No Comment — July 21, 2009, 11:17 am

Sexual Blackmail in the Siegelman Case?

We can now add sexual blackmail to the long list of misconduct charges lodged against the federal prosecutors who led a vendetta-like case against former Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman. In an affidavit filed in support of Siegelman’s request for a new trial, a prominent Alabama businessman, Stan Pate, describes how federal prosecutors and investigators threatened to disclose innuendo about the sexuality of a key witness, former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey. The feds hinted about disclosing an improper liaison between him and the former governor to secure his cooperation. No evidence of these questions or of Bailey’s answers appeared in reports prepared by the feds and turned over in discovery. The case therefore adds to a growing mound of credible allegations that public integrity prosecutors violated the law by suppressing exculpatory evidence and engaged in unethical and possibly illegal conduct in pursuit of their claims.

In a declaration filed in federal court, Pate states:

Nick was told that the government was working to prevent the publicizing of an alleged sexual relationship between Nick and Don Siegelman. Nick also told me that one of the agents working the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution asked him whether he had ever taken illegal drugs with Governor Siegelman or had a sexual relationship with him. These comments had a dramatic effect on Nick, and, in my observation, added significantly to the pressure he felt to go along with whatever the prosecutors wanted him to say.

These developments are discussed in an article in the Huffington Post by attorney-journalist Andrew Kreig published this morning.

As misconduct allegations against the prosecution team continue to mount and are now increasingly corroborated by a key source inside the prosecution team, whistleblower Tamarah Grimes, no sign of action by the main Justice Department in Washington can be detected. When Grimes was fired last month, Justice figures provided conflicting explanations of the reasons for her termination. All of the explanations were, however, clearly linked to her whistleblower activities–raising questions about the Justice Department’s compliance with whistleblower protection legislation. In response to inquiries, the Justice Department insisted that it “takes seriously its obligation under the whistleblower law” and did not violate the law, without offering any further explanation.

Moreover, Leura Canary, the U.S. attorney in Montgomery, remains in office after Alabama Republican senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby derailed the Obama administration’s efforts to put a successor in place by lodging objections. While Sessions and Shelby both deny they’re trying to keep Canary in office, the consequence of their serial objections, for which they offer no public explanation, is just that. Both show remarkable concern about the prospect of Canary’s removal and replacement by a new prosecutor unconnected to them. What has Jeff Sessions so bothered? I have a hunch.

Time’s Adam Zagorin reported in 2007 that a key witness in the Siegelman investigation offered evidence implicating Sessions in bribery allegations far more substantial than those raised against Siegelman. The prosecutor handling the matter quickly scurried to sweep these allegations under the carpet. I then disclosed that the prosecutor handling the matter was the wife of Sessions’s attorney, a fact that under applicable Justice ethics standards required her withdrawal from the matter. It appears that the Justice Department has never investigated or acted on any of this evidence of prosecutorial misconduct involving Sessions. While the statute of limitations may now shield Sessions from criminal charges, a new U.S. attorney in Montgomery may very well feel compelled to examine the gross and ongoing ethics lapses within the office.

Canary, who oversaw the prosecution of Siegelman even as she purported to have recused herself from the case, is the wife of William Canary, a leading Alabama G.O.P. campaign advisor and close friend of Karl Rove.

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