In June, Scott Horton made a very good point about how easy it is to believe that any politician accused of corruption is automatically guilty. He said that this automatic reaction is being used by Republicans to prosecute Democrats for crimes which they are innocent and to cast aspersion on them in order to elect Republicans.
Two professors at the University of Minnesota looked at the Bush Justice Department’s prosecution of cases involving political figures. It showed seven prosecutions of Democrats for every one Republican. These prosecutions are coordinated and directed by the Public Integrity Unit, a group now under suspicion of being the single most politicized part of the Justice Department.
Under the direction of the White House, and particularly Karl Rove, the Justice Department undertook a series of prosecutions designed to undermine the positions of elected Democratic officeholders and help the Republican Party take their positions.
...And then, still more troubling, there is White House intervention to persecute their political opponents: the telltale sign of tyranny. Georgia Thompson was a state contracting officer in Wisconsin prosecuted for corruption when she awarded a bid to a contractor that had made campaign contributions to the state’s Democratic governor. [Ed: this case was so egregious the Seventh Circuit Court found the conviction "preposterous" and immediately set it aside.]
...Far, far more troubling still is the conviction of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman in a prosecution in Montgomery. When this case got started, I was ready to accept what those Montgomery jurors did – namely, what on earth could be surprising about allegations that a political figure sells appointments for money? Isn’t that indeed just the way our system works? And shouldn’t we throw the book at them when they’re caught doing it?
Today we have yet another example of how this cynical scam works. Furthermore, it illuminates a classic case of projection where the Republican machine accuses the Democrat of doing exactly what the Republican candidate is doing. (h/t TPMMuckracker)
Call it a case of mistaken prosecution. West Virginia State Senator Oshel Craigo (D-WV) went down to defeat in 2002 after Republicans (drawing on tight ties to the state's U.S. attorney) spread the word that he was under federal investigation. But it's a funny thing: Craigo was never actually prosecuted. And now his successor Lisa Smith (R), who rose to victory on the news of Craigo's legal troubles, is headed to jail for the same crime.
Smith acknowledged in her plea that she and her husband committed tax fraud by not paying the IRS employment taxes generated by their in-home health care companies. But, more interesting to Local Muck fans ..., Smith has also admitted that she intentionally created and submitted a false campaign finance statement during her 2002 state senate bid. Smith made up records that $15,000 had been contributed to her campaign by friends and family; the money actually came from her own pocket. Ironically, it was allegations of campaign finance fraud that helped Smith win office back in 2002.
Obviously, this is one of those multitude of corruption cases the Republicans felt emboldened to pursue against Democrats under Karl Rove's guidance to corrupt the US legal system.
This begs the question: why are so many Republicans corrupt? Long before Karl Rove got his dirty little fingers in the DOJ, the conservative movement decided to use extreme tactics where the ends (their power) justified any means. Another aspect that surely drives this cycle of corruption is the ability to blackmail people into criminal or immoral acts when you know their secrets. The Republicans are recruiting candidates who they can seduce with promises of greed and power, and then using their secrets to keep them in line. A prime example of how this worked was Mark Foley who had wanted to leave the Congress in 2004 but was "talked into staying" by the Republican leadership. As Digby noted: "Delay wielded the hammer and Abramoff (among others) offered the goodies." The Republican philosophy of greed, power and ruthlessness has led to a party that is totally bankrupt and its toxicity is undermining every aspect of our Constitution and the idea of a tolerant and democratic society.
When the Democrats take back the White House and the DOJ, there must be a concerted effort to begin to bring the real purveyors of corruption to account.Posted by Mary at August 12, 2007 07:22 PM | Law/Justice | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |