Dana Siegelman Describes Nationwide Pardon Petition Push

Dana Siegelman, daughter of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, appeared Aug. 16 on my weekly MTL Washington Update radio show to describe progress on the nationwide petition her father's supporters have launched to obtain a presidential pardon.

Don and Dana SiegelmanDana, at right with her father, has recently written and spoken eloquently about why presidential action is justified to redress his 2006 federal convictions on corruption charges. Tune in at noon (EDT) for the discussion with my co-host Scott Draughon, founder of the MTL radio network. The show was heard live nationally, and is now on archive. Click here to listen. For comments and questions, call (866) 685-7469 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"I am putting all my hope in this last effort to free my dad and restore justice," she says. "Five years ago, my dad, Don Siegelman, was taken away in handcuffs and shackles. Many came to see his case as a travesty of justice. It has been a tumultuous struggle within the court system and a huge blow to our faith in government. He has lost his reputation, practically all his assets, and his freedom."

Update: Siegelman supporters have launched a petition here at Change.org for a presidential pardon or commutation. See also, An Overpowering Stench of Corruption Emanates From U.S. Eleventh Circuit On Siegelman Appeal by Alabama columnist Roger Shuler, and a Fox News report. In the latter,  Fox host Neil Cavuto describes Siegelman's conviction as unfair and a threat to business executives from either party making campaign contributions.

"I desperately need your help to free my father," Dana Siegelman continues. "Please sign this petition to President Obama asking him to restore justice and pardon my dad!" A petition to President Obama for pardon or commutation of sentence is here via Change.org, along with further background. As an example of the diverse voices raised on this issue, Fox News host Neil Cavuto interviewed the former governor this week, as indicated in a video here. Cavuto urged Fox viewers to consider signing because the sentence seemed unfair and a threat to business donors.

In seeking presidential intervention from either candidate, Dana Siegelman answers the question, "Why sign?"

Gov. Don Siegelman was the 51st Governor of Alabama, serving from 1999 to 2003. He served in Alabama in public office for 26 years and is the only person in the history of the state to be elected to serve in all four of the top statewide elected positions: Secretary of State, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor and Governor. My dad was wrongfully convicted in 2007 in a case that Pace Law Professor Bennett Gershman called "one of the most egregiously bad faith prosecutions by the Justice Department ever.” Numerous public servants such as Al Gore, John Kerry, and Wesley Clark believe my father was wrongly prosecuted and wrongly convicted.

The American Trial Lawyer Magazine has called Dad “America's #1 Political Prisoner." The New York Times said my dad was charged with something that has never even been considered a crime in America, and CBS’ 60 Minutes reported that the prosecution team coached key witness Nick Bailey more than 70 times and offered him a deal to testify against my father.

Conservative columnist George Will expressed in the Washington Post, “Everyone who cares about the rule of law should hope the Supreme Court agrees to hear Don Siegelman’s appeal….today’s confusion and the resulting prosecutorial discretion kill the exercise of Constitutional right, of political participation and can imprison people unjustly.”

She continued, noting developments we have often reported here:

More than 100 state Attorney Generals, both Republican and Democrat, many law professors, and thousands of people like you, have tried to help, garnering the attention of the media, organizing letter campaigns, and writing excellent articles, but ultimately the case was left to the courts. 113 current and former state Attorney Generals from across the U.S. signed a brief to the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court saying, “There is reason to believe that the case brought against Governor Siegelman may have had sufficient irregularities as to call into question the basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice.”

Fred Gray, attorney to Rosa Parks, and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, both close companions to the late Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., came to court to hold my mom's hand the day of sentencing in 2007. They wrote letters to the Department of Justice, to Congress, and to the President to convey that Don Siegelman is the “target of the Bush Justice Department, which has now endangered the style of government we fought so hard for.”

However, this is not about Democrats versus Republicans, far from it. It is simply about what's right and wrong, what is fair and what is not.  As Thomas Jefferson said, "A prosecutor who alleges enough wrong doing will always get a conviction."

This petition is much more than just one man's freedom.  It is about American freedom. If this can happen to my dad, as governor, it can happen to anyone. The law is so unclear, even the most nobelist among us may be targeted by bad-faith prosecutors and wrongly convicted.

Please join me in asking President Obama to pardon my dad and let this issue stand before Congress and the Supreme Court.

At this point, I'll take on the role of commentator, not reporter, and underscore that our reporting for more than three years on this case amply justifies her comments above. In fact, she is understating, if anything, the scandals involved in this case.

