Leura Canary Strikes Again: Alabama Bingo Arrests

The DOJ has just announced significant arrests in the long simmering Alabama Bingo case. This is huge news that will shake Alabama politics to the bone like nothing has since the Governor Don Siegelman persecution. From the official DOJ Press Release:

Eleven individuals, including four current Alabama state legislators, three lobbyists, two business owners and one of their employees, and an employee of the Alabama legislature have been charged for their roles in a conspiracy to offer to and to bribe legislators for their votes and influence on proposed legislation, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Assistant Director Kevin Perkins of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

The defendants are charged in an indictment returned by a grand jury on Oct. 1, 2010, in Montgomery, Ala., which was unsealed today. Various defendants are charged with a variety of criminal offenses, including conspiracy, federal program bribery, extortion, money laundering, honest services mail and wire fraud, obstruction of justice and making a false statement. They will make initial appearances today in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama before U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry F. Moorer.

“Today, charges were unsealed against 11 legislators, businessmen, lobbyists and associates who, together, are alleged to have formed a corrupt network whose aim was to buy and sell votes in the Alabama legislature in order to directly benefit the business interests of two defendants, Milton McGregor and Ronald Gilley,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. “The people of Alabama, like all our citizens, deserve to have representatives who act in the public’s interest, not for their own personal financial gain. Vote-buying, like the kind alleged in this indictment, corrodes the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and cannot go unpunished.”

So, this is pretty interesting timing for this big prosecutorial move, no? It sure is. From today’s report from the excellent Roger Shuler at Legal Schnauzer, who practices in the area and has covered this case from the outset:

The U.S. Justice Department is spinning today’s actions as a legitimate probe focused on corruption connected to gambling legislation. But our sources have been saying for weeks that it is designed to affect the November elections. Polls show Republican Robert Bentley already leading Democrat Ron Sparks in the race for governor, and the arrests could help the GOP take over one or both houses of the Alabama Legislature, a long-stated goal of outgoing governor Bob Riley.

….

Means and Ross are Democrats, Pruett is a Republican, and Smith is an Independent. That appears to be a relatively bipartisan target list. But there is little doubt that Canary and her prosecutors went after Democrats and others who oppose Gov. Riley and his efforts to shut down gaming in Alabama.

….

So far, there is no word of an indictment on Sparks. But what does all of this say about the Obama administration? It already had a dreadful record on justice issues. And yet it backs a process where neither Gov. Riley nor any of his conservative backers who opposed gambling were apparently even investigated. We’ve seen no sign of a probe into the $13 million in Mississippi gaming money that reportedly was spent to help get Riley elected in 2002. Canary seems to have focused only on pro-gambling individuals, who tend to be Democrats or Riley critics.

….

What is this “investigation” all about? It looks like a thinly veiled effort to pay back Riley’s Mississippi gaming supporters–who reportedly laundered money through Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, and Ralph Reed–by shutting down competition in Alabama.

Yes, very interesting timing indeed. It was not enough that DOJ, Canary and Morris used the specter of investigation to influence an earlier legislative vote on the bingo issue (see here and here), there is now every appearance they are materially affecting a general election in Alabama. More importantly, the move flies in the face of the DOJ Public Integrity Section (PIN) rule against announcing major prosecutions just before elections if it can be avoided. Yet, by every appearance, that is exactly what was intentionally done here. Why? What were the exigent circumstances? The rumors of this action have been around for months; the DOJ could not have done it earlier or waited?

This prosecution is also very interesting because, you see, the Middle District of Alabama is where the right wing Karl Rove ally Leura Canary holds forth as the United States Attorney. Another spot the Obama White House has just not seen fit (here may be why, and if so it is deplorable) to even find a nominee for, in spite of the hell she caused for Don Siegelman with ethically questionable tactics.

What is really fascinating is that the DOJ press release does not even mention Leura Canary. Not even once in passing; yet this is most assuredly her doing in conjunction with Governor Bob Riley. Here is a report from Legal Schnauzer this April on Canary’s involvement:

According to press reports, representatives from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama played a key role in Thursday’s meeting. Bush appointee Leura Canary, who oversaw the prosecution of former Democratic governor and Bob Riley opponent Don Siegelman, remains in the charge of that office. Alabama’s two Republican U.S. Senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, have scuttled various Obama nominees for the position, and the White House, so far, has chosen not to fight for the two candidates (Michel Nicrosi and Joseph Van Heest) favored by Democrats.

