“ON THE HOME TEAM”….Was Don Siegelman, the former Alabama governor who was planning to run for office again in 2006, maliciously prosecuted on corruption charges by Republicans intent on ridding themselves of the state’s only popular Democrat? That’s been the grumbling from Democrats ever since Siegelman was indicted, but the evidence has always been circumstantial. However, many of the charges against Siegelman were based on testimony from Alabama “good ole boy” Lanny Young, and today Time reports that Siegelman wasn’t the only politician Young made accusations against:
According to Young, among the recipients of his largesse were the state’s former attorney general Jeff Sessions, now a U.S. Senator, and William Pryor Jr., Sessions’ successor as attorney general and now a federal judge. Young, whose detailed statements are described in documents obtained by Time, became a key witness in a major case in Alabama that brought down [Siegelman] and landed him in federal prison with an 88-month sentence. As it happened, however…none of the Republicans whose campaigns he fingered were investigated in the case, let alone prosecuted.
….[Young’s] evidence was heard by lawyers from U.S. Attorney [Leura] Canary’s office, representatives of Alabama’s Republican attorney general and an attorney from the Justice Department’s public-integrity unit in Washington. But in an unusual exercise of prosecutorial discretion, nearly all the payments and donations went uninvestigated.
….Several people involved in the Siegelman case who spoke to Time say prosecutors were so focused on going after Siegelman that they showed almost no interest in tracking down what Young said about apparently illegal contributions to Sessions, Pryor, other well-known figures in the Alabama GOP and even a few of the state’s Democrats. “It just didn’t seem like that was ever going to happen,” said an individual present during key parts of the investigation. “Sessions and Pryor were on the home team.”
….The controversy surrounding the case in Alabama is not that Siegelman went to prison and his Republican colleagues didn’t. Without an investigation or even questions being asked, it’s impossible to know whether any of them committed illegal acts. The issue is that some of the same allegations that led to Siegelman’s indictment never merited so much as a follow-up when raised in connection with Republicans.
Well, I’m sure there’s an innocent explanation for all this. Probably some kind of staff shortage or something. We really shouldn’t let this stuff distract us from important symbolic denunciations of liberal interest groups.