At her father's Aug. 3 re-sentencing, U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller criticized the defendant for his statements, especially since 2007,  that he was a victim of a frame-up involving, among others, former White House senior advisor Karl Rove.

In view of the judge's effort to punish him in an apparently extra way for stating plain facts, it worth saying now that the most explosive evidence of wrongdoing tended to come from whistleblowers and reporters developing information independently. The big breakthroughs occurred in 2007 with revelations shwoing how the Siegelman prosecution was part of a national scandal whereby "loyal Bushies" in the Justice Department unfairly prosecuted political targets around the nation.

The defense pursued legal challenges to the many obvious irregularities occurring in court. But it was largely whistleblowers and reporters acting on their own initiative who turned up some of the biggest scandals. If Siegelman later cited the findings that should hardly prompt blame for him.

Similarly, the explosive new allegations of judicial conflict and corruption reported this month by reporters Wayne Madsen and Roger Shuler did not come from the defense in any way.

Dana SiegelmanThat is why this site reported those allegations this week in a column separate from the petition drive.

For the same reasons, this is a separate column from one describing our other guest Aug. 16. He was Peter Janney, author of the courageous and gripping new book, Mary's Mosaic. Janney, son of a high-ranking CIA official, alleges that his father and a top editor at the Washington Post are implicated in what he documents as a CIA plot in 1964 to murder Mary Pinchot Meyer, a lover and close friend of President John F. Kennedy. The Washington Post's conduct, apparently including cover-up of major crimes, goes a long way in my mind to explaining its minimal coverage of the Siegelman case.

Despite all the scandals documented by independent reporters and the vast numbers of pleas sent to the paper by Siegelman supporters seeking more coverage, the Post's major initiative has been the routine wrap-up article excerpted below. I left a reader comment, as did Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson, pointing out that the Post's readers have never seen reported the vast numbers of important irregularities in the case. As the Mary Meyer case makes clear, however, the Post has a shameful track record of managing the news rather than enlightening readers if the stakes are high enough.

That said, the Mary Meyer murder and cover-up is a story in its own right. Our interview with Peter Janney is scheduled at 12:17 p.m. (EDT).

Join us later, for our archived interview with Dana Siegelman, shown above right with her father in better times.That family has been though enough for the past 13 years of political prosecution, and deserves the relief that the petition seeks.

 

Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment
 

 

Related News Coverage

Fox News, Former Gov. Don Siegelman: I’m Here Seeking My Freedom, Neil Cavuto, Sept. 4, 2012.  Former Gov. Don Siegelman, (D-Ala.), on being sentenced to prison for bribery. Cavuto: "This judge had it in for you from the beginning."

Huffington Post,The Curious Case of Don Siegelman, Mimi Kennedy, Sept. 3, 2012. Don Siegelman should be a star in the Democratic Party. Instead, he's a former elected official sentenced to prison by a right-wing judge in Alabama.

Legal Schnauzer, Karl Rove Acts Like a Jackass to Don Siegelman's Daughter at Democratic National Convention, Roger Shuler, Dana Siegelman, the daughter of Alabama's former governor, approached Karl Rove this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Showing Rove more politeness than he deserved, Ms. Siegelman introduced herself and tried to ask if there is anything Rove could do to help her father. After all, Don Siegelman is due to report to federal custody next Tuesday as the victim of perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in American history. Did Karl Rove care about the human costs of gross injustice? Not on your life. What did Dana Siegelman get for her trouble? An epic lesson in Republican rudeness. The TYT Network interviewed Dana Siegelman about her brief experience in Rove's orbit, and you can view the full video at the end of this post. If you ever have asked yourself, "Just how big a jackass is Karl Rove?" Dana Siegelman provides the answer with the following words: "I had no idea that Karl Rove would dare step in this building. And when I found out this morning that he was here, I sort of felt . . . I need to meet this person and let him know what he's done to my family."

Fox News, Former Gov. Don Siegelman Petitions President for Pardon, Neil Cavuto, Aug. 13, 2012. (Video). Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on the petition for the President to pardon him from his prison sentence for bribery. Host Neil Cavuto describes Siegelman treatment as unfair, and worrisome to business executives from either party making donations.