Canary’s lingering presence in office almost certainly is driving the bingo investigation. Angela Tobon, an FBI special agent in Mobile, Alabama, told The Birmingham News that the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of the Justice Department is leading the inquiry. Tobon refused to elaborate when contacted by a reporter from the Montgomery Advertiser.

….

Does that mean Leura Canary was able to take advantage of a leaderless organization, contacting “loyal Bushies” still embedded in the Justice Department to help get PIN involved in a bogus Alabama operation?

It sure looks that way.

Why would the Obama/Holder DOJ be masking the central involvement of right wing Rove ally Leura Canary?

But wait, it gets even better! Who else is working this case that is the pet wet dream of right wing Alabama Governor Bob Riley, attached to the hip of Alabama gaming bigwigs that do NOT want the bingo competition? Why none other than Brenda Morris the disgraced former DOJ “Public Integrity” official who’s butt was on the chopping block for all of the egregious prosecutorial misconduct in the Ted Stevens case that led to dismissal of the charges and a criminal investigation to be opened by the court. Here is what I wrote last April about Morris’ involvement:

Morris has promptly inserted herself into another high charged political mess, and done so with questionable ethics and curious basis for involvement. From Joe Palazzolo at Main Justice:

Brenda Morris, a veteran trial lawyer in the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, was among a group of federal law enforcement officials who met with Alabama legislators on April 1 to inform them of the probe, which is related to a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would legalize electronic bingo.

The investigation has inflamed tensions between state Democrats and Republican-appointed U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, who prosecuted former Gov. Don Siegelman (D) and whose husband has close ties to Republican Gov. Bob Riley, who strongly opposes the amendment. Canary’s office and the Public Integrity Section are jointly investigating bingo proponents’ quest for votes in support of the amendment, which the Senate passed on March 30.

The state House of Representatives has yet to vote. Alabama Democrats sent a letter to the Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, charging that the “unprecedented” disclosure of the investigation was meant to have a “chilling effect” on state legislators who otherwise might have voted for the amendment.

Here, from the Alabama Press Register, are a few quotes from local Alabama legal experts familiar with the facts and history:

Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney now in private practice in Birmingham, called the private meeting a “virtually unprecedented” break from standard FBI procedures.

“I can’t think of a legitimate law enforcement purpose to do something like this,” said Jones, who represents members of the Alabama Democratic Caucus.

“I have never, in all my years of practicing law, heard of an event like what happened (on Thursday)” said Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. “It was stunning to me.”

Former U.S. Attorney William Kimbrough of Mobile said he’d seen nothing like it in a legal career that spans nearly five decades.

So what in the world was Brenda Morris doing smack dab in the middle of such a contentious political mess and how could the Obama/Holder DOJ think it appropriate? The answer is hard to fathom. Morris was supposed to have been tasked to the Atlanta US Attorney’s office as a litigation attorney while she is being investigated by the court for criminal contempt from her last case. You really have to wonder who is running the asylum at DOJ Main to think that there could ever be positive optics from Morris being involved in anything politically contentious.

The bottom line is, the DOJ and Leura Canary have hatched open an ugly can of worms, at the most prejudicial moment possible, with far ranging effects on local politics. Just what should be avoided at all cost. And they have done so in a flammable tinderbox situation and location through as tainted and ethically questionable prosecutors as can be imagined under the circumstances. One would have hoped that this type of prejudicial timing of prosecutions ended with the Bush/Cheney Administration; clearly it did not.

UPDATE: The DOJ has now made the statement that Leura Canary and the rest of her office, save for two individuals, are recused from the bingo case:

Breuer said Assistant U.S. Attorneys Louis V. Franklin and Steve P. Feaga from the Middle District of Alabama are assisting in the prosecution. But the Assistant Attorney General said the U.S. Attorney’s office is otherwise recused from the case. He declined to comment on the reason for the recusal.

Of course, Leura Canary saying she has recused herself in favor of Louis Franklin has a proven history of questionable veracity. Not to mention, of course, Canary’s involvement in the critical workup including the first wrongful impingement on the Alabama legislative function described above.

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  1. bmaz says:

    I had to put this up because it was breaking news and has to be scheduled for cross posting at FDL; but please one and all, make sure to read Mary’s excellent post on the Keith case that precedes this post!

  2. klynn says:

    Is Obama a Republican? There is the interesting history of pro-lifers entering elected office positions of NARAL in order to diffuse the effectiveness of the organization.

