Sen. Doug Jones As ‘Confirmable’ Biden AG? Bad Idea!


Alabama’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones has been reported recently as at the forefront of President-elect Joe Biden’s prospects to lead the Justice Department as U.S. Attorney General.

That’s in part because Jones (shown with Biden in a file photo) has served as a presidentially appointed federal prosecutor, holds a longtime relationship with Biden — and also is considered more readily “confirmable” by Senate Republicans than other top options.

doug jones joe biden cropped

A closer look at the senator’s career suggests that these supposed strengths do not meet the requirements of the job, including a passion for reform, and are likely to blow up into controversy.

Indeed, one of his former law partners, the prominent Alabama attorney Thomas T. Gallion III, published a book this year surveying nearly seven decades of official corruption in the state — and names Jones as part of a "Cabal" working with powerful Republicans in moneymaking schemes that flagrantly violate the law, legal ethics and other core values of justice and democracy.

The book, Shadow Government, Southern Style: A Saga of Political Corruption From DC to Dixie, was first published in May by Gallion, a partner in the Montgomery firm Haskell Slaughter. Among other posts, he has been County Attorney for Montgomery County (encompassing the state capital) since 1985.

Gallion (shown below at left) identifies as a Republican. But his book is a non-partisan slam at those whom he regards as corrupt, including Jeff Sessions, President Trump's first Attorney General after decades as Republican senator and prosecutor in Alabama. Other targets of Gallion include the recent two-term Republican Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (2003-2011), and longtime Bush Family political aide Karl Rove, a White House senior advisor to President George W. Bush.

Breaking News: Politico, Biden to tap Merrick Garland for attorney general, Tyler Page, Josh Gertein and Kyle Cheney, Jan. 6, 2021. Washington Post, Biden to merrick garlandnominate Merrick Garland, Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee, for attorney general. President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Merrick B. Garland, right, a Democratic casualty of the bitter partisan divide in Washington over court nominees, to become the next attorney general, according to people familiar with the decision.

Regarding Jones (who failed to respond to our invitation this week to comment for this column), Gallion drew on his extensive study of the senator's career to pose near the end of his book a page-long series of questions that he challenged Jones to answer under oath.

thomas gallionMentioning such allegations does not mean they are true, of course. Nothing like Gallion's allegation has surfaced in national reporting about Jones's unsuccessful campaign for Senate re-election this fall or regarding the Biden-Harris Transition Team appointment process to pick an Attorney General.

That lack of national coverage for allegations against Jones continues as of this writing. That's so, at least for now, even though the Gallion book is receiving good reader reviews and it reports about legal skullduggery of a kind often suspected in Alabama. That's a state where one-party domination creates lucrative opportunities for those close to office-holders and thwarts checks-and-balances, as evidenced by the ouster of the state's governor and House speaker for unrelated scandals in recent years.

More generally, Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation, published in June by former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, also examines Alabama's political scene.

Siegelman, below right, a Jones client and a Democrat who served from 1999 until the Republican Riley took office in 2003, was imprisoned on corruption charges in 2007 in what became a notorious case worldwide because of allegations supported by whistleblowers and legal scholars that he and others had been framed for political reasons.

For such reasons, this column argues against the conventional wisdom that a Jones nomination would be non-controversial, aside from criticism from the left and civil rights groups that he is a white man and has a political track record that is too moderate.

Don SiegelmanAnd if any senators from either party dared dig beyond the surface?

A confirmation proceeding, if a chair permitted witnesses repeating their statements cited below, could well become explosive, rivalling the Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh court confirmations. With such witnesses, a hearing might well tarnish top figures in the Obama-Biden administration for failures to clean up what are reliably reported as shocking levels of official corruption in Alabama in recent years. 

It took many years until nearly the present even for Gallion and Siegelman to penetrate the inherent secrecy of the Justice Department in such sensitive matters.

So, it is no surprise or embarrassment that one of major Washington Post stories, as of this writing, Biden narrows attorney general list, portrayed Jones as perhaps the most readily confirmable of attorney general candidates, in part because of perceptions that he is a moderate who gets along with most Republicans.

Read further for a deeper view.


Jones: Easiest To Confirm?

At first impression, the moderate and sometimes pro-Trump Jones voting record in the Senate confers confirmable status, especially coupled with Jones's former work as a Judiciary Committee Senate staffer.

But some in the Democratic base are already complaining about Jones as too moderate. That could escalate with wider recognition that he tilts to “go-along-to-get-along” careerism. It hardly helps that he is a white man and that reform pressures are coming most heavily from minorities and civil rights groups, including the NAACP.

Most relevant here is that Jones's connections failed to save his client in one of his biggest legal cases, aside from his duly-praised successes in leading a 1990s civil rights federal prosecution of 1960s Alabama church bombing murderers.

This case, the Bush Administration prosecution of Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, became a worldwide human rights scandal. A seemingly separate civil lawsuit enriched Jones with legal fees, helping make it possible for him to secure the support enabling his ongoing leadership in the fractured, cash-strapped and largely ineffective Alabama Democratic Party. His first person account, Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights, helped provide a valuable civil rights credential, despite the sniping of critics who claimed he was seeking too much credit, as did his use of his wealth and contacts to bolster the agenda of certain civil rights organizations and their leaders.

In 2017, Jones narrowly defeated Republican Roy Moore in a special election for a Senate seat vacated by the appointment of GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions to become Attorney General. Jones lost re-election this year to a full term and is now positioning himself as a frontrunner for the AG post.

Justice Department log circularVulnerabilities of Jones are well-documented and are likely to embarrass the Biden team if he is nominated.

That’s especially so because the Jones problems illustrate the concerns that Black and Hispanic criminal justice reformers are voicing already (albeit without the specifics below) about a need for a hard-hitting expert voice helming the Justice Department.

My conclusions endorsing those criticisms of Jones are based on more than a decade of in-depth investigation by the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project of mind-boggling abuses in Alabama where Jones built his career with only occasional demonstrations of extraordinary commitment to rectifying the state's massive official corruption.

Jill SimpsonI first learned of these abuses in 2007 from an Alabama attorney, Dana Jill Simpson, shown at right right in a screenshot from a powerful 2008 CBS "60 Minutes" broadcast alerting a nationwide audience to the scandalous prosecution of Siegelman. She had been a longtime Republican political operative who became a whistleblower about what she called a nationwide plot to use the Justice Department and scandal opposition research dossiers to destroy the careers of selected targets for political purposes.

Such allegations were so prevalent and concerning after the so-called “U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal” of 2007 that, following my career in business law and trade association work in Washington, I began a reporting fellowship with Brandeis University beginning in 2009 to research the scandal. The focus was on the harms to communities where prosecutors undertook abusive methods.


Special Danger For Biden

The special danger for the Biden administration going forward is that Jones was close enough to such activities during the Obama-Biden administration's supervision of the Siegelman-Scrushy case, including whistleblower revelations, news reports and public protests. Therefore, Biden's Justice Department could be regarded as compromised or even part of a cover-up. The Obama White House received more than 100,000 petition signatures seeking a pardon or similar relief for Siegelman. Our estimate is that the number of protest signatures was at least double that because many of the protests occurred during the Bush administration after the "60 Minutes" broadcast in February 2008, or went directly to the Justice Department.

These decade-old issues remain far off the Beltway radar screen, as indicated by media coverage of the Biden Transition and the rosy prospects for Jones to advance to the top Justice Department post, as indicated by recent Washington Post stories.

That's partly because Alabama politics and related civic life are so dominated by the Republican Party and media. Harper's legal columnist Scott Horton has described both the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility and Alabama's media, for example, as part of the overall problem in both the Alabama cases and nationally. Digging beneath the surface takes more effort than national parties or media are able to provide. Rectifying that is the purpose of this column.

But perhaps also the Biden transition is simply floating names, hoping to “crowd source” research efforts before committing a nomination. Having participated as a volunteer for high-level operatives in previous presidential campaign and transition research, I’ll provide relevant background for others to assess.

That includes a detailed rebuttal near the end of this column by Jones against the central allegations. The context was column we wrote in 2011 about many of the topics here. This kind of response, exclusively reported here, is rare for potential nominees before a hearing.


Specifics of the Track Record

Doug Jones, below left, is an Alabama native, born in 1954. He began his professional career after law school he worked as a staff counsel for U.S. Senator Howell Hefflin, an Alabama Democrat. Jones became an assistant U.S. attorney in Alabama from 1980 to 1984.

Appointed by President Bill Clinton to become U.S. attorney for Alabama’s Birmingham-based district, his most prominent cases were the successful prosecution of two Ku Klux Klan members for a 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls and the indictment of domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph, a white supremacist.

Jones moved to private practice at the conclusion of Clinton's presidency in 2001. In 2003, he joined the defense team of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (1999-2003), a popular Democrat doug jones flag wwhom state and federal Republicans sought to prosecute in what became two highly dubious federal trials in 2004 and 2006 on corruption charges. Jones reportedly received more than $300,000 in fees from Siegelman but did not represent the defendant in the trial stage of either case.

The first trial was over federal charges that Siegelman, who had won election in 1998 with 58 percent of the vote against an incumbent Republican, had conspired to put money in the state budget improperly to fund the Alabama Fire College, an emergency medical training unit. The first trial judge ruled that Jones, as a former U.S. attorney, had a conflict in representing Siegelman.

The judge also pressured prosecutors, led by Bush-appointed U.S Attorney Alice Martin of the Birmingham-based district, to drop the case because, as the judge said, the legislature and not a governor puts money into a budget.

Siegelman later recalled that he was glad to be cleared so decisively over what he regarded as a politically based prosecution, but was harmed by more than $900,000 in legal fees in total to defend himself.


A Second Federal Prosecution

In October 2005, federal authorities announced Siegelman's indictment on new charges of bribery and mail fraud along with charges against HealthSouth founder and former CEO Richard Scrushy, and two former Siegelman aides. In 2005, Scrushy had been separately acquitted in Birmingham's federal court of securities fraud charges for his part in over-valuations of HealthSouth that had cost investors billions of dollars.

richard scrushy fileIn the new indictment in Montgomery's federal court, Scrushy, right, was accused of arranging $500,000 in donations beginning in 1999 to Siegelman's campaign for a state lottery fund for universal education, in exchange for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board, a non-paid post. Scrushy had been appointed and served on the state hospital regulatory board for ten years during the past three Republican administrations, to which he had made extensive campaign donations.

Scrushy had donated $350,000 to the campaign of Siegelman's Republican rival. Siegelman described in his memoir how Scrushy's advisors sought a meeting and how during the course of their discussions Siegelman asked the businessman to support the pro-lottery referendum with a $250,000 donation.

jack abramoff coverThe Alabama Education Foundation, a non-profit that Siegelman co-founded and backed initially by a personal loan guarantee, was seeking support for a 1999 state referendum (often referenced as the "Education Lottery Campaign") to establish a state lottery, with the lottery proceeds to be earmarked to fund free tuition at state universities for most high school graduates.

Politically powerful casino gambling interests opposed the lottery as unwanted competition. They worked with Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, a former Young Republican activist who was secretly funded in significant part by Indian-run casino interests to develop grassroots opposition on moral grounds to lottery proposals.

Washington, DC-based lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who represented Mississippi Choctow Indian casinos, would describe these arrangements in his post-prison 2011 memoir Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist.

Abramoff, shown above on the cover of his book, would tell the Justice Integrity Project during a book interview that he had raised $20 million to oppose the lottery and Siegelman. 

Publicly, Siegelman continued his campaign for reelection in 2006, running in the Democratic primary against Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley and minor candidates. She defeated Siegelman in the June 2006 Democratic primary with nearly 60 percent of the vote compared to his 36 percent after a campaign that included heavy news coverage of the criminal charges he faced.

Bob RileyBehind the scenes, as Siegelman would write in his memoir, he made the expensive decision to replace Jones pre-trial because of concerns that Jones was friendly with prominent Republicans, including William Canary, head of the Alabama Business Council and former campaign manager for Siegelman's gubernatorial rival, Republican incumbent Gov. Bob Riley, left. Canary was also close friend of Bush White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove and was the husband of Siegelman's prosecutor, Leura Canary, the Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Montgomery-based Middle District of Alabama.

Another friend of Jones, according to Siegelman in explaining his decision to switch defense counsel and in effect lose his retainer, was Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, a hard-right foe of Siegelman and a political ally and client Rove, who during the 1990s had worked with Bill Canary as consultants to dramatically increase Republican vistories in Alabama judicial and prosecution offices.

Pryor, shown at right, would work closely with the Bush administration to investigate and prosecute Siegelman and be nominated by william h pryor oBush to preside as a judge on the 11th CIrcuit U.S. Court of Appeals supervising appeals in Alabama and Florida.

Acting as a lead co-counsel, Jones had also been representing plaintiff investors in a civil fraud class action suit against Scrushy's company, HealthSouth, that resulted in a $455 million settlement in 2006 of a $2.7 billion accounting fraud that almost bankrupted HealthSouth.

On June 29, 2006, three weeks after Siegelman lost the primary, a federal jury found after long deliberations and two announcements of deadlock a compromise verdict, that both Siegelman and Scrushy were guilty of less than a third of the 33 felony counts in the indictment. Two co-defendants, Siegelman's former chief of staff, Paul Hamrick and the governor's transportation director, Mack Roberts, were acquitted of all charges.

The jury convicted Siegelman of bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, honest services mail fraud, and obstruction of justice, and acquitted on all of the charges of "racketeering" that had helped make the case especially notorious in the Alabama news media.

Presiding over the trial was Chief U.S. Middle District Judge Mark Fuller, a Bush-appointed judge and former executive director of the Alabama Republican Party whom Siegelman as governor had ordered investigated for allegedly trying to bilk the state pension fund out of $300,000 before his judicial appointment.

Fuller's pro-prosecution rulings against Siegelman and Scrushy on many seemingly obvious trial irregularities would prompt years of popular outcry in appeals, petitions and the media over what appeared to many as serious human rights violations. Scrushy and Siegelman asserted, for example, that Scrushy didn't even want to remain on the regulatory board and that the chief prosecution witness, Nick Bailey, perjured himself in suggesting otherwise.

Another seemingly obvious cause for a new trial arose from the post-trial testimony of a juror stating that the future jury foreman had brought outside materials into the jury room before the prosecution had even finished its presentation, and had described Scrushy as "scum" who should be convicted.

There were many other disputed points, with nearly all rejected by Fuller and appellate courts but prompting continued focus by whistleblowers, news reporters and legal scholars. Much of witness Nick Bailey's credibility has been debunked by sworn post-trial statements by those close to him alleging improper prosecutorial pressure.

Among little-reported revelations also are separate assertions by Jill Simpson and Thomas Gallion that well-placed fellow Republicans had confided before Siegelman's second indictment became public in 2005 that he was going to be indicted. Simpson has made sworn statements to that effect and Gallion has said he is willing to testify about what he knows.   

The trial irregularities remain even more striking to many civil rights experts because the defendants were white men who were well-positioned and reasonably well-financed for defense counsel, in part via Siegelman's long-running grassroots fund-raising among supporters. Yet even with those advantages, their millions of dollars in defense spending failed to find relief for highly disputable convictions affirmed up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Why the disputes? Because, among other reasons, trial evidence failed to show a “quid pro quo,” or explicit agreement, that Scrushy’s donation to the non-profit advocating for improved public education via a lottery, was in return for Siegelman’s reappointment of Scrushy to the regulatory board.

But Scrushy resigned from the board at the time of Siegelman's election and Siegelman has always said that it was he who wanted the businessman on the board because of his perceived stature in 1999, and not Scrushy's own desire to serve as a volunteer on a relatively low-level board.

Scrushy, who did not take the witness stand on advice of counsel, was confident of acquittal and would later say, "I'm the only man in history jailed for making a charitable donation." He has always disputed also the size and source of prosecution claims that he donated $500,000, saying the funds were less and were a corporate donation by his company in keeping with its frequent donations for civic causes in its home state of Alabama.

Siegelman also declined to testify on the advice of his new defense team, a decision he deeply regretted, as he described in his memoir.


Richard Scrushy

Few Political Donors Prosecuted

Richard Scrushy, shown at right in prison, during one of his children's visits

The Siegelman-Scrushy imprisonment stands in stark contrast to what has long been standard practice at the local, state and federal level whereby political donors receive appointments, favorable federal contracts and policy consideration on a routine basis in return for financial contributions, according to critics of the Alabama prosecution.

These critics include former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, below left, a Republican who was also co-chair that year of GOP nominee John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. That year, Woods spoke out to a nationwide audience on CBS “60 Minutes” (Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal? with correspondent Scott Pelley.)

grant woods"I haven't seen a case with this many red flags on it that pointed towards a real injustice being done," Woods said as he led, in addition to his other duties, an unprecedent effort that grew to 113 former state attorneys general (the chief law enforcers in more than 40 states) who asked Congress and the Supreme Court to investigate the case.

"I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square. This was a Republican state -- and he was the one Democrat they could never get rid of," Woods says.

The Jones role in this raises wider implications and concerns.

Back in Alabama, the state Democratic Party has been shattered and ineffective for the most part in the years after Siegelman’s removal from politics.

His prosecutions, imprisonment and “scandal” consumed much of local activist energy after the disputed 2002 election of his Republican rival Bob Riley, who benefited from the mysterious late-night switch of some 6,000 electronic ballots in Republican Baldwin County in the late hours after Siegelman had been announced as statewide winner.

