Alabama Democrat Davis Bashes Party, Touts Bush, Gets Slammed

Editor’s Note: Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis denounced fellow Democrats in a long interview with the Alabama political blog Lagniappe on Jan. 24,  the same day he authored a column for the National Review Online, "Draft Jeb Bush: A charismatic and accomplished governor can save the Republican Party." Excerpted also is the Davis  interview with Lagniappe reporter Jeff Pool -- Davis regrets questioning Siegelman prosecution -- and other relevant commentary, including our weekend column, Setting the Stage for a Jeb Bush Draft in Tampa. Update: Don Siegelman asks U.S. Supreme Court to review bribery conviction,

Also, we provide a guest column by Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson, a former Republican. In 2007-2008, she was primarily responsible for turning the Bush administration’s federal corruption conviction of DemocratiJill Simpsonc former Gov. Don Siegelman into a nationwide human rights scandal. Shown in a CBS 60 minutes interview at right, she provided documentary and sworn evidence that Republican prosecutors, business officials and the trial judge were framing the defendant by such means as $300 million in federal business to a contracting company that the judge controlled as by far its largest shareholder.  Those named have denied her allegations. Among them are former White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove, Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, her husband, Business Council of Alabama CEO Bill Canary, and Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller. A graphic below illustrates their alleged relationships.

The Obama administration seeks to imprison the former governor with a lengthy term. Simpson, at right in a 2008 CBS 60 Minutes interview, urges Davis to return to his initial skepticism about the prosecution when he was a member of the House Judiciary Committee in 2007 before he resigned the committee to focus on his failed gubernatorial race in 2010 as a Democrat.

By Jill Simpson

The truth about Artur Davis is that he sold out the Democrats in the State of Alabama, including Don Siegelman, when he stopped requesting as a House Judiciary Committee member that Karl Rove be brought before Congress in a public hearing with full examination to answer for his crimes devising political prosecutions. 

Artur DavisI believe Artur, shown at right, did what he did hoping to gain the favor with Business Council of Alabama CEO Bill Canary and his crowd so that he might obtain his dream of being Alabama's governor. But when you sell your soul it’s is hard to regain it. Artur needs to look deep within his soul for the real reason why he lost the governorship instead of writing all this babble to justify his behavior.

It’s clear from his writings that he is deeply disturbed over messing up his dreams of being the first black governor of Alabama. My hope is that some day Artur admits that his mistake was selling out Siegelman -- as that is what cost him becoming governor. He will never ever get elected again if he is known as selling out an innocent man who very well may go to prison for a non-crime for the rest of his life. Artur's only way of ever winning again is to admit his mistake before it is too late. George Wallace apologized for his race policies, and was elected again. Artur could apologize and tell the truth and probably get elected. Yet he refuses. 

Every time I read a piece written by Artur I see a man struggling to come terms and I wonder what that must feel like. It makes me think about what my daddy said when I was little: "It is always honorable to admit you made a mistake."  Artur is at a crossroads here. He could simply admit the truth that he made a mistake not helping Don Siegelman and how he got tricked into stopping helping. All would be forgiven. Or he could go on belly-flopping all over the place looking like a jerk who betrayed his party to get elected governor.

What a life of torture he must be experiencing. Reading his writings, I see it. 

So you all know I was proud of Artur when he stood up for us on Capitol Hill in DC. He was a brave warrior.  Well, I was hurt when I heard he was listening to Bill Canary and the old Dixiecrats to dump helping Siegelman. But I still believe he could redeem himself telling the truth and how they tricked him. The time has come for Artur to come home and admit it. I believe Artur has the potential to make a great governor if he will admit sometimes he made mistakes because he wanted it so bad. 

That is why he is flopping around like a catfish on a sand bar struggling to find water and air. Artur knows he is out of his element, and feels the disappointment. You can see it in his writing. For goodness sakes, Artur, you are a Democrat, a good one, who got tricked by Karl Rove and his crowd with false promises. Don't let them ruin your life.

For a long time, I was mad at Artur for how he did Mr. Siegelman. But reading his articles makes me feel very sorry for him.

My advice is: Artur, tell the truth. I did -- and it set me free.


Jill Simpson and son, JonahJill Simpson, a graduate of the University of Alabama Law School, is an attorney in rural Rainsville who is pursuing graduate studies. She says she worked on a variety of highly confidential political opposition research projects to help Republicans through the years. In 2007, she provided the House Judiciary Committee with a documentary evidence and sworn statements of wrongdoing in the court system, much of it never released publicly. Included were photos of her visits to the Bush White House in 2001, underscoring her assertion that she had worked behind the scenes on Republican projects for years. Alabama Republicans have publicly denied her assertions, albeit not under oath subject to cross-examination. The photos have never been released either by the committee or in the news media. One of them, showing her with her son at the White House, is published at right for the first time here of any of the photos, aside from those she and her son shared at the time with their hometown newspaper.


