Archive for the ‘Corrupt Politicians’ category

Artur Davis Rocks

May 24, 2007

He did an outstanding job questioning Monica Goodling yesterday, getting her to admit that her old boss- AG Alberto Gonzalez – lied to congress and tried to influence her testimony.

Here’s my transcript of the testimony (from here, and here), which picks up with Goodling describing a meeting with AbuGonz in which she was offering her resignation:

GOODLING: I had decided that I couldn’t continue working on his staff because of the circumstances. I felt that I was somewhat paralyzed. I just felt like I — I was distraught. And I felt that I wanted to make a transfer. So I went back to ask him if it would be possible for me to transfer out of his office. He said that he would need to think about that. And I think he was, you know, trying to, you know, just trying to chat. I was on his staff. But he then proceeded to say, “Let me tell you what I can remember.” And he kind of — he laid out for me his general recollection of…

DAVIS: Recollection of what, Ms. Goodling?

GOODLING: Of some of the process.

DAVIS: Some of the process regarding what?

GOODLING: Some of the process regarding the replacement of the U.S. attorneys. And he — he just — he laid out a little bit of it, and then he asked me if he thought — if I had any reaction to his iteration.

DAVIS: Do you think, Ms. Goodling, the attorney general was trying to shape your recollection?

GOODLING: No, I think we was just asking if I . . .

DAVIS: But it made you uncomfortable?

GOODLING: [Long pause] I just did not know if it was a conversation we should be having, and so I just just didn’t say anything.

DAVIS: [Quoting AbuGonz’s prior congressional testimony that] “I [AbuGonz] have not gone back and spoken to others in the department in order to protect the integrity of this investigation.”

DAVIS: Is that testimony sworn under oath by [AG AbuGonz] fully accurate?

GOODLING: [Long pause] I don’t know what period he’s referencing.

DAVIS: Did you know you might be a fact witness at that point Ms. Goodling?

GOODLING: Yes.

DAVIS: Had there been substantial news coverage, Ms. Goodling, about the eventuality of you being a fact witness?

GOODLING: Yes.

DAVIS: Do you believe the AG knew you were going to to be a fact witness?

GOODLING: I think he knew it was likely at that point.

Ooooh, snap!

AbuGonz had testified before Congress that once the firings became an issue, he did not talk about them with other members of the office, so that, in his own words, he could “protect the integrity of this investigation.”

Keeping witnesses separated from each other is, of course, a major key to getting truthful testimony. It ensures that everyone speaks from their own recollection, rather than tailoring the statements so as to agree with each other. That’s why cops immediately separate thugs after they arrest them, and why the only witness allowed in a courtroom during a trial is the one who is testifying.

Davis was sceptical that AbuGonz had kept his mouth shut about the investigation, suspecting he had, in fact, discussed a story with other witnesses. When Goodling took the stand, a less adept interrogator would have immediately asserted his scepticism and started asking Goodling whether AbuGonz’s statement was true, giving her all kinds of room to hem and haw and duck and dodge. Davis, though, kept the statement in his pocket until he had absolutely committed Goodling to the fact of the conversation, even getting her to admit that she felt like the conversation was improper. Then, BAM, there it was: “Your boss is a liar and unless you want to recant everything you just said, you have to agree.”

The pause after that punch was Goodling trying to catch her breath as she realized she had just been forced to admit her ex-boss perjured himself. Sure, she tried to help him by saying he might have been talking about a different time period, but AbuGonz spoke in absolutes, he didn’t mention a time period. And then Davis put her down for the count with some quick jabs establishing that, yeah, when AbuGonz spoke to her, he knew she was going to testify.

If you’re not already impressed, imagine how Alabama’s representative on the Senate Judiciary Committee would have questioned Goodling and you’ll realize how truly stupendously Davis just cross examined her.

UPDATE: I’m not the only one impressed with Artur Davis. Orin Kerr writes on the Volokh Conspiracy:

Based on the parts I’ve seen, the best questioner in the Monica Goodling procedings so far has been Artur Davis, a former AUSA. He’s good. One other comitttee member gave up her time to Davis, which is a smart move.

Then there’s this play-by-play:

3:12: Rep. Artur Davis asks Goodling specific questions about whether she believes various statements by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the firings were incorrect. He gets her to admit, multiple times, that the Attorney General’s statements were inaccurate. Sometimes the simplest questions are best.

3:14: Oooh, Rep. Davis is definitely making inroads. John Dowd objects and asks to see the AG testimony being referenced. Rep. Davis slaps Dowd: “As I recall, you are not a participant in these proceedings.”

Rep. Lungren (R-CA), clearly disturbed by the points that Davis is scoring, protests through a point of order. The Chair — Sheila Jackson Lee, filling in for John Conyers — overrules the point of order.

3:15: Rep. Lungren appeals the ruling of the chair. He is smacked down. . . .

