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Siegelman Shorts

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The Dog Ate My Homework, Week Two
As of today, U.S. Attorney Mrs. William Canary begins the second week of explaining to the House Judiciary Committee that “the dog ate my homework.” She continues her unexcused default in compliance with Congress’s demand for documents relating to her prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman. It will be interesting to see how much longer this obstruction is strung out. In the meantime, I have been told by a senior Justice Department lawyer that Mrs. Canary’s office and the Public Integrity Section gave false information in response to a Freedom of Information Act request which previously sought data relating to her alleged recusal. No details on what the false statements were, but this is certainly something on which the Judiciary Committee will be following up.

Battle of the Websites
Two websites have sprung up down in Alabama. The first is www.donsiegelman.org. It backs Siegelman and posts articles and pieces relating to his case. No mystery about who put it up: it’s retired political consultant Claibourne Darden and his wife, Anita.

The second website is called www.thetruthaboutdon.com. Reporter Dana Beyerle of the Tuscaloosa News looked into it and couldn’t get a clue as to who set up the site. But one thing’s for sure: they’re not friends of Siegelman. It was registered on July 24 to an organization, Domains by Proxy, that exists to guarantee the secrecy of its clients. At Harper’s we ran the same search and found the same information.

Then we started searching the web archive to find parallels to other data collections. We found this: a website put together by the Riley gubernatorial campaign. The similarities between the content of that site, put together by Riley’s people, and that of the anonymously created thetruthaboutdon.com are striking.

Rove’s Anti-Corruption Strategy
Bob Novak’s column on Sunday reported:

Karl Rove, President Bush’s political lieutenant, told a closed-door meeting of 2008 Republican House candidates and their aides Tuesday that it was less the war in Iraq than corruption in Congress that caused their party’s defeat in the 2006 elections.

Rove’s clear advice to the candidates is to distance themselves from the culture of Washington. Specifically, Republican candidates are urged to make clear they have no connection with disgraced congressmen such as Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley. In effect, Rove was rebutting the complaint inside the party that Bush is responsible for Republican miseries by invading Iraq.

I discussed this report today with a Washington-based G.O.P. campaign advisor who’d heard Rove’s speech. I asked two questions: first, did he understand that Rove had given a high priority to corruption in the 2004 and 2006 campaigns as well? Second, other than keeping their distance from Cunningham and Foley, did he think Rove had other tactics in mind? This campaign advisor told me that Rove’s message was nothing new; he had said almost exactly the same thing in 2004, when Rove was convinced that Iraq was a plus, and in 2006, when he felt it was a neutral issue.

In both cases, Rove had been concerned about corruption, though he discussed the issue in a different way. In 2004, the concern was more focused on Enron and HealthSouth, among other corporations which had G.O.P. links. In 2006, it was the flurry of corruption scandals involving individual members of Congress. In 2004, he argued that it was important to link the Democrats to the corporate scandals and detract attention from the Administration. In 2006, he argued for focusing attention on Democratic corruption scandals and prosecutions to neutralize the issue.

“Like Scrushy, HealthSouth and Siegelman,” I asked?

“Exactly,” said the advisor.

Karl Rove failed to respond to a Congressional subpoena yesterday. He will shortly be held in contempt. Does anyone seriously believe that he and President Bush are engaged in a game of Constitutional chicken over nothing?

The Fuller Saga Resumes on Monday
We’ve run the first four parts of my research report on Judge Mark Everett Fuller so far– which puts us halfway through the series. It will resume on Monday.

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