Former Gov. Roemer Reveals Next Reform Steps 'DC Update'

Gov. Buddy Roemer Buddy Roemer, a 2012 candidate for President, will speak June 14 on my Washington Update radio show about his next steps fighting for political reform following his just-ended, 17-month campaign. The two-term former Louisiana governor waged an energetic campaign in the GOP primary and then for a third-party Americans Elect nomination on a platform of radical reform of corruption blighting civic affairs.

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In advance, Roemer commented, "We were not included in a single one of the 23 nationally televised GOP debates, and yet received 7% of the popular vote in a national poll conducted just a few weeks ago." But politician-turn-banker he has vowed to continue fighting for reform even after returning to the successful bank he leads.

Separately, New Orleans radio host Tommy Tucker of WWL 870-AM 105.3-FM invited my return June 13 to discuss the latest developments in the federal prosecution of five New Orleans policemen convicted of charges related to deadly shootings in 2005 on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. A federal judge just ordered a hearing later in the day regarding defendant claims that federal authorities improperly leaked confidential information pre-trial, thus preventing fair trials.

Tucker, whose show is broadcast to five Gulf States and is available nationally live online here, has been persistent in questioning irregularities in the U.S. Attorney's office. His role as an aggressive, news oriented radio host based in one of the nation's most colorful and corrupt cities assumes special importance given the firing over about half the staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the region's major daily newspaper, as part of its evolution three-day-per week print publication.

Roemer says:

After 17 months of a wonderful campaign, the lack of ballot access in all 50 states makes the quest impossible for now. We ran like we would serve – Free to Lead. To protect that freedom, we fully disclosed every contribution. We accepted no contributions above $100. We accepted no PAC money, no Super PAC money, no corporate money, and no lobbyist money. We assumed no debt and we end this campaign with money in the bank. Once again, we ran like we intended to serve. We received contributions averaging less than $50 each from thousands and thousands of Democrats, Republicans and Independents in all 50 states.

Roemer continues:

America is a nation at risk. Job prospects are inadequate. Trade is neither smart nor fair. The tax code is unreadable and, I say, un-American. The budget is unsustainable. Small business must be re-vitalized. Energy has no strategy. Health-care is not healthy. Banks are still too big to fail, and comprehensive immigration reform is a fantasy.

As I am no longer a candidate for president, I am free to pledge a good portion of the rest of my life to enacting campaign reform in the halls of Congress and the corridors of the White House. Instead of using my right to the floor of Congress to lobby for corporate clients, I will lobby for the American people who want reform....Again, thank you for standing with me. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Together, we will continue to reform our country and make America great once again. We are just getting started.

He served four terms in Congress from 1981-1988 as a Democrat, and was Louisiana’s Governor from 1988-1992, switching in mid-term to the Republican Party. During his tenure, he enacted reforms that cut unemployment by approximately half, balanced the state budget every year, linked teachers’ pay to performance, established education accountability standards, confronted unions, and signed campaign finance reform legislation. Since leaving public office, Governor Roemer has served as CEO of Business First Bank, a business community bank that did not take bailout money from the federal government. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, Scarlett, and is the father of three children. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Jim LettenRegarding the Danziger Bridge shootings in New Orleans, defendants face an uphill claim in winning a new trail because of prosecution conduct, which U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, right, denies. But the defendants already have score a major advance in winning  hearing this week before their trial judge.

Former New Orleans Sgt. Arthur Kaufman faces a six-year term imposed for minimizing guilt of fellow officers in deadly shootings on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina. On Friday, May 18, he filed papers seeking a new trial or investigative hearing because authorities illegally leaked news in 2010 that his boss was expected to plead guilty to cover-up-charges. Kaufman claims the leak foreclosed an unbiased jury on his later trial on cover-up charges. Juries ruled he was involved in a police conspiracy to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and file false reports to make the shootings appear justified.

