Ever since last week's reversal of former GOP Rep. Tom DeLay's 2010 money laundering convictions by a 2-to-1 partisan decision of a three-judge Texas appeals court panel, we have been contrasting the Texas Republican's treatment in the judicial system with that of Alabama's former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman.
Now, the last Democratic governor to serve Alabama is speaking up for himself, in a statement he's furnished to The BRAD BLOG from federal prison, slamming DeLay for what he describes as his part in a $20 million criminal conspiracy with convicted GOP uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and others to defeat him in his bid for re-election, and to ensure he never took office again.
Siegelman is currently serving a 6.5 year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana for something that 113 bi-partisan former state attorneys general agree had never been regarded as a crime until Siegelman was convicted for it. (Watch 60 Minutes' 2008 story on Siegelman's outrageous prosecution here.)
In his statement, the former governor speaks out against "The Hammer" and hammers him hard for what he describes as collusion to "engineer a money laundering scheme to defeat me in my race for re-election as governor and to elect Karl Rove's and Tom DeLay's Republican colleague from the U.S. House, then Congressman Bob Riley."
"I know first-hand, personally --- what I'm about to tell you is not hearsay," Siegelman writes about the alleged scheme to remove him from office through a late night ballot tampering scheme. He explains how the conspiracy resulted in robbing him of his 2002 re-election after it had already been called in his favor by all the networks. Later, before Siegelman --- the only person to hold all four top statewide offices in Alabama history --- could run for Governor again, he says the same cabal worked to have him thrown in jail on what appear to be trumped up charges brought by a Bush Administration prosecutor who also happened to be married to Riley's Chief of Staff.
In the fiery, no-holds-barred statement (posted in full below), Siegelman cites Abramoff's own book, Capitol Punishment, in which he says the former GOP lobbyist "admits for the first time to money laundering to the tune of some $20,000,000 dollars 'to stop Siegelman.'"...
DeLay's conviction was reversed last week after the two Republican judges on the TX appellate court determined [PDF] that $190,000 in corporate funds given to DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), in 2002 (the same year that Siegelman's election night "victory" was reversed) was legally contributed to DeLay's organization and, thus, could not be seen as "proceeds from criminal activity". That, they said, would be required to sustain the money laundering charges DeLay was found guilty for, beyond a reasonable doubt, by 12 jurors in 2010. The one Democratic judge on the panel, the court's Chief Justice, dissented [PDF] in the appeal, arguing that the funds were indeed criminal proceeds, and that DeLay laundered them when his PAC gave the money to a Republican National Committee PAC, along with instructions to pass that money, in turn, back to seven specific candidates for the TX state legislature in 2002.
It's illegal under Texas law for corporations to give money directly to candidates, but DeLay's scheme --- swapping soft money for hard through the transactions from the TX fund to the national fund and then back to the TX candidates --- resulted in that $190,000 in corporate funds being given directly to candidates nonetheless.
Despite his original 8-year sentence on the two money laundering-related charges, DeLay was immediately released on bail pending appeal after his sentencing, and never served a night in prison. After the court's decision last week, the Travis County, TX District Attorney vowed to seek a review of the lower court's partisan opinion from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the court of last resort for criminal matters in the Lone Star State.
In contrast, Siegelman was literally shackled and hauled away to prison immediately after his sentencing on bribery-related charges in which prosecutors were unable to show any personal enrichment by the Governor. He was finally released on bail, pending appeal, nine months later. He was then ordered back to federal prison last September after a first round of appeals. He currently awaits another appeal and a hoped-for pardon from the President.
The former Governor seemed to be in remarkably good spirits when we spoke to him, coincidentally, for a few minutes from prison just days before the ruling came down in the DeLay case.
Given the tone of the statement he provided to The BRAD BLOG this week, it's clear that Siegelman is less than pleased with DeLay's Texas ruling, which, for now, appears to let "The Hammer" off the hook, despite Siegelman "first-hand" knowledge of what he describes as "laundering money to elect state Republican candidates pure and simple."
Former Governor Don Siegelman's complete statement on the reversal of money laundering charges against Rep. Tom DeLay, follows in full below...
Tom DeLay was not acquitted because he had the "joy of Jesus" in him but rather because he had two Republican Judges for him.
The facts are the facts: Tom DeLay was laundering money to elect state Republican candidates pure and simple.
I know first-hand, personally --- what I'm about to tell you is not hearsay.
Tom DeLay and his co-conspirators Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon helped engineer a money laundering scheme to defeat me in my race for re-election as governor and to elect Karl Rove's and Tom DeLay's Republican colleague from the U.S. House, then Congressman Bob Riley.
Public campaign finance disclosure documents in the Alabama Secretary of State's and at the Federal Elections Commission show the flow of legally laundered money.
Now, in Jack Abramoff's book, "Capitol Punishment" he admits for the first time to money laundering to the tune of some $20,000,000 dollars "to stop Siegelman." Abramoff had a dual interest in defeating me. One to befriend Karl Rove and also to please his client, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, who viewed me as a "threat" after my election as Governor in 1998. I was proposing a gaming initiative in Alabama, a lottery to fund free college education. Abramoff says in his book the Alabama lottery would wreck the gambling monopoly of the Choctaws and I had "to be stopped." The Choctaw Indian casinos hired Abramoff, Scanlon, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist. They "war gamed an aggressive tactic" according to Abramoff "to stop Siegelman...at a cost to the Choctaws of approximately $20,000,000."
Tom DeLay was part of the conspiracy to defeat me. The Hammer, in concert with his Republican co-conspirators, began laundering thousands of dollars through his Texas ARMPAC to a front group the Alabama ARMPAC, a political action committee, to funnel illegal contributions to my opponent, Tom DeLay's colleague and Jack Abramoff and Rove's friend, Congressman Bob Riley. Riley had befriended Abramoff by voting in lock step with Abramoff's clients on multiple congressional votes at a time when Mike Scanlon was first working for Riley as a congressional aide before he changed jobs to work for DeLay.
DeLay didn't stop with sending illegal funding to my Republican opponent; he also funneled money to The Alexandria Group, a lobbying firm with Abramoff and DeLay ties. The money coincided with the hiring of a self-described "Ballot Security Expert", a man named Dan Gans. Gans, who had been on Riley' staff, was in a remote South Alabama Republican-controlled county the night of my re-election.
All the votes were in and counted, and all networks had called the election in my favor.
Then after midnight, the poll watchers and media were sent home. In the basement of the courthouse, a couple of people were still at work in the Sheriff's office. A computer glitch was discovered. A private recount took place to "correct" the "computer glitch" giving my opponent just enough votes to be declared the winner. The next morning my margin of victory was erased. I asked for a hand recount of just one voting place. The state attorney general, Karl Rove's client, stepped in and stopped the recount. Then contrary to state law, the secretary of state and the attorney general declared my opponent the winner. Dan Gans who then was working for the Tom DeLay/Abramoff affiliated Alexandria Group took credit on their website for my defeat as the "Ballot Security Expert" who found the votes to make the Tom DeLay's protégé the winner.
The Hammer may have the joy of Jesus to thank for his mental tranquility but he must thank his Republican friends for his acquittal.
Alabama's last Democratic Governor, 1999-2003
Now a federal prisoner, current-June, 2018
UPDATE 9/26/2013: My KPFK/Pacifica Radio interview with the Governor's son, Joseph, on the statement above from his father, and much more related to his outrageous prosecution and allegedly stolen 2002 election, is now posted here...