Gerrymandered congressional districts each year generate one Democratic seat, currently held by Rep. Terry Sewell in a “Black Belt” seat that stretches from Birmingham through Selma to the outskirts of Mobile.

But other Democrats face almost impossible odds aside from the remarkable situation in 2017 when Jones narrowly defeated the Republican Moore, whose campaign was hurt by allegations (which he denied) of sexual misconduct when he was a young man.

New, Scandalous Prosecutions

Here’s what happened to Siegelman, with reactions by Jones, one of his lead attorneys. Siegelman himself has documented his two-decade ordeal in a memoir this year, author of Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation, published in June by New South books and in a documentary film produced by Steve Wimberly, Atticus vs. The Architect.

u w clemonChief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon, right, the presiding judge of Siegelman’s first corruption trial in Birmingham, would force prosecutors to drop it soon after it began in 2004.

In 2009, I invited Clemon to appear at a 2009 forum at the National Press Club I organized about abusive prosecutions exposed in the U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal. The then-retired judge travelled to the nation’s capital at his own expense to speak at the event, which was cablecast for three hours by C-SPAN because of public interest in the national scandals.

Eric HolderIn advance, the retired judge wrote Attorney General Eric Holder, left, sharing a copy with me, that the Siegelman prosecution had been “the most unfounded criminal case” that he had presided over during his nearly three decades on the federal bench. Because there is a racial component to concern about fairness in the justice system it is worth noting that Clemon was a pioneering African-American member of the federal bench in modern times in the Deep South.

But prosecutors continued after the failed Birmingham case in their zeal to remove Siegelman from public life under the claim of “corruption.” A combined federal-state prosecution team that had been working for years to imprison Siegelman came up with a new plan to create new charges that could be brought via secret indictment before the 2006 Alabama gubernatorial elections, thereby thwarting Siegelman’s return.

One big problem, though, was that the five-year statute of limitations for Siegelman’s 1999 and 2000 actions was set to expire.

Jones convinced Siegelman to waive the statute of limitations because of prosecutors’ supposed benign intentions, thereby subjecting defendant to indictment, imprisonment and financial ruin for his and Scrushy’s families.

There’s more, much more, and way too much to mention here except in passing.

Jones co-chaired with Gov. Riley’s son, Rob Riley, a plaintiff’s class action fraud suit against HealthSouth, a company that Scrushy had founded. With the Scrushy and HealthSouth defense hindered by his criminal conviction and imprisonment without bond, plaintiff lawyers won a reported $455 million judgment, with legal fees doubtless enriching the key lawyers.

In February 2008, the CBS “60 Minutes” expose helped make the case a national and global human rights scandal.

The reporting by the CBS correspondent Pelley implicated via Republican attorney Jill Simpson Bob Riley’s campaign manager Bill Canary, head of the Alabama Business Council and a longtime ally of then-White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove, in a plan to use Canary’s “girls.” Simpson, in those days a Republican opposition researcher and attorney for contractors, said the “girls” meant Canary’s wife, Montgomery-based U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, left, and Leura CanaryBirmingham-based U.S. attorney Alice Martin, who prosecuted Siegelman’s first trial, before Judge Clemon.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery, below right, was the presiding judge for the second Siegelman-Scrushy trial in 2006. He made a number of key pro-prosecution rulings that generated considerable controversy at the time and through the years. For example, he held secret ex parte discussions with prosecutors. As another example, authorities and jurors were allegedly communicating. In one example, a female juror reportedly asked authorities about the marital status of a prosecutor she found attractive.

Multiple whistleblowers and researchers kept exposing major trial irregularities in later years fanning public outrage while the Justice Department and higher courts dismissed the revelations as unimportant.

Mark FullerFuller pushed the sequestered jury hard to render a verdict, telling them he could wait them out. Then when they returned convictions the rarely photographed Fuller invited Alabama photo-journalist Phil Fleming after the verdict to take portrait shots in chambers, such as the one at right. Fleming years later shared them with the Justice Integrity Project along with what he told the judge: to cut out the "Cheshire cat" smile on the judge's face because, the photographer thought, such happiness seemed inappropriate for such portraits.

At sentencing in 2007, Fuller shocked defendants, their families and other observers by ordering seven-year sentences for each defendant, ordering them immediately imprisoned without the normal appeal bond for first-time, white-collar offenders. Moreover, the judge ordered them publicly shackled for additional disgrace as authorities whisked them away with family members sobbing. Siegelman was kept in solitary confinement and forced to travel from one facility to another in handcuffs, thus hindering news coverage that might normally occur for a popular recent governor.

Separately from the 2008 CBS broadcast, Simpson showed researchers via documents that Fuller secretly owned nearly 44 percent of the shares of Doss Aviation, a federal contracting company that received $300 million in no-bid Bush contracts without disclosure to the defendants or others appearing before the judge.

Also separately from the CBS broadcast, a 150-page recusal motion filed by Missouri attorney Paul B. Weeks III in Fuller’s court in 2003 was revealed as having charged the judge with corruption in a scheme to bilk Alabama’s pension fund of $300,000 while Fuller was a state prosecutor in 2002. Weeks, on behalf of another client with a case pending before Fuller, had spent six months researching the judge's finances and other behavior, discovering that he had been acting as CEO for the Colorado-based Doss while taking extraordinary absences and other liberties with his supposedly full-time job as a prosecutor.

One especially disturbing element of post-trial research has been statements, some sworn, by multiple witnesses (including Scrushy) that they were asked by authorities to give false testimony against Siegelman in return for lenient treatment. Several have said they were innocent of wrongdoing but received severe punishment for failure to comply and failed to interest any officials, elected or otherwise, in authenticating the facts.

I used the Weeks and Simpson evidence for a front-page Huffington Post story in 2009 reporting that Fuller “hated” Siegelman because the governor had tried to expose corrupt practices by Fuller in 2002. The story broke in 2009 under this headline: Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company.

The court record shows that Fuller refused to recuse himself and suppressed the text of Weeks ethics complaint from the federal records PACER system that he controlled as his district’s chief judge. Appellate courts found no basis to grant defendant evidentiary hearings despite astonishing prosecution breaches of required procedures.

Fuller was later forced to resign his lifetime appointment after a misdemeanor arrest for assaulting his then-wife, a court clerk assisting in the Siegelman-Scrushy trial. As the Justice Integrity Project and other reporters published multiple stories on the continuing scandals, Fuller declined our invitation to comment.


Republican Businessman Steps In

Alabama businessman Luther “Stan” Pate, left, who described himself as cofounder of the modern Republican Party in his state during the 1970s, became so incensed at the prosecution misconduct in the case and more generally at the Justice Department’s operations in Alabama that he hired as a goodwill stan pategesture Nick Bailey, a former Siegelman aide and the chief prosecution witness against Siegelman and Scrushy.

Pate further hired defense attorney George L. Beck to represent Bailey because Pate, as he described to me in a long interview, became convinced that prosecutors improperly pressured Bailey to perjure himself.

Prosecutors indicted Bailey, right, in a fraud case unrelated to any Siegelman activity and, according to sworn testimony that Nick BaileyPate helped elicit, threatened the slightly built Bailey with a 20-year prison sentence under, it was suggested, the constant threat of rape by other inmates.

Pate-funded private investigators have submitted to courts an array of affidavits portraying that kind of pattern of prosecutorial misconduct, including Bailey's recollection that he spoke to prosecutors about 70 times in coaching sessions.

Bailey said not all the discussions were in-person meetings but that some of the sessions were conducted at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, which for years housed a secret federal-state task force of prosecutors and investigators. They were led in part by an Air Force Reserve colonel, Steve Feaga, a lawyer who also took a lead role in the Siegelman-Scrushy trial, thereby adding yet another layer of military overtones to what was ostensibly a non-military proceeding.

Defendants unsuccessfully argued that their rights were violated because they were never informed by prosecutors of the scope and content of the pre-trial coaching sessions, as reported by CBS 60 Minutes, despite disclosure required under the Supreme Court’s U.S. v. Brady decision. Siegelman, a former Alabama attorney general, has unsuccessfully argued that numerous violations of federal criminal law occurred and needed to be investigated. Canary and others at the Justice Department have declined comment to our questions, aside from a spokesman who said the department conducts its affairs honorably as a general matter.


Implications For Biden Team

Before providing a Jones rebuttal to these allegations of defense shortcomings, let’s sketch some of the implications for the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

For one thing, the Obama-Biden Justice Department remained oblivious at best to the allegations and evidence, and at worst aggressively assisted the cover-up for reasons hard to explain, except at best a “don’t rock the boat” mentality.

Thus, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder fired Justice Department paralegal Tamarah Grimes in 2009 when she stepped forward to document what Grimes TamarahGrimesregarded as outrageous conduct by Leura Canary in supervising Siegelman’s prosecution and specific abuses on a near-daily basis. The conduct included vast spending at the Air Force base, according to Grimes, even though Canary supposedly recused herself. Siegelman, Scrushy and their attorneys have never been able to obtain the paperwork on Canary’s supposed “recusal” despite innumerable requests dating back to their trials.

For another thing, the Obama Justice Department vigorously resisted the appeals of Siegelman and Scrushy, just as it did for other obvious victims of the Bush-Rove “U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal” of 2006, whereby up to nine of the nation’s presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys were fired for failing to bring dubious cases and many others were retained under pressure to indict Democrats regarded as having promising futures.

Siegelman, the only politician in Alabama history to win election to all four of the state’s top political offices, had once been regarded as a future presidential contender, in part because his popularity bridged Black and white constituencies.

Remarkably, the Obama-Biden administration kept Alabama’s Leura Canary in her presidential appointed Justice Department post for more than two years after Obama took office, and long after the scandals broke on the 2008 CBS "60 Minutes" broadcast and otherwise.

Then the new Democratic administration replaced her as U.S. attorney (at the suggestion of Alabama’s two Republican senators) with George Beck, left, the former Nick Bailey attorney who was George Beckthus in a perfect position to maintain a cover-up of official misconduct through the end of the Obama-Biden administration.

Before Beck’s confirmation, our Justice Integrity Project published a four-part series documenting why the U.S. Senate should examine Beck’s track record and deny his confirmation. Beck, at age 62 was taking a job normally awarded to a younger attorney, thereby raising questions why he wanted it.

That series had no discernable impact on a self-absorbed Senate and Obama-Biden administration. But it did serve to provide the Bailey-supporting critic Pate with a forum to describe Beck as the worst, most despicable attorney he had ever observed because of his failure to protect his client. Beck, like judge Mark Fuller, declined comment. Fuller would go on to be forced to resign from the federal bench after his arrest for beating his second wife, who had been his court clerk during the Siegelman-Scrushy trial -- yet another curiosity in a trial marred by a host of other irregularities.

The series also enabled Jones to defend his conduct at length, via an email reprinted here:

George is eminently qualified to be US Attorney. He is a veteran lawyer who is respected by judges and lawyers on both sides of the aisle. He will be fair and balanced, and not driven by any political agenda, which is especially important for that particular U.S. Attorney position.

This is not a lifetime appointment. So, I am not concerned at all about his age. I think that office needs a seasoned lawyer with a steady hand regardless of age, and he certainly fits that bill.

With regard to his representation about Nick [Bailey], it is not a question whether he might be conflicted. He will be conflicted from any involvement in the case. I think that the real question will be whether it causes the entire office, including the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted the case, to also be recused. A strong argument can be made that this case is so controversial that the entire office should be recused, and either another U.S. attorney appointed to oversee the case or someone out of Main Justice. That's a decision to be made by the hierarchy at DOJ.

Finally, all I can say about any questions that have after the fact been raised regarding my representation of Gov. Siegelman while also working on a civil matter against Richard Scrushy is that Don was well aware of the civil case and it was never an issue with us and that is all that matters to me. Moreover, as you know I did not represent him at trial due to a trial conflict with another matter and it is the trial where the rubber meets the road with regard to such issues. Scrushy was ultimately dismissed from our case without any settlement or judgment against him.

Any reporter, as this editor was throughout the early part of my career before I became a lawyer and federal judge’s clerk, appreciates the willingness of a news subject to provide comment.

In fairness, the Jones remarks above show that he is confident and facile in his explanations, qualities that have served him very well, as indicated by such stories as the Washington Post report on Dec. 12 suggesting that he had emerged as the leading candidate for the post even compared to former Obama-Biden Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, whose management and relevant leadership is far more recent than the regional office work of Jones during the 1990s. She now works for the law firm King & Spaulding.

Thus far, Jones has been able to leverage his team’s 1990s prosecution of Alabama church-bombing racists who murdered four schoolgirls in 1964. That has provided Jones with an image of civil rights advocacy cited in most news profiles of him that counters the complaints of Black civil rights leaders who are pressuring Biden for a Black attorney general.

But true civil rights advocacy should not focus simply on identity politics and high-profile jobs for Blacks and other minorities. Instead, the Justice Department, courts and prisons need an expert, passionate and non-partisan recommitment to human rights and justice.

The abuses of the Siegelman-Scrushy case were readily apparent to Republicans like Grant Wood and Stan Pate, as well as a host of other observers. In contrast, after Eric Holder’s retirement from leading the Justice Department I asked him about the Siegelman case following a speech he delivered at the Center for American Progress. He told me as walked together after the lecture toward his law office he was not familiar with the Siegelman case.

Bottom line: Doug Jones, well-connected as he might be to his current Senate colleagues, has lived a privileged career, buttressed with some major successes but also not buttressed with the extraordinary qualities needed for these times. There are many posts that a former senator and prosecutor can pursue with dignity but supervising the Justice Department at this time is not one of them.

And if Joe Biden and his new administration fail to see why his former staffer Jones fails this test in such a notorious case as Siegelman’s, which is by no means unique considering the untold tales elsewhere in the legal system, that failure is all the more personal to the incoming president and his party because they would have knowingly picked image over substance.

The stakes are high. And, post-Trump, the public is watching.


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Disclaimer, Rebuttals, Comments, Dates

This column has been updated several times, most recently on Jan. 2, 2021, as described further below. The column is based on extensive reporting, much of it a decade ago. During the initial period especially, we made repeated efforts to elicit comment from the U.S. Justice Department and others mentioned in the reporting. Their most important responses are noted in the opinion column above, in this disclaimer (to be updated with any additional responses), and in the underlying published investigative reports, with the most noteworthy cited below.

As a general matter, opinion columns do not include rebuttals from those mentioned, as noted by former New York Times Op-Ed Page Editor Trish Hall in her authoritative and otherwise excellent 2019 book, Writing To Persuade.

Mark Fuller Phil FlemingIn this instance, however, the Justice Integrity Project strives to go beyond the norm. Thus, the column, updated several times, contains extensive comments from Doug Jones from years ago, and we invited him again for updated responses. In the same spirit, we contacted Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller in his chambers years ago even though reporters do not normally contact judges for comment and we invited him to respond to our reporting. He declined, stating that it was inappropriate for a judge to comment outside of court.

Fuller's role was particularly noteworthy because, beyond being the Siegelman trial judge, a variety of extraordinary claims were being made against him.

Most notably was the 2003 motion by attorney Paul Weeks seeking Fuller's recusal from a case on the basis that Fuller was too corrupt to continue as a judge because of allegations that he orchestrated a $300,000 fraud against Alabama's retirement fund benefiting a former Fuller staffer. That matter was investigated by a Siegelman appointee, state prosecutor and former state judge Gary McAliley, but never criminally prosecuted after the pension fund recovered the money. Fuller did promptly recuse from that case, however, and removed the complaint against him from the federal government's electronic PACER system, thereby preventing such future litigants as Siegelman and Scrushy from knowing about it.

The complaint disclosed another notable aspect of Fuller's career, his role as former CEO of Doss Aviation, a federal contractor that received a $300 million no-bid contract in 2007 to provide federal services, including uniforms for civilian and military personnel and flight training for Air Force pilots. That disclosure, augmented by whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson, would prompt Siegelman and Scrushy to file repeated requests for Fuller's recusal on the basis of an appearance of conflict of interest. Fuller and higher courts rejected all of the requests. 

Also, photo-journalist Phil Fleming told the Justice Integrity Project that the rarely photographed Fuller invited him into chambers just after the Siegelman jury verdict (one of which appears above at right) and that Fleming felt obliged to advise the judge to stop the "Cheshire Cat" smiling, as what Fleming thought inappropriate for the occasion and likely to reflect badly on the judge.

Karl RoveSimilarly, we contacted former Bush White House senior advisor Karl Rove, who similarly declined comment to us via his spokesperson. Rove, shown, at left in an official photo from his White House years, has repeatedly denied elsewhere the substance of Jill Simpson's claims against and any inappropriate involvement in a "U.S. attorney firing scandal," denials that we have repeatedly cited in our reporting. .

We plan also to re-contact former Attorney General Eric Holder to provide an opportunity to amplify his comment about Siegelman and the Grimes firing, among other topics. Jones also will be asked whether he would like to amplify his previous comments, although he addressed the major issues.

To be clear, this column is not intended to cast any aspersions or doubt on the specifics of his representation in the sense of legal ethics or expertise. Siegelman, the client, did not raise such issues, although in his memoir he expressed regret that he and Jones agreed to waive the statute of limitations at the Justice Department's request for what resulted in 55 months of time served in prison.

Instead, the column addresses the high expectations that the public justifiably holds for any cabinet appointee, especially in such a key post as attorney general in the Gary and Judy Whitepost-Trump era, which carries vast influence over such realms as prisons, fair elections, fair competition via antitrust law and official corruption, among other areas.