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Siegelman Case Relationship Chart

Don Siegelman Fund

This chart was created by supporters of Don Siegelman, Alabama governor from 1999 to 2003 and his state's most prominent Democrat until his 2006 conviction on corruption charges in a federal prosecution led by the Bush Justice Department. In 1999, Alabama Attorney Gen. William Pryor, a Republican now a federal U.S. court of appeals judge presiding over Alabama appeals, launched a criminal probe of Siegelman soon after he took office. This was combined into a state-federal effort after the Bush administration took office in 2001 as Republicans prepared for Siegelman's a 2002 re-election campaign against Republican candidate Bob Riley, at right center.

Business Council of Alabama CEO William Canary, a longtime political ally of White House Senior Advisor, served as Riley's campaign manager. Senate testimony and a recent memoir by Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff indicated he persuaded his Mississippi casino clients to send vast sums to Riley, whose campaign stance was to opposed gambling on moral grounds. Simpson's testimony, disputed by others, is that she participated on a conference call in 2002 when Canary said he confer with "Karl" about Siegelman and that "my girls," which Simpson interpreted to mean Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary and Northern District U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, would dispose of Siegelman. Simpson swore also to House Judiciary Committee staff in 2007 that Riley's son, Rob Riley, told her in 2005 even before Siegelman was indicted for a second time that the case would go to Middle District U.S. Judge Mark Fuller and that he would "hang" Siegelman because he "hated" him.

Those named have denied her allegations in various ways, but never under oath in a public hearing subject to cross-examination. Siegelman was convicted of bribery-related charges for asking billionaire HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to donate $500,000 to a non-profit advocating for a state lottery to improve educational funding. Fuller sentenced Siegelman and Scrushy to seven-year terms, but Siegelman is at least temporarily free on bond while he seeks relief from the U.S. Supreme Court in a filing Feb. 1.


Selected News Reports Referenced Above

Montgomery Advertiser, Don Siegelman asks U.S. Supreme Court to review bribery conviction, Brian Lyman, Feb. 1, 2012.  Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his 2006 conviction on bribery and obstruction of justice charges. The 116-page petition for writ of certiorari requests the court to consider when a political contribution becomes a bribe, a key element of the former governor’s case. In their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Siegelman’s attorneys ask the court to settle the matter, citing different rulings by different U.S. circuit courts on the issue.  “We are asking the Supreme Court to clarify what the law is as to when, if ever, a campaign contribution, or in this case, a contribution to a referendum campaign, can be called a bribe for purposes of criminal law,” said Sam Heldman, a Washington-based attorney representing Siegelman. “The law about this is unclear at the moment.” Siegelman’s attorneys are also raising a question on the governor’s separate conviction on an obstruction of justice charge, over a transaction prosecutors said covered up $9,200 given to Siegelman by business associate Lanny Young. Siegelman argued the evidence was insufficient for conviction, but the appeals court disagreed, saying the jury “believed” the testimony of Young and former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey on the matter. Siegelman requested the U.S. Supreme Court consider whether the facts of the transaction amounted to violation, claiming the 11th Circuit used an overly-broad interpretation of the relevant statute. Heldman said he hoped the high court would reach a decision by the summer.

Politico, Artur Davis leaves law firm, Anna Palmer, Feb. 2, 2012. Former Rep. Artur Davis has parted ways with law firm SNR Denton just a year after the Alabama Democrat joined its white collar and government investigations practice as a partner — and he’s not ruling out a return to politics. “I’m not sure what I’ll do,” Davis told POLITICO. “Practicing law in Washington, D.C., particularly if you are a former member of Congress is something that is very very different and there are many people who might enjoy it, many people who might relish it, but you don’t have the opportunities to get into the courtroom.”

Lagniappe, Davis regrets questioning Siegelman prosecution, Jeff Poor, Jan. 24, 2012. Since losing his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for governor of Alabama in 2010, in what many political spectators viewed as a shocking 24-point loss to then Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, former Rep. Artur Davis has carved himself out a unique spot inside the inside-the-beltway punditocracy of Washington, D.C.

"I want to remind people that I pretty much ran a campaign against the Democratic Party in Alabama,” Davis said. "Pretty much the whole hierarchy of the Democratic Party was opposed to my campaign. They opposed it in every way, shape and form. They pretty much opposed it from the very beginning of the campaign. Given that, I ran as someone who was going to fundamentally change the Democratic Party, someone who was going to break up the gravy train you had running over there at the state party.” Following the election, Davis left Alabama and his immediate future involves a stint at the Harvard Institute of Politics, where for the next four months he’ll be serving a fellowship. But his disdain for where he believes the Alabama Democratic Party is headed remains. In 2007, Davis was serving on the House Judiciary Committee and had been outspoken about the 2006 conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. He implied that the Bush administration had been playing politics with that conviction. That along with remaining in office during his 2010 gubernatorial run he said were his two main regrets while in politics. Since leaving office in 2011, Davis has penned columns for Politico and in recent months has had his work featured by National Review, a standard bearer on policy for many in conservative circles.