    Otherwise, I am at a loss for answers as to why he would support prejudicial timing as well as Canary.

    I’m going for my tin foil now…

      • michtom says:

        Are you saying it is not fair for klynn to put on her tin foil hat or to accuse Obama of being a Republican?

      • klynn says:

        I agree, it was an unfair comment. The point of the comment was intended to convey, I am at a loss for a “fair” explanation for this activity as well as the lack of action irt Canary under O’s watch. I am at a total loss for a logical and trustworthy explanation for all of this happening.

        @7 Looking for the link. It was posted on the Lake in the past 18+ months regarding infiltration at the state and local level.

    • michtom says:

      “There is the interesting history of pro-lifers entering elected office positions of NARAL in order to diffuse the effectiveness of the organization.”

      Link, please.

    • BMcGarth says:

      He very well is…it’s why he ought to be thrown out on his “keister” in 2012…Obama has championed nothing for ordinary Americans…his big HCR legislation …was came from the bowels of Nixon as I understand it.

      Take a close look at what his DOJ is doing….you will weep..it’s like GWBush never left office.

    • jaker says:

      “pro-lifers” these people are not pro lifers. They are pro American fetus–ers

      Pro life would mean supporting babies or mothers after they would be forced to have these children. Pro life would mean being able access to health care, quality education and fair wages.

      Nope these people are not pro lifers. Arrogant and elitist attitudes hide behind that false pro life labels.

  3. michtom says:

    Your friendly copy editor suggests a comma after “for” in the sentence below:

    to even find a nominee for>>,<< in spite of the hell she caused

  4. tejanarusa says:

    bmaz, I didn’t even have the heart to finish reading your excellent post.

    Draw a line through another of the reasons I voted for a Democrat, to end this sort of partisan-motivated prosecution.

    I feel a little sick.

  5. Mary says:

    The most disturbing part about this post is that it is another reminder of what a piss poor job Obama has done vis a vis USAs as well as judges. Hell, he was campaigning FOREVER with a list of “consultants” that went on and on. How has he done such a bad job on getting USAs in place – especially where the old Bushies were so enmeshed in scandal after scandal like Canary was?

    The Artur Davis deal would be deplorable, but even if that was the in-the-works deal, you still get Canary out and an acting in – what’s the aversion to getting competent lawyers into slots as prosecutors and judges? I don’t get it. OTOH, I never understood taking a guy like Welch after what he was involved with (and now a suicide to show for it) and letting him vent and rage on whistleblowers.

    It’s hard to figure out whether this admin makes you more angry, sad, disgusted, repelled, disillusioned or just plain aggravated.

    • bmaz says:

      Right. Pick out an appropriate senior AUSA in the office and make them acting. Do it the first week you are in office. Especially for hatchet people like Canary and Mary Beth Buchanan. It is simply in explicable and inexcusable.

    • Peterr says:

      How has he done such a bad job on getting USAs in place – especially where the old Bushies were so enmeshed in scandal after scandal like Canary was?

      Given the number of appointments we’re talking about — those not made, those made and not fought for, and those made and fought for that leave you scratching your head as to why — it sure looks like more of a feature than a bug.

      • Mary says:

        It really does. But incompetence can cover so much ground so quickly, I’m not ruling that out either.

        • Peterr says:

          Yeah.

          I don’t know which kind of feature — incompetence, indifference, or deliberate planning — it might be, but the longer it continues, the less the term “bug” fits.

          I lean toward indifference myself, with a dose of incompetence thrown in on the side. “Gotta keep the powder dry for the fight over health care or fin reg or whatever the cause du jour is, so let’s not stir up anything in the Senate over USAs or judges or subcabinet DOJ appointments. It’s not like any of that matters, compared with getting real health care reform done.”

          Blergh.

          • Sara says:

            “lean toward indifference myself, with a dose of incompetence thrown in on the side. “Gotta keep the powder dry for the fight over health care or fin reg or whatever the cause du jour is, so let’s not stir up anything in the Senate over USAs or judges or subcabinet DOJ appointments. It’s not like any of that matters, compared with getting real health care reform done.”

            Blergh”

            I think it a matter of making choices as to what wars to fight? Obama’s administration has had to make lots of these, particularly in light of the reality that FOX and all the rest of the right media, will do Holy War on any decisions, and one way or another, you have to decide what counts when you have the authorities to make the choices. Personally, I prefer Health Care, even with all the mess.

