Court Ruling Against Siegelman Compels New Strategies


A federal appeals court last week rejected former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s latest appeal, thus inflicting a devastating defeat upon those who seek a rule of law in the United States.

The misguided but unanimous ruling announced May 20 by the Atlanta-based court requires new and more aggressive political priorities by justice seekers nationwide who have long been appalled by one of America’s worst human rights abuses.

Don SiegelmanWe need to recognize more publicly that the vaunted U.S. system can inflict injustice repeatedly with utter ruthlessness and impunity in selective political prosecutions and cover-ups.

Redress must go beyond polite court filings that omit the most important and sensitive allegations for fear of antagonizing already biased judges. For similar reasons, petition drives are fine but are likely to remain ineffective when relevant officials are determined to protect their peers' reputations by continuing to wreak injustice.

Naïve individuals believe the conventional wisdom that judicial and prosecutorial misconduct occurs only overseas, or else in isolated and corrupt U.S. localities.

Instead, certain prosecutions authorized at top federal levels are designed to ruin political enemies like Siegelman — his state’s most prominent Democrat during his 1999 to 2003 term and in the years shortly thereafter. An additional motive is to protect the reputations of important institutions, as in the cover-ups that have thwarted Siegelman, his co-defendants and many other victims around the nation.

As in the Siegelman case, opportunists within the Obama Justice Department illustrated their craven deference to the powerful by last week’s settlement announced by Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch of a criminal case against five major banks that bilked their customers of billions by manipulating trades. Details: Five big banks agree to pay more than $5 billion to settle regulatory charges.

For additional background, one need look no farther than the Obama administration's continued suppression of documents that could expose the real murderers of President Kennedy in 1963.

In 1967, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison outlined that case with impressive logic that matched the common sense of the public then and now, as measured by public opinion polls showing majorities sometimes reaching 80 percent of those polled who have not believed the Warren Commission's finding that one man acting alone killed the president from behind. A look at Garrison's compelling video explanation here shows why the public is correct to disregard official statements about Kennedy's fate. Consider also how rare it is these days for court officials to address such vital topics candidly and courageously in the manner of Garrison.

In dozens of columns since 2009, this editor and the Justice Integrity Project have documented massive misconduct by the prosecution and judiciary in the Siegelman case alone, not counting similar patterns elsewhere.

Our revelations have also cited the comparable work by other researchers. Therefore, they comprise a mind-boggling record of legal misconduct and infliction of pseudo-legal suffering for political reasons on defendant families and their communities – all with scant corrective action by oversight institutions.

There is little point in repeating details, which can be found via the search function on this site and elsewhere, as well as via links below.

More important for now is to note in broad terms how the Obama and Bush Justice Departments and the federal court system have disgraced themselves. That harsh truth is a first step to the steps needed for reform.

The Court Decision

As for recent specifics, the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals continued its shameful conduct in a prosecution stemming from Siegelman’s 1999 actions as governor to help secure funding for the Alabama Education Foundation, which David M. Ebaladvocated creation of a state lottery to increase state revenue that could be used for public schools.

Its 26-page decision was by Senior U.S. Circuit Judge David Ebel, shown in a file photo. He was a visiting judge to Atlanta. His normal courtroom is with the 10th Circuit in Denver, where he has presided since his 1988 appointment by President Reagan.

Jill A. Pryor JudgeConcurring in the decision were Senior Judge Peter T. Fay of Miami, appointed in 1975 by President Ford, and Judge Jill Pryor of Atlanta. Shown in a file photo, she was confirmed by the Senate in 2014 with 58 votes following a two-year confirmation battle after her nomination by President Obama in 2012. We requested comment from each of the judges. Fay and Pryor declined comment. We shall update this column with any received from Ebel.

Siegelman issued a comment May 26, excerpted here and reprinted in full below: The Need To Keep Fighting For Change.

Siegelman’s seemingly routine actions activated an oft-hidden alliance of those opposed to Democrats and their policies. For example, GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff told us after his release from prison that he had arranged for $20 million in donations, primarily from non-Alabama casinos who opposed competition. They fought Siegelman and his schools plan in a secret alliance with Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition.

Abramoff became an advocate of political and legal reform, with his memoir Capitol Punishment describing how the coalition used casino gambling money he and his colleagues helped launder to fund anti-gambling, anti-Siegelman moral crusading.

The court ruling illustrates once again how, as often reported here and elsewhere, Siegelman has been framed by political forces so strong that neither ordinary exposure (as in a major CBS News "60 Minutes" report in Jack Abramoff "Capitol Punishment" cover2008) or legal filings can bring him justice.

Up to now, the governor imprisoned on dubious corruption charges for 1999 conduct has sought with his defense counsel, family, and core supporters to file legal appeals that side-step revelations that could best illuminate the frame-up, which would doubtless antagonize supervisory judges and those who appointed them.

Thus, the Siegelman team and supporters have proceeded gingerly via two trials, many appeals to higher courts (including two unsuccessful hearing requests to the U.S. Supreme Court), and public relations campaigns that targeted former White House advisor Karl Rove but avoided other irregularities.

Barack Obama and Eric Holder, Jan. 8, 2014Their strategies have also included petitioning for a presidential pardon, with more than 70,000 signatures so far in addition to at least that many protests to the Bush and Obama administrations before their campaign formalized.

Yet the Obama administration remains, like its Bush predecessors, implacably opposed to fairness, proportionality or even production of documents required under the law. The president his shown in a 2014 White House photo with his close friend Eric Holder, his attorney general for six years until recently. Holder and his Solicitor General Elena Kagan, another close Obama friend and now sitting on the Supreme Court, vigorously opposed renewed hearings of the Siegelman case. In June 2009, Holder fired a major whistleblower, Tamarah Grimes, the department's top paralegal during Siegelman's second trial.

Thus, at age 68, Siegelman is scheduled to remain imprisoned until release in 2017.

Despite his requests to be imprisoned closer to friends and family in Alabama, authorities have been keeping him in Louisiana facility in Oakdale that maintains the isolation they have periodically imposed on him with solitary confinement and weeks of intra-prison travel in shackles for undisclosed reasons.

Leura CanaryIn what was likely Siegelman’s last realistic appellate chance, the court rejected his well-argued grounds for new trial. A paraphrase of the issues is below, with the more specific language available in the above-referenced court decision:

First, the court denied Siegelman the opportunity to pursue more discovery of his solid leads that Montgomery-based U.S. Attorney Leura Canary (shown in a file photo), wife of Business Council of Alabama CEO William Canary, failed to recuse herself fully from the prosecution, as she had claimed in 2002. Siegelman has been unsuccessfully seeking the recusal documents since 2006 as part of what should have been mandated pre-trial disclosure under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brady holding requiring production of documents for defendants.

Like the Bush Justice Department, the Obama Justice Department and the courts thereby imposed a “Catch 22” on Siegelman: They denied Siegelman access to the evidence they controlled that could have given him a new trial, and then ruled he did not have enough evidence to prove his case.  In the background was a whole series of conflicts, including William Canary’s role backing Siegelman’s Republican opponents. Siegelman was succeeded by two-term Gov. Bob Riley (2003-2011).

Second, the appellate judges rejected Siegelman’s complaint that the sentence imposed by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery (shown below in a file photo) violated due process because Fuller punished Siegelman for prosecution allegations unproven at trial, as evidenced by jury acquittals for two-thirds of the prosecution’s viciously overstated indictment. The appellate judges ruled that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in using for sentencing purposes conduct not proven in court.

A Travesty

Federal Judge Mark E. FullerAnyone taking a close look at this frame-up needs to reevaluate conventional wisdom about the integrity of the federal court system and such oversight institutions as Congress and the news media.

For the latest appeal, Siegelman was represented pro bono by Skadden Arps partner Gregory Craig, President Obama’s first White House counsel and an otherwise prominent member of the bar. For decades following graduation from Yale Law School, Craig had been a top partner at the powerhouse law firm Williams & Connolly, which represented a Who's Who of luminaries and institutions in the nation's capitol. These have included the Washington Post, former CIA Director Richard Helms, Georgetown University, and both Republicans and Democrats at the presidential level.

In sum, the defense team was about as well-connected and expert as any defendant could want. Yet appellate legal arguments select only a few issues, especially in seeking Supreme Court review. As a result, practicing attorneys have difficulty conveying a challenge to the fairness if not integrity of multiple players, including judges who advanced their careers by either donating or receiving far more clear-cut donations than those at issue for Siegelman. Appellate judges can thus protect the system by swatting down one-by-one, "Whack-a-Mole" style, the relatively few arguments offered by Siegelman.

The civic-minded public has been on notice of Siegelman’s likely frame-up at least since the nation’s most popular television show, CBS “60 Minutes,” broadcast an exposé in February 2008. Although the broadcast was hard-hitting, it vastly understated abuses because it reported none of the documentation it possessed proving the trial judge’s massive conflicts of interest.