Legal Schnauzer, Artur Davis Must Be the Sorest Loser In the History of American Politics, Roger Shuler, Feb. 1, 2012. Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis has been conducting a world-class whine fest ever since he got spanked in the 2010 Democratic primary for governor. Davis has bolted to Virginia and supposedly started a law practice, but he can't seem to resist taking shots at his home-state liberals, whom he blames for costing him the governorship. Never mind that Davis repeatedly sided with corporate interests and insulted his own party's progressive base in the weeks leading up to the election. Davis says standing up for Siegelman made him appear soft on crime, and by questioning the actions of the Bush Justice Department, Davis called his own integrity into question. If you are a coherent, rational human being, that paragraph will leave you scratching your head. Davis, in so many words, is saying that he now regrets appearing to have principles -- he now regrets suggesting that federal prosecutions should focus only on actual crimes, not the political affiliation of the accused. Artur Davis is saying that he regrets standing up for due process and equal protection under the law -- that if a man has to choose between fundamental constitutional rights and his own political career, he should choose the career stuff every time.

OpEd News, Setting the Stage for a Jeb Bush Draft in Tampa, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 28, 2012. Republicans face a nasty, drawn-out nomination fight that could shred the party’s chances even against a vulnerable President Obama and Democratic under-ticket. But to the rescue last week came former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis, a four-term Democrat who urges Republicans to nominate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Op Ed News, Obama Should Learn From the Artur Davis Debacle In Alabama, Andrew Kreig, June 7, 2010. The full story has not yet been published about last week's rout of favored Democratic candidate Artur Davis in the Alabama gubernatorial primary.  Little-known Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks ran to the left of the better-funded Davis and trounced him by a 62-38 margin. This is even though Davis was his state's senior Democratic congressman and enjoyed a close relationship with President Obama, whose Harvard Law School studies overlapped by a year.  The corporate-owned media know that the Davis defeat is big news, as shown by two stories in the June 6 Washington Post alone, here and here. But this is mostly horse-race coverage about winning.


2012 GOP Presidential Contenders

Washington Post, Competition for Delegates: Stepping Up to the Nomination, Washington Post, Todd Lindeman, Aaron Blake and Karen Yourish, Jan. 29, 2012. The race for delegates is still in the early stages. There are 2,286 delegates up for grabs in this year’s GOP presidential race, and a candidate needs more than half to become the party’s nominee. Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina accounted for less than 3 percent of the total possible delegates, despite the importance placed on those early contests.

Frontloading Headquarters, Republican Delegate Allocation Rules: 2012 vs. 2008, Josh Putnam, Dec. 24, 2011. The RNC released yesterday the final piece of the puzzle in terms of how delegates will be allocated in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.1 Now, FHQ has been saying all along that, theoretically, the changes to the delegate selection rules would not affect states and subsequently the candidates and their efforts to win more delegates all that much. Again, theoretically. At issue has been whether a state had to in some way abandon either straight winner-take-all delegate allocation or a hybrid system with winner-take-all allocation of at-large (base and bonus) delegates and congressional district delegates for a more proportional method in states with contests before April 1. Some change was inevitable, but because the rules change was treated as black and white -- that Republican winner-take-all states now had to be proportional before April 1 -- the impact of the change has been consistently overstated.

National Review Online, Draft Jeb Bush: A charismatic and accomplished governor can save the Republican party, Artur Davis, Jan. 24 2012.  In the early months of the election year, a polarizing president with a lackluster approval rating bided his time as the opposition party unraveled. Its nominating fight dissolved into chaos as the establishment front-runner collapsed, and an insurgent with a talent for galvanizing his party’s base surged, despite persistent fears about his electoral appeal beyond the party’s hardcore. A protracted primary fight ensued, with the insurgent and the party’s resistant establishment eviscerating each other for months; by the time it ran its course, a president who seemed imminently beatable was ahead by double digits. The story ends with that same president winning by an historic margin over a party that rejected its recent past in favor of a dangerously uncertain future.

Jeb BushWashington Post, Four ways Republicans can win Hispanics back, Jeb Bush, left, Jan. 25, 2012. In the 15 states that are likely to decide who controls the White House and the Senate in 2013, Hispanic voters will represent the margin of victory.  For the Republican Party, the stakes could not be greater. Just eight years after the party’s successful effort to woo Hispanic voters in 2004, this community — the fastest-growing group in the United States, according to census data — has drifted away.

Magaret Heckler

Huffington Post, Jeb Bush Lobbied On Behalf Of Infamous Medicare Swindler, Says Former HHS Secretary, Ryan Grim, Jan. 31, 2012. Jeb Bush personally lobbied the secretary of health and human services while his father was vice president on behalf of a hospital executive who would later be accused of defrauding the government of hundreds of millions of Medicare dollars, The Huffington Post has confirmed. Miguel Recarey, head of International Medical Centers (IMC), also paid Bush $75,000 in the mid-1980s, money that Bush acknowledges receiving but says was tendered for real estate consultation. With the GOP presidential campaign now focused on Tuesday's Florida primary, attention has turned to Jeb Bush, the popular former Florida governor, as observers analyze his every move for signs of a possible endorsement -- or wonder whether Bush himself will wind up the nominee after a brokered political convention.