Chief Accuser Recants Testimony Against Imprisoned Former Gov. Don Siegelman


The main accuser of imprisoned former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has recanted his Bush-era testimony that helped imprison the state's leading Democrat on corruption charges.

Nick BaileyIn an exclusive report, former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey confirmed in a sworn statement I obtained longstanding defense arguments that he exaggerated his 2006 federal testimony about 1999 events because he sought leniency for his own crime.

“ ,” according to documents I obtained April 24 from a Siegelman representative.

Bailey’s testimony enabled the federal government’s corruption jury convictions in 2006 of Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Bailey, shown at right in a file photo, had been a $66,000 confidential assistant to Siegelman when he resigned in 2001.

Evidence arising during the 2007 U.S. attorney firing scandal suggested that White House strategist Karl Rove and his allies used the Justice Department to target Siegelman and other political opponents. The convictions prompted what has become one of the largest and most sustained human rights protests against the Obama administration.

After publishing a number of investigative reports on Huffington Post and elsewhere, I am among the critics who have concluded the convictions were a political frame-up tainted by glaring conflicts of interest and other gross procedural flaws.

Legal experts, whistleblowers, journalists and massive petition drives have targeted the Justice Department, the trial judge, court administrators, Congress, the Bush White House and now the Obama administration — to no avail so far.

Rove and all other relevant public and private officials have denied wrongdoing or irregularities. Bush and Obama officials have vigorously defended the prosecutions and have prevailed in court for the most part.  

Don Siegelman, with children Joseph and DanaSiegelman, 67, is scheduled for release in 2017 after serving the remaining years of his six-year sentence. His pension and law license have been forfeited, and he faces massive fines on top of millions of dollars in defense costs that his grass roots supporters have helped pay for many years. He is shown with his children Joseph and Dana before resuming his prison sentence in 2012.
 
Neither litigation nor public protests are finished for an investigation that Republican Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor began in 1999.

A federal appeals court this month scheduled a hearing in July on Siegelman’s final appeal, drafted pro bono by former White House Counsel Gregory Craig.

Siegelman’s supporters this week are escalating their White House petition drive that has delivered more than 50,000 signatures urging President Obama to provide clemency. The Free-Dog.org website announced a downloadable postcard that can be sent Obama. The cards note that 113 former state attorneys general unsuccessfully argued in an unprecedented petition to the U.S. Supreme Court that Siegelman committed no crime in reappointing Scrushy.

The Siegelman case involves some of the great partisan passions and big-money issues of recent years.

Siegelman led pro-lottery forces in a battle against a secret coalition of anti-gambling religious leaders and Mississippi casino owners who opposed gambling competition in Alabama. Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff has said his casino clients fought Siegelman and his policies with $20 million, much of its through conduits difficult to trace.

The backdrop was an effort by Alabama’s business community and GOP to hire Rove and his friend Bill Canary in the 1990s as consultants to transform Alabama’s Supreme Court from all-Democratic to all-Republican. At this point, all virtually major state leaders are Republican aside from one gerrymandered congressional district created to lump as many African-Americans as possible together.

Case History

Free Don Siegelman Postcard to White HouseIn 1999, Siegelman reappointed Scrushy to Alabama’s Certificate of Need (CON) Board after he urged the Republican Scrushy to make large donations to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation, which Siegelman co-founded to promote a lottery that would improve school funding.

Bailey was the main witness who connected Scrushy’s donations to his reappointment. Scrushy had served on the CON board under Siegelman’s three predecessors as governors. Scrushy had contributed to each of the Republican governor’s campaigns, but only the contribution to the Alabama Education Foundation was investigated and prosecuted.

Prosecutors used Bailey’s comments about the circumstances to persuade a jury that the actions violated a legal definition of quid pro quo – an illegal agreement to exchange something of a value. Neither Siegelman nor Scrushy had been convicted in previous separate trials brought by the Bush administration Justice Department.

