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How a state governor was imprisoned with help from Karl Rove

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In the continuing quest for a permanent Republican majority, a coterie of Republican heavyweights, including Karl Rove, sent a state governor to jail for seven years, thereby preventing him from talking to the press as he is repeatedly moved from prison to prison. 

 

This is a synopsis of a report filed by Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane at http://RawStory.com

  

For most Americans, the very concept of political prisoners is remote and exotic, a practice that is associated with third-world dictatorships but is foreign to the American tradition.  The idea that a prominent politician -- a former state governor -- could be tried on charges that many observers consider to be trumped-up, then convicted in a trial that involved numerous questionable procedures, and then hauled off to prison in shackles immediately upon sentencing, would be almost unbelievable. 

 

But there is such a politician: Don Siegelman, Democratic governor of Alabama from 1999 to 2003.  Starting just a few weeks after he took office, Siegelman was targeted by an investigation launched by his political opponents, and then escalated from the state to the federal level by Bush Administration appointees in 2001. 

 

Siegelman was ultimately charged with 32 counts of bribery and other crimes in 2005, just as he began to attempt a political comeback.  He was convicted the following year on seven of those charges.  Last summer, Siegelman was sentenced to seven years in prison and immediately whisked off to a series of out-of-state jails, not even being allowed to remain free on bond while his appeal was under way. 

 

Shortly before the sentencing, however, suspicions expressed by Alabama observers that there was something "fishy" about the case (as Scott Horton of Harper's Magazine put it) began to reach the national stage.  What initially appeared to be merely a whiff of possible political corruption became something much stronger, with allegations that Karl Rove and the Bush Justice Department had been operating behind the scenes.  And yet, despite these suspicions and the attempts of a few journalists to bring them to greater notice, Siegelman's case remains virtually unknown to most of America. 

 

http://rawstory.com/news/2007/The_Permanent_Republican_Majority_1125.html

 

The case in a nutshell:

 

Governor Siegelman was a popular Democratic politician in a largely Republican state and was the only person in Alabama history to hold all of the state's highest posts.  He served as Attorney General, Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor and finally as Governor from 1999 to 2003. 

 

On Election Day in November 2002, when the polls had closed and the votes were being counted, it seemed increasingly apparent that Governor Siegelman had been victorious in his re-election bid against Republican challenger Bob Riley.  But then, just as in the infamous Florida election of 2000, something strange happened in the tallying of the votes. 

 

As CNN reported at the time, there appeared to be two different sets of numbers coming through for one particular Alabama county:

 

“The confusion stems from two sets of numbers reported by one heavily Republican district,” the network stated. 

 

“Figures originally reported by Baldwin County showed Siegelman got about 19,000 votes there, making him the state's winner by about two-tenths of 1 percent,” its reporter added.  “But hours after polls closed, Baldwin County officials said the first number was wrong, and Siegelman had received just less than 13,000.  Those figures would make Riley the statewide winner by about 3,000 votes.”

 

"Sometime after midnight, after the poll watchers were sent home, a small group there decided to recount the votes a third time," Siegelman told a news conference at the time.  "No watchers legally entitled to be present were notified -- and a different total was thereby established."

 

The following morning, Alabama saw a new governor declaring victory in the election.  But the story didn’t end there.  It was only the beginning of a case that would turn the politics of dirty tricks into something far more sinister. 

 

See a timeline of the case:

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Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)
 

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