As one illustration, referencing the Siegelman-Scrushy prosecution, Judy White, shown at right with her husband Gary White, has written eloquently and often about the horrors visited upon her husband and other federal inmates that she observed in visiting him during his 10-year corruption sentence, which she ascribes in large part to selective prosecution against her Republican husband for his refusal to testify falsely against Siegelman.

Those tales fall largely outside the scope of this column, but are certainly within the purview of an attorney general or U.S. senator's staffs -- or anyone one else who cares to research the basics via a Google search or otherwise.

Similar tales are near-endless once one delves into the mechanics of the justice system.

Siegelman's two children, Dana Dana Siegelman(shown at left in a "Free Don" shirt she wore in many speeches and broadcasts in recruiting more than 100,000 Americans to petition President Obama for her father's pardon) and Joseph, below right. He was a recent and unsuccessful Democratic nominee for state attorney general in Alabama. He, like his sister, has tried to keep a public focus in their own way on the shortcomings of the justice system, just as their father did in winning his original bipartisan joseph siegelman cochranpopularity in Alabama as a crusading state attorney general.

At this point, the public has spoken in electing former Vice President Joe Biden and current U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a former California attorney general, to the next administration.

Their choices for high office are under intense public scrutiny by civil rights organizations and others, as indicated below.

The issues go beyond race, but are inevitably connected with that historic legacy, as indicated in part by police brutality scandals, voter suppression in major cities, and street marches and riots initiated by pro-Trump white supremacist groups in cities over the Dec. 13 weekend that included Washington, DC in the East and Washington State in the West.

In that context, it may that the injustices visited upon two white defendants that illustrated a nationwide scandal about the U.S. Justice Department leads to a cabinet choice with the best credentials to improve the justice system.


Editor's Note On Column Updates 

Several updates to the column and appendix below responded to reader questions and other concerns. One was a request to expand the already long column to include a more complete and chronological account of notable events, including the Doug Jones participation and withdrawal from the Siegelman defense team.

Another area of expressed concern involves the reliability and potential bias of criticisms of Jones, including those made by his former law partner, Thomas Gallion, in the latter's memoir and other public statements.

Our response is primarily in this Editor's Note, not in the column's text. First, the column always included a Jones rebuttal to the basic claims long made against him. Also, he was invited via his Senate office to respond to this column. We received "read receipts" from his Senate staff to these open invitations but no actual response. Attorney General Eric Holder was among others who similarly failed to respond with comment. 

Regarding the motives of Gallion, identified in the column as a Republican and a longtime attorney and elected official in Alabama's state capitol, and others, we have sought to put some context around their perspectives without undertaking Wikipedia-length profiles. One reader, for example, voiced suspicion that Gallion as a Republican was trying with his 2020 memoir to thwart either the Jones 2020 Senate re-election bid or a potential cabinet post in a Biden administration.

But that suspicion seems misguided because Gallion has long been a critic of seeming political prosecutions in Alabama, including that of the Democrats milton mcgregorSiegelman and, among others, the late Milton McGregor, right.

Alabama and federal authorities spent a fortune in taxpayer funds, to prosecute McGregor and others on corruption charges in 2011 and 2012 jury trials, without winning a jury conviction on a single count in either trial. 

The highly irregular nature of the prosecution showed no apparent link to Jones, and so was not mentioned in the above column. But it's worth amplifying in this addendum, including with a half dozen 2011 and 2012 news reports added to the appendix below. This added material helps illustrate prosecutorial excesses that have prompted commentators to protest on a non-partisan basis even as national media and oversight bodies remain oblivious.

As background, McGregor owned casino licenses enabling him to run "electronic bingo" or "electronic poker" that functioned somewhat similarly to slot machines. His casino and dog racing complex VictoryLand, shown in an aerial view at left, was based in the small community of Shorter.

It was a bulwark in the economy of Macon County, which encompassed Tuskegee, a largely Black and Democratic city in eastern Alabama. Longtime Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford, a Democrat, was a longtime ally of McGregor.

victorylandAlabama Poarch Creek Indians and Mississippi Choctow Indian casino interests, largely allied with Republicans and a mostly hidden alliance with the Christian Coalition, opposed McGregor and bingo as competition to their own operations to profit from the Alabama gambling market, much as that alliance had opposed Siegelman's drive in 1999 for a state lottery to benefit education.

The massive state-federal enforcement operation a decade ago against McGregor and several allies parallelled that alliance's previous hidden support for the prosecution of Siegelman for the Education Lottery Campaign. McGregor and several allies and lobbyists were indicted on claims that they had bribed legislators.

But juries in two federal trials, 2011 and 2012, failed to convict a single defendant on a single charge.

After the McGregor's second trial, Alabama's Florence Times-Daily published an accounting under the headline: Millions lost in Alabama gambling trial.

The story by Mike Goens reported, "Did the guilty get away with it or did another political witch hunt blow up in the faces of those with an agenda? Either way, between $35 million and $40 million of our tax dollars walked out the door Wednesday with the remaining six defendants in a federal gambling corruption trial." The story said $50 million might be the total cost to taxpayers of the largely unsuccessful prosecution (resulting only in pre-trial guilty pleas of relatively minor players sought as witnesses. 

Our own Justice Integrity Project followed the case closely and published a guest column by Alabama blogger Roger Shuler, Alabama's Bingo Nightmare Is Over, But We Still Need DOJ Accountability. Shuler, a progressive Democrat, began:

One of the most embarrassing episodes in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ended March 7 when a federal jury found that all defendants in the Alabama bingo trial were not guilty. The jury clearly reached the correct verdict -- and after two trials and a months-long, anti-bingo crusade led by former Governor Bob Riley -- citizens might be tempted to say, "Whew, thank God that's over."

But the public should resist such a response, no matter how understandable it might be. That's because officials who were responsible for bringing this bogus case should be held accountable, either through an internal DOJ investigation or a Congressional review. Better yet, we hope the defendants can uncover some uncomfortable truths, and seek significant damages, with one or more massive lawsuits -- perhaps through the civil provisions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

If any of this shines unflattering light on the Obama administration, so be it. The president has either adopted many of George W. Bush's wrong-headed notions on justice -- or turned a blind eye on his predecessor's corrupt activities. So now it's time for Eric Holder (left) and company to "enjoy" some scrutiny under a white-hot light.

Some mention is relevant here also regarding the financing and incentives of the Justice Integrity Project, which was founded in 2010 by five directors seeking to foster in depth scrutiny on a non-partisan basis of questionable prosecutions, such as those initiated against Siegelman and Republican Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, who federal indictment was dismissed under pressure by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in the District of Columbia.

The project is modestly financed and operated and to keep its independence almost never accepts donations aside from its core founders. Only twice has the question of financial contributions regarding Alabama ever occurred.

First, approximately in 2012, McGregor via an intermediary offered to pay the plane fares of two investigative reporters from Washington, including the project's editor, to visit Alabama to inspect documents and discuss them. That invitation was declined by both reporters because the travel reimbursement would roger shulercompromise independence.

The other instance occurred after the blogger Roger Shuler was jailed without bond indefinitely in Shelby County after being beaten up by sheriffs during his surprise arrest on a contempt of court charge because of his columns alleging sex scandal and other corruption involving four prominent Alabama political figures, including Rob Riley, the son of then-governor Bob Riley. Shuler is shown in a mug shot with a black eye stemming from that arrest.

Claud Neilson, below, a judge specially brought out of retirement to investigate Shuler, ordered him held until he agreed to remove the claud neilsonoffending story from his website, Legal Schnauzer. Shuler refused, citing the well-known Supreme Court decision Sullivan v. New York Times, protecting journalists commenting about public officials (ironically those in Alabama) with a high standard immunity for the journalists absent "reckless disregard" for the truth.

National free press and civil liberties groups proved unwilling to do much to help Shuler aside from brief mentions of his plight on some of their new sites.

Meanwhile, he was spending months in jail, with no prospect of legal help or any other ability to resolve a dangerous and perhaps permanent jailing.

Under those circumstances, this editor accepted a $500 donation from a non-Alabama whistleblower who felt sorry for Shuler. The purpose?

To travel to the Birmingham jail (ironically made famous by the Rev. Martin Luther King's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" during his own jailing) to successfully persuade Shuler to swallow his pride and principles and get his story removed from his site. That remove the barrier to his freedom and perhaps even save his life, legally questionable though prior restraint is under the law. 

Shuler's five months of jailing -- and his  loss of his suburban home promptly after release in a bank auction for failure to pay his mortgage while jailed -- is graphic illustration regarding why even a senior Alabama lawyer like Gallion expressed concern about his own future physical safety at the end of the revelations in his memoir, Shadow Government, Southern Style.

"In closing this book," Gallion wrote, "I have to admit my belief that neither I nor anyone else can stop political corruption, but we all should try. God will be the ultimate judge."

Our project does not necessarily agree on facts we can confirm from afar with all of Gallion's roster of honorable and dishonorable officials. But, in the same spirit, we have taken further initiatives by sending links to this column to members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden-Harris Transition team and civil rights leaders for comment in a follow-up, but with scant response.

We do note, with profound sadness and respect, that we learned in the process of sending out this column for comment that the eminent Alabama newspaper editor and court official Robert A. Martin had died in September.

As publisher and editor of the Montgomery Independent and smaller newspapers, he had reprinted our project's long summary of the Siegelman-Scrushy prosecution scandal nearly a decade ago. We at our project, all outsiders to Alabama, felt humbled, honored and inspired that such an insider to the political and legal world in that state would reprint so many thousands of our words to his audiences in the state capital and Millbrook, most notably.

robert martin montgomery independentMartin, right, who began and ended his career as a newspaperman while also serving for many years as an administrator of Alabama's state court system, had started the Montgomery Independent in 1999 to improve civic understanding of public affairs during a period of ever-increasing news cutbacks by mainstream media, according to his obituary, Robert A. Martin, excerpted below at length under the date Sept. 17, 2020.

His commitment to expanded "independent" coverage of Alabama politics was explained also in an impressive feature story in 2017, Martin retires, Montgomery Independent to remain in family, published by the Inside Alabama Politics.

For current purposes, we note that Martin's reasons for returning to journalism after a long career as a court official preview those cited in the founding of the Justice Integrity Project. Inside Alabama Politics quoted some figures involved in this column's coverage, for instance, to cite their admiration for his goals, which reflect also on their own:

Tommy Gallion said that he counts Bob not only as a true friend but one of the great journalists in Montgomery history.

“Bob was one of the last true journalists. He came from a time when facts and citing sources was important. Far from the fake news of today. For Bob it was more important to be right than to be first. In addition to that he has been a true friend of mine for many years,” Gallion said.

In conclusion, we have not advocated for any particular person to be the next attorney general and instead have focused, at least so far, in enabling relevant officials and the wider public to focus on questions about Jones that arose during our previous years of reporting but that seem to be overlooked completely these days in national discourse.

The rest is largely up to public officials and the public officials are sworn to serve.




Who's Who? Chart Prepared by Siegelman Supporters

Siegelman Case Relationship Chart

Related News Coverage (Reverse chronological order)

The listing below samples the hundreds of published or broadcast treatments around the world regarding the injustices of the Siegelman-Scrushy prosecution. The list necessarily focuses heavily for sake of brevity on those published by the Justice Integrity Project and the nationwide broadcast by CBS News "60 Minutes" in 2008

Scott HortonBut several of the early reporters on the case deserve recognition. These include Alabama bloggers Roger Shuler and Glynn Wilson, Washington-based commentator Wayne Madsen, New York Times columnist Adam Cohen, Time Magazine's Adam Zagorin, and Harper's columnist Scott Horton, right, a noted human rights and communications industry lawyer and adjunct professor at Columbia University's Law School. Horton published more than a score a score of investigative columns in Harper's online editions focusing on the U.S. attorney firing scandal and Siegelman-Scrushy case, helping prompt important coverage by the New York Times via commentator Adam Cohen beginning in 2007 (excerpted below) and otherwise.

Horton repeatedly described the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsility, which claims to supervise internal misconduct at the Department, as in fact performing like a "Roach Motel" regarding serious abuses demonstrated in the scandals. "Complaints go in," he wrote in a parody of the iconic pest control ad, "but they don't come out."

That concern illustrates the challenges facing the next U.S. Attorney General leading the department and nation's justice system.


Jan. 8

Alabama Political Reporter, Doug Jones expresses support for next U.S. attorney general, Eddie Burkhalter, Jan. 8, 2021. Jones had been a frontrunner for the AG position, but Wednesday Biden selected Garland to lead the Justice Department.

Former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones on Thursday, the day after rioters supporting President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, threw his support behind President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. attorney general.

“Judge Merrick Garland will bring the integrity, professionalism & dedication to DOJ that is badly needed,” Jones said in a tweet Thursday. “The events of yesterday only underscore the challenges that he & his talented team will face on day 1 & they will need everyone’s support. He & the team certainly have mine.”

Jan. 6

Politico, Biden to tap Merrick Garland for attorney general, Tyler Page, Josh Gertein and Kyle Cheney, Jan. 6, 2021. The pick comes after Democrats appear poised to gain control of the Senate, making the task of finding a replacement for the judge far easier.
Judge Merrick Garland arrives for a meeting in Washington.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to nominate Merrick Garland, Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee, for attorney general, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Ann E. Marimow, Jan. 6, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Merrick B. Garland, a Democratic casualty of the bitter partisan divide in Washington over court nominees, to become the next attorney general, according to people familiar with the decision.

merrick garlandGarland, 68, right, serves as a judge on the federal appeals court in the District. He is best known for being nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016 by President Barack Obama — a nomination that went nowhere because Senate Republicans refused to give him a hearing. The opening on the high court was eventually filled the following year by President Trump’s choice, Neil M. Gorsuch.

Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The intended nomination was first reported Wednesday by Politico.

Many Democrats still think of Garland as a living example of Republican double-standards when it comes to the courts and the law, though some Biden advisers have come to view him as well-suited to restore norms of nonpolitical decision-making at the Justice Department, given his track record as a judge and a former senior official at the department, according to people familiar with the decision.

To some in Biden’s circle, Garland seems like the best choice to restore the Justice Department’s credibility, which eroded under Trump. He enjoys a reputation as a unifying, moderating force on the appeals court, and some Democratic advisers said they view his selection as a signal to congressional Republicans that the department will operate in an evenhanded fashion in the Biden administration.

Karen L. Dunn, a former prosecutor who once clerked for Garland, called him “the perfect choice for this job. He will restore independence and integrity to the Justice Department, be the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer, and will come in with the respect of the career public servant who advance the cause of justice every day.”

Jan. 5

HuffPost, Democratic Senators Urge Joe Biden To Pick Doug Jones For Attorney General, Amanda Terkel, Ryan J. Reilly, and Kevin Robillard, Jan. 2, 2021. huff post logoSen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and 12 other Democratic senators wrote a letter to the Biden transition team recommending their former colleague.

Thirteen Democratic senators have sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden recommending that he choose former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) as his attorney general, according to two congressional sources familiar with the letter.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), right, led the letter, which was also signed by Bob Casey (Pa.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Gary sherrod brown o 2009Peters (Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Jackie Rosen (Nev.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

The senators sent the letter to the Biden transition team just after Christmas. Most of the signatories are considered moderates, though both Brown and Leahy have strong progressive credentials.

“Senator Brown is proud to support Sen. Jones for AG,” a Brown spokesperson wrote in an email to HuffPost.

“Sen. Doug Jones is an honorable public servant who has dedicated his career to the pursuit of justice. Sen. Casey believes that he would be an excellent attorney general,” said Casey spokesman John Rizzo.

The Biden transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

Jones is reportedly one of the top contenders for the prestigious job, along with federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland and former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

Jones, who lost his reelection bid in November, has a long history with Biden. As a law student, Jones introduced the young senator when he spoke at his school. He also worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Biden served, and was co-chair of his 1998 presidential campaign.

In 2017, Biden was one of the few national Democrats who campaigned for Jones in deep-red Alabama. (At the time, Biden joked he would campaign either for or against Jones ― whichever would help him more.)

Jan. 2

Palmer Report, Opinion: President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice, Ron Leshnower, Jan. 2, 2021. As 2021 begins, we await President-elect Joe Biden’s announcement of his pick for Attorney General of the United States. In the meantime, we know one thing is clear: the Department of Justice will finally stop operating as Donald Trump’s personal law firm on January 20. Beginning that day, the DOJ will truly “enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law,” as it purports to have been doing all along according to its own website.

bill palmer report logo headerThe fact that a mission statement that has been violated every day of Trump’s presidency remains today on the DOJ website is no fluke. The Trump administration wants history to remember it kindly. So, it’s also no wonder that as Trump’s failed term comes to a close, the DOJ released a document entitled, “Myths vs Facts About Immigration Proceedings.” This document, an attempt to debunk 29 supposed myths about asylum claims, judicial decisions, and more, accomplishes nothing other than making an even clearer case for why new leadership is urgently needed.

All the falsehoods and gross mischaracterizations have led Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy counsel at the nonpartisan American Immigration Council, to tweet that this new DOJ document amounts to a “stunning admission of the agency’s failures.” Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, slammed the earlier version of this document, calling it “blatantly one-sided political talking points” and questioning why American taxpayers are footing the bill for “such campaign-like tasks.”