            And a question for Peterr — different subject.

            Have you been following the massive DOJ project to issue guidelines on Child Sexual Abuse that result from the bill George Bush signed five years ago, with the bi-partisian support of Senator Sessions and Senator Leahy?

            Last spring, David Kaiser wrote two articles for the New York Review of Books on this huge project, (published March 11th 2010 ed. and followed up with the second, March 25th, 2010.) Please look at the Kaiser material and the scope of the program before you decide what you think.

            Well Eric Holder is about to issue the Guidelines, and then the whole program will begin. They were due in July, but the announcement was on Saturday.

            I have read the Kaiser materials carefully, and believe it to be profoundly important, something that could, if administered properly, result in much good. So what do you think?

              • Sara says:

                “Haven’t seen those guidelines — do you have a link?

                No link — just go to the New York Review of Books site, and use their search function to find the Kaiser articles at the dates mentioned.

                By the way, these are not just guidelines, this is a description in detail of a major program, It involves a five year effort to test a variety of risk reduction strategies in the field. And yes, it has profound implications for all the issues we have discussed over the last few years.

              • Sara says:

                “I found the two articles by Kaiser, but they are about prison rape of child prisoners, not more generic child sexual abuse guidelines. (#1 here; #2 here.)I assume this is what you are referring to.”

                Yes, those are the articles.

                Remember, the Wisconsin Priest who ran the school for the Deaf, about whom Jeff Anderson is now sueing the Pope, was taken into retirement from the school for the deaf, and made Catholic Chaplain at a Youth Prison in Northern Wisconsin, where he kept up with his lifestyle. Remember the Deaf kids at the Catholic School tried like crazy to get the local police to take their complaints and they refused? Take an eraser to some of the lines you have set, Jail versus a church sponsored school that isolates, and look at what was learned about environments that support abuse. The Commission Kaiser writes of did massive research that applies far beyond the special circumstances of a church. Much applies across the board.

                • Gitcheegumee says:

                  Sara, you may recall a thread from earlier this year where these very issues of instituinalized abuse were discussed at length.

                  It was an exceedingly informative thread that went well beyond the subject of Clarence Thomas.

                  Of particular interest is comment #109.

                  Clarence Thomas’ Revenge | EmptywheelMar 7, 2010 … sembler was, i believe, bush’s ambassador to italy when the fake niger uranium ore letter was making its way to our shores to assist gw in …

                  emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/03/07/clarence-thomas-revenge/

                  • Sara says:

                    “Sara, you may recall a thread from earlier this year where these very issues of instituinalized abuse were discussed at length.

                    It was an exceedingly informative thread that went well beyond the subject of Clarence Thomas.

                    Of particular interest is comment #109.”

                    Yes, I remember that commentary well. Right now one might want to follow another Vatican Story that is about for the last few weeks — lots in the Financial Times, New York Times, and much else, about the new investigation of the Vatican Banking Practices. They are trying to get on the “White List” — banks that can transfer payments within the EU under new guidelines against money laundrying and terrorist finance and all, and in the process, while the Pope was in England, the Italians conficated a cool thirty million because the Vatican violated the rules. Huge story. Huge issue. The whole point of the “White List” is international banking transparency, which the Vatican will have to adopt, or be treated as an organization that would have huge problems transfering assets, and maybe be treated as a potentially terrorist organization.

                    So yea — the Semblers probably had an account at the Vatican — or know folk who did. Maybe we will find out more. Always another thread in that story to follow.

                    • Gitcheegumee says:

                      I have been very much “out of pocket” for the past couple of months,and alas,simply have not had the time to hunker down on surfing the newsites.

                      I do recall fleetingly seeing a blurb somewhere about the Vatican Bank and $30 million ,recently.

                      And for some unknown reason, Operation Gladio keeps buzzing in my head….

                    • Sara says:

                      “I do recall fleetingly seeing a blurb somewhere about the Vatican Bank and $30 million ,recently”

                      It is a huge story. Quite Fresh actually. Italian Bank Police had the head of the place in for four hours of questioning this week — sad sad guy walked out. He is big shot in Opus Dei, Heads one of the major Banking Finance Schools in Italy, and the Pope has been hugging him recently in public, quite unlike how he forgives the raped boys. In this respect it is stunning.

                      If they told him about the thirty million while he was showing himself around England, I suspect he was very worried Pope.