The omitted matters included the judge's control — hidden from the defense — of between 32 and 44 percent of the defense contractor Doss Aviation at various times, dwarfing the holdings of other shareholders. From 2006 to 2009, Doss received some $300 million in no-bid Bush federal contracts to train pilots and refuel Air Force planes. This was precisely the time that the corrupt trial judge was issuing many outrageously wrong-headed pro-prosecution rulings. Also, Fuller, then married to Lisa Boyd Fuller, was conducting an adulterous affair with his married court clerk Kelli Gregg, who was doubtless in a position to know of the judge's maneuvers in the Siegelman case.

Congress and both the Bush and Obama Justice Departments have made a pretense of oversight on rare occasions of the Siegelman prosecution in the same manner of their whitewashes of other Justice Department scandals. The so-called Office of Professional Responsibility at the department is cowardly, under-funded bad joke, justly nicknamed in legal circles "The Roach Motel" — because complaints go in, but nothing comes out.

Founded in the late 1970s by Attorney Gen. Edward Levi with high aspirations and rhetoric, the office has deteriorated into a propaganda tool for the government to pretend to the public the department probes alleged misconduct by its employees diligently when a valid complaint is received. The separate Inspector General's office is little better, much like its Inspector General counterparts throughout Washington's departments and agencies.

Such bodies, including the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, have repeatedly failed to seek available testimony from whistleblowers who wanted to expose the institutional corruption in the Siegelman case. Neither the Executive Branch investigators nor a do-nothing Congress under both Republicans and Democrats have ever publicly examined Siegelman case allegations under oath with informed questions. The Democrats' much-touted 2009 questions of former Bush White House advisor Karl Rove was a whitewash, as both our project, Alabama blogger Roger Shuler and others repeatedly documented at the time.

In contrast, federal and state governments have spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to investigate Siegelman and keep him behind bars in a vendetta that began in 1999.

Remarkably, new scandals about the oversight process are still coming to light.

Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy has provided to the Justice Integrity Project a statement alleging that the media have consistently misreported a major prosecution claim in that case.

For many years, reporters have quoted prosecutors and each other as stating that Scrushy donated $500,000 to the Alabama Education Foundation in an irregular transaction intended to secure his appointment from Siegelman to a position on Alabama's Certificates of Need (CON) Review Board. The circuit court's decision last week uses the $500,000 figure also. A donation of $500,000 reeks of suspected criminality, especially to TV and newspaper consumers in a low-wage state like Alabama.

But Scrushy, now released from a seven-year prison term stemming entirely from his donation, says the amount was actually a corporate donation of $250,000, much like some other companies gave to the education foundation, as trial testimony indicted but has been seldom reported since.

The former CEO of a billion-dollar company insists that Siegelman never got a penny of the donation and that the donation was not unique among major Alabama corporations such as the one he controlled. Further, Scrushy said he had given political donations directly to three previous governors who had appointed him to the CON board but that he never asked to serve under Siegelman and did so at Siegelman’s request with the intention of resigning after a year.

Businessman Richard Scrushy of Selma is shown in a family photo with one of his nine children during his 70-month frame-up, with all convictions entirely for making a donation to the non-profit group Siegelman advocated for improving education. Here are Scrushy's remarks, reported here exclusively:

Richard Scrushy and son“Always remember and make it clear that Gov Siegelman never received any money or benefit from any of this, not one dime. All of this is a fairy tale. They took different facts and pieced them together — and then said that I gave the Governor $500,000 for a seat on the CON [Certificate of Need] board that I had sat on under three governors prior to the Siegelman appointment, two Democrats and two Republicans.

"I had resigned under [former Gov.] Fob James and Seigelman asked that I go back on the board. He gave me a three-year appointment, but I told him I would only serve one year and that is what I did. I resigned after one year. So why would I pay a bribe to get an appointment that I didn't want?”

Also, Scrushy told interviewer Sharron Williams more detail, which she reported to the Justice Integrity Project as follows:

 "Another testimony that the press will not ever print is the testimony of Elmer Harris, who was the transition chief for the governor and the president of Alabama Power. Mr. Harris testified that Richard Scrushy did not want to serve on the Certificate of Need board and that he had to convince Richard Scrushy that it was good for the state and that the governor needed his experience on that board. Richard said, 'Okay, but I will only serve one more year,' which is what he did and then he resigned."

Most damning to the government, Scrushy has long insisted without rebuttal that he refused a plea deal if he would testify falsely against Siegelman.

Think about that kind of ruthless use of power, which deep study of the justice system shows is not unique when overzealous authorities seek convictions. 

Another recent development was the arrest of Fuller, the former trial judge, last August in Atlanta on a misdemeanor charge of beating his second wife, Kelli Gregg Fuller. The former court clerk promptly divorced him.