Dec. 29

Ilene Proctor International Public Relations, The case against Doug Jones, Andrew Kreig, The Justice Integrity Project, Dec. 29, 2020. My investigative reporting and legal reform organization seeks comment about our new in-depth report about a reputed frontrunner for the Attorney General post, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, whose conduct I have researched off and on for a decade as a reporter.

The new story is excerpted immediately below:

Justice Integrity Project, Sen. Doug Jones As ‘Confirmable’ Biden AG? Bad Idea! Alabama’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones has been reported recently as at the forefront of President-elect Joe Biden’s prospects to lead the Justice Department as U.S. Attorney General.

A closer look at the senator’s career suggests that these supposed strengths do not meet the requirements of the job and are likely to blow up into controversy.

Dec. 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It takes a team to fix the Justice Department, Jennifer Rubin, right, Dec. 27, 2020. jennifer rubin new headshotThe variety and seriousness of the issues facing the next attorney general are daunting and include depoliticizing enforcement and sentencing decisions, diversifying the department’s workforce, enforcing of civil rights and police reform, and making the pardon system more transparent.

President-elect Joe Biden is taking his time, wisely in my view, to find the person whom he can trust to undertake all that while maintaining an appropriate separation between political aides at the White House and the Justice Department.

As Biden put it, there is no “obvious choice” for attorney general.

Each of the leading candidates has deficits. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates, right, may not get confirmed. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) may not have Sally Yatesthe experience to navigate and shake-up the department. Judge Merrick Garland, too moderate for some activists, would open up a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

With no standout pick, Biden may wait until the Georgia Senate races are held on Jan. 5 to assess Yates’s chances in the Senate.

Justice Department log circularGiving himself more time also allows Biden to consider whether there are other candidates for the top job who would combine experience and add diversity. Long-time U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal, New York state attorney general Letitia James, or progressive jurist and Justice Department veteran Nina Pillard from the D.C. Circuit would all fit the bill.

The passage of time also raises new challenges that might require someone with a different background. The stunning cyber-attack we recently learned about underscores the national-security aspect of the job. That would point to someone like Lisa Monaco, who helped vet Biden’s vice presidential candidates. She has decades of experience in the national security realm, both at the White House and at the Justice Department.

The Post also reports that “it is possible that when he reveals his decision, he also will announce picks for deputy attorney general, associate attorney general and solicitor general.” Waiting to announcing a senior team to lead the Justice Department certainly could minimize any gaps or shortcomings Biden’s attorney general pick might have. Garland may seem too moderate to satisfy some progressive civil rights groups, but announcing his name along with, for example, former head of the civil rights division Vanita Gupta as the deputy or associate attorney general would provide reassurance he will move aggressively on civil rights enforcement and police reform.

Dec. 24

washington post logoWashington Post, As Biden zeroes in on attorney general pick, some worry one contender is too moderate on criminal justice issues, Matt Zapotosky and Ann E. Marimow, Dec. 24, 2020. As President-elect Joe Biden seeks an attorney general who can restore public faith in the Justice Department as an independent law enforcement institution while boosting internal morale, merrick garlandfederal appeals court judge Merrick Garland has consistently found himself on the shortlist.

To some legal observers, Garland, right, is an ideal candidate. A former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official who oversaw the case against the Oklahoma City bomber, Garland has the kind of Justice Department experience and credibility many have sought. Famously snubbed by a Republican Senate, which refused to consider his 2016 nomination by President Barack Obama to serve on the Supreme Court, he still enjoys a reputation as a unifying, moderating force on the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and is seen as being easily confirmable by the Senate.

But as Garland draws increasingly serious consideration, some defense lawyers and criminal justice reform advocates say they worry Garland’s record on the bench shows he is too deferential to the government and law enforcement — and perhaps would not be as aggressive about implementing the kind of dramatic changes they had hoped for.

“It’s certainly a safe choice,” said Kevin Ring, the president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a criminal justice advocacy group. “It’s not an inspired choice.”

g. douglas jonesBiden’s attorney general search narrows

Garland is among three people, all former federal prosecutors, who remain under consideration by Biden for the attorney general job, according to people familiar with the discussions. The others are Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), right, who lost his reelection bid, and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.

Dec. 18

Axios Sneak Peak, Analysis: Democrats fret about Garland for A.G, Sam Baker and Alayna Treene, Dec. 18, 2020. If Joe Biden picks Merrick Garland to be his attorney general, he could cost his party control of one of the most important judicial appointments in America — and many Democrats do not want him to take that chance, Axios' Sam Baker and I hear.

merrick garlandHow it works: Biden still hasn't named his choice to lead the Justice Department, and if he taps Garland, right, it would open up his seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. If Democrats don’t win both Georgia Senate runoff elections next month, Mitch McConnell would almost surely prevent the president-elect from filling it.

“Merrick Garland is a great American, but I refuse to believe that Biden would open up a seat on the DC Circuit that McConnell would never fill if we don't prevail in Georgia,” former Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said.

Why it matters: The D.C. Circuit is the venue for many lawsuits against the federal government.

Dec. 17

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary: Does Doug Jones' background include unpleasantness that could turn his confirmation process into a Clarence roger shuler and murphyThomas/Brett Kavanaugh slugfest? (Part Two). Roger Shuler (shown right, with his pet schnauzer in a file photo), Dec. 17, 2020. U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is seen by many as the most confirmable of Joe Biden's possible nominees for U.S. attorney general. But the D.C.-based publisher of the Justice Integrity Project (JIP) hints that a thorough investigation of Jones' past might unearth ugliness that could turn his confirmation process into a lugfest.

Journalist-lawyer-author Andrew Kreig suggests Jones' background might include some unpleasantness that could make his confirmation more difficult than some might imagine:

If any senators from either party dared dig beyond the surface? A confirmation proceeding could well become more explosive than any other in modern times, making the Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh court confirmations seem tame by contrast, and might well tarnish top figures in the Obama-Biden administration for failures to clean up what are reliably reported as shocking levels of official corruption in Alabama in recent years.

It took many years until nearly the present even for [Tommy\ Gallion and [Don] Siegelman to publish 2020 books that penetrate the inherent secrecy of the Justice Department in such sensitive matters.

So, it is no surprise or embarrassment that one of the major Washington Post stories, as of this writing, Biden narrows attorney general list, portrayed Jones as perhaps the most readily confirmable of attorney general candidates because of perceptions that he is a moderate who gets along with most Republicans.

Read further for a deeper view.

Alabama has been riddled with corruption since at least the mid 1990s -- for much of Doug Jones' professional life.

And yet, the junior U.S. senator has done precious little to improve the situation, Kreig reports. In essence, Kreig writes, Jones saw the Alabama swamp and dove right in, splashing around with the swamp rats.

That hardly seems to make him the kind of rock-ribbed reformer that likely will be needed for justice-related positions in the post-Trump era. That, Kreig writes, would make Jones a particularly poor choice as Joe Biden's nominee to be U.S. attorney general.

Dec. 16

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary: Does Doug Jones' past suggest his future should include a role as U.S. attorney general? Roger Shuler, Dec. 16, 2020. Nope, says journalist-lawyer-author Andrew Kreig.

Dec. 14

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s Obama-era Cabinet picks frustrate liberals, civil rights leaders, Seung Min Kim and Annie Linskey, Dec. 14, 2020. His process has also discomforted some allies on the Hill, who say they have not been sufficiently consulted about picks.

Dec. 13

ny times logoNew York Times, Seeking a Diverse Administration, Biden Finds One Group’s Gain is Another’s Loss, Michael D. Shear and Annie Karni, Dec. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The pressure on President-elect Joe Biden is intense, even as his efforts to ensure ethnic and gender diversity already go far beyond those of President Trump. The head of the N.A.A.C.P. had a blunt warning for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. when Mr. Biden met with civil rights leaders in Wilmington this week.

tom vilsack oNominating Tom Vilsack, left, a former secretary of agriculture in the Obama administration, to run the department again would enrage Black farmers and threaten Democratic hopes of winning two Senate runoffs in Georgia, Derrick Johnson told Mr. Biden.

“Former Secretary Vilsack could have a disastrous impact on voters in Georgia,” Mr. Johnson cautioned, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The Intercept. Mr. Johnson said Mr. Vilsack’s abrupt firing of a popular Black department official in 2010 was still too raw for many Black farmers despite Mr. Vilsack’s subsequent apology and offer to rehire her.

Mr. Biden promptly ignored the warning. Within hours, his decision to nominate Mr. Vilsack to lead the Agriculture Department had leaked, angering the very activists he had just met with.

The episode was only one piece of a concerted campaign by activists to demand the president-elect make good on his promise that his administration will “look like America.” In their meeting, Mr. Johnson and the group also urged Mr. Biden to nominate a Black attorney general and to name a White House civil rights “czar.”

Joseph Morrison, Paul Bellar and Pete Musico, identified by a Washington Post analysis, appear in an April 30 photo taken at the Michigan Capitol. (Seth Herald/Reuters)

Joseph Morrison, Paul Bellar and Pete Musico, identified by a Washington Post analysis from center to right, respectively, appear in an April 30 group photo taken of armed protesters at the Michigan Capitol. (Seth Herald/Reuters)

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Sedition and insurrection: Trump channels ghost of Aaron Burr, Wayne Madsen (below left, author wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallof 18 books, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer and National Security Agency analyst), Dec. 11, 2020.

In challenging the constitutional presidential victory of Joe Biden, Donald Trump and his federally- and state-elected supporters are engaged in much more than sedition and insurrection against the government and Constitution of the United States.

They are pushing for one-party rule for a political party that has become a full-blown fascist movement. It is the party that insists on calling itself the Republican Party, but is no more than an anti-democratic fascist bloc of racists, neo-Nazis, Qanon conspiracy kooks, armed private militias, and Christian Dominionists poised to eliminate free and fair elections in the United States and institute a dictatorship.

Setting aside the Civil War, which represented sedition and insurrection on a massive scale, Trump's antics in his final days in office are more akin to the experiences of Aaron Burr. The seditious treason against the United States being committed by Trump and his associates is very much overt, as can be witnessed on television and social media.

thomas jefferson rembrandt Peale 1800Thomas Jefferson, right, and Aaron Burr were elected president and vice president, respectively, in 1800, defeating incumbent president John Adams. Jefferson grew wary of his vice president's intentions and dropped him from the ticket in 1804. A group of opposition Federalists, the party that included Adams and Alexander Hamilton, attempted to woo Burr into their party. That idea was rejected by Hamilton, who told a New York newspaper that he "looked upon Mr. Burr to be a dangerous man, and one who ought not to be trusted with the reins of government." Apparently, Hamilton had some other, more personal, descriptive phrases for Burr. In response, Burr demanded an apology from Hamilton. Hamilton refused, whereupon Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel.

david stewart burr coverOn July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York, Burr and Hamilton carried out their duel. Hamilton deliberately fired his gun into the air, not wishing to harm Burr. However, Burr was out for blood and he discharged his gun toward Hamilton. Hamilton was fatally wounded and he died from his injuries the next day in New York. Burr was charged by the states of New York and New Jersey with multiple crimes, including murder. They were later dropped. Burr instantly became a political pariah.

Burr (portrayed on the cover of a biography by David Stewart), who was still vice president, traveled to Virginia, where he met with U.S. Army General James Wilkinson, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army in New Orleans and the Governor of the Louisiana Territory. Williamson, who was an agent-of-influence for the Kingdom of Spain, and Burr plotted to establish an independent republic in Louisiana and surrounding territories.


Burr and the Confederacy set the stage for the conspiratorial sedition we are witnessing today with Trump and politicians in some of the same states that were involved as territories in the Burr plot and as states in the Confederate secession.

In order to purge Trumpists and their fascist allies from the government, the Biden administration should think about creating a modern-day version of the 1947 United States Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations (AGLOSO) and include it on all federal employment and national security clearance application forms.

The list [recreated with more than 50 current possibilities below in this column, ranging from the 211 Bootboys at the beginning and ending with Women for Aryan Unity] could also be adopted by state, county, and municipal governments.

Although the original AGLOSO, also known as the Biddle List, unfairly singled out left-wing and progressive groups and ignored fascist-oriented right-wing groups like the John Birch Society, a new AGLOSO could concentrate on right-wing groups that have already been singled out by the FBI as the most dangerous terrorist threats to the American people. Ironically, it was President Richard Nixon, a product of the Red-baiting days of J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), who abolished the AGLOSO in 1974.

Every person who joined the military or federal government prior to 1974 recalls the AGLOSO, which was listed in fine print on the reverse side of employment applications, recruitment forms, and security clearance forms

Dec. 12

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden narrows attorney general list, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Matt Viser, Dec. 12, 2020 (print ed.). The search for the next attorney general has become more focused on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and former deputy attorney general Sally Q. Yates, according to people familiar with the discussions, who said that appeals court Judge Merrick B. Garland remains a serious contender.

doug jones senatePresident-elect Joe Biden’s search for the next attorney general is increasingly focused on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and former deputy attorney general Sally Q. Yates, according to people familiar with the discussions, who said that appeals court judge Merrick B. Garland remains a serious contender.

Jones, who lost his reelection bid in November, is the favorite at this stage, but Biden and his inner circle continue to debate the nomination, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

It is increasingly unlikely, these people said, that former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick will be selected to become the nation’s top law enforcement official. People familiar with the discussions said in recent days that the discussions of the three other candidates have increasingly shifted toward the likelihood of confirmation in the Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans. On that question, Jones is viewed as having an edge over Yates, according to the people familiar with the discussions.

The search for the next attorney general

With Jones’s stock on the rise, some civil rights leaders have privately expressed some reservations to members of Biden’s inner circle in recent days about whether his record on criminal justice reform and civil rights is sufficient. As a U.S. attorney in Alabama in the Clinton administration, Jones famously prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan who bombed a Black church in Birmingham in 1963, killing four girls. The case had been stymied by then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, but was resuscitated in 1971 and then again in 1993 at the urging of civil rights leaders.

james clyburnHouse Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), left, recently cited that case in praising Jones to the website Cheddar.

“Decades they walked around free after bombing that church and killing those four Black girls. [Jones] prosecuted them and got them convicted,” Clyburn said. “You don’t have to be Black to do right by Black people.”

But — publicly and privately in conversations with those close to Biden — some civil rights leaders have suggested the case does not, by itself, demonstrate the kind of proven track record on civil rights and criminal justice reform they would like to see in an attorney general.

Biden selects Rep. Fudge to lead HUD

“I would never look at one case for anyone to determine the full measure of their record on civil rights or criminal justice reform,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “I think if you’re looking at the full measure of their record, it’s legitimate to ask how broad that record is in the matters that are of most interest to activists and communities of color around the country.”

As a senator, Jones sponsored voting rights legislation and co-sponsored the bipartisan criminal justice reform First Step Act. He also successfully passed legislation calling for the release of records about unsolved criminal civil rights cases, and he struck a deal to permanently renew annual federal funding for historically Black colleges and universities.

Some civil rights leaders have privately expressed concern that Jones voted to proceed on a Republican police reform bill, led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), that Democrats and the civil rights community saw as too weak. Jones was only one of two Senate Democrats to break with his party, along with Joe Manchin III (W.Va.). Jones’s vote, though, was only procedural. He told WBUR radio at the time that he would not vote to pass it “as is” but wanted to bring the bill to the floor for debate, where “the American people would have seen the flaws” in it.

Asked about the possibility of a Jones nomination, one civil rights leader speaking on condition of anonymity said: “Nobody’s going to be jumping up and down with enthusiasm,” but added, “I don’t know if people would be jumping up and down with opposition either.”

A spokeswoman for Jones declined to comment.

Several civil rights leaders have publicly expressed a preference for a Black attorney general. Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said that in addition to scrutinizing the attorney general pick, he was focused on the entire slate of senior officials that Biden will pick to run the Justice Department.

“I’ve made that point privately, repeatedly, that the attorney general is crucial, but the team is crucial,” he said.

To that end, people familiar with the discussions said the incoming administration has increasingly focused in recent days on finding Black candidates to nominate for other Justice Department jobs, as it appears likely that Biden’s attorney general pick will be White.

Ifill has publicly expressed support for Yates, and other civil rights leaders have seemed to give her a tacit endorsement — noting that familiarity with the inner workings of the Justice Department was an important criterion to them. That would not seem to apply to Jones or the other person still under consideration, Garland, as both of their experience in the Justice Department was from long ago.

Sally YatesYates has more-recent and extensive history on civil rights and criminal justice reform. As the Justice Department’s No. 2 official at the end of the Obama administration, she ordered the shutdown of private prisons under the department’s control, pushed for ending the use of solitary confinement and helped implement sentencing reform. She was also generally viewed inside the building as an advocate for prosecuting police officers who committed misconduct.

According to people familiar with the matter, when a dispute erupted among the department’s Civil Rights Division and federal prosecutors in New York about whether to bring charges against the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Yates sided with the Civil Rights Division, which wanted to proceed with a case. Ultimately, though, Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave the green light to proceed so late in her tenure that the case fell to the next administration, and officials under Attorney General William P. Barr closed it without bringing any charges.

Yates, though, also has detractors, and her confirmation could be a bruising fight. Senate Republicans have scrutinized Yates and others’ supervision of the FBI’s probe of President Trump’s 2016 campaign — recently calling her to testify publicly about the matter — and Trump has attacked her as having “zero credibility.”