The Times-Picayune reported U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt set a June 12 deadline for prosecutors to give him any records related to a probe of the alleged leaks. Engelhardt also has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on defense attorneys' claims that a "secret public relations campaign" by federal authorities deprived the convicted officers of a fair trial. Police shot and killed two unarmed people and wounded four others on the bridge less than a week after the storm's landfall on Aug. 29, 2005.

 

 

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Related News Coverage

Associated Press / NOLA.com, Federal judge seeks records related to Danziger Bridge leaks probe, Staff report, June 12, 2012. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to turn over any documents that show it tried to determine whether somebody leaked confidential information about its probe of deadly police shootings on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Attorneys for five former police officers convicted of charges stemming from the shootings claim prosecutors ignored a different judge's call for an investigation after news reports in 2010 forecast a guilty plea by former Lt. Michael Lohman. The case against Lohman, who cooperated with investigators, was under seal at the time the reports were published. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt set a Tuesday afternoon deadline for prosecutors to give him any records related to a probe of the alleged leaks.

BBC, The slow death of New Orleans newspaper, Produced by Anna Bressanin (Video), June 2, 2012. What next for coverage of one of America’s most colorful and corrupt cities?  The Times-Picayune -- the only daily newspaper in New Orleans -- has announced sweeping job cuts as part of a plan to abandon its print edition four days a week.  More than 200 members of staff were handed their notices on Tuesday, with 84 newsroom employees cut - virtually half the 169-strong journalism and production staff.  After the changes the 175-year-old award-winning newspaper will only survive in its traditional form on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with the remaining staff producing an enhanced online edition seven days a week.  The changes come after the Times-Picayune was hit by the economic downturn and subsequent fall in advertising revenue, as well as the long-term decline of newspaper sales. The Times-Picayune is following the lead of other big US city papers, which have either reduced their print run or shut down completely. The decision to cut the print run sparked a "Save the Times-Picayune" rally, and there are questions about whether the online paper can maintain its in-depth coverage of one of America's most colourful and corrupt cities.

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Forbes, The John Edwards trial: The prosecutors' ball of steel wool predictably sinks, Harvey Silverglate, June 11, 2012. The day that I read the judge’s instructions to the jury in the John Edwards campaign financing criminal trial that ended May 31st with an acquittal on one count and a deadlocked jury on the other five, I turned to my paralegals – college graduates who have not yet attended law school – and predicted a deadlocked jury on all counts. I was close – the jury acquitted on one and “hung” on the rest. Why was I so certain that the jury would not convict Edwards, despite his being one of the least savory public figures in decades? Because nobody—including, apparently, the judge—could demonstrate a clear understanding of the dangerously vague federal laws under which Edwards was being tried. John Edwards made a mess of his life, as well as the lives of just about anyone unfortunate enough to have been in his orbit – family members, campaign aides, everyone. That is a sin for which he likely will be punished for the rest of his life (and, if one believes in a hereafter, beyond as well). But, had Edwards been convicted of violations of federal campaign finance laws for accepting donations meant to cover up his affair, an untold number of candidates for political office would find themselves vulnerable to the whims of the Department of Justice and would face prosecution for activity that would seem in no way illegal.

Washington Post, Supreme Court declines Guantanamo detainee appeals, Robert Barnes, June 11, 2012. The Supreme Court yesterday signaled that it is not ready to intervene again in determining the legal rights of foreign nationals detained at Guantanamo Bay. The court declined to hear appeals from seven of the 169 men being held in the military prison at a U.S. naval base in Cuba. The action came four years after the court's controversial decision in Boumediene vs. Bush established that detainees had the right to turn to the American judicial system for a "meaningful opportunity" to challenge their confinement. Human rights lawyers representing the detainees have complained that conservative judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, designated to hear all cases from Guantanamo, have thwarted that promise. If the justices are upset, however, they have not shown it with their actions.