But Bailey’s role has become increasingly controversial because of claims prosecutors threatened him improperly to convict Siegelman and Scrushy. Alleged pressure included:

•    Up to 70 interrogations of Bailey without required pre-trial disclosure to the defense
•    Threats that Bailey might be vulnerable to homosexual rape in prison by fellow inmates

In 2009, Scrushy unsuccessfully sought a new trial based in part on affidavits from Bailey and others who included his employer, Republican businessman Luther “Stan” Pate. Pate, who has broken with some Republican leaders because of what he calls corruption issues, swore that Bailey feared sexual abuse in prison unless he implicated Siegelman.  Following his pro-prosecution testimony, Bailey served a year of an 18-month sentence.

In an interview for my Huffington Post column, Did the DoJ Blackmail Siegelman Witness With Sex Scandal? Pate told me he felt so sorry for Bailey that he donated some $300,000 for his legal defense to hire a prominent lawyer, George Beck.

Pate said he came to become so disgusted with Beck’s failure to protect Bailey’s rights as defense attorney that he told him to his face he was “the worst lawyer" he ever saw. Yet President Obama then nominated Beck to become U.S. attorney for Alabama’s middle district, thereby presiding over the same office that had prosecuted Bailey, Siegelman and Scrushy.

Eric HolderBeck, like all officials connected with the Siegelman-Scrushy prosecution, has said he proceeded fairly and in the interest of justice. Beck has said he has recused himself from his office’s decision-making in the long-running case. I published a four-part series, shown below, on Obama's nomination of Beck. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder is shown at left. His administration has fought relentless against Siegelman and whistleblowers, and thwarted comprehensive investigations.

Siegelman and Scrushy each received seven-year prison terms despite protesting many aspects of the prosecution and trial, including Bailey’s testimony. Scrushy is free after serving his seven-year term. Siegelman's term was reduced slightly in the wake of a related U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Don Siegelman in prison The defendant is shown at right in a 2008 CBS 60 Minutes photo during a segment showing many irregularities in his prosecution.

The case’s nationwide profile began in the spring of 2007 when Alabama lawyer Dana Jill Simpson stepped forward with a sworn statement alleging that she had been a Republican opposition researcher aware of a plot to frame Siegelman. She said she became most directly aware of the plot after Siegelman's re-election loss in 2002 to Republican Bob Riley.

She said that Rove’s friend Canary, head of the Business Council of Alabama, convened a post-election conference call for several insiders, and said he would have his “girls” dispose of Siegelman and also talk to “Karl.”

Simpson later amplified in testimony to House Judiciary Committee staff that she understood from context and other discussions that Canary was referencing his wife, Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, and Rove. Simpson testified in 2007 that she learned in 2005, before Siegelman was indicted, that a case would be devised and placed before Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery because the judge "hated" Siegelman and would "hang" him.

Simpson’s testimony arose during the U.S. attorney firing scandal and helped prompt a number of major news stories about her allegations and other evidence of irregularities.  

In February 2008, CBS 60 Minutes interviewed her on its broadcast, “Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal?” The broadcast anchored by Scott Pelley helped make the case nationally notorious.
 
Grant Woods, a GOP former state attorney general from Arizona and also a co-chair of John McCain’s Republican presidential campaign that year, told the broadcast audience that the prosecution appeared to be political retaliation.

Bailey, interviewed during prison, told the audience that he had been interrogated by authorities up to 70 times. Defendants and their attorneys said they were never informed of so many interviews and therefore hampered in their cross-examination.

However, all those accused denied irregularities and no comprehensive investigations were ever conducted, as far as publicly known.

Siegelman challenged his imprisonment on corruption charges last fall on two grounds of legal error by his trial judge. Siegelman argued that Fuller erred by failing to allow evidence on whether a biased prosecutor, Bill Canary’s wife, Leura, had actually recused as claimed.

Siegelman's 65-page filing, available here, noted that Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary claimed that she recused from decision-making in the case. She verbally cited a conflict of interest involving her husband, William Canary, campaign manager to Siegelman's two-time gubernatorial rival, Bob Riley, Siegelman, however, cited in his brief a claim by the former prosecutor's employee, Justice Department paralegal Tamarah Grimes, stating that her boss was still making suggestions about the case to subordinates after a supposed recusal.