Pam MilesDon SiegelmanPam Miles List Serve (Alabama), This is Pure Meanness, Pam Miles, Aug. 28, 2012. On August 3, our Governor Don Siegelman was resentenced to serve the balance of a 78 month term. Don’s reporting date is September 11th.  At the sentencing in 2007 Judge Fuller had the Governor hand-cuffed and shackled with chains around his legs and waist -- and taken from the court room and put into solitary confinement in the basement of a maximum security prison in Atlanta at 1 AM. On August 3rd at resentencing, Judge Fuller granted a motion for Don to self-report and said that he would request that the BOP place Don at a facility “as near Alabama as he can be designated.”

While Talladega is only 49 miles away and Maxwell Air Force base only 97 miles, Judge Fuller must have thought that Don’s enthusiastic supporters like me would be viewed as way too much of a distraction if Don were in Alabama. Pensacola, however, is only 251 miles away, about a 4 and ½ hour drive for Don’s wife, Lori. But oh no, apparently even Pensacola is too near Alabama for the Judge, because Don  just received notice that he iPam Miles Free Dons assigned to Oakdale, Louisiana, a 17-18 hour, 900+ mile round trip. As you may remember Lori, Don’s wife, lost an eye in a horrific automobile accident with a drunk driver in 1984. She would have difficulty driving the 17-18 hour, 900+ mile round trip to Oakdale and back. It would be very dangerous and nearly impossible for her to drive it alone. This is nothing but punitive. It is outrageous that the Judge is sending Don to prison at all for something that wasn’t a crime. It’s never been a crime to appoint a contributor to something. Where do Ambassadors come from? From people who raise money for whomever is elected president! If it was not for Richard Scrushy being the contributor and for the government pressuring Nick Bailey, who was facing 40 to 100 years in prison, to lie there would not have been a conviction.

Legal Schnauzer,An Overpowering Stench of Corruption Emanates From U.S. Eleventh Circuit On Siegelman Appeal, Roger Shuler, Aug. 28, 2012. Reports on corruption in the handling of the Don Siegelman case have tended to focus on the trial court, especially Judge Mark Fuller and prosecutors in the Middle District of Alabama. But our review of one critical issue in the Siegelman case shows that the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta botched its ruling in such an outrageous fashion that it almost had to be intentional. The Eleventh Circuit includes 17 judges (seven on senior status) and covers three states -- Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The circuit's decision to uphold bribery convictions against Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy -- contrary to well-settled law -- hints at the kind of dark conspiracy that probably meets the definition of organized crime.

How serious is this? The Siegelman case, by law, could not go to a jury -- much less result in convictions. And yet, Scrushy already has served a six-year federal prison sentence, and Siegelman is due back in federal custody by September 11.  What is the one issue that should have doomed the prosecution's case before it ever reached a jury? It was the statute of limitations, and the facts and the law, show the case against Siegelman and Scrushy was brought almost one full year too late. So regardless of what one thinks about the testimony of key government witness Nick Bailey, the shaky jury instructions, the questionable juror behavior, the weak evidence on a quid pro quo ("something for something") agreement, and the myriad conflicts involving the judge and U.S. attorney . . . none of that should have been a factor.

OpEd News, Dana Siegelman on Her Petition for Presidential Pardon for Dad, Aug. 22, 2012. My guest today is Dana Siegelman, daughter of former Alabama Governor, Don Siegelman. Welcome back to OpEdNews,  Dana. Would you mind talking about how this case has affected you and your brother? You were regular kids who happened to have a father in public office and wham! -- suddenly your lives were turned upside down.

Yes, it was really a blow.  We love our dad and had a hard time wrapping our heads around the indictment.  It wasn't until he was convicted that we learned the facts of the case and realized the great injustice that had been done.  I regret not making my dad explain it all to me earlier.  I just knew he maintained his innocence. I didn't know it was a witch-hunt. Joseph and I went through depression when dad was sentenced the first time and dragged away to prison.  We lost our faith in government, particularly the Justice Department.  We worried about our mom, and we felt ashamed to really show our faces in Alabama.  It helped that I lived overseas and out of state for most of it....When something really horrible happens to you, you have two choices: hide or fight.  I have chosen the latter and won't give up until my dad is free and people are educated. Please help me by sharing the petitionhere at Change.org for a presidential pardon or commutation.

Legal Schnauzer, Child Rapist Jerry Sandusky Received a Favorable Court Ruling That Was Denied to Don Siegelman, Roger Shuler, Aug. 20, 2012. Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was granted a motion that forced prosecutors to provide specifics about charges in his child sexual abuse case. The defendants in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman were denied a similar motion on charges of public corruption. What does that mean? One judge found that Sandusky was entitled to specifics about charges that essentially alleged he was a serial child rapist. Another judge found that Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy were not entitled to specifics about charges that essentially sought to criminalize a standard political transaction.  Does that sound fair to you? Is that what passes for justice in American courts?

The legal document in question is called a motion for a bill of particulars. That one was granted for Sandusky, while one was denied for Siegelman and Scrushy, should raise profound questions in the minds of all thinking citizens. After all, Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 boys. Defendants in the Siegelman case were convicted primarily of federal funds bribery, a charge involving law that is so murky federal judges cannot even agree on proper jury instructions for it. That Siegelman and Scrushy were denied a bill of particulars might be the single most glaring sign that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller handled the case in a crooked fashion. If the prosecution had been forced to provide a bill of particulars, it probably would have shown that the alleged "crimes" took place in summer 1999, while the indictment came in May 2005--meaning the case should have been barred by the five-year statute of limitations.

Associated Press / WAAY-TV, Don Siegelman prays for a longshot, Staff report, Aug. 18, 2012. Several thousand people have signed a petition asking President Barack Obama to keep former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman from spending the next few years in prison. But Siegelman realizes the odds of getting a presidential commutation are about the same as winning a state lottery. More than 5,700 people convicted of federal crimes have asked Obama for a commutation of their sentences. He's granted one.
Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, approved 11 commutation requests out of 8,576 received during his two terms. Those seeking but not getting a commutation included former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who appealed his racketeering and fraud convictions.

Despite the long odds, Siegelman said he's proud of his daughter, Dana, for starting the online petition at Change.org. She launched the effort after a federal judge rejected her request to sentence her father to community service. "The only hope I have — my last chance for freedom — lies in the people signing this petition to the president for a commutation," Siegelman said. The Justice Department reports that 5,739 people have asked Obama for a commutation of their federal sentences. The only one granted was to a drug offender. Of the remainder, 3,793 cases have been denied, and 982 others were closed without presidential action. Petitioning for a presidential commutation is more difficult than getting a presidential pardon. The Justice Department reports Obama has approved 22 pardons out of 1,143 requests. But pardons can't be issued until after a federal prisoner has completed a sentence, which wouldn't do Siegelman any good at this point.

WHNT, Siegelman Talks About Final Weeks Of Freedom, Lee Marshall, Aug. 17, 2012. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman visited Huntsville on Friday and spoke with WHNT News 19 about his prison sentence and his final weeks of freedom. Earlier this month, Siegelman lost his appeal and was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison. He was ordered to report by September 11, 2012. We spoke with him about that day, which is just over three weeks away. “Well frankly, it’s not something I like thinking about,” Siegelman said. “That’s the day I will leave my family, the day I will not be able to see my children anymore.” Siegelman, now a convicted felon, has lost his law license and his right to vote. He hasn’t lost hope, though. He has one shot left to stay a free man, but it’s a long one. T

Washington Post, Campaign contribution or bribe? Robert Barnes, Aug. 12, 2012. Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman heads back to prison next month, contrite about and embarrassed by his bribery conviction. Siegelman’s long and tangled legal journey — the charges date back to a 1999 state referendum — appears to be over. But the debate over “the line where a campaign contribution becomes a bribe,” especially relevant in a year when campaign spending has become a paramount issue, shows no signs of fading away. Not long before Siegelman learned his fate, a different federal judge who had presided over a different public corruption trial in the same Montgomery courthouse issued his own demarcation plea. “The Supreme Court needs to address this issue and provide guidance to the lower courts, prosecutors, politicians, donors and the general public,” wrote U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1980.

Justice Integrity Project, Siegelman Sentence Cements Judicial Scandal In History, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 6, 2012. The country’s most notorious federal judge Aug. 3 sentenced former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to 78 months more in prison on trumped-up corruption convictions. The proceedings cement into history a national disgrace for the justice system. The infamy is parallel on the world stage to France's sentence of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus to Devil's Island on phony charges more than a century ago. U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery, a longtime Republican partisan, also imposed a $50,000 fine payable immediately by a man who has already spent vast amounts on legal bills to defend himself from a prosecution that cost United States taxpayers an estimated $100 million.

Justice Integrity Project, Reporters Allege Criminal Ties By Siegelman Judge, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 15, 2012. Two investigative reporters alleged on Aug. 14 serious wrongdoing decades ago by the Alabama federal trial judge who presided over the 2006 trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges.