Siegelman Update On Capitol Hill Streamed Live April 21, Archived


The Justice Integrity Project delivered an update on Capitol Hill streamed live April 21 regarding the notorious and continuing imprisonment of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman for fundraising in 1999.

People Demanding Action Executive Director Andrea Miller introduced this editor to speak about the case to her group during its monthly roundtable held at the Cannon House Office Building. The talk portraying the case was for 15 minutes beginning 36 minutes into the event.

Free Don SiegelmanThe stream will be embedded on PeopleDemandingAction.org for two weeks. The live stream became a YouTube show. Here is a direct link to the roundtable video.

The talk began with thanks to the group conveyed to the group from the state's last Democratic governor, whose term was 1999 to 2003. Siegelman continues to be imprisoned in Louisiana on federal corruption charges primarily stemming from his 1999 request to one of Alabama's then richest businessmen, HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, to donate to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation. The purpose was to help retire its debt for its ongoing advocacy campaign for a referendum to improve funding for K-12 schools with proceeds from a proposed state lottery.

To recap, courts have consistently upheld Siegelman's convictions following two trials even though an unprecedented coalition of 113 former state attorneys general -- the chief law enforcers in more than 40 states -- have argued that his actions did not constitute a bribe or other corruption crime.

I summarized his defense at the Capital Hill discussion, and then requested that listeners visit the DonSiegelman.org website to sign a petition for a presidential pardon.

My overview noted the worldwide notoriety of the case in human rights circles and the enormous burden on the state's one-time leading Democrat. I added these updates:

  • Scrushy, shown in a file photo with his son during his seven-year imprisonment on corruption charges from the donation, has underscored following his release that the figure of a $500,000 used at trial and in news accounts since then is completely bogus and needlessly sinister-sounding. Scrushy says the donation was a $250,000 corporate donation, much like other major companies provided to the Alabama Education Foundation and many other causes; and
  • U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this month has asked the federal appeals court in Atlanta supervising Alabama, Florida and Georgia federal cases for a status update on Siegelman's disgraced trial judge, Mark Fuller of Montgomery. Fuller, chief U.S. district judge during Siegelman's second trial after the first judge pressured prosecutors for more evidence, has been stripped of his caseload after being arrested in Atlanta in August on a misdemeanor charge of beating his wife.

The former governor, now 68, has been continually investigated by political opponents since he took office in 1999. Among other reprisals, authorities have targeted with prosecutions and other reprisals a number of whistleblowers and bloggers who have risen to his defense through the years. Siegelman is not scheduled for release until mid-2018, and would be under court supervision even after that for three years.

Siegelman, given his vulnerable circumstances in prison in the courts as he awaits the results from another appeal to what have proven to be hostile courts, makes merely mainstream requests of his audience, as always: Learn about such cases as his, sign the petition, consider support for a film documentary about his case entitled "Killing Atticus Finch," and support for prison reform efforts affecting others.

Don SiegelmanIndependent film producer and director Steve Wimberly has been seeking crowd funding to support his project. It has a powerful preview "trailer" about the case, which he introduces as "Atticus Finch: How an innocent man was politically assassinated by some of the most notorious names in America.”  

Atticus Finch was the Alabama-born fictional hero of the 1950s Harper Lee novel and movie To Kill a Mockingbird about the courts and racial injustice.

My own presentation briefly provided a darker view of the legal and political system, but also a hopeful note of lessons learned for effective citizen action in the cause of the reform. The gist is that a Pollyanna view of faith in the courts and media may be misplaced when the stakes are high.

So is, for the most part, hope that an individual can somehow achieve results if only their cause is documented.

The top-rated television show CBS Sixty Minutes documented the Siegelman injustice in 2008 and well over 100,000 people have submitted petition signatures, phone calls, and other protests to both the Bush and Obama administrations in protests.

Sadly, there have been minimal positive results so far.

One positive result has been to help fund his legal expenses against what were clearly tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds drawn from Alabama and federal coffers. One can speculate the motivations for such vast spending.

But my message, which I think more productive at this point, is to underscore lessons learned about how "the system" works. We must use such knowledge for effective advocacy, both on Siegelman's behalf and for similar causes, including other injustices within the legal system.

One such lesson is that group action, including through the kinds events that People Demanding Action have fostered, can sustain important momentum that ultimately has an impact on government and the media.

My talk emphasized that message, which I was scheduled to reiterate at a public forum Thursday, April 23, at the University of Hartford, and in other upcoming discussions, including by radio.
 
As we have often reported here, there is a KEY to success: Knowledge Empowers You.
 
 
Editor's Note: This column was updated to report that the event livestream is over and that the video will be available at the direct link for two more weeks.
 
Correction: Gov. Siegelman was never authorized to receive a pension for his long service, as originally reported. He responded, "I never had a pension. State constitutional officers are not provided one nor are they allowed to participate in the state retirement system for state employees. So I never had a pension. The court didn't strip me of it."
 
Update
Legal Schnauzer, Eleventh Circuit panel uses cheat job on Richard Scrushy to justify its latest cheat job on Don Siegelman, Roger Shuler, May 21, 2015. In its ruling announced May 20 denying the appeal of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals virtually ignored perhaps the single most important issue -- that, under the law, the former governor is entitled to discovery on whether former U.S. attorney Leura Canary abided by her supposed recusal in the case. The panel used a fancy legal term called "law of the case." Is Siegelman out of options? Technically, the answer is no. He could seek an en banc hearing of the full Eleventh Circuit (minus Birmingham-based Bill Pryor, who has enough conflicts in the matter to sink the USS Missouri.) He also could seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court, which already has declined to hear the case once. A presidential pardon is not out of the question. But the grim truth is this: The federal judiciary and the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) are deeply invested in covering up scandalous actions in the Siegelman case, so it's hard to see help coming from either of them.
 
 
Andrew Kreig and "POresidential Puppetry" at University of Hartford, April 23, 2015Additionally, this editor has been delivering such messages and interacting with audiences frequently and invites more such meetings. The next is scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23  at the University of Hartford. Hosted at the monthly "Progressive Movie Night," he will describe his latest research regarding the Bush and Clinton dynasties in the context of the themes of "Presidential Puppetry" and research results regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The author will also sign books and recognize the pioneering contributions to JFK research by the late University of Hartford Professor George Michael Evica, author of "And We Are All Mortal" and "A Certain Arrogance." 
 
 
Contact the author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 

 

Selected Justice Integrity Project Coverage

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.

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

 

 

 

Background


Who's Who? Chart Prepared by Siegelman Supporters

Siegelman Case Relationship Chart

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Legal Schnauzer, Judge Claud Neilson earns dubious "award" for sending me to jail and trampling the First Amendment, Roger Shuler (shown in 2013 mug shot), April 21, 2015. The Alabama judge who unlawfully ordered my incarceration in a defamation Roger Shulercase has been cited for committing one of the year's "more egregious or ridiculous affronts to free expression." The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, based at the University of Virginia, has been issuing "Jefferson Muzzles Awards" for 24 years to those who have wantonly Claud Neilsontrampled First Amendment rights. Claud Neilson (shown in court), a retired circuit judge the Alabama Supreme Court specially appointed to hear a lawsuit brought against me by Republican political figures Rob Riley and Liberty Duke, was among eight individuals or entities to receive "Muzzles Awards" for 2014-15. Josh Wheeler, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center, says the "Muzzles" are designed to spotlight First Amendment violations that might not have made front pages around the world.

Reuters via Huffinton Post, The Koch Brothers Are Reportedly Ready To Back Scott Walker, April 20, 2015. Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, the influential conservative donors, have settled on Wisconsin Governor Scott Scott WalkerWalker as their top choice to win the 2016 Republican nomination for U.S. president, the New York Times reported on Monday. David Koch said at a fundraiser for the New York State Republican Party on Monday that he and his brother would support the party's eventual nominee in the general election, but that it should be Walker (shown in a file photo). The Koch brothers plan to spend nearly $900 million during the 2016 campaign cycle. Walker already has allied himself with the more conservative wing of his party, making statements such as saying he would not support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Washington Post, DEA chief to step down after ‘sex parties’ scandal, Ellen Nakashima, April 21, 2015, Michele Leonhart’s departure follows the release of an inspector general report that detailed a series of incidents alleging Michele Leonhartmisconduct by agents, including parties with prostitutes paid for by cartels. Editor's note: As illustration of the breakdown by both Congress and the Obama administration of their core duties, the Bush appointee (shown in an official photo) was named acting administrator in 2007 by George W. Bush but has never received a confirmation vote while being continued by the Obama administration.

TPM Livewire, Lindsey Graham: My Pro-Israel Funding May Produce 'All-Jewish Cabinet,' Brendan James, April 21, 2015. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that if he chooses to run for President, "pro-Israel funding" may cause him to assemble "the first all-Jewish cabinet" in America. "If I put together a finance team that will make me financially competitive enough to stay in this thing…I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America because of the pro-Israel funding," Graham reportedly said, chuckling. "Bottom line is, I’ve got a lot of support from the pro-Israel funding," he added. Editor's Note: Graham joked about a quid pro quo far more direct than anything even suggested in the Siegelman case.

Washington Post, FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades, Spencer S. Hsu, April 17, 2015. Forensic hair matches were overstated in many cases heard before 2000, including those of 32 defendants sentenced to death, FBI logothe FBI and the Justice Department acknowledged after a review.

Politico, The Pulitzer Prize Scam: For the 99th straight year, they’ve convinced the American people they matter, Jack Shafer, April 20, 2015. Abandon everything you’ve ever been told about cynical journalists. If you want to melt the frozen heart of a reporter, just whisper in his ear that he’s a finalist in some journalism prize contest. It won’t matter how insignificant or unknown the prize is, whether it’s local or national, whether he’s won one before or not, or whether it comes with a cash prize or just an acrylic trophy. Most journalists can refer to themselves as “prize winning” in their biographical notes because prizes seem to outnumber journalists these days. “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes,” as the Dodo says at the conclusion of the caucus race in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.