Larry CraigAssociated Press / Huffington Post, Larry Craig, Former Idaho GOP Senator, Sued By FEC Over Use Of Campaign Cash, John Miller, June, 11, 2012. Former Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was sued Monday by federal election regulators who contend he misused some $217,000 in campaign funds for his legal defense after his arrest in a 2007 airport bathroom sex sting. Federal Election Commission officials said in their complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that Craig should repay the money and pay a fine. The FEC contends the three-term U.S. senator's campaign account, Craig for U.S. Senate, paid at least $139,952 to the law firm Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan in Washington, D.C., and $77,032 to Kelly & Jacobson in Minnesota for legal services related to his guilty plea to disorderly conduct. Craig had been accused of soliciting sex in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

OpED News, A Radioactive Nightmare, Michael Collins, June 10, 2011. As fallout from Fukushima heads our way, the government turns a blind eye. Millions of Southern Californians and tourists seek the region's famous beaches to cool off in the sea breeze and frolic in the surf. Those iconic breezes, however, may be delivering something hotter than the white sands along the Pacific. Buckyballs. According to a recent U.C. Davis study, uranium-filled nanospheres are created from the millions of tons of fresh and salt water used to try to cool down the three molten cores of the stricken reactors. The tiny and tough buckyballs are shaped like British Association Football soccer balls. Water hitting the incredibly hot and radioactive, primarily uranium-oxide fuel turns it into peroxide. In this goo buckyballs are formed, loaded with uranium and able to move quickly through water without disintegrating. High radiation readings in Santa Monica and Los Angeles air during a 42-day period from late December to late January strongly suggest that radiation is increasing in the region including along the coast in Ventura County. The radiation, detected by this reporter and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, separate from each other and using different procedures, does not appear to be natural in origin.

Tuscaloosa News, Court doesn’t buy Siegelman’s Rove conspiracy, June 7, 2012. Can we now put aside all of the silliness about Karl Rove’s plot to undo Don Siegelman? The U.S. Supreme Court’s inaction this week reaffirmed the former Alabama governor’s 2006 conviction in federal district court on bribery and corruption charges. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had twice upheld the jury’s verdict in the case, and the Supreme Court declined Monday to hear his appeal. Now, Siegelman is likely to be resentenced. He had served only about nine months of an 88-month sentence before a federal appeals court ordered him released from prison on an appeal bond in March 2008. Siegelman deserves to do more time for his crimes, but we would be OK if he didn’t go back to jail, if he would just go away. For years, we had to listen to his inane claims that he was the victim of a Republican conspiracy, engineered by Rove, to remove him from office and derail his political career. Those claims, replete with allegations of spying and secret phone conversations, were seized upon by congressional Democrats and some national news outlets eager to tar Rove, a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush and a longtime GOP political strategist, and prove that the White House was trying to influence federal prosecutions for political reasons.

Medill / Northwestern University / Poynter, What the future of news looks like in Alabama after Advance cuts staff by 400, Steve Myers, June 14, 2012. Most coverage of Advance’s decision to stop printing the four papers daily and cut staff has focused on The Times-Picayune. It’s easy to see why: New Orleans is a storied city, and its newspaper has told those stories well....What’s happening in Alabama looks like an extension of the strategy that the company spearheaded in Michigan. First it replaced The Ann Arbor News with AnnArbor.com and curtailed publishing, then it extended the approach to newspapers around the state and gave them one online home: Mlive.com. You can get a picture of what the Alabama Media Group will look like by seeing what was cut this week and what was left.  First, the numbers: The news staff in Birmingham has been cut from 102 to 41, according to lists included in Tuesday’s severance offers. (Chuck Clark, managing editor of the News, said in a comment that this figure is off; the true numbers, he said, are 47 left of 112). In Mobile’s newsroom, about 20 of 70 or so are left, according to a source there. (The original version of this story estimated it at about 16.) And in Huntsville, 15 people remain out of 53 in the newsroom, a 72 percent reduction. Overall in Huntsville, 102 of 149 people lost their jobs. Those cuts at the papers come after two rounds of buyouts already had thinned staff. (All sources asked to remain anonymous because they’re worried about keeping their severance or the jobs they were offered Tuesday.)