A new issue emerged this week that could complicate the confirmation process for whichever candidate Biden chooses — the disclosure of a two-year investigation of the incoming president’s son, Hunter Biden, into whether he paid taxes on China-related business dealings. Already, some Republicans are calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed to handle the investigation.

Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, called the Hunter Biden case “the first big test” of President-elect Biden’s pledge to reestablish the independence of the Department of Justice.” Mintz said the next attorney general will face “the daunting task of how to manage a highly politically charged investigation of an immediate member of the president’s family while attempting to maintain the appearance of autonomy and lack of political influence in the ­decision-making.”

Dec. 10

washington post logoWashington Post, Doug Jones is on Biden’s attorney general list, along with Sally Yates, Merrick Garland and Deval Patrick, Matt Viser, Matt Zapotosky and Amy B Wang, Dec. 10, 2020 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden’s top advisers have asked at least one outside advocacy group for input about Sen. Doug Jones as a potential attorney general, one indication that his team is giving serious consideration to the Alabama Democrat as the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Biden is not expected to make a decision this week, prolonging the debate both inside and outside his transition team over what will be one of the highest-profile roles in his administration. It has sent the wider legal and political worlds into a frenzy, with Biden’s close-knit advisers keeping a tight lid on their decision-making process amid widespread interest over who will lead a consequential department whose morale has plummeted under an assault from President Trump.

It also has extended questions about the diversity of Biden’s Cabinet, as a range of groups press him to name a Black attorney general in the aftermath of a national racial reckoning on race that Biden has vowed to systematically address.

merrick garlandAt least four candidates remain under serious consideration for the position, according to two people familiar with the decision-making process who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about internal discussions. In addition to Jones, top Biden advisers are eyeing former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, left, and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. All but Patrick are White.

Jones, who lost his reelection bid in November, has a record that has impressed some civil rights groups. Allies have pointed to his time as a U.S. attorney, which included the prosecution two decades ago of Ku Klux Klan members for the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church in which four young Black girls were killed.

In what has become another vital component during Biden’s selection of nominees, Jones has a long-standing relationship with the president-elect, dating back to 1978 when Biden went to Alabama to speak at Cumberland School of Law at Samford University and was introduced by a young Jones.

Jones later worked with Biden on the Senate Judiciary Committee and was the Alabama co-chair of Biden’s short-lived 1988 presidential campaign.

Dec. 8

National Public Radio via WFDD, Next Attorney General Must Lead 'Salvage Operation' At Justice, Insiders Say, Staff report, Dec. 8, 2020. Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates delivers an address at Harvard Law School in May 2017.

Veterans of the Justice Department are waiting with anticipation for President-elect Joe Biden to unveil his choice to serve as attorney general, a decision that has weighty consequences for civil rights and public confidence in the troubled department.

A prospective top Justice Department nominee is expected before Christmas, a transition spokesperson said Monday — a trajectory that would make the person last to be named among the "Big Four" Cabinet offices, together with the leaders of the Treasury, State and Defense departments.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are making diversity in ethnicity and ideology a top priority, which has extended their deliberations, as has the closely divided Senate they expect to inherit in January.

The Department of Justice stands at the center of questions of enormous public interest, from investigations into racial discrimination and excessive force by law enforcement to rooting out corruption within state and federal government.

Another looming issue is whether and how a new administration might investigate President Trump, his family members and Cabinet officials. Trump faces serious legal questions in federal, state and local investigations.

Sept. 17

robert martin montgomery independentMontgomery Independent, Obituary: Robert A. Martin, Staff report, Sept. 17, 2020. Robert A. Martin, age 79, former editor and publisher of the Montgomery Independent passed away on Sept 15, 2020 after an extended illness. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, four children: Jeffrey Archer Martin (Betsy) of Montgomery, AL.; Jennifer Martin Cargile of Denver, CO.; James Douglas Martin of Montgomery, AL.; Jeremy Willis Martin (Anthea) of Denver, CO.; and ten grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents Calvin Grady Martin and Lou Sellie Box Martin.

Martin (shown at right in a Montgomery Independent photo) began his newspaper career with The Florence Times of Florence, Alabama, now known as The Times Daily, while attending Florence State University, now the University of North Alabama (UNA). As a college student, Marin began in the mail room, worked in circulation and started covering high school football games. He became a sports reporter and eventually sports editor. He continued to advance at The Times ultimately becoming its executive editor.

In 1972 Martin, with family in tow, followed newly elected Chief Justice Howell Heflin to Montgomery where he began a 25-year career with the Administrative Office of the Courts working under Chief Justice Heflin, C.C. “Bo” Torbert, Sonny Hornsby and Perry Hooper, Sr. Martin earned his Juris Doctor from Jones School of Law in 1989.

Throughout his career in both the newspaper business and as director of the courts, Martin became friends with and met many important figures, not the least of which was President John Kennedy. He also wrote many interesting stories about famous people in Alabama and the south. One of those was Buford Pusser, the sheriff depicted in the famous movie Walking Tall. Pusser was the Sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee, not far from Florence.

While at the AOC, Bob played vital role in passing the Judicial Article, which unified and standardized the public’s interaction with Alabama Courts. After spending 25 years working for the State of Alabama, Martin felt a call to continue his first career, the news business. Martin purchased The Montgomery Independent in March, 1997 and soon after retired from the State of Alabama to dedicate all of his time to the publication. His primary goal as editor and publisher of the Montgomery Independent was to remain dedicated to covering the community affairs, especially those events that received little or no attention from other media outlets.

Martin’s weekly editorial was syndicated in other newspapers throughout the state and was a regular guest on Alabama Public Television’s For the Record and Capitol Journal. One area of excellence for the newspaper under Martin’s leadership was state government reporting and opinion. Martin worked diligently to provide a variety of commentary related to state issues, which became a hallmark of the newspaper along with its reporting of local society events and the coverage of high school sports.

Bob served as President of the Alabama Press Association (APA) Journalism Foundation in 2008. Felicia Mason, Executive Director of the APA remembers Martin’s service to the foundation. “Bob has provided sound leadership to APA through his service on the APA Board and as president of the APA Journalism Foundation. His interest in journalism education helped countless students through the grants, internships and scholarships offered through the Foundation. He was a staunch advocate for programs supporting high school journalism and for the Newspapers In Education programs, which provided newspapers to classrooms throughout the State.”

Martin often said he cherished the time he spent with the state and is especially proud of his long, ongoing efforts to improve the justice system in Alabama, “My time with the Courts was very rewarding and exciting, but my first love was always newspapering,” Martin said using one of his favorite phrases. Martin was a member of the U.S Army Reserve Unit in Sheffield, the Fighting 336th Army APU.

Further background:

Inside Alabama Politics, Martin retires, Montgomery Independent to remain in family, Staff report, Aug. 8, 2017. Owner and longtime publisher of The Montgomery Independent, Robert A. Martin has retired. Over the last several years Bob has been gradually passing the duties of running the newspaper to his oldest son, Jeff Martin. Effective August 1, Bob decided to complete the handover.

While at the AOC [Administrative Office of the Courts], Bob played a vital role in passing the Judicial Article, which unified and standardized the public’s interaction with Alabama courts. Having the same form in Huntsville courts and Mobile courts may seem like a no-brainer today, but for many years it wasn’t that organized.

“It was while he was working for Chief Justice Heflin when I first met Bob. He had worked on what became a constitutional amendment to create the unified judicial system, which as far as I am concerned has been an outstanding example of a judicial system. Any kind of judiciary is going to have its shortcomings but the system our state created is second to none in the United States, and Bob played a big part in that. Bob has been a friend of mine and a servant to the people of Alabama. Now that he has decided to retire, I think he deserves the rest,” said longtime Circuit Judge and former state Senator Jerry Fielding.

Martin said he cherishes the time he spent with the state and is especially proud of his long, ongoing efforts to improve the justice system in Alabama. “My time with the Courts was very rewarding and exciting, but my first love was always “newspapering,”’ Martin said using one of his favorite phrases.

After spending 25 years working for the State of Alabama, Bob felt a call to continue his first career, the news business. Martin purchased The Montgomery Independent in March, 1997 and soon after retired from the State of Alabama to dedicate all of his time to the publication.

His primary goal as editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent was to remain dedicated to covering community affairs, especially those events that received little or no attention from other media outlets. Martin’s weekly editorial was syndicated in other newspapers throughout the state and he appeared regularly on Alabama Public Television’s For the Record and Capitol Journal.

One area of excellence for the newspaper under Martin’s leadership was state government reporting and opinion. Martin worked diligently to provide a variety of commentary related to state issues, which became a hallmark of the newspaper along with its reporting of local society events and the coverage of high school sports.

In 2003 he founded another newspaper, The Millbrook Independent, along with Art Parker, who was also serving as the sports editor of The Montgomery Independent. That publication enjoyed more than a dozen years of success until the company sold it in 2015 and Parker returned to the Montgomery paper. Today Parker serves as editor and handles the day-to-day operations of The Montgomery Independent.

Bob served as President of the Alabama Press Association (APA) Journalism Foundation in 2008. Felicia Mason, Executive Director of the APA remembers Martin’s service to the foundation.

“Bob has provided sound leadership to APA through his service on the APA Board and as president of the APA Journalism Foundation. His interest in journalism education helped countless students through the grants, internships and scholarships offered through the Foundation. He was a staunch advocate for programs supporting high school journalism and for the Newspapers In Education programs, which provided newspapers to classrooms throughout the state.”

In addition to his many professional acquaintances some have become close, dear friends. Retired Clerk of the Alabama Supreme Court Robert Esdale is one such person.

“I consider Bob Martin one of the real pluses in my life. He is a dear friend and a fellow Atlanta Braves fanatic. He and I had season tickets to the Atlanta Braves for more than 20 years,” Esdale said.

Longtime Montgomery lawyer Tommy Gallion said that he counts Bob not only as a true friend but one of the great journalists in Montgomery history.

“Bob was one of the last true journalists. He came from a time when facts and citing sources was important. Far from the fake news of today. For Bob it was more important to be right than to be first. In addition to that he has been a true friend of mine for many years,” Gallion said.


Alabama Public Radio, Don Siegelman, author of "Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation,” Don Noble, July 1, 2020. As his second trial was coming to an end, Governor Siegelman wanted to testify on his own behalf. His lawyers, certain the state had not made its case and the governor would be acquitted, persuaded him not to.

don siegelman stealing our democracy CustomSiegelman’s brother Les disagreed.

“Don, it’s a mistake. You need to tell your side of the story. The jurors need to hear it from you. You’ll be believable…. you have to testify.”

Siegelman had been acquitted after a previous (2004) trial which involved Dr. Philip Bobo and the Alabama Fire College. Now there was a new indictment on bribery and obstruction charges. The trial had gone on from May of 2006 until the Friday before the fourth of July. The jury, which had been sequestered—really unnecessarily considering this was a white-collar trial—for ten weeks, could not reach a verdict after six days of deliberation.

The judge, Mark Fuller told them: “Look, I’ve been appointed for life. I can keep you here until next July if I want to. Bring me a verdict or a partial verdict.”

Siegelman was found guilty. There were appeals and even a new trial but he finally served a sentence of over five years in federal prisons, a sentence longer than many violent criminals in Alabama would serve for heinous crimes. He was forbidden to communicate with the press. Much of it was in solitary confinement.

Released from custody at the age of 71, Siegelman now at 73 is telling his story. It is a raw story, taking place over a space of 14 years, written in anguish over his own suffering and the suffering of his wife and children. It is frightening to see the immensity of the power of federal prosecutors and what determined prosecutors, with a political agenda, can do to ruin a rising political star, the state’s first New South governor, the state’s lone successful Democratic politician.


June 15

Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation

Author: Don Siegelman
Publisher: NewSouth Books
Pages: 320
Price: $28.95 (Cloth)

"Stealing Our Democracy will make you cry -- and cry out for integrity in our justice system. A call to action" 

       -- Andrew Kreig, author, attorney and director of the Justice Integrity Project.

John FarmerThe two others providing rear cover comments were Thom Hartmann, "America's #1 progressive talk show host and New Yok Times bestselling author," and John J. Farmer Jr., right, "Former New Jersey attorney general; former dean, Rutgers Law School; law professor and director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers."


May 24

Shadow Government, Southern Style: A Saga of Political Corruption From DC to Dixie

thomas gallion book coverAuthor: Thomas T. Gallion III (Author), Van English (Editor)
Publisher: Independent 
Pages: 265
Price: $24.99 (Paperback)

Told in the distinctive voice of a seasoned Alabama attorney, this book weaves many a sordid tale of politics and political figures — local, state, and federal — gone awry, beginning with the murder of Alabama's newly elected Attorney General in the 1950s and stretching into the shady shenanigans of recent times. The author includes many personal stories of his most interesting and challenging clients. This is a must-read for anyone interested in what goes on behind the curtain.

From Haskell Slaughter's website: Tommy Gallion is the senior member in the firm's Montgomery, Alabama office, where he maintains an extensive practice in civil litigation, employment law and local government law. Mr. Gallion has been frequently involved in high-profile litigation with substantial media coverage. He has successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of civil cases, including litigation involving securities fraud, insurance receiverships, sports law and municipal law. In addition, Mr. Gallion has served as County Attorney for Montgomery County, Alabama since 1985 and also represents the Montgomery Industrial Development Board. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Gallion has been active in civic and community affairs in Montgomery. He has served as Chair of the Boards of Directors of the Montgomery Central YMCA and Downtown Montgomery Unlimited and as a director of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, the Montgomery Area Boy Scouts, the Montgomery Area Boys Club and Catholic Charities of Montgomery, among others. In addition, he serves as a director of Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society and has previously served as Assistant Securities Commissioner of the State of Alabama, as an analyst for the Alabama Legislative Reference Service, and as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Alabama. He practiced for a number of years with his own firm, which merged with Haskell Slaughter in 1986.



Justice Integrity Project, Businessman, Siegelman Co-Defendant, DOJ Victim Richard Scrushy To Provide Litigation Lessons In DC July 29, Andrew Kreig, July 24, 2015. Richard Scrushy, the founder and former Richard Scrushy Book CoverCEO of HealthSouth, Inc. and co-defendant in one of the most widely condemned federal prosecutions in recent U.S. history, will share his hard-won insights July 29 on Capitol Hill and at a National Press Club dinner. Scrushy, still an entrepreneur and now also an author and motivational speaker, speaks on the opening day of the annual Whistle Blowers Summit to advise others on coping with the legal hardships that many whistleblowers must endure. Later, he talks to the National Press Club’s McClendon Group.

Along with advice, Scrushy provides his take on the long prison terms he and Siegelman have endured. They were from  corruption charges stemming from 1999 actions despite gross courtroom irregularities and unprecedented nationwide protests by legal experts. Siegelman is scheduled for release in mid-2017. Scrushy was convicted solely for what he describes as a $250,000 HealthSouth donation much like that of several other big Alabama companies. It was to defray the costs of a failed 1998 referendum to increase state funding for K-12 schools with state lottery proceeds. He says prosecutors won their case by exaggerating the donation’s size, source, destination, and purpose – and pressuring their star witness into a false testimony motivated by the serious charges he faced in another case. Scrushy received a 78-month term from federal trial judge Mark Fuller, who has since become so scandal-ridden that he resigns his lifetime post Aug. 1.

U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte & Conyers Statement on Judge Fuller Resignation, June 3, 2015. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), left, issued the following statement on the resignation of Middle District of Alabama Judge Mark Fuller, who was arrested in August 2014 for physically assaulting his wife in a hotel room in Atlanta, Georgia, a violation of state criminal law.</p>

john conyers“It is a rare occasion when the U.S. Congress impeaches a federal judge and removes the accused from the bench, but it is a necessary tool to protect the integrity of our judicial system.
“However, the House Judiciary Committee was prepared to initiate impeachment proceedings against Judge Fuller pending the recommendation of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and the Committee strongly encouraged the courts to expedite the investigation into Judge Fuller’s misconduct.
“When it became clear that the 11th Circuit would issue an order that Judge Fuller’s conduct could constitute grounds for impeachment, Judge Fuller decided to resign in shame. Once his resignation becomes effective, he will not qualify for either a judicial salary or be eligible for a judicial pension.  If Judge Fuller does not resign on August 1st, as stated in his resignation letter, the House Judiciary Committee will consider whether impeachment is warranted once the Judicial Conference issues its final report.”

Background: The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power and responsibility to impeach federal judges and the Senate the power to remove the accused from office after a fair and impartial hearing.
In December 2014, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers sent a letter to Chief Judge Ed Carnes and Judge Gerald Tjoflat of the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit regarding the status of the investigation of Judge Fuller and the anticipated timeline for completion of the required comprehensive written report to the Circuit’s Judicial Council.
The Judicial Council of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit has now concluded their investigation and issued an order that found Judge Fuller’s conduct ‘might constitute one or more grounds for impeachment under article II of the Constitution.’  This recommendation has been sent to the Judicial Conference of the United States which makes the final recommendation to Congress.

Judge Mark FullerLegal Schnauzer, Mark Fuller was the face of a system that allowed shadowy characters, like Bob Riley, to avoid scrutiny, Roger Shuler, June 3, 2015. The resignation of U.S. judge Mark Fuller likely is seen, for now, as the byproduct of a domestic-violence case.

But the story goes much deeper than that.In many ways, Fuller, right, was the face of a "justice system" that went badly off the tracks during the George W. Bush administration — and has remained off track under Barack Obama and his hapless attorney general, Eric Holder.