            • rosalind says:

              I think it a matter of making choices as to what wars to fight? Obama’s administration has had to make lots of these, particularly in light of the reality that FOX and all the rest of the right media, will do Holy War on any decisions, and one way or another, you have to decide what counts when you have the authorities to make the choices.

              I’ve had a couple glasses of wine so forgive me if anything that follows comes off as intemperate, but that argument is so morally fucking hollow it’s to chill the soul.

              I believe in the rule of law for all. Restoring the rule of law for all is not a choice of a war to fight, it is the moral, constitutional obligation of the highest officers of this land. That the highest officers of this land see the restoration of the rule of law for all as a political calculation is enough to weep.

              Bush Jr. took office with a playbook to stack the judicial deck with Federalist Society All-Stars and executed brilliantly, from DOJ to every level of the courts. Obama came in and punted. I wondered at the why’s, and couldn’t believe they came down to such a cynical excuse as that you offer: fear of the mean things that Fox news would say. Then came Shirley Sherrod, and the Executive Office high-fiving each other over forcing the firing a woman without trial or evidence, only on the say so of a right-wing hack operative.

              And then I truly became scared. That this country is in the hands of such craven cowards.

              That the President of this United States should govern based on what Fox News thinks about him???? Craven and cowardly doesn’t even begin…

              • Sara says:

                “I believe in the rule of law for all. Restoring the rule of law for all is not a choice of a war to fight, it is the moral, constitutional obligation of the highest officers of this land. That the highest officers of this land see the restoration of the rule of law for all as a political calculation is enough to weep.”

                I sadly remain something of a realist. Not enough pennies in the Sea to support every possible fight one might want to have — so thus the choices. And yes, at times one can make the moral argument against some of the choices, and it needs making — but moral arguments are not investments in prosecutions. Show me where there is a huge movement to deal with raising taxes to pay for vast prosecutions? In my state the state courts are taking very heavy hits from the loss of revenue given the recession and all. Somehow choices have to be made.

                • bmaz says:

                  If you cannot have the time or decency and duty to staff up nominations for the justice system, then you goddamned do not belong in office. How in the world is it “realism” to blithely rationalize the abandonment and dilapidation of the justice system??

                  What you are telling me is that he is just not up for the job. If Obama is truly that fucking pitiful, he should resign or be impeached on the spot. This is just ludicrous. And what “fights” is it he cannot bother himself with? Why is it other presidents with far weaker majorities, and even minorities, have done so much better? Why is it he cannot remove henchmen holdovers in the US Atty ranks and appoint acting heads from the office career ranks as I have now pointed out two or three times, as has Mary? Would that take up too much of the precious Obama’s time too? Maybe the fucker should cut down on his golf, basketball and hobknobbing with sports figures and do his fucking job. Or get out. This is just insane.

                  • Sara says:

                    bmaz, I know you would do Attorney General a little differently. In fact, my guess is that every attorney in the US has alternative ideas in mind. Most attorneys I know have refined tastes in what they want addressed.

                    He could have pushed lots of appointments through between July, 2009 when Franken was seated, and Jan, 2010 when the 60 vote Senate Majority went bye bye with the election of Brown from MA, but not sure how many were ripe for the Senate Floor. Otherwise, many would just be holds and fllibusters, and he got elected, so he gets to make the choices.

                    I don’t think one needs to make it personal — Give the guy a chance to have a little exercise every day or so, have a short vacation (vastly fewer than George Bush required), and let him be a good dad. Do you really want him to attempt what FDR did in 1937 with his Court Packing plan? Yea, I know that is ancient History — but it gave an opening to those who wanted to kill the New Deal. Louis Howe, had he lived, would have beat the shit out of FDR over that one. He lost huge political capital over it. Not a reason not to try, just a warning from details of the past. I think smart leaders do consult the past for fair warning of what might not be the smartest moves at times, and I think Obama does this from time to time. If I were on his staff, I would memo him a warning, reminding that Court Packing led to HUAC, and a whole lot of shit that lasted into the 60’s as a result.

                    • bmaz says:

                      I just want him to do his job, and he is not doing it. There has never been a more pitiful record I am aware of for not paying attention to judicial and USA nominations. Other people come into office with lists ready. If there were not “ripe” ones, it is because he was asleep at the wheel and, like I said previously, other Presidents have been able to press on just fine. Take George Bush for instance. Please. What prevented Obama, who had every hi tech advisor in sight on his campaign, from actually being prepared? I find it simply inexcusable. And I do take it personally, and every citizen should. Nobody should accept the incompetence, disdain and neglect this man has shown the justice system. And I might note that his judicial nominees he has actually bothered to make are tepid at best. Kagan was a disgraceful nominee; literally made Harriet Miers look qualified. It is just a pitiful track record, he gets no pass from me on this. The man needs to do his job; if he and his staff are not up to it, they should be gone.

                    • Sara says:

                      Not being skilled at the arts of Prophecy, I have no idea what Kagan will do with her seat. I do know that from time to time Justices turn out to be something quite other than what they were when appointed and confirmed. All I can rely on that helps me is reading history closely, and I know, for instance, that no one would have predicted Earl Warren when Ike essentially paid off a campaign debt, and I hear the new book on Brennen has lots of surprises.

                      In the end, it will all depend on the cases they get, and not necessarily on the personal qualities. I think the thing to do is wait five years, and then take a serious look at her writings. That is the job.

  6. Teddy Partridge says:

    Remind me again why Obama and Holder didn’t clean house like almost every other president and AG have done with USAs? Is it because DoJ became so politicized under Bush/Rove & AGAG that it was deemed wise to keep those compromised USAs in place?

    It’s like our justice system is through the looking glass.

    • nomolos says:

      One of the most interesting mysteries of this administration. That and the, as Mary points out, lack of Judicial nominations.

    • cbl2 says:

      Amen Brother Partridge

      . . .♫ no need to worry the jury, they’ll probably take care of themselves♫

      and thank you bmaz and ew

    • mzchief says:

      Indeed … The Legal Schnauzer continues to do an excellent job to remind us of that conspicuous fact and of the ramifications.

  7. perris says:

    One would have hoped that this type of prejudicial timing of prosecutions ended with the Bush/Cheney Administration; clearly it did not.

    it would seem rove now works for obama?

  8. Phoenix Woman says:

    Just so you know, B, you’re being attacked, apparently for being a paranoid and/or a liar, over in the comments section at Balloon Juice:

    eemom

    don’t look now, but this indictment is being front paged over at Lake Batshit right now as proof that the Obama DOJ is in cahoots with the Karl Roves of Alabama.

    Not quite clear WHY the Obama DOJ would want to empower the Alabama GOP in the election, but I’m sure there’s a Very. Good. Evil. Reason.

    • bmaz says:

      Shocking! But I did not say anybody but Leura Canary has anything to do with Rove or that Rove has anything to do with this case (although he is a friend of Bob riley’s too). I have no reason to believe Rove is particularly involved in this case at all with Canary, although they sure worked the Siegelman case from all appearances. Why would the DOJ hold this and drop it now? I have no idea. Maybe there is a good explanation. But if the brilliant minds over at Cole’s place don’t think there is something questionable about letting Canary stay in office and then work together with Brenda fucking Morris to just oh so coincidentally bigfoot influence the key legislative vote on Bingo in Alabama earlier in the year and now spring this right before the election, they are fucking nuts. The whole path of the case reeks. That is not to say it may not be a valid case, I will withhold judgment on that until there are more facts. But the way it has been handled to date, and the ethically challenged prosecutors that have been allowed to run amok, affecting local politics tremendously at every turn, is stunning.

      • Phoenix Woman says:

        Yeah. As I told her, she created a straw-Bmaz to attack. Granted, I think that so much of this can be explained as much by stupidity as anything else (in other words, I don’t believe in eleventy-dimensional chess explanations for what Obama’s people do, bad or good), but that’s just arguing over the cause of the problem. She’s trying to deny that the problem even exists – and in order to do so she has to labor hard to misrepresent you.

        • bmaz says:

          Leura Canary is a well known and very established Republican hatchet prosecutor, her husband is a top level GOP operative tied at the hip to Rove, they fueled the Siegelman persecution. There have been other issues. As Mary pointed out below, why would Obama not appoint an acting USA and get Canary out immediately? Then there is Brenda Morris; she literally led the team that so abused the ethical rules, standing statutory and case law and court orders that not only were the charges dismissed by the judge against Stevens, but the judge ordered on his own volition a criminal investigation opened by a special court appointed prosecutor because he did not trust the DOJ. All of that is on the record. Just last week an AUSA committed suicide and it is believed to be over the ruining of his life from participating in Morris’ Stevens violative prosecution. How do you let Brenda Morris run free in the election time politics of Alabama? How? This is the epitome of a picture of “appearance of impropriety”. How do you hold your nose and say this is all okay? The charges may even be valid; if so, it is awful reckless to let them be tainted by this septic shit. I just do not know how to put a happy face on any of this.

