Don Siegelman is the former Democratic Governor of Alabama who was prosecuted and convicted of corruption and bribery charges by the Bush Department of Justice. He is currently serving a seven year sentence. His case has drawn attention recently, because of evidence that political considerations led Karl Rove and the Bush White House to interfere in the federal investigation that resulted in Siegelman’s indictment and subsequent trial.
Now forty-four (that’s 44 for those who prefer numeric symbols) former states attorney generals have petitioned Congress to investigate the Bush administration’s involvement in the decision to prosecute Gov. Siegelman:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Forty-four former state attorneys general have asked Congress to investigate whether politics at the Justice Department influenced the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges. […]
Last month, a GOP lawyer who once worked on the campaign of Republican Gov. Bob Riley signed a sworn affidavit saying she overheard conversations among campaign officials in 2002 suggesting that the White House was involved in Siegelman’s prosecution. She has offered to testify to any investigative agency or in court.
“The only way to convince the public that the governor is not the victim of a politically motivated double-standard is for Congress to investigate all aspects of the case thoroughly,” the former attorneys general wrote to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees.
I don’t know if Siegelman is guilty or not (though a jury was convinced he had committed a crime), but regardless, this is a matter that the Democrats should be investigating. Congressional Democrats apparently have been reluctant to look into this case because it involves a Democratic politician convicted of corruption, and they don’t want to air their dirty laundry again before the public. However, the manner in which the Bush administration has corrupted the Justice Department’s own decision making process when it comes to who gets investigated and indicted, and who escapes such scrutiny, ought to override such considerations.
Indeed, of the former state attorney generals who signed this letter, a number of them were Republicans. I applaud the fact that they are willing to stand for the principle that the Department of Justice must be free of any suspicion that’s its decisions on who to indict are politically motivated, whether the administration is Republican or Democratic. Siegelman may be guilty as sin, but if he was prosecuted for crimes for which other, Republican politicians escaped indictment, that fact ought to be disclosed to the public, and then reforms should be legislated by Congress to prevent such meddling by political operatives in the future.