3:25: Goodling is testifying about the circumstances of her departure from the DOJ. This could get very interesting…

3:28: Goodling testifies about a conversation she had with Attorney General Gonzales, concerning their recollections about U.S. Attorneygate, that may have been “inappropriate.” She wasn’t sure that “this was a conversation we should be having.”

3:29: She has been poised and calm throughout the day. But is Monica Goodling, worn down by hours of testifying, starting to crack? Is her voice trembling? Is she about to sell the AG down the river?

3:32: All the Dems keep yielding their time to Davis. ‘Cause they know this guy is GOOD — professional, precise, prepared. And he’s scoring some serious points in his questioning of La Goodling.

3:38: Congressman Artur Davis will be played by Terrence Howard in the made-for-TV movie about the U.S. Attorney firings scandal.

And what about Monica Goodling? Mira Sorvino might be too old; but Kate Bosworth might be too young.

3:43: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a freshman legislator, should have ceded his time to Davis. But now he’s trying to act all tough and macho, getting snippy with the witness, so he can look as “cool” as Davis. Give it up, Keith; you are no Artur Davis.

Ken Guin And The Best Resolution Yet

May 23, 2007

This is too funny:

The House of Representatives on Tuesday refused to praise Birmingham News reporter Brett Blackledge for winning the Pulitzer Prize.

Blackledge won the Pulitzer for investigative reporting for a series of articles detailing fraud and nepotism in the state’s two-year college system. Some of his articles involved legislators connected to the system. . . .

The resolution by Rep. Jack Williams, R-Homewood, asked lawmakers to force the House Rules Committee to act on his resolution commending Blackledge. The resolution had been stuck in committee. House members voted 49-20 to table Williams’ efforts.

“I’m disappointed, but it’s not a total surprise,” Williams said.

During debate, House members, including some of the subjects of Blackledge’s reports, criticized his work.

Yes, how dare he expose the legislator’s sham jobs and the conflicts of interest they created! The nerve of Blackledge, letting the public know that some of our legislators were acting as lobbyists for their school employers! Voters just want their sausage; they don’t want to know how it’s made.

Also, and I’m sure this is nothing more than an interesting little tidbit of information, but guess who chairs the committee in which the resolution is stuck? Ken Guin.

Ken Guin – he of the identical work reports submitted to his two college employers, reports listing his work as a legislator as work for the schools – deciding whether or not to honor the reporter who derailed the gravy train? That’s kind of like asking Mike Price what he thinks of Sports Illustrated. Except Price paid the whore, whereas Guin, well, he’s the one who was taking the money.

Alabama’s Mike Nifong

May 8, 2007

I first posted about him here. Today, the Decatur Daily has an update.

In a nut shell, back in 2005, Assistant Attorney General Don Valeska – the chief of Troy King’s violent crimes division – knowingly hid favorable evidence from the defense and then lied about it to the court. When the truth was revealed, the judge responded by dismissing the state’s case. Alacrap reversed that action, but still granted the defendant a new trial.

So now Valeska is whining that the judge is biased. Right. Here’s some of the judge’s response:

“He can lie to me personally all he wants, but I will not allow him to lie to the court,” [Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn] Thompson stated in a response he filed with the state Court of Criminal Appeals.

Thompson explained.

“Throughout the trial of the case, the defense counsel repeatedly requested that they be given access to material collected by the Decatur Police Department and submitted to the FBI, as well as any information provided by the FBI to the Decatur Police Department. Knowing full well that his representations to the Circuit Court of Morgan County were untrue, Mr. Valeska repeatedly represented that no such material existed,” Thompson’s response states. . . .

The judge explained his position on dismissing the capital murder charges against Moore.

“This court found that the actions of Assistant Attorney General Valeska representing the state of Alabama were so egregious that the only appropriate remedy under the law and the facts was to dismiss the charges pending against the defendant.” . . .

Also, Thompson commented on Valeska’s courtroom behavior.

“He refused to turn off his cell phone and after warning, allowed his cell phone to ring in court repeatedly,” Thompson stated. “It is my recollection, although I am not certain of the exact number, that on at least six occasions Mr. Valeska’s cell phone rang in open court. This court refrained from finding him in contempt although after each session he was repeatedly warned not to allow his cell phone to ring in court.”

Thompson further stated in his response that Valeska would be treated fairly in his courtroom during Moore’s second trial.

“I can assure the Court of Criminal Appeals that Mr. Valeska, if he appears for the re-trial of Mr. Moore, has nothing to fear from this court so long as he tells the whole truth without parsing words and turns off his cell phone,” Thompson stated. “Not only will the state of Alabama get a fair trial but the defendant will also get a fair trial.”

Biased? Only against attorneys so confident in the righteousness of their position that they think they can lie, cheat, or steal in order to win a case.

Getting Fleeced

April 30, 2007

Like I said, I don’t like applying the Bible’s shepherd-sheep imagery to the relationship between government and governed. But that doesn’t mean the image is wrong as a descriptive matter.

Queer Eye For The President Pro Tem?