Sources have said the beating was not an isolated incident although Fuller and his defenders say he was merely trying to defend himself from his wife's false accusation that he was having an affair with a more junior courthouse clerk where he had presided as chief judge for an eight-year term. Beginning in 2009, Fuller and his attorneys have declined our requests for comment on his various actions.

The federal appellate judges in Atlanta have temporarily stripped Fuller of his caseload while continuing his pay, and launched a still-continuing probe on whether additional sanctions can be enforced against him despite his lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

Earlier, they had sought a Florida judge's opinion on whether Fuller's Doss holdings (since sold) represented a conflict of interest.

That judge white-washed Fuller's activities using impressive-sounding legal terms and highly selective precedents to avoid the real issue: Few judges, as this case has proven again and again, are willing to rebuke a colleague in any serious manner, especially regarding money issues.

Until proven otherwise, the public is entitled to believe on the basis of this track record that far too many judges want to protect the job's near-unlimited power — for those sufficiently crafty, greedy, secretive and ruthless — to enrich themselves, their families, and allies in the manner of Fuller, with minimal disclosure and possibility of sanction. Financial disclosure for judges is merely in a range of finances, and typically delayed for at least two years because of the timeless and voluntary nature of disclosure in the interim. Recent precedents indicate that outrageous sex scandals are one of the few actions that can bring sanction to a federal judge. 

Fuller hired a Fulton County courthouse insider in Atlanta who persuaded the local judge to vacate the wife-beating charge after Fuller completed a pre-trial diversion program.

Nonetheless, most major news organizations in Alabama and top federal elected politicians have called for Fuller’s resignation. Among them were U.S. Senators Dick Shelby (R) and Jeff Sessions, who had backed their fellow Republican Fuller at his 2002 confirmation hearing.

What's Next

The appellate court investigation continues, with occasional prods by U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IO) and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL). Grassley last month requested an update on the investigation's status. Sewell has called for Fuller’s impeachment, albeit from the weak position of a junior member of the House minority and Alabama's only Democratic federally elected office holder. But the Republican-run House Judiciary Committee has taken contingency steps to fund an impeachment inquiry.

Siegelman's supporters have raised start-up funds for Killing Atticus Finch, a projected video about his case. They have recently added Hollywood actress and longtime Siegelman supporter Mimi Kennedy to their documentary team. Realistically, however, there is no shortage of documentation of the injustice occurring in this case.

A disclaimer is appropriate here about the role of the Justice Integrity Project, which is a supporter of the Siegelman fight for freedom but operates independently of his team's specific tactics.

Our project does not solicit nor accept funds from Siegelman, other news subjects, or their supporters. Thus, none of them can influence our actions that way — or be held responsible for what we write. Our constituency is the larger public, a distinction especially relevant in this kind of case whereby defendants are under the control of the judges and prison system, and remain so to a large extent even after release from prison.

That said, we argue that the shortfall in this case is decent behavior by public officials who understand that every day of their silence and cowardice attaches the corruption of this case to their own legacies.

What's next needed is repeated public shaming of the responsible authorities, including President Obama, former President Bush, their prosecutors, and the presiding judges.

They have assaulted the public, not just defendants, with their corrupt judgments and cowardice in this and similar cases.

Only aggrieved citizens, not vulnerable defendants, can fight back to protect the public interest.

 

This column was updated May 26, 2015

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Background


Who's Who? Chart Prepared by Siegelman Supporters

Siegelman Case Relationship Chart

Public Appearances

Justice Integrity Project Editor Andrew Kreig speaks on two panels Sunday, May 31 and will sign copies of his book Presidential Puppetry. The venue is The Left Forum  at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which is part of the City University of New York (CUNY). The address is 524 W. 59 St. in Manhattan. Each panel uses history to illuminate the range of possibilities in current affairs.

 

Related News Coverage

Update: Defendant's May 26 Comment on Appellate Court Ruling May 20, 2015

DonSiegelman.org, The Need To Keep Fighting For Change, Don Siegelman (shown in a photo at the federal correctional center at Oakdale, LA), May 26, 2015. The recent denial of my appeal underscores the need for us to keep fighting for change. The fact that what I did wasn't a crime Don Siegelman at Oakdaleuntil the judicial decision that sent me to prison is an anomaly in American Jurisprudence. Unfortunately, recent efforts by the Innocence Project and The Equal Justice Initiative have proven that many innocent people have been convicted and at least one executed. For too long, our system has been driven by a mass incarceration mandate created by our "Wars" on drugs and crime, a "Get tough on crime","Lock'em up and throw away the key" mentality that has led to the U.S. having the largest prison population the world has ever known. Here is one reason why: The U.S. Solicitor General argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that: "U.S. Citizens do not have a constitutional right not to be framed." (January 4, 2010, reported by the Los Angeles Times, January 5th, 2010). This damning pronouncement by the President's lawyer came in a case where two men had spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime they didn't commit. They were suing Iowa law enforcement for civil damages for willfully and intentionally framing them. Iowa law enforcement had made a deal with a felon that he would get a light sentence if he would testify against the two men.