          • Gitcheegumee says:

            I have been following the gambling shenanigans on the Gulf Coast from the genesis of the Abramoff /Reed/Scanlon affair -which derived originally from an accounting issue with the Coushatta Indians of Kinder,Louisiana.

            I would ask, WHAT would the Obama DOJ stand to gain from gambling NOT be allowed in Alabama?

            • bmaz says:

              Heh, this is a weird one though. From what I gather, the real gambling people are the ones fighting bingo, so maybe it is not inconsistent.

              • Sara says:

                “Heh, this is a weird one though. From what I gather, the real gambling people are the ones fighting bingo, so maybe it is not inconsistent.”

                As I listened to the reports on the Indictments, I thought that was the point, this is a case about limiting competition with the non-on line gambling interests in Alabama.

                I would suggest asking just another simple question. Perhaps this case was brought out today because the Grand Jury that has been on it, just reached the point where their work had matured. They say the investigations will continue — perhaps with another Grand Jury? Perhaps even with different Prosecutors and another Grand Jury that takes a look across the border into Mississippi, and elsewhere.

                More to the point — what evidence does anyone have that suggests Obama personally had any knowledge of the details of this case? I see nothing. I would suppose he would be briefed that it would be announced today, but that would just be standard.

                As for those concerned about helping out the un and underemployed survive these god awful times, How many poor folk in Alabama are going to be helped with more bingo on the Internet? More likely will move jobs and revenue overseas than actually put food on Alabama kids tables. If the indictments are true — and I say If — then it looks to me like the folk who would benefit would be the elected political class in Alabama, those who run the Political Operations and Campaigns, and not many more. In bad times, why not question the idea that the lucky draw for some random person in a game of chance can solve underlying problems.

                • bmaz says:

                  I have no information Obama had any personal involvement in this prosecution, and doubt he did. That falls on DOJ leadership. Obama has, however, left the execrable Leura Canary in charge of MDAL, and that falls squarely on his shoulders. I fail to see how “gosh he had other priorities” excuses his pathetic record on filling the judicial and US Atty positions. And it is not just that the big bad Republicans won’t let him, he doesn’t even put up nominees half the time. It is inexcusable.

                  • Sara says:

                    “And it is not just that the big bad Republicans won’t let him, he doesn’t even put up nominees half the time. It is inexcusable.

                    I realize this — and yes, I would like to see the appointments. But you do have to make choices of what fights are appropriate at what time, all politics is like that. If he selected more fights, FOX would just start another Channel.

                    • Peterr says:

                      For someone who proudly and appropriately said that a president ought to be able to do more than one thing at a time, Obama’s willingness to set aside basic things like appointing people to fill out his administration (and fighting to get them confirmed) seems counterproductive to getting things done.

                    • bmaz says:

                      So it is okay to just leave judicial seats vacant, districts and circuits in emergency status for lack of enough judges (which several are) and leave right wing hit people in charge of US Atty offices in hot spot districts where they have a history of political persecutions? All that is okay so he can pass that crappy health bill? See, I think failing to take care of the judicial system is flat out dereliction of duty and contrary to his oath of office. It isn’t discretionary. He had a bigger majority than anybody in recent memory. He didn’t even try. It makes my blood boil to see that piddled off because he passed that crappy albatross healthcare act which further ingrained the power and profits of carriers and providers. Maybe I am just touchy because that is what I do for a living, but abandonment of the justice system has no excuse, and his record is beyond pitiful.

                      And one other thing, he could sure as hell have demanded the resignation of offensive Bushies from US Atty spots and appointed acting USAs from the career ranks of each office. But the high and mighty Obama just couldn’t be bothered. Dereliction of duty is being kind.

  9. R.H. Green says:

    Curious about the range of perception about this, I followed PW’s link to the juice. I saw two things of interest in the commentary. First seems to be the geneal knee-jerk “opinion” that if the DOJ brought the charges, they must be true. The second was different from the other comments in that it suggested that this puts Holder and Obama in a bind, so that to somehow intervene would make THEM look as if they were politicizing the judicial process. Interesting view, but leaves out the Breuer approval.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Politics indeed make strange bedfellows-