Also, Siegelman's appeal to the federal appeals court in Atlanta claims that Fuller wrongly increased Siegelman's prison time by citing allegations that failed to win conviction in the 2006 jury trial.

The appeal by Siegelman seeking relief from the trial judge's errors did not mention the judge's conflict of interest, which I documented in a 2009 column published on the Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows. The material is documented elsewhere, including in a sworn complaint in 2003 seeking Fuller's impeachment. Defense attorneys did not know during trial of the impeachment filing, which was secreted from the federal electronic database of filings and never acted upon.

Mark FullerThe rarely photographed Fuller is shown in a photo by Phil Fleming, whom the judge invited into chambers to provide a portrait minutes after the jury verdict in 2006.

Part of the 2008 broadcast included Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson, who said she learned in 2002 that fellow Republicans were planning to work with then-White House political adviser Karl Rove to remove Siegelman from politics with a criminal prosecution.

My investigation of the case extends back six years and led to my new book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.  

The irregularities are described in detail in an appendix of hot links below.

They include a massive conflict of interest by the trial judge, who secretly controlled during the trial Doss Aviation, a defense contractor that was receiving $300 million in Bush contracts to train Air Force pilots and refuel Air Force planes. Fuller was the company's largest stockholder with an interest reaching 43.75 percent at one point, Simpson demonstrated with documents that were unknown to the defendants.

The Justice Department under both Bush and Obama have argued that no reasonable, unbiased person – the legal standard required for a judge’s required recusal – might think the judge’s conduct could be biased against one of the defendants. Courts have approved those arguments.

 

 
 

 

Related News Coverage

Nick Bailey Background

CBS 60 Minutes, Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal? Scott Pelley, Feb. 24, 2008. Is Don Siegelman in prison because he's a criminal or because he belonged to the wrong political party in Alabama? Siegelman is the former governor of Alabama, and he was the most successful Democrat in that Republican state. But while he was governor, the U.S. Justice Department launched multiple investigations that went on year after year until, finally, a jury convicted Siegelman of bribery. Now, many Democrats and Republicans have become suspicious of the Justice Department's motivations.

Al.com/Mobile Press-Register, Warehouse deal brought Bailey attention, Bailey resigns post with Siegelman administraion, Jeff Amy, Eddie Curraqn, and Sallie Owen, Nov. 22, 2001. A top aide to Gov. Don Siegelman who had a central role in a state warehouse construction deal now under criminal investigation resigned from the administration on Wednesday. Nick Bailey, 33, has worked for Siegelman for seven years with job descriptions ranging from driver to agency head. A true insider in the Siegelman administration, he has accompanied the Siegelman family on vacation in the past. Bailey leaves for a job dealing with mergers, acquisitions and real estate development with an undisclosed Birmingham business, said Siegelman spokeswoman Carrie Kurlander. His resignation is effective Dec. 5. As of this spring, Bailey was being paid $90,595 a year and simultaneously held a trio of powerful jobs: director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, state budget officer and Siegelman's executive secretary. After a staff shakeup in June that included the departure of Siegelman's chief of staff, Paul Hamrick, Bailey has worn only the hat of confidential assistant. While he held high positions, he was rarely out front for the public and was seldom quoted in the press. A native of Baileyton in Cullman County, Bailey graduated from the University of Alabama in 1990 with a degree in corporate finance and investment management. He dabbled in real estate investment on the side while working for Siegelman. "I wish Nick great success in his new professional endeavor," Siegelman said in a statement released Wednesday. "He has contributed greatly to the well-being of the state." Bailey earned $66,000 a year as confidential assistant, which included responsibility for coordinating telephone calls and paperwork for the governor, whether Siegelman was traveling or working in the office, Kurlander said.

