A Letter to George Will
Yesterday the Washington Post published a column about the Siegelman case from, of all people, George Will. He is widely syndicated, and the column was assuredly in papers throughout the country. Here is a link to the column:
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.
Upon completion, I immediately summoned Sancho for another frontal assault on the national media windmill that, to date, has survived intact, wholly unharmed from my offensives.
The following letter was hastily written and sent to the e-mail address provided at the end of Will's column. First, though, allow me to make note of Will's early use of the phrase, "Rule of Law." That one never fails to set my bullshit detector pulsating bright red. What it really means is, "The Rule of Law, as I see it, and as it supports my particular ideology, is...."
But that's tangential. Here's the letter George Will is unlikely to see, much less read:
From : Eddie Curran
Author: “The Governor of Goat Hill: Don Siegelman, the Reporter Who Exposed His Crimes, and the Hoax that Suckered Some of the Top Names in Journalism.”
Web-site for book: http://www.eddiecurran.com/home.html
Dear Mr. Will,
As a former reporter – in fact, the one who did the stories on the Siegelman/Scrushy donations – I realize there are times when someone approaches a journalist with a set of facts that support a storyline, and makes a sale, so to speak. I suspect that happened here. I don’t believe there is any way that you could both have a grasp of the bizarre nature of the $500,000 “campaign contributions” in this part of the Siegelman case and then characterize the case as you did.
My guess is that you did not even trouble yourself to read the 11th Circuit’s opinion upholding the bribery elements of the Siegelman case.
If you are unable to answer the following questions, it means that you are too unfamiliar with the case to be qualified to offer the opinion you offered.
1. Were the two $250,000 “campaign contributions” publicly disclosed in a timely fashion, as is required of campaign contributions? If not, when were they disclosed, and why?
2. Were the “contributions” disclosed on the “Lottery Foundation’s” public tax returns, called 990s? If not in a timely fashion, why not? (For that matter, did the Foundation file and make available its 990s?)
3. Was there testimony at trial that made the case for an explicit deal between Siegelman and Scrushy?
4. Can you characterize any of that testimony?
5. Can you identify the name on the check – the donor -- of the first $250,000, or provide any of the circumstances surrounding that check? For example, are you familiar with the pivotal role played in getting that money to HealthSouth, and from there to Siegelman, by New York-based investment bankers with UBS Warburg?
6. Can you identify the person who testified: “He said that, you, meaning me, was ‘going to be fucked’ if I don’t figure out a way to make the donation?” Do you know who the person is who said that (to the person who gave the testimony), and can you describe the context in which it was said?
7. Are you aware that a Maryland healthcare company gave the first $250,000? Do you know why?
8. Do you believe, as apparently does the NY Times and “60 Minutes,” that Karl Rove in some fashion directed the Justice Department to prosecute Siegelman?
9. Was Siegelman a former attorney general, and a member of the group of former attorneys generals who lobbied heavily for support of that group? How many were Republicans? Do you think this was part of a public relations effort? How many of those signees do you think could answer any of the questions in the quiz above, which is only scratching the surface.
10. Did Siegelman or Scrushy testify at trial?
11. Do you believe it should be legal for a public official to link public action on his part to financial acts by another party, whether as outright gifts of money, campaign contributions, or such as the matter in this case (an animal all its own, really, that being one reason why this case hardly seems a good fit for the Supreme Court to address the matter.)
Siegelman, incidentally, also has another charge outstanding against him that has nothing to do with the Scrushy matter. Many of the worst things he did were not included in the prosecution, but that’s another matter. I feel sure you know some people involved in Republican politics in Alabama. You might ask them what they think of Siegelman, and not, was he liberal or conservative, but corrupt, to say nothing of someone who routinely threatened donors with retribution should they not give.
I doubt you have seen any of this, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.