Today’s Washington Post contains another in the now seemingly endless number of installments portraying the quality of justice that the Bush Justice Department deals out to its corporate sponsors. A half dozen episodes have already been presented, involving insurers and pharmaceutical companies most prominently. The consistent pattern is that these companies are peopled by figures who make significant donations to the GOP, command access to the White House and to the upper reaches of the Bush bureaucracy, including the Department of Justice, and get “special treatment.”
In cases out of Missouri and Virginia, we saw previously how prosecutors who went after corporate donors in cases driven by fraud and public health concerns, found themselves removed from the case or simply fired—evidence of the long political reach of the corporate sponsors.
But today’s story involves the manufacturer of Rush Limbaugh’s favorite recreational drug, OxyContin. Here’s the gist, courtesy of WaPo’s Amy Goldstein and Carrie Johnson:
The night before the government secured a guilty plea from the manufacturer of the addictive painkiller OxyContin, a senior Justice Department official called the U.S. attorney handling the case and, at the behest of an executive for the drugmaker, urged him to slow down, the prosecutor told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.
John L. Brownlee, the U.S. attorney in Roanoke, testified that he was at home the evening of Oct. 24 when he received the call on his cellphone from Michael J. Elston, then chief of staff to the deputy attorney general and one of the Justice aides involved in the removal of nine U.S. attorneys last year.
Brownlee settled the case anyway. Eight days later, his name appeared on a list compiled by Elston of prosecutors that officials had suggested be fired.
So as the Justice Department brings bogus corruption charges against Democrats, arguing that they have taken political donations for appointments and favors, the Justice Department is directing its own prosecutorial efforts on what looks suspiciously like political donations and favors. Now that’s corruption, on both fronts.