April 26, 2007

Sorry to indulge in stereotypes, but that was the first thing that came to mind when I read this story about the sponsor of Alabama’s “we hate fags” constitutional amendment:

Ten Democratic state senators have spent more than $39,300 this year to spruce up their offices with items such as an $800 acrylic painting of tulips, a $2,999 sofa, a $499 mirror, a $599 rug, a $1,305 cocktail table and a $2,070 desk, according to Senate documents reviewed by the Press-Register. . .

The largest amounts were for the offices of new Senate President Pro Tempore Hinton Mitchem, D-Union Grove, and Sen. Pat Lindsey, D-Butler.  . .

Expenditures for Mitchem’s office included $2,070 for a desk, $1,154 for a conference table, $1,155 for an executive chair, $1,476 for a credenza, two chairs at $579 each, two more chairs at $538 each, and a $529 desk.

Well, I guess these guys needed offices to reflect the stature of the monumental pay raise they just voted themselves.

And Mitchem isn’t the only crook; be sure to read about the other nine Democratic losers. It happens locally, too. Don’t forget about Fiscally Conservative Republican Bobby Humphryes and his Manly-Man JeffCo Commission Office.

Nothing’s easier than spending other people’s money.

Would You Want Mike Nifong Running The US Dept. Of Justice?

April 20, 2007

After the AbuGonz hearing yesterday, I think it is obvious – if it was not already– that he has treated DOJ as nothing but a tool for the advancement of his own party. Even Jeff Sessions has jumped ship:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a member of the Judiciary Committee that questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today, calls the hearing “a sad day” that should lead to Gonzales meeting with President Bush to consider the possibility of stepping down from the helm of the Justice Department.

“He had problems explaining how this happened,” Sessions told Robert Siegel about the day-long hearing. “He did some good things, and some were troubling.”

Sessions, a former U.S. attorney, also agreed with the idea that the scandal has damaged the standing of the Justice Department.

Of course politics will always play a role in prosecutions, but – as the Duke rape case showed us all – that is a BAD thing. It’s something that responsible, professional, reasonable, ethical people try to contain. AbuGonz, on the other hand, embraced it and increased it.

And of course the US Attorneys are basically at will employees, but that the reason for the firing might have been legal does not mean the reason for the firing was good. Sure it would be legal, but does anyone seriously want to argue that it is anything other than really bad policy to fire a US Attorney because that US Attorney refused to act like Mike Nifong?

Dazed And Confused

April 19, 2007

A couple of udates. 

First, for a good laugh, be sure to read the police report from B’ham City Councilman Joel Montgomery’s arrest (thanks John Archibald). Good stuff, especially Dr. No promising a female officer at the station that if she took off his handcuffs, he would “give her something good to look at.”

Whew, try not to think about that. Anyway, based on the report, we know for certain that Joel Montgomery is a jacka** when he’s drunk. But I still think he’s got a decent shot at beating the public intoxication charge. Yes, he cussed the officer and acted like a complete fool. Public intoxication, though, requires that he be a danger to himself or others, and there is nothing in the report that indicates how he was such a danger. All it contains is the officer’s conclusory statement that “Def. was clearly a danger to himself and others.” At trial, that will not do it; the arresting officer will have to produce some facts to support her conclusion.

And even if she does, the cross examination will point out: 1) police officer’s memories are not perfect; 2) reports are important to preserve what happened; 3) the report was written on the night of the incident; 4) the current testimony is several months after the incident; 5) the officer has arrested many other people in the meanwhile; 6) the new facts are not in the report.

Now the second update: Dan’s e-mail correspondence with Beth Chapman’s office about her office’s recent press release.

Amazing, really. The release, as you recall, explained that Beth Chapman opposes a recent gambling bill and thinks the Alabama Christian Coalition is apostate. In the e-mail exchange with Dan, she admits that the Secretary of State’s office would not in any way be affected by the substance of the gambling bill and that the S-o-S office has no position on the Alabama Christian Coalition. In other words, she admits that she just used the resources of the office for no reason other than the expression of her own personal opinion. Then she says this:

Secretary of State Chapman will continue to express her views on those issues that affect the people of Alabama, as do most public officials. Secretary Chapman will continue her longstanding record, during her time in public service, of maintaining her reputation for honesty, integrity, and fairness.

She may have that reputation, but if this incident is any indication of how she normally acts, she does not deserve it. Public officials, including Beth Chapman, are perfectly free to express their opinions about anything, when they are using their own time and resources to do so. On the other hand, public officials, including Beth Chapman, must only use the state’s resources for the state’s business.

What she did in that press release is no different than, for example, a city employee using a city credit card to pay for a vacation at the beach. The employee has the card for city business and that’s all it can be used for. Ditto using a press release to spout off about an issue completely irrelevant to the office of Secretary of State. The office’s resources are not there to give Beth Chapman a state-wide soap box for her own views; they are there so that she can keep us up to date on issues related to the Secretary of State’s office.