Associated Press via Tuscaloosa News, Siegelman aide Nick Bailey is released from federal prison, Sept. 17, 2008. The key witness against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy has been released from federal prison. Former longtime Siegelman aide Nick Bailey was released from the federal prison in Atlanta Wednesday morning and transferred to a halfway house in Birmingham. Bailey has served one year of an 18-month sentence on bribery-related charges. Tuscaloosa businessman Stan Pate says he picked up Bailey at the penitentiary in Atlanta early Wednesday and drove him to Birmingham. Bailey worked for Pate for several years before reporting to prison last year. He said he has offered Bailey his job back. Bailey provided the key testimony that led to the 2006 conviction of Siegelman and Scrushy on bribery and other charges in a government corruption case.

Siegelman Appeals

 WAFF-TV, Appeals court grants former Alabama Governor hearing, Amanda Jarrett and Stephen Gallien, April 18, 2014. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear an appeal filed by former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Court officials say the hearing is tentatively scheduled for the week of July 28. Siegelman is serving a 78 month sentence for bribery, conspiracy and other charges. He's currently at Oakdale Federal Detention Center in Oakdale, Louisiana. Court documents filed in the Middle District of Alabama detail records needed for this appeal. Those records include nine volumes of pleadings, 113 volumes of transcripts, and three sealed boxes/exhibits. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is located in Atlanta.

Legal Schnauzer, Improper Actions Of Prosecutor And District Judge Are Focus Of New Appeal In Don Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, Aug. 26, 2013. There is something fundamentally wrong with our judiciary when this nation can readily justify sending men and women into war zones claiming for reasons to provide others their freedoms and rights, yet here, especially within our own state that many have been, are consciously being denied those same freedoms and rights.

Appointment of Nick Bailey's Defense Attorney, George Beck, As U.S. Attorney In Montgomery

Justice Integrity Project, Justice Irregularities In Alabama Continue Disgrace, Andrew Kreig, July 4, 2011. The U.S. Senate approved by voice vote June 30 a new U.S. attorney for Alabama, thereby extending a series of disgraces blighting the federal justice system in that state and nationally. The Senate voted to approve George Beck, 69, to run the Middle District office in Alabama’s capital city of Montgomery. The Senate failed to require that Beck, right, appear at a hearing to answer questions about a host of pending issues.

Four-Part Justice Integrity Project Series on Obama Nomination of George Beck

George BeckJustice Integrity Project, Part I: Senate Must Grill Tainted Alabama DOJ Nominee, Andrew Kreig, April 5, 2011. http://www.justice-integrity.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=319:obama-picks-scandal-tainted-beck-for-alabama-prosecution-post&catid=21&Itemid=114 President Obama ended more than two years of high-profile White House indecision March 31 by naming the prominent Alabama attorney George L. Beck as his nominee to become U.S. attorney for the state’s Montgomery-based middle district. Despite an impressive career overall, Beck is a horrible choice because he was a compliant defense attorney in the notorious prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s, the state’s leading Democrat.

Justice Integrity Project, Part II: Bailey-Beck Siegelman Frame-up, Andrew Kreig, April 6, 2011. http://www.justice-integrity.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=318:obama-doj-part-ii-bailey-beck-and-siegelman-frame-up&catid=21&Itemid=114 Two videos, one from June 2007 and another just seven months later in 2008, illustrate why George Beck is such a bad choice as the Obama nominee to run Alabama’s troubled middle district office in the state capital of Montgomery.

Justice Integrity Project, Part III: Beck's Backers Make Their Case, Andrew Kreig, April 8, 2011. http://www.justice-integrity.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=317:obamas-bama-doj-part-iii-becks-backers-make-their-case&catid=21&Itemid=114  “For his diligence and relentless pursuit of justice, I have named George L. Beck to serve as a U.S. Attorney,” announced President Obama on March 31. “I am confident he will serve the people of Alabama with distinction.”

Justice Integrity Project, Part IV: What To Do About Obama's Alabama Snafu?, Andrew Kreig, April 8, 2011. http://www.justice-integrity.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=279:obamas-bama-part-iv-next-steps-on-doj-beck-nomination&catid=21&Itemid=114 The Justice Integrity Project today calls for the Senate Judiciary Committee to invite independent witnesses to testify at the confirmation hearing for George L. Beck, President Obama's nominee to become U.S. attorney for the middle district of Alabama. Only a full review of the conflicts surrounding this nationally important but dubious nomination can restore vitally needed public trust.