That's what happened in my case. The government's key witness, Nick Bailey, described by CBS's Scott Pelly as a "crook," was told by prosecutors that they would recommend "no time in prison" if he would say what needed to be said. The witness told CBS 60 Minutes that he was made to write his proposed testimony over and over until he got his story straight. (CBS 60 Minutes, 2/24/08.)

A paralegal working for the Department of Justice filed a formal whistleblower complaint telling the U.S. Attorney General that she witnessed the prosecutors pressuring the witness and cajoling him to get him to say what the prosecutors wanted. She produced emails to support her claims. Instead of bringing her and the exculpatory evidence forward, the prosecutors and the Department of Justice had her fired. They refuse to release information to this day.
Unfortunately, this use of felons to produce false testimony to get convictions is common place in U.S.courts. My point is the fight for justice is much bigger than just me and my case. The President has the power to make things right.
He can issue pardons and shorten sentences but he can also change the mandate from one of an insatiable appetite for convictions to a mandate seeking the the truth and justice. The President appoints the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, all federal judges and all U.S. Attorneys. He sets the policies for what happens in our justice system. The President has the power to balance the scales of justice.

One question we should ask ourselves when considering who to support for President in 2016 is: "Will this person, as President, reset America's moral compass?"

Associated Press via WFSA-TV (Montgomery), 11th Circuit upholds Siegelman conviction, sentence, Staff report, May 20, 2015. A federal appeals court has upheld the bribery conviction and prison sentence of former Alabama Gov. Don Don Siegelman 60 MinutesSiegelman [shown in a CBS "60 Minutes" show documenting how he has been framed for political reasons]. The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Siegelman was not entitled to a new trial. The judges also upheld Siegelman's 78-month sentence. The ruling is the latest legal blow to Siegelman, who has been fighting to overturn his 2006 conviction in a government corruption case. A federal jury convicted Siegelman of appointing former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a state board in exchange for campaign donations. Siegelman, a Democrat, had argued that a prosecutor with ties to GOP politics remained involved in his case despite her recusal. Federal judges said there was no evidence she influenced the prosecution team. Siegelman is projected to get out of prison in 2017.

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.

Montgomery Advertiser, Fuller probe moving swiftly, judge says, Mary Troyan, May 1, 2015.
 
Washington Post, Five big banks agree to pay more than $5 billion to settle regulatory charges, Steven Mufson and Jonnelle Marte, May 20, 2015. U.S. and overseas financial firms were accused of interest rate and currency manipulation.

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.

Montgomery Advertiser, Congress plans budget for Fuller impeachment, Mary Troyan, Feb. 6, 2015. Mark Fuller Mug ShotThe House committee responsible for judicial impeachments has asked for a budget increase in case it needs to initiate proceedings against U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Alabama, who has been charged with battery. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said this week that the committee may need the extra money to establish an impeachment task force, hire lawyers and conduct an investigation. Although impeaching Fuller is only a possibility — his colleagues on the federal bench could decide not to recommend that option, or Fuller could resign — the budget request signals Congress is taking steps to prepare for what historically has been a rare but lengthy process. “We are closely monitoring the recent arrest and ongoing prosecution” of Fuller, Goodlatte told the House Administration Committee on Wednesday. Joining Goodlatte in presenting the budget request was the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan. Fuller, a federal judge in Montgomery since 2002, was charged with misdemeanor battery after an August incident involving his then-wife in an Atlanta hotel room. If he successfully completes a pretrial diversion program of domestic violence counseling and drug and alcohol screenings, his criminal record will be wiped clean.

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

AP via Yahoo News, Oregon governor faces ethics allegations, calls to resign, Associated Press, Jonathan J. Cooper, Feb. 6, 2014. Oregon's governor is struggling to deal with allegations that his fiancee used his position to land clients for her environmental consulting business, claims that have drawn an ethics investigation and the scrutiny of the state's attorney general. Although his role in arranging the deals isn't clear, the scandal has posed a threat to the decades-long political career of four-term Democrat John Kitzhaber, Oregon's longest-serving governor. The editorial board at the state's largest newspaper, The Oregonian, called for him to resign this week, saying the controversy has become such a distraction that he can't effectively lead. Two advisers to the Republican he defeated last year took early steps Friday to begin a recall effort.