Our system is designed to prosecute crimes, but under Bush, it began to prosecute people — especially those who happened to be Democrats.

Legal Schnauzer, Order released today by Eleventh Circuit shows that Fuller was staring down the barrel at impeachment, Roger Shuler, June 1, 2015. A judicial panel today issued an order saying the conduct of Alabama federal judge Mark Fuller might "constitute one or more grounds for impeachment." That means Fuller was facing serious consequences when he announced his resignation last Friday, in the wake of his arrest last summer on domestic-abuse charges.

Justice Integrity Project, Siegelman Hearing Scheduled Jan. 13 As 'Solitary' Continues, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 12, 2015. A federal appeals court in Atlanta hears on Jan. 13 the latest appeal of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, one of the nation’s leading political prisoners.

Justice Integrity Project, Shackled Siegelman Typifies White House ‘Human Rights’ Charade, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 29, 2014. Federal authorities continued this month their remarkably harsh, unjust treatment of the nation’s most famous political prisoner. The U.S. legal jihad against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman continued even as the Obama administration separately cited “human rights” as the rationale for new U.S. sanctions and other interventions overseas. Authorities shackled Siegelman during his Dec. 15 court appearance in the state capital of Montgomery, denied his request for release on bond during appeal, and reportedly are keeping him in solitary confinement over the holidays so far in a county jail while he awaits an appellate hearing next month.  The Obama administration’s hypocrisy is thus displayed as it continues Bush-Clinton policies of citing “human rights” abuses elsewhere around the world as an excuse to foment revolutions, covert paramilitary actions, and propaganda campaigns on multiple continents, including secret operations to influence United States voters



Mark Fuller Mug ShotAssociated Press via ABC News, 11th Circuit Files Complaint Against Alabama Federal Judge Mark Fuller, Staff report, Aug. 20, 2014. U.S. Circuit Judge Gerald Tjoflat, acting as the chief judge of the 11th Circuit, sent U.S District Judge Mark Fuller, shown in a mug shot, a complaint following his arrest to begin the judicial discipline process outlined under federal law, Fuller's attorney, Barry Ragsdale said.

While federal judges serve lifetime appointments and can be removed only through impeachment, legal experts say they also are subject to administrative procedures that can result in censure, reprimands or a request for their resignation. Fuller has three weeks to respond to the complaint by Tjoflat.

Above the Law, Clerkships, Crime, Federal Judges, Sex, Sex Scandals, Violence, Staci Zaretsky, Aug. 15, 2014. Federal Judge Accused Of Beating His Wife Allegedly Has Sleazy History With Women. Earlier this week, we brought our readers the sordid tale of Judge Mark Fuller, a federal jurist facing allegations of domestic violence brought by his wife, Kelli Fuller.

The good judge is also accused of having an affair with one of his law clerks. Today, we’ve got some additional details about Judge Fuller’s history as an alleged lawyerly Lothario, as well as some updates in the case against him, including the transcript of the 911 call made by his wife during the course of the alleged assault.

Judge Fuller’s marriage to his ex-wife, Lisa Boyd Fuller, was allegedly rife with troubles, ranging from adultery to abuse to addiction. His alleged affair with his then-deputy may have contributed to his divorce from his former wife; check out the Request for Admissions that was filed during the course of the divorce, posted on the next page. (Judge Fuller requested that the records be sealed shortly after the shocking document was made public.)

Legal Schnauzer, Alabama Federal Judge Who Was Charged With Assaulting Wife Has Faced Charges Of Domestic Abuse In The Past, Roger Shuler, Aug. 11, 2014. Quite a few Americans probably were shocked to learn that a federal judge from Alabama was arrested over the weekend on charges of assaulting his wife in an Atlanta hotel room.

But to those who have closely followed the career of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller (Middle District of Alabama), the charges are not a surprise. During a 2012 divorce from his first wife, Fuller faced allegations of domestic abuse, extramarital affairs, driving under the influence, abuse of prescription medications, and more. Why is that not well known among the public?

Here is the likely reason: Lisa Boyd Fuller filed for divorce on May 10, 2012, and her complaint and interrogatories quickly found their way into the Alabama press. The complaint was fairly mild, but the interrogatories raised all sorts of unsavory issues about the judge. Mark Fuller's lawyer then requested that the file be sealed, and an Alabama state judge granted the request, even though divorce records generally are considered public records.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Federal judge arrested in Atlanta; accused of assaulting wife, Chris Joyner, Aug. 10, 2014. Atlanta police arrested a federal judge Saturday evening on charges that he assaulted his wife. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller was charged with misdemeanor battery and taken to the Fulton County jail around 2:30 Sunday morning.

Fuller, 55, is a judge in the Middle District of Alabama and presided over the 2006 bribery trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.  According to Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones, officers spoke to Fuller’s wife, “who stated she was assaulted by her husband.” Fuller’s wife, who was not named by police, was treated by paramedics but refused treatment at a hospital.



Justice Integrity Project, Supreme Court Denies Siegelman, Scrushy Appeals, Andrew Kreig, June 4, 2012. True to recent form, the U.S. Supreme Court denied relief June 4 to former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges. This sets the stage for Siegelman's reimprisonment in the most notorious federal political prosecution and frame-up of the decade.

richard scrushy fileThe court denied without comment the certiorari petition of Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy, right, former CEO of HealthSouth, Inc.

In 2007, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller sentenced them to seven-year prison terms on multiple charges from Siegelman's solicitation of donations from Scrushy in 1999 for the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation. Siegelman supported the foundation's initiatives to increase school funding with a state lottery over the opposition of a Republican-orchestrated coalition.

Florence Times-Daily (Alabama), Millions lost in Alabama gambling trial, Mike Goens, March 11, 2012. Did the guilty get away with it or did another political witch hunt blow up in the faces of those with an agenda? Either way, between $35 million and $40 million of our tax dollars walked out the door Wednesday with the remaining six defendants in a federal gambling corruption trial.

All six, as well as fellow defendants who were acquitted in 2011 during the first trial, were found not guilty Wednesday. By the way, some estimate as much as $50 million was spent on investigating and prosecuting the defendants, which included a casino owner, former and current state legislators, lobbyists and others.

In trying to answer the question posed above, it seems logical this case is another example of a political witch hunt gone bad....You know, $35 million could pay for a nice prison in a state so financially strapped that many convicts will likely be released early because it cannot afford to house them. Imagine that, building a new prison for real criminals instead of wasting money on a political agenda.

Don’t underestimate the financial losses and attacks on personal reputations that defendants suffered in this case. The government doesn’t have to worry about those individuals. Prosecutors can go on to the next case without any financial obligation. It’s unfair at best.

WHNT-TV NEWS 19 of Huntsville, Alabama, The jury has announced verdicts in the state bingo trial, March 7, 2012. The jury found all defendants NOT guilty of all charges. The defendants are Milton McGregor, lobbyist Tom Coker, former State Senator Larry Means, Senator Jim Preuitt, Senator Harri Anne Smith and Jay Walker. All are now cleared.

Montgomery Advertiser, Gambling trial defendant Crosby found dead, Sebastian Kitchen, Jan. 30, 2012. Joseph "Ray" Crosby, one of seven remaining defendants in a federal corruption case tied to gambling in Alabama, died Sunday just a day before they were scheduled to begin the second trial in the case.The Montgomery Police Department confirmed Sunday night that it "is conducting a death investigation after Joseph Ray Crosby was found dead in his residence late Sunday afternoon," according to an email from Sgt. R.L. Duckett. "

The cause and manner of death were scheduled to be in court today for the start of jury selection in their second trial. The judge scheduled jury selection to begin at 9 a.m.Crosby, who went through a messy divorce during his legal troubles, faced one remaining bribery charge. The judge dropped the other 12 charges against Crosby and, during the trial that ended in August, the jury could not reach a unanimous decision on that outstanding bribery charge against Crosby. The jury did not find any of the defendants guilty of the more than 120 counts against them during the 10-week trial, and two of the defendants were found not guilty of all of the charges against them. The judge declared a mistrial on the other 33 counts on which the jury could not reach a unanimous decision.

Justice Integrity Project, Alabama Gambling Leader Claims DOJ Misconduct; Top Prosecutor Quits, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 20, 2012. Facing retrial Jan. 30 on federal corruption charges, Alabama’s top promoter of legalized gambling alleges that the elite Justice Department unit prosecuting him illegally suppressed evidence during his first trial last summer.

Meanwhile, that unit’s deputy chief suddenly resigned this month. Victoryland bingo parlor owner Milton McGregor’s willingness to hit back hard at federal prosecutors in this week’s filing could presage even more explosive allegations. Also, the sudden resignation of DOJ’s Public Integrity Section Deputy Chief Justin Shur shortly before his scheduled leadership of the McGregor retrial heightens confusion, at best, within DOJ’s anti-corruption unit. Known by the acronym “PIN,” it is led by Chief John "Jack" Smith.

Birmingham News /, Prosecutors in Alabama State House vote-buying case won't recall Sen. Scott Beason to the stand, Kim Chandler,  Jan.  20, 2012. Prosecutors in the State House vote-buying case aren't going to put two wire-wearing legislators -- including a senator who referred to black casino patrons as "aborigines" -- back on the witness stand when the case goes to retrial, defense lawyers said. Federal prosecutors indicated in pretrial conversations that they do not intend to put Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, and former Rep. Ben Lewis, R-Dothan, on the witness stand in the second trial but, instead, will just play some of the tapes they made, several defense lawyers said.  "They were such a key part in starting the investigation and a key part in the first trial. It's interesting now that the government is distancing themselves from them," said David McKnight, a lawyer representing lobbyist Tom Coker in the case.

Justin ShurAssociated Press, Departure of lead prosecutor in bingo gambling case comes just days before retrial to start, Jan. 19, 2012. The departure of the lead prosecutor in Alabama's gambling corruption case has left the prosecution team having to shift duties less than two weeks before jury selection begins for the retrial.

Justin Shur's resignation as deputy chief of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section to join a Washington law firm, MoloLamken, was approved by the trial judge Thursday. The retrial of seven defendants starts Jan. 30 in Montgomery. Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined comment Thursday about who will be the lead prosecutor, but defense attorneys said it appears Kendall Day, another Justice Department attorney, is taking over the job. He would make the third chief prosecutor since the case began with indictments in October 2010 against casino owner Milton McGregor, four present and former state senators, and several others on charges accusing them of swapping campaign contributions for votes on pro-gambling legislation.

Washington Post, Is it bribery or just politics? George F. Will, Feb. 12, 2012. All elected officials, and those who help finance elections in the expectation that certain promises will be kept — and everyone who cares about the rule of law — should hope the Supreme Court agrees to hear Don Siegelman’s appeal of his conviction.

Until the court clarifies what constitutes quid pro quo political corruption, Americans engage in politics at their peril because prosecutors have dangerous discretion to criminalize politics....In 2009, a bipartisan amicus brief by 91 former state attorneys general urged the Supreme Court to use Siegelman’s case to enunciate a clear standard for establishing quid pro quo bribery. Today’s confusion and the resulting prosecutorial discretion chill the exercise of constitutional rights of political participation and can imprison people unjustly.




Justice Integrity Project, Feds Lose Big In Alabama Bribery Acquittals, Hung Jury, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 11, 2011. Federal prosecutors suffered one of their most remarkable setbacks nationally in decades Aug. 11 when an Alabama federal jury failed to convict any of nine defendants on any count in a massive gambling corruption case against state senators and those accused of trying to bribe them. The federal probe grew out of opposition to legalized gambling by the administration of former Republican Gov. Bob Riley, left, who departed from office in January after two terms.

Fox News / Associated Press, No convictions in Alabama gambling trial, Aug. 11, 2011. Federal prosecutors didn't get a single conviction in Alabama's gambling corruption trial Thursday when jurors acquitted or failed to reach a verdict on all the charges against the nine defendants, including Victoryland casino owner Milton McGregor and two sitting state senators.

Legal Schnauzer, Is Our Country Rotting From the Inside Out? Roger Shuler, Aug. 8, 2011. We are used to writing about dubious prosecutions from the George W. Bush era.

But the electronic-bingo case is a production of the Barack Obama Justice Department, and that truly is unsettling. Not only are we rotting from the inside, we are rotting from both sides of the political aisle--from the Republicans and the Democrats. The case went to the jury over the weekend, and a verdict could come at any moment.  Regardless of the outcome, the case has been emitting foul odors for weeks. A reasonable citizen might observe the strange proceedings and ask, "What in the name of Eric Holder is the U.S. Justice Department doing with my taxpayer dollars?"

July 4

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.

April (Four-part series)

Justice Integrity Project, Senate Must Grill Tainted Alabama DOJ Nominee (Part I of a 4-part series), Andrew Kreig, April 5, 2011. President Obama ended George Beckmore than two years of high-profile White House indecision March 31 by naming the prominent Alabama attorney George L. Beck, left, 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.

Beck’s role in that travesty further destroys public confidence in that long-troubled DOJ office.

At the minimum if confirmed, Beck must recuse himself and all of the most prominent staff at DOJ's Montgomery offices from the Siegelman case and every spin-off public corruption probe.

The more logical outcome, however, is for the Senate Judiciary Committee to grill Beck, and other relevant witnesses to bring out all relevant facts, and then block Beck’s nomination because of his conflict of interest.

Our Justice Integrity Project, among many others, has documented how the Bush Justice Department framed Siegelman via the current Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney Leura Canary and her subordinates. The prosecutors did this in part by pressuring Beck’s client Nick Bailey, whose torment and coerced testimony were enabled by a biased Republican trial judge, Mark E. Fuller.

Fuller hated Siegelman, according to our research. We documented this in a 2009 investigatory story that the Huffington Post front-paged, entitled, "Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge,’ Evidence Shows." Fuller himself had no response when we asked him for comment, which helps underscore why the Justice Department and Senate need to have inquiries above suspicion.

Even if Fuller continues to refuse to recuse himself because of his animosity to the defendant, the judge was compromised also by his secret contracts on the side bringing in $300 million from 2006 to 2009 for Doss Aviation, Inc., the judge’s privately held company.

Doss primarily serves the Air Force. This Air Force tie-in leads to a host of necessary Senate confirmation questions for Beck, the Justice Department and others regarding Air Force involvement in the Siegelman prosecution and in the recent $35 billion Air Force acquisition of a next-generation of mid-air tankers. Powerful interests wanted these tankers to be built by a European-led consortium led by Airbus at a reassembly plant in Alabama instead of by a U.S. prime contractor, Boeing.

To be sure, Beck has strong defenders in Alabama. But state party leaders and the White House declined to respond to our requests for comment on specifics, aside from their press releases.

An exception was the prominent Democratic attorney G. Douglas Jones, who defended Beck at length in response to our questions, as indicated in our third installment in this series. Scheduled for tomorrow morning after Part II, our third part explores sensitive issues more in-depth than today's introduction.

Beck himself declined to respond to requests for comment. But he revealed a number of troubling perspectives when he spoke to reporters on Alabama’s statewide television on June 29, 2007 during a half-hour interview about the Siegelman sentencing.

Asked, for example, whether there was evidence of judicial bias by Fuller during the trial, Beck responded emphatically, “None whatsoever.” That was two months after a defense filing showing that the judge was being enriched with Air Force contracts through the company he controlled with up to 44% ownership.

Beck showed also a remarkable level of ignorance about basic facts involving two of his biggest cases of the past two decades, that of Bailey (who he had represented since 2001) and former Alabama Gov. Guy Hunt, a Republican conviced of ethics charges in misappropriating some $200,000 and then pardoned.

“I’ve been a fan of good judges for my entire 28 years as a lawyer,” he says. “But when you get a bad one, with all the power that they hold, that’s about as close to the devil here on earth as you can find.”

Justice Integrity Project, Bailey-Beck Siegelman Frame-up (Part 2 of 4 part series), Andrew Kreig, April 7, 2011. Part I of this opinion series outlined on April George Beck6 why President Obama made a mistake in nominating prominent Alabama attorney George L. Beck,left, as U.S. attorney for the state’s middle district. Part II below amplifies why Beck’s role in the federal prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman creates huge conflicts for Beck that are against the public interest.

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.

On June 29, 2007, Alabama Public Television's "For the Record" show hosted a panel of reporters interviewing Beck as they sought in-depth analysis regarding that day’s federal court sentencing of Democratic former Alabama Gov. Siegelman and his co-defendant, Republican businessman Richard Scrushy.

Beck was not sure about some of the facts surrounding his client and key prosecution witness Nick Bailey. But Beck knew enough to vouch vehemently for Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller. “None whatsoever!” was Beck’s response to a question about whether he had any doubts about Fuller’s fairness.

By the time of a Feb. 24, 2008 investigation of the case by CBS 60 Minutes, however, one of the nation’s most popular television programs would inform the world that Beck and Fuller let the government witness Bailey be coached and/or coerced by prosecutors up to 70 times, without providing legally required details to the defense to enable pretrial preparations.

See for yourself during the show narrated by Scott Pelley Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal?

Don SiegelmanBeyond that, a series of sworn filings in 2009 further suggests that prosecutors abused their powers by pressuring Bailey to provide the testimony they wanted to frame Siegelman and Scrushy.

