdquarles


Spot on! My pet name for convicted felon, ex-Gov Don Siegelman is Dandy Don. He's well known here in the Heart of Dixie as a dirty pol. It only took 25 years for it to catch up with him.

We have legal gambling here in Alabama. We don't have lotteries because our State Constitution prohibits lotteries and casinos. Strictly speaking, Dandy Don's lottery was a Constitutional Amendment, not a ballot initiative (ours is the longest in the nation with more than 600 amendments).

What is less well known is that we've had a couple of tries to rewrite our Constitution (ours is one of the few that do not require public education as a constitutional right) that failed because of taxation and making 'public' education a constitutional right.

The situation with respect to the Bureau of Public Health hospital certificate of need requirements here is abysmal. Any "special interest" can petition the CON board to stop any medical facility from being built or any new technology from being installed anywhere. Getting on the CON board was the only way to get the digital hospital built. Construction of said facility is nearly completed.

Personally, I would not have found Richard Scrushy guilty of bribery because he didn't have any other option to get a very needed facility built on US Hwy 280 (probably the busiest highway in the state) on the Jefferson County side of the Cahaba River where the population has increased by over 100,000 on the Shelby County side over the last 30 years. There is only one hospital in Shelby County, pop 171,000; but there are about 20 hospitals in Jefferson County pop 658,000. There are about 100,000 people within 10 miles of this new facility (the sole Shelby hospital, run by Baptist Health System whose HQ is in Birmingham, is further away than that and the same is true of the Jefferson County hospitals with the closest being Brookwood Medical Center) , which will be the only hospital in Alabama that was built with the latest medical and medical record technology in mind. As an exercise for the reader, guess whose lobbyists were the most vociferous against the HealthSouth facility.

Finally, the typical Democrat here would be a 'right wingnut' compared to your typical Democrat congresscritter or governor; but Dandy Don was not the typical Alabama Democrat. He's well known in these parts as a liberal. In the final days of his administration, he pushed through large pay raises and other spending programs when the 2000 recession was beginning. That effort saddled Gov. Riley with a very large projected deficit, which meant tax hikes, spending cuts, or both; plus our legislature is 2:1 Democrat (no veto will hold if all of the Dems want to override it). So, by law, Gov. Riley in 2003 found himself having to ask for a major tax hike ($1 billion with the whole FY 2002 state budget was about $5.5 billion of which $1.2 billion funds normal state operations and $4.2 billion funds "education" not counting Federal matching funds and for FY 2007 $1.6 billion & $6.1 billion) and spending cuts (which by law cannot come from most state services or most employee salaries). Fortunately for us, rejection of the tax hike and the Federal tax rate cuts spurred a big time recovery here (our official unemployment rate is 3.6%) so now we passed a new income tax structure that will return most of our projected $1 billion surplus to the taxpayers.

The above hissed in response by: cdquarles [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 1, 2006 10:37 PM

The following hissed in response by: Nitajo

Daffydd - your speculation is not only good speculation, but fact. Today, Wed 18 July, the judiciary committee has subpoened Gonzoles about the political nature of the Siegelman case. The Bham News was claiming Don was the worst crook of all times (he asked for $500K from Scrushy to retire lottery campaing debt - no quid pro quo, no personal gain). Just look around, that's Politics as usual.

On the other hand, Bob Riley was accepting MILLIONS from Abramoff (estimated 13 Million from 1998-2002) as testified to in the McCain Indian Affairs investigation. It seems the Indian Casinos delivered the money with the explicit expectation that Abramoff/Riley would defeat Don and the Alabama Casinos. Now that's quid pro quo. And that's corruption on a major scale.

And then there is Jill Simpson, long time republican and Riley campaign worker who gave an affidavit to Time/CNN on June 1 this year that fingers Karl Rove as orchestrating the prosecution of Siegelman. Jill tells that Karl Rove's long time buddy, Bill Canary, promised Rob Riley that Karl had assured him that everything was lined up in the justice department and that "his (Bill's) girls" will "take care of Siegelman". Sure enough, Bush appointed "Bill's girls", Leura Canary and Alice Martin to Attoney General Positions in Alabama and they immediately began to prosecute Siegelman.

Why didn't we hear about the Riley/Abramoff connecton this in the ALA press? Well partly because Leura Canary (you know, Bill's girl) was assigned to a licensing board that put a stop to the investigation into Riley's Mississippi Casino connections.

So Bob Riley is working for the financial interest of Mississippi? Appears so.

Everything mentioned above is documented fact/public record, not speculation.
Fact is stranger than fiction.
check it out!

The above hissed in response by: Nitajo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 17, 2007 9:47 PM

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