News Reports 2010-14

Leura CanaryLeura CanaryJustice Integrity Project, Scrushy Speaks, Film Director McTiernan Imprisoned, Andrew Kreig, April 6, 2013. Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy proclaimed his innocence last week in his first post-imprisonment interview. Scrushy was the co-defendant with former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in the most notorious political frame-up in recent American history. Scrushy told radio host Peter B. Collins that federal prosecutors offered before trial to let him go free if he would testify falsely against Siegelman, whom he was accused of bribing with a large donation to a non-profit organization Siegelman supported, the Alabama Education Foundation.

Major Exposes In 2009

Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago. Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006, making the judge millions in non-judicial income. These are the opinions of Missouri attorney Paul B. Weeks, who is speaking out publicly for the first time since his effort in 2003 to obtain the impeachment of U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery on Doss Aviation-related allegations.

Huffington Post, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, Andrew Kreig, May 21, 2009. One of the most experienced federal judges in recent Alabama history is denouncing the U.S. Justice Department prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham calls for a probe of misconduct by federal prosecutors ─ including their alleged "judge-shopping," jury-pool "poisoning" and "unfounded" criminal charges in an effort to imprison Siegelman.

C-SPAN, Prosecutorial Misconduct Forum At National Press Club, Organized by Justice Integrity Project, moderated by Andrew Kreig, and co-sponsored by Alliance for Justice, June 26, 2009 (3 hours, 4 minutes), Video: C-SPAN. 

Grimes Huffington Post, As Rove Testifies About Firings At Justice, Why Did DoJ Fire Whistleblower? July 8, 2009. New questions are surfacing about political intrigue at the U.S. Justice Department after former White House political strategist Karl Rove provided his long-awaited responses to House Judiciary Committee staff Tuesday about allegations that he pressured prosecutors to target Democrats nationally. Few details have emerged about Rove's questioning on such topics as the 2006 dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys for political reasons. By remarkable coincidence, however, the Justice Department separately confirmed Tuesday that it has fired Alabama whistleblower Tamarah Grimes. She was the top in-house paralegal for the prosecution team that won corruption convictions in 2006 against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Grimes later provided her Justice Department superiors and Congress with evidence that the rights of the defendants were violated. Siegelman and Scrushy cited her revelations heavily in their motions since June 26 for a new trial based on new evidence. In an interview today for this article, Grimes alleged a bone-chilling conspiracy to frame the defendants for political gain. She says her experiences opened her eyes to parallels outside Alabama and to the ruinous consequences for federal government employees of protesting injustice. "No one helps you," says Grimes, who adds that she was browbeaten with threats of false criminal charges by her superiors and investigators alike. She says Congress needs to enhance protections for whistleblowers to prevent wrongdoing by government officials. Justice Department spokesman Tracy Schmaler responded, "The Department takes seriously its obligation under the whistleblower law, and did not violate it with regards to the termination of this employee. For privacy reasons, it would be inappropriate to comment any further on this personnel matter at this time."

Huffington Post, Did the DoJ Blackmail Siegelman Witness With Sex Scandal? Andrew Kreig, July 21, 2009.The top government witness in the 2006 federal conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges is providing new evidence that prosecutors failed to fulfill their legal obligation to provide the defense with all records documenting witness-coaching. Former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey swears that prosecutors failed to reveal to the defense details of most of his two dozen prep sessions before he became the Bush Justice Department's key witness that former HealthSouth chief executive Richard Scrushy bribed the former Democratic governor. Scrushy arranged $500,000 in donations to an education non-profit fostered by Siegelman to increase school funding. At trial, Bailey suggested the donations were required by Siegelman to reappoint Scrushy to a state regulatory board. The defendants, bolstered by legal experts and whistleblowers, claim that they were framed to eliminate Siegelman from politics. Even more explosive than an alleged failure by prosecutors to comply with federal trial procedures is a sworn statement by Bailey's current employer Luther "Stan" Pate, another Alabama businessman.

