Siegelman Redux? More Allegations of Politicized Prosecutions Surface
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We often chronicle the voter suppression and intimidation machinations from the right. There's also the use of US Attorneys to investigate Democrats at fortunate times for their Republican opponents. Despite the high-profile nature of the Don Siegelman case and others, this element of the Republican machine hasn't been shut down. In fact, it's in full force in a Senate race in Mississippi.
As federal courtwatchers wonder if the Mississippi Beef Plant investigation will entangle Senate candidate Ronnie Musgrove, a Federal Election Commission check shows U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee contributed to his opponent.
Greenlee was nominated for the U.S. attorney post in 2001 by President George W. Bush, supported by Mississippi Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott.
On Oct. 11, 2002 - just weeks before then-U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker won another term in Congress - Greenlee made a donation of $200 to Friends of Roger Wicker [...]
In U.S. District Court, where Greenlee is the chief prosecutor, two Georgia company executives recently pleaded guilty to making an illegal campaign contribution to then-Gov. Musgroveâ€™s 2003 re-election campaign. They admitted they hoped to ask Musgrove for help as they realized the Mississippi Beef Plant construction project was in trouble.
The project ultimately failed, leaving hundreds of people out of work and the state of Mississippi holding the bag on millions of loan guarantees. Two men have gone to prison on related fraud charges.
However, Musgrove has not been indicted and repeatedly insists he did nothing wrong.
Scott Horton has taken notice of this one, as it shares similarities with the Siegelman case that he's been following closely - a former Democratic governor in the Deep South, a Republican operative masquerading as a US Attorney, and trumped-up charges designed to take down Musgrove. These executives plead guilty to the illegal contributions in a plea deal:
The three, all executives with The Facility Group of Smyrna, Ga., were largely left off the hook on the more serious charges that they had swindled the state out of at least $2 million and had left the plantâ€™s vendors and contractors holding the bag. Instead, they were allowed in a plea bargain to confess to trying to buy influence with Musgrove by steering $25,000 to the then-governorâ€™s unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2003.
The orchestrated guilty pleas â€” and the prosecutorsâ€™ suggestion that more indictments could be forthcoming â€” are a boon to the campaign of Republican Roger Wicker, who was appointed to the vacant Senate seat in December but is considered vulnerable. They leave a cloud over Musgrove in votersâ€™ minds and provide more fodder for negative campaign ads from the G.O.P. camp, even though Musgrove has not been charged with any wrongdoing and thereâ€™s nothing in the court records to document he did anything illegal.
Well, maybe we can get somebody over at the Justice Department to investigate. Or I know, an independent body like the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights! Anyone know any of their new hires?