According to Bailey’s Alabama friend and employer Stan Pate, the pressure included a threat of a 10-year prison sentence (compared to the 18-month term Bailey later received as a reward for his testimony) and the threatened smearing of Bailey with homosexual innuendo and targeting of his friends unless he cooperated with prosecutors. Pate's affidavit amplified as follows:

Based on my discussion with Nick, I have no doubt that the pressure, persuasion and rehearsals to which Nick was exposed by the agents and prosecutors had a significant effort on the testimony he gave at the trials in which he testified, including the Siegelman/Scrushy trial. A week ago, Nick told me that he had just reread his testimony in the Siegelman/Scrushy trial and said, “I can’t even believe I said those things."

Bailey’s own affidavit in 2009 does not use such strong language, perhaps understandably since he had recently been released from his prison term. But nothing in his affidavit contradicts his remarks on 60 Minutes and the sworn statement of Pate in a portrait of an all-out campaign now lasting more than a decade by ambitious prosecutors to do whatever it took to convict Siegelman and Scrushy. Prosecutors argued for a 30-year sentence for Siegelman, even after Northern District Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon (handling the Siegelman's prosecution before prosecutors were able to finesse a transfer to Fuller's courtroom) and Fuller's jury rejected the vast bulk of prosecution charges.

Justice Integrity Project, Beck's Backers Make Their Case (Part 3 of 4), Andrew Kreig, April 8, 2011. “For his diligence and relentless pursuit of justice, I George Beckhave named George L. Beck, left, 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.”

Parts I and II of this opinion series outlined why President Obama made a mistake in nominating prominent Alabama attorney George L. Beck as U.S. attorney for the state’s middle district. Part III below showcases the case for confirmation by Beck’s backers. Coming this afternoon in Part IV: Next steps for those not convinced that this nomination is in the public interest.

The nomination followed a recommendation by the federal nominating committee of the Alabama Democratic Party, and more than two years of ineffectual state and national efforts by Democrats to find a consensus, centrist candidate who could satisfy varied Democratic interests without incurring fatal opposition from Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions.

mark kennedyUnder Mark Kennedy, right, a new state party chairman installed after the party’s rout in November’s elections, Democrats ultimately picked what their leaders regarded as a safe pick for the powerful regional post running federal criminal and civil litigation from the Justice Department office based in the state capital of Montgomery.

An appointment would finally ease out from office the incumbent Republican U.S. attorney, Leura Canary, who was nominated by President Bush a decade ago after marriage to one of Karl Rove's best friends. She remains in power despite a track record arguably making her the most notorious federal prosecutor in the nation, albeit one ostensibly well-regarded by top Justice Department colleagues.

"I have known George for more than twenty years, and I have a deep respect for his ability to carry out the duties of the office with honor and incredible skill," said Kennedy as he coordinated with the White House his announcement of support for Beck.

"President Obama's decision is the right thing to do, and it is a privilege to know that an attorney of George's caliber will be serving the people of the Middle District in the U.S. Attorney's office." Kennedy’s press release continued:

The nomination follows weeks of intense vetting and significant coordination between the Department of Justice and local Alabama officials, including the newly-elected chair of the Alabama Democratic Party. Since taking office as Chairman in January of this year, Judge Mark Kennedy has worked tirelessly to help expedite the naming of a new Middle District U.S. Attorney.

Kennedy added, "During my two-month tenure as the Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, I have made the resolution of this nomination one of my highest priorities. We have long needed new representation in the Middle District and we thank the White House for working so closely with us in recent weeks to resolve this long-standing issue. We are grateful to the White House for choosing an experienced and knowledgeable nominee for this critical position in whom the people of Alabama can have the utmost confidence."

Longtime Alabama journalist Roger Shuler provided a quite different perspective in his column, “Obama Proposes a Wretched Nominee for Controversial U.S. Attorney Post.” Shuler blogs on legal affairs topics at his Legal Schnauzer site, and frequently also on such national Democratic-leaning sites as OpEd News, Daily Kos and FireDogLake.

Shuler wrote:

Just when you think the Obama administration's performance on justice issues in Alabama can't get any does.

Now we know why Obama waited more than two years to nominate a replacement for Bush appointee Leura Canary in the Middle District of Alabama. He apparently planned to nominate someone who is almost as bad as she, why rush it?

Sources tell Legal Schnauzer that the White House would have needed to strive awfully hard to come up with a worse choice than Beck. The Alabama Democratic Party issued a statement supporting the nomination, which speaks volumes about why Democrats can't win a statewide race in "The Heart of Dixie" to save their souls.

Shuler has blogged for four years about the frame-up of former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman and many other Democrats across the Deep South by so-called “loyal Bushies” in the Justice Department such as Canary, left. T

roger shuler outdoorsThey purportedly used criminal prosecutions for political purposes, as revealed by the 2006 U.S. attorney firing scandal. A Bush-Obama joint investigation concluded last summer, however, exonerated the Justice Department of any serious wrongdoing, and never even interviewed victims and whistleblowers.

Shuler, left, is a former Birmingham News reporter and University of Alabama communications specialist with for nearly four decades experience in those two jobs. In a lawsuit, he alleges that his commentaries on his own time prompted influentail donors to the university arrange his firing him to suppress his off-the-job commentary, with his wife fired also from a separate job further to silence him.

Meanwhile, Shuler's powerful columns about legal abuses parallel those by other independent investigators, including those by our Justice Integrity Project. We also have identified gross violations of due process in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, among other places. In general, the Obama Justice Department’s leadership and holdover employees have abjectly closed ranks with predecessors in this and orchestrated cover-ups that continue the injustices. This is the background for Shuler's recent description of Beck’s long-rumored nomination:

How bad a choice is Beck? Consider a post we wrote on January 7, 2010, which described a possible Beck nomination as a "train wreck." What do you really need to know about George Beck? Two things:

* His firm has been known as a base of operations for GOP strategist Karl Rove when he comes to Alabama;

* He represented Nick Bailey, the government's star witness in the Don Siegelman case, and allowed prosecutors to browbeat Bailey and interview him more than 70 times, including what appears to be blatant coaching.

We outlined the case against Beck in a post from more than a year ago, titled "Is Obama About to Make a Terrible Nomination in Alabama?" Unfortunately, we now know the answer is yes.

Beck, Kennedy, the state party’s Executive Director Bradley Davidson and the White House each failed to respond to my requests Friday for comment.

The White House contact is Hannah August, a communications specialist formerly with the Justice Department and now responsible for justice-related issues in Southern states.

But G. Douglas Jones, a former U.S. attorney for Alabama’s Northern District during the Clinton administration and current power-broker within the state and national party on justice issues, was willing to speak. He responded to questions both about his support for Beck’s nomination and about the criticism that Jones himself has endured, most strikingly from Shuler.

The blogger, has described Jones as seriously conflicted over the Siegelman case (Emphasis added).

In such columns as “Lawyers Rake In Almost $28 million in Fees on Scrushy Case,” Shuler reported that Jones agreed to a prosecution request to waive the statute of limitations for Siegelman.

Jones served as plaintiff’s lead co-counsel with local attorney Rob Riley, son of Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (Siegelman’s Republican opponent in 2002 and 2006) in a major securities fraud civil suit against Siegelman’s co-defendant, Richard Scrushy.

Scrushy was imprisoned entirely on Siegelman-related charges of making donations at Siegelman’s request to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation. Scrushy consistently maintained right to the day he received a seven-year prison term in 2007 that his refusal to lie on the witness stand at prosecution request to help prosecutors frame Siegelman is the reason for his harsh sentence.

Jones and his supporters vehemently deny Shuler’s allegations of conflict of interest. Therefore, my questions to Jones last weekend addressed not simply his support for the Beck nomination to run the office in charge of the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution, but lingering questions about his own role.

Jones has previously stated that he agreed to waive the statute of limitations only to show cooperation and other good faith after prosecutors erroneously told him they were not planning to indict Siegelman after their first prosecution was gutted by a skeptical trial judge, Northern District Chief U.S. Judge U.W. Clemon.

But the limitations waiver and transfer of prosecution efforts to Middle District Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller (whom we described in Part I of this series as hating Siegelman and enriched by $300 million in federal contracts for his closely held company) helped prosecutors obtain the time needed to indict Siegelman and Scrushy a second time in May 2005 with a secret indictment. Authorities unveiled the indictment the following fall, helping set the stage for a 2006 trial that thwarted with a conviction Siegelman’s attempted political comeback against the senior Riley in the 2006 gubernatorial elections.

My questions to Jones included ones about Beck’s unusually advanced age at 69 for a U.S. attorney appointment. Most important, however, were the questions of conflict of interest prominently reported in Parts I and II of this series. To recap, the question is how Beck, defense attorney for the key prosecution witness Nick Bailey in the scandal-ridden prosecution of Siegelman, could possibly supervise the same middle district U.S. attorney’s office that exhibited so many well-documented but yet unpunished abuses as those involving in the Siegelman/Scrushy convictions.

g. douglas jonesJones, right, responded as follows:

George [Beck] is eminently qualified to be US Attorney. He is a veteran lawyer who is respected by judges and lawyers on both sides of the aisle. He will be fair and balanced, and not driven by any political agenda, which is especially important for that particular U.S. Attorney position. This is not a lifetime appointment. So I am not concerned at all about his age. I think that office needs a seasoned lawyer with a steady hand regardless of age, and he certainly fits that bill.

With regard to his representation about Nick [Bailey], it is not a question whether he might be conflicted. He will be conflicted from any involvement in the case. I think that the real question will be whether it causes the entire office, including the Assistant U.S, Attorneys who prosecuted the case, to also be recused. A strong argument can be made that this case is so controversial that the entire office should be recused, and either another U.S, attorney appointed to oversee the case or someone out of Main Justice. That's a decision to be made by the hierarchy at DOJ.

Finally, all I can say about any questions that have after the fact been raised regarding my representation of Gov. Siegelman while also working on a civil matter against Richard Scrushy is that Don was well aware of the civil case and it was never an issue with us and that is all that matters to me. Moreover, as you know I did not represent him at trial due to a trial conflict with another matter and it is the trial where the rubber meets the road with regard to such issues. Scrushy was ultimately dismissed from our case without any settlement or judgment against him.

boeing tanker

Justice Integrity Project, Inside Story on DoD's $35 Billion Boeing Air Force Tanker Deal, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 25, 2011. The Department of Defense Thursday announced its choice of Boeing for a $35 billion contract to build the Air Force’s next generation of mid-air refueling tankers (with an example portrayed above).

boeing logoBoeing’s selection, subject to any challenge by the losing bidder EADS, could end a decade-long, scandal-ridden process that became one of the controversial and important in modern U.S. procurement history.

The Justice Integrity Project has tracked the proceeding closely for a year and a half after learning from reliable sources details about industrial espionage and skullduggery in the contract battle. This went far beyond even the scandals showcased in Senate oversight hearings led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Those scandals sent a Boeing executive and former Air Force procurement officer to prison on bribery charges and led to DoD revocation in 2005 of the initial award to Boeing.



Know, The Magazine for Paralegals, From Justice Dream Job to Nightmare, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 10, 2009. Tamarah Grimes, Justice Department Paralegal: Why This Whistleblower Was Dissed & Dismissed.

As federal prosecutors prepared in 2006 for the corruption trial of Alabama’s former Gov. Don Siegelman, Justice Department paralegal Tamarah Grimes, below at right, thought she was progressing well in her career.

TamarahGrimesShe was past beginner stage after three years at the Middle District U.S. Attorney’s office helping prepare federal cases in the state capital of Montgomery. 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. She claimed, for example, that prosecutors had communicated with jurors.

Also, she said pro-conviction jurors had privately strategized by email outside the jury room to obtain guilty verdicts -- all without required notification to the defense. Moreover, she complained of sexually offensive comments by colleagues, particularly in an off-site prosecutors’ office that was entirely devoted to what they called “The Big Case.”

Even though she used federally authorized procedures for such complaints, stepping forward turned her career dream into a nightmare. What follows is her story, including a year of federal threats to prosecute her on what she calls false claims that she taped a colleague.

"I have always considered myself to be a moderate Republican,” she said. “I believe in the U.S. Constitution, and that what happened in Montgomery Eric Holderwith the Siegelman / Scrushy prosecution is a travesty of justice."

June 1, 2009, she wrote the Obama administration’s Attorney General Eric Holder, left, outlining misconduct allegations and asking for his help. But DoJ fired her seven days later for failure to retain a security clearance – which DoJ itself had removed in 2008. At the same time, she was regarded elsewhere as one of the nation’s leading whistleblowers for shedding light on the Siegelman conviction, which has become the most controversial criminal prosecution of the entire Bush administration.

“I did nothing to justify termination,” she told KNOW. “I was a loyal, exemplary employee with no discipline problems and many performance-based awards prior to my complaints.”

Hartselle Enquirer (Hartselle, AL), Prosecutors accused of sexual blackmail, Bob Martin, July 30, 2020. Sexual blackmail can now be added to the list of the misconduct charges made against federal prosecutors in the Don Siegelman case.

In a filing in support of Siegelman’s request for a new trial, Alabama businessman, Stan Pate of Tuscaloosa, describes how federal prosecutors and investigators threatened to disclose innuendo about the sexuality of a key witness, former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey.

Pate’s affidavit is included as an exhibit in motions for a new trial recently filed by Siegelman and Scrushy.

The Siegelman/Scrushy motions for a new trial also include a report from Investigative Group International (IGI), which is headed by former Watergate prosecutor Terry Lenzner. IGI says it was hired in April by “counsel for the defense.”

An affidavit from IGI Vice Chairman David Richardson focuses heavily on Bailey and contradictions between his current statements and his trial testimony.

In the affidavit, Richardson states: “Mr. Bailey told us that he did not believe Governor Siegelman had been bribed by Mr. Scrushy; that he did not believe the governor had made a commitment to Mr. Scrushy to appoint him to the CON Board in return for his contribution to the Alabama Educational Lottery Fund; and that he did not believe that Governor Siegelman worried even for an instant that he ever would have to repay out of his own pocket the loan he had personally guaranteed—which was allegedly the personal benefit that the governor got as a result of Mr. Scrushy’s contributions to the Educational Lottery Fund.”

huff post logoHuffington Post, Did 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.

Scott HortonOpEdNews, Scott Horton Shines the Spotlight on the DoJ, Exclusive Interview, Joan Brunwasser, July 21, 2009. Scott Horton, right, is a noted human rights and communications industry lawyer and adjunct professor at Columbia Law School. As a legal columnist for Harper's Magazine, Horton published more than a score of investigative columns in Harper's online editions focusing on the U.S. attorney firing scandal and Siegelman-Scrushy case

Joan Brunwasser (below at left): Welcome to OpEdNews, Scott. You've been following the goings-on in the Department of Justice pretty closely for joan brunwasserquite a while....So we have two Eric Holders, each one fighting for primacy. The very same could be said for Obama. Want to talk about that a bit?

Scott Horton, right: I don't see Obama in those terms at all. Obama is a highly pragmatic politician. He is focused on the art of the possible. He fixes his priorities and seeks to accomplish as much as he can. I don't object to him behaving that way, but I don't necessarily agree with his priorities and sometimes I sense he underestimates what can be accomplished.

After all, the Dems did win the 2008 election in a big way. Why doesn't Obama act like it? And how does the public push him to reach beyond the comfort level of his innate cautiousness?

barack obama oath wIt's curious, of course. Bush didn't actually win the 2000 election, or rather he won it in the Supreme Court and not at the polls. He won the 2004 election by a hair's breath.

Obama [shown taking his Inagural oath with his wife by his side] achieved a decisive victory, and the Democrats have the most commanding margins in the Congress achieved by any party since 1936. But judging from their behavior, you'd think them very unsure of their win. But Obama is clearly saving his "capital" as Bush put it for one particular project: health care. He's neglecting other matters that are also important.

Brunwasser: You've spent a lot of time writing about what happened to Don Siegelman (former Alabama governor, railroaded by Karl Rove, below left). What was it about that case that caught your attention?

Karl RoveHorton: I was alerted to the case at almost the same time by some contacts in Alabama and some people at the Justice Department. Both told me the same thing: this case stinks to high heavens, something is really wrong about it. The Justice Department sources then told me that it was well known within the Department that the Siegelman case was not a prosecution of political corruption, rather the prosecution was itself an act of political corruption "at the highest levels." I had heard about Siegelman's case before and dismissed his complaints -- just another corrupt politician, I thought. Then I started looking into it and what I found was pretty shocking.

The worst aspect of the case was the astonishing collusion between Karl Rove, the two highly politicized U.S. Attorneys, the Republican Party in Alabama, and two Alabama newspapers, which were an integral part of the scheme from the get-go.

u w clemonIndeed, I noticed when Chief Judge U.W. Clemon, right, spoke about his experience in handling part of the case and watching the way it was orchestrated, he was also careful to document the more-than-curious role that a certain newspaper played in it. The paper knew what the prosecutors were doing at every step and had full access to all their data, and presented grossly distorted and dishonest accounts of what was going on. Since I'm a Sovietologist and have studied and written about criminal justice matters in the former Soviet Union, none of this was particularly new to me, but seeing that it was going on inside the United States -- that was astonishing.

Brunwasser: Astonishing and very disturbing. Where does that leave us? When can we expect justice for Siegelman, Minor and the many others caught up in Rove's net of political prosecutions?

Horton: The Siegelman case demonstrates the one-two punch of the corrupt Republican justice regime. Not only was the Justice Department turned into a crude political strike machine under the management of Karl Rove -- it was pursuing seven Democrats for every Republican (and prosecutors who brought cases against Republicans were, often enough, summarily fired). The case was also maneuvered before a handpicked judge who may well have republican elephant logobeen in on the scheme to start with. Chief Judge U.W. Clemon gave an amazing twenty-minute presentation in Washington on June 26 in which he reviewed all the tricks and machinations the Justice Department entered into to get the case before their chosen judge. The level of corrupt dealings involving prosecutors is breathtaking, and the failure of the Holder Justice Department to do anything to remedy this situation is distressing.

Now, Siegelman has filed his motion for a new trial, and deep in the papers lies another bombshell thus far unremarked upon by the media: the key Nick Baileywitness [Nick Bailey, right] upon whose testimony Siegelman was convicted has recanted. He says he was pressured into giving false testimony by two prosecutors who managed the case. He also accuses them of having suppressed exculpatory materials. That's bad enough.

But get this: a member of the prosecution team [Tamarah Grimes] has now come forward and acknowledged that his claims are completely correct. She details how he was threatened and coerced to give false evidence and how the prosecutors working on the case traded jokes a bout it. This is a serious felony, and the prosecutors involved should forfeit their law degrees and be marched off to jail. But that would require a Justice Department that actually enforces the criminal law, and at the moment there is no justice, at least not in the federal prosecutors office in Montgomery, or in their hand-picked judges.

Brunwasser: You're right. That is a bombshell. And so in-your-face. Anything the public can do to get the Obama administration to do the right thing?

Horton: The first point would be a simple one: when a president is appointed, he appoints his own U.S. attorneys. But in the Middle District of Alabama, the post ruled over by a prosecutor who happens to be the wife of Karl Rove's best friend, and who happens to have brought the most politically charges prosecutions in recent American history, the U.S. attorney seems to think she's there to stay. And she has Jeff Sessions, the Neoconfederate guard dog, watching out for her.

President Obama needs to insist on her resignation and then to appoint a competent, professional prosecutor to run that shop. And the new U.S. attorney needs to start his or her work with a careful review of the crooked, politically motivated antics that have driven that shop for the last seven years. Then justice can be done.

huff post logoHuffington Post, As Rove Testifies About Firings At Justice, Why Did DoJ Fire Whistleblower? Andrew Kreig, 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.

TamarahGrimesBy remarkable coincidence, however, the Justice Department separately confirmed Tuesday that it has fired Alabama whistleblower Tamarah Grimes, right,. 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."

June 26

C-SPAN, Prosecutorial Misconduct Forum At National Press Club, June 26, 2009 (3 hours, 4 minutes). Retired U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon, journalists Scott Horton and Andrew Kreig, and other civil rights advocates participate in a forum about the problem of prosecutorial abuse.

June 10

huff post logoHuffington Post, Alabama Decisions Illustrate Abuse of Judicial Power, Andrew Kreig, June 10, 2009. The plight of litigants who face a biased judge is illustrated by the track record of a prominent Alabama federal judge, as well by major recent decisions requiring new trials in West Virginia and Georgia courts.

The track record of Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery, Alabama shows that he continues to supervise cases compromised by his personal, financial or political interests despite his promise at his 2002 confirmation hearing to recuse himself from any conflicts. Exposure of Fuller's record is timely because of the Senate's forthcoming hearings for Obama administration judicial nominees, and because of growing concerns about the recusal standard.

These include the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling June 8 that a West Virginia Supreme Court judge should have recused himself from a case involving a major contributor to his judicial election campaign. Also, a federal judge in Georgia admitted last month that he shouldn't have tried and sentenced a high-profile political adversary who now seeks dismissal of the charges.

May 21

huff post logoHuffington 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.

“The 2004 prosecution of Mr. Siegelman in the Northern District of Alabama was the most unfounded criminal case over which I presided in my entire judicial career,” Clemon wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder last week. “In my judgment, his prosecution was completely without legal merit; and it could not have been accomplished without the approval of the Department of Justice.”

huff post logoHuffington 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.

The comments by Weeks come during a momentous week in one of the most controversial U.S. criminal cases of the decade, with public officials and Alabama activists alike claiming Siegelman was targeted for prosecution because of status as Alabama’s most popular Democrat. The Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected on May 15 Siegelman’s request for an en banc appeal of his case, thus keeping it in the hands of Judge Fuller. Also, the Obama U.S. Justice Department announced May 12 that it wants Fuller to increase Siegelman’s prison sentence to 20 years on re-sentencing this spring, even though Siegelman now faces two fewer charges than when Fuller sentenced him in 2007 to seven years in prison.

Siegelman, now free on bail, issued this statement on May 15: “The Bush holdovers in the Department of Justice have asked that I be sentenced to an additional 20 years in prison. The Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney, whose husband is Karl Rove’s closest friend in Alabama, joined with the Chief of the Public Integrity Section of D.O.J., also a Bush holdover, in asking for the longer sentence. What makes the request for a longer sentence even more bizarre is the fact that the Bush holdovers are asking my (Bush-appointed) judge to give me 20 years in prison based on charges for which I was found not guilty.”


To analyze the judicial conflicts issue two years ago, Harper’s columnist and Columbia University law professor Scott Horton interviewed Georgetown University Law Center Professor David Luban, a legal ethics expert. “What amazes me about these facts,” Luban said, “is that they combine past political activism against the governor, a possible grudge against the governor, and the judge’s company’s financial dependence on the government’s good graces.”

Of the various claims against the judge, Luban concluded: “Taken together, we have a perfect storm. Under these circumstances, impartiality would take superhuman self-control, and we don’t expect judges to be superhuman. The recusal standard is designed so that we don’t have to expect it.”

Fuller seems to have ignored this and a dozen other Harper’s on-line columns by Horton under such titles as, “Judge Mark Fuller: A Siegelman Grudge Match?” and the “The Pork Barrel World of Mark Fuller“ criticizing Fuller’s decision to remain on the Siegelman case.

Horton mocked the judge’s claim that he held a routine, passive investment in a company that happens to receive contracts that are competitively awarded: “Fuller would have us believe that the process of issuing these contracts is divorced from the political world in Washington. That’s absurd.” Horton’s 2007 work also reported Paul Weeks’s 2003 affidavit [showing Judge Fuller's corruption, which Siegelman had opposed as governor]. Horton wrote that he sought a response from Fuller on the allegations but could not obtain one.


Paul Weeks believes that Attorney General Holder finds it politically indelicate so far to step into Siegelman’s case, especially so soon after he condemned the prosecution of former Sen. [Ted] Stevens. “If it’s one case of misconduct, authorities can look like heroes for investigating it. If it’s two, they’re opening the floodgates for reviews of all their questionable conduct.”

But regardless of what happens to Siegelman’s case politically or legally, Weeks says Fuller’s position as a judge still needs to be investigated to determine whether he should be impeached.

“There needs to be oversight beyond that appeals court,” Weeks concludes. “They really contained the problem pretty well up to now. But there’s no statute of limitations for impeachment, and this case shouldn’t end with a new judge and new trial, or dropped charges against Siegelman and Scrushy,” he says.



Sept. 17

Associated Press via Tuscaloosa News, Siegelman aide Nick Bailey is released from federal prison, Sept. 17, 2008. The key witness against former Nick BaileyAlabama 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, right, 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.

Feb. 21

CBS 60 Minutes Siegelman

CBS 60 Minutes, Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal? Scott Pelley (shown above), Feb. 21, 2008. 60 Minutes Reports On Bribery Conviction Of Don CBS News logoSiegelman In A Case Criticized by Democrats And Republicans.

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. As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, 52 former state attorneys-general have asked Congress to investigate whether the prosecution of Siegelman was pursued not because of a crime but because of politics.

Ten years ago life was good for Don Siegelman. After he became governor, many believed he was headed to a career in national politics. In 1999, Siegelman's pet project was raising money to improve education, so he started a campaign to ask voters to approve a state lottery. He challenged Republicans to come up with a better idea.

"You tell us how you're going to pay for college scholarships. You tell us how you're going to put state of the art computers inside every school in this state," he said.

Don Siegelman in prisonBut now the applause has long faded. Today, Siegelman (right) is at a federal prison camp in Louisiana. He's doing seven years. The main charge against him was that he took a bribe, giving a position on a state board to businessman Richard Scrushy, who had made a big donation to that lottery campaign. There was a star witness, Nick Bailey, a Siegelman aide who had a vivid story to tell.

"Mr. Bailey had indicated that there had been a meeting with Governor Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy, a private meeting in the Governor's office, just the two of them," says Doug Jones, who was one of Siegelman's lawyers. "And then, as soon as Mr. Scrushy left, the governor walked out with a $250,000 check that he said Scrushy have given him for the lottery foundation."

"Had the check in his hand right then and there? " Pelley asks.

"Had the check in his hand right then," Jones says.

"That Scrushy had just handed to him, according to Bailey's testimony?" Pelley asks.

"That's right, showed it to Mr. Bailey. And Nick asked him, 'Well, what does he want for it?' And Governor Siegelman allegedly said, 'A seat on the CON Board.' Nick asked him, 'Can we do that?' And he said, 'I think so,'" Jones says.

The CON board regulates hospital construction, and Scrushy ran a healthcare company. Both Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted in federal court.

But, as 60 Minutes found out, the imprisonment of Don Siegelman is not nearly as simple as that.

"I haven't seen a case with this many red flags on it that pointed towards a real injustice being done," says Grant Woods, the former Republican attorney general of Arizona.

Woods is one of the 52 former state attorneys-general, of both parties, who've asked Congress to investigate the Siegelman case.

"I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square. This was a Republican state and he was the one Democrat they could never get rid of," Woods says.



ny times logoNew York Times, OpEd Opinion: The Strange Case of an Imprisoned Alabama Governor, Adam Cohen, right, Sept. 10, 2007. Alberto Gonzales, below at left, is out adam cohenas attorney general, but there is still a lot of questionable Justice Department activity for Congress to sort through. The imprisonment of Don Siegelman, a former Democratic governor of Alabama, should be at the top of the list.

Jill Simpson, an Alabama lawyer and Republican operative, is heading to Washington this week to tell Congressional investigators that she heard prominent Republicans plotting to use the United States attorneys’ offices to remove Mr. Siegelman as a political threat. The case should be the focus of a probing Congressional hearing this fall.

alberto gonzales doj wMr. Siegelman was a major frustration to Alabama Republicans. The state is bright red, but Mr. Siegelman managed to win the governorship in 1998 with 57 percent of the vote. He was defeated for re-election in 2002 under suspicious circumstances. In the initial returns, Mr. Siegelman appeared to have won by a razor-thin margin. But a late-night change in the tallies in Republican Baldwin County gave the current governor, Bob Riley, a victory of a little more than 3,000 votes out of 1.3 million cast.

Mr. Siegelman has charged that the votes were intentionally shifted by a Republican operative. James Gundlach, an Auburn University professor, did a statistical analysis of the returns and found that the final numbers were clearly the result of intentional manipulation. Mr. Siegelman wanted to take back the governorship in 2006, but his indictment made it impossible.

If Ms. Simpson is telling the truth, she provides important support for Mr. Siegelman’s claim that his prosecution was political. In a sworn affidavit, she says she was on a phone call in November 2002 with Governor Riley’s son, Rob Riley, and Bill Canary, a Republican political operative whose wife, Leura Canary, is the United States attorney for Montgomery.

According to Ms. Simpson, they were discussing the political threat Mr. Siegelman posed, and Mr. Canary said his “girls” — his wife and Alice Martin, the United States Attorney in Birmingham — would take care of Mr. Siegelman. Ms. Simpson said Mr. Canary also said the case had been discussed with Karl Rove.

Ms. Martin’s office prosecuted Mr. Siegelman, but the case fell apart after a federal judge cast doubt on the charges. Ms. Canary’s office then convicted him of charges for which he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

In addition to the phone call, which has been reported, Ms. Simpson says she will tell House investigators about a second conversation with Rob Riley. In late January or early February of 2005, she says, in his Birmingham office, Mr. Riley told her that Mr. Siegelman would be re-indicted in Montgomery. He was indicted by Ms. Canary’s office in May 2005, and tried in May 2006, one month before the Democratic primary for governor. Mr. Riley denies that the conversation occurred.

There are other red flags, besides Ms. Simpson’s testimony. Mr. Siegelman was convicted of appointing the businessman Richard Scrushy to a state hospital board in exchange for a contribution to a campaign for a state lottery to fund education. Elected officials, from the president down, appoint people who contribute directly to their campaigns without facing criminal charges.

Decisions about whether to bring this sort of public corruption case are extremely sensitive. A prosecutor must examine an official’s state of mind and decide if he intended the appointment to be in exchange for the contribution, or if he simply ended up appointing a contributor. The extraordinary sensitivity of these cases — and their ability to change the political balance of power in the country — makes it critical that prosecutors be nonpolitical and above reproach. In the current Justice Department, they have not been.

ny times logoNew York Times, Oped Opinion: A Tale of Three (Electronic Voting) Elections, Adam Cohen, right, July 31, 2008. Electronic voting has made great strides in adam cohenreliability, but it has a long way to go. When reformers push for greater safeguards, they often argue that future elections could produce the wrong result because of a computer glitch or be stolen through malicious software. That’s being too nice.

There have already been elections in which it is impossible to be certain that the right candidate was declared the winner. Here are three such races. It is not just remarkable that these elections were run so badly, but also that the flaws are still common — and could easily create havoc in this fall’s voting.

1. The 2002 Georgia Senate and Governor Races — Senator Max Cleland (shown on the cover his memoir), who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was defeated for re-max clelandelection and Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, was unseated. Polls had suggested that both men would win.

The votes were cast on Diebold A.T.M.-style machines. A whistle-blower who helped prepare the machines reported that secret “patches” — software intended to fix glitches — were installed late in the process without being certified by the state, as the law required.

The unexpected outcomes were likely because of heavy turnout by rural whites, prompted by a Confederate flag dispute, not faulty voting machines. Still, skeptics wonder if the patches contained malicious software that changed votes. Because the Diebold machines did not produce paper records, there is no way to put those doubts to rest.

Lesson: Electronic voting makes large-scale vote theft easy. A patch slipped onto voting machines or centralized vote tabulators can change an election’s outcome. Every piece of software must be scrutinized by neutral experts. If there is not enough time, election officials need a backup plan, such as conducting voting entirely on paper ballots.


3. Alabama’s 2002 Race for Governor — Former Gov. Don Siegelman has been in the news because it appears that federal prosecutors may have put him in prison for political reasons. The controversy has brought attention to the odd way he lost the governorship.

Mr. Siegelman went to sleep on election night thinking he had won. But overnight, Republican Baldwin County reported that a glitch had given Mr. Siegelman, a Democrat, about 6,000 extra votes. When they were subtracted, Republican Rob Riley won by roughly 3,000 votes.

James Gundlach, a professor at Auburn University, crunched the numbers and concluded that Mr. Siegelman lost because of “electronic ballot stuffing,” possibly by an operative who accessed the computers and “edited” the results, though others dispute his analysis.

Baldwin County used paper ballots that were then read by an optical scan machine. Mr. Siegelman says local officials gave him permission to count the paper ballots by hand, but the attorney general threatened to arrest anyone who did. No count was done.

Lesson: Paper ballots alone are not enough. There must be strong audit laws that mandate comprehensive hand recounts when an election is close.


Bloomberg News via Chicago Tribune, HealthSouth, investors settle, Staff report, Feb. 24, 2006. HealthSouth Corp. will pay $445 million to settle investor lawsuits filed after a $2.7 billion accounting fraud almost bankrupted the company.

HealthSouth and its insurers reached the agreement after months of court-ordered mediation, the company said Thursday. It will pay $215 million in stock and warrants, with insurers paying the rest in cash. The accord needs court approval. The proposed settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing, HealthSouth said.

Settling the securities-fraud suits puts the company a step closer to recovering from a six-year fraud disclosed in 2003. Fifteen executives pleaded guilty and another was convicted at trial. Founder Richard Scrushy was acquitted of orchestrating the fraud in June and now faces unrelated bribery charges.

g. douglas jones"There was pressure on everyone to get this resolved," said Doug Jones, right, former U.S. attorney in Birmingham, who represented shareholders. "Having the sword of Damocles over the company's head affected the value of the company. No one wanted to see this company go into bankruptcy."

The agreement does not resolve claims against HealthSouth's former auditor, Ernst & Young LLP; its former banker, UBS Securities; the investment arm of UBS AG; or Scrushy, the company's former chief executive officer.

Insurers paying into the settlement include American International Group Inc., Lloyd's of London and a unit of Chubb Corp., lawyers for investors said.

"It did nothing to hurt them financially, but gave the most to bondholders and shareholders they could expect in this situation," said Bill Kelley, general counsel for the Retirement Systems of Alabama, the lead bondholder in the case.



ny times logoNew York Times, HealthSouth Scandal Doesn't Slow Former Chief, Milt Freudenheim, Sept. 26, 2003. Most of the people at the center of corporate scandals have played a cat-and-mouse game with investigators, laying low and trying to keep their assets out of the limelight. But not Richard M. Scrushy, a founder and the former chief executive of HealthSouth, the nation's largest chain of rehabilitation hospitals and surgery centers.

His personal finances are under scrutiny by a small army of government lawyers and accountants. Fourteen of his underlings have already pleaded guilty to a variety of fraud and related charges, offering admissions that prosecutors say could subject their assets to seizure under federal forfeiture laws. Prosecutors have made no secret that they are also building a case against him.