Netroots Nation, Reporting DoJ Misconduct Scandals, Former Gov. Don Siegelman, Dr. Cyril Wecht, Jerry McDevitt, Gail Sistrunk, moderated by Andrew Kreig, Aug. 15, 2009 (Video). 

KNOW: The Magazine For Paralegals, From Justice Dream Job to Nightmare…Tamarah Grimes, Justice Department Paralegal…Why This Whistleblower Was Dissed & Dismissed, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 11, 2009. As federal prosecutors prepared in 2006 for the corruption trial of Alabama’s former Gov. Don Siegelman, Justice Department paralegal Tamarah Grimes thought she was progressing well in her career. Indeed, she was the government’s top in-house paralegal in one of the country’s most important federal prosecutions, which targeted an iconic former governor along with one of their state’s richest businessmen. But just a year later, the prosecution’s all-out effort to convict Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy brought Grimes to a career crisis.  In July 2007, Grimes stepped forward to allege that her colleagues had violated basic legal protections to ensure a fair trial.

Huffington Post, Siegelman Blasts DoJ and Judge In ‘Final’ Reply Seeking Hearing, Sept. 21, 2009.

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Just Say Now, Obama Administration Announces New Clemency Initiative for Nonviolent Offenders, Jon Walker, April 23, 2014. As part of an effort to undo the damage caused by years of bad mandatory minimum sentencing laws for federal drug cases the Obama administration has announced a new clemency initiative. Federal inmates who meet the administration’s six criteria will potentially have their sentences commuted by the President. The most likely beneficiaries will be non-violent drug offenders since they tended suffer the most as a result of mandatory minimums. From Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole: "We are launching this clemency initiative in order to quickly and effectively identify appropriate candidates, candidates who have a clean prison record, do not present a threat to public safety, and were sentenced under out-of-date laws that have since been changed, and are no longer seen as appropriate." To advance this initiative the administration will also work to make sure all federal inmates who meet these criteria are offered the assistance of an experienced pro bono attorney to help prepare their applications. In addition more lawyers will be temporarily detailed to the Pardon Attorney’s Office to deal with the increased work load this will cause.

MSNBC Politics Nation, Justice finally comes to the pardons office and perhaps to many inmates, Dafna Linzer, April 23, 2014. The U.S. pardon attorney who withheld key information from the president in a high profile clemency case was removed from office Wednesday as the Obama administration announced a new pardons policy that could potentially allow hundreds of federal inmates to be freed early from prison. The announcement by Deputy Attorney General James Cole caps more than a year of internal reviews by the White House and the Justice Department aimed at seeing the president exercise his pardons authority more aggressively and more fairly. An investigative series in 2011 showed significant race disparity in the awarding of presidential pardons and efforts by the pardons office to squelch opportunities for federal inmates serving unfair or overly long sentences. Deborah Leff, a senior Justice Department attorney, will become the new pardon attorney. Leff has devoted her career to championing fair sentencing, serving low income Americans and feeding the poor. The announcement was hailed by fair sentencing advocates who said Leff’s leadership would usher in a significant cultural shift at the pardon’s office, long dominated by a handful of former prosecutors who have recommended fewer and fewer pardons to presidents in recent years.

That's Politics, Scott Horton, April 23, 2014. Once in a while you actually see this administration doing something that clearly communicates that it has taken a look at the criticism hurled its way and concluded that the critics are right. Today we see one such circumstance. The Obama team has sacked Ronald L. Rodgers, the pardons attorney who took it as his mission effectively to insure that there were no pardons, even in the most appalling cases. In the end, however, only one thing can demonstrate a turn-around in this shameful corner of the mis-administration of justice:  and that is a steady stream of pardons, particularly covering cases of inequitable sentences, drug cases that has ended in long sentences for victimless crimes, but also in cases where there is copious evidence of serious misconduct by prosecutors that goes straight to the conviction. And particularly in cases where political justice was meted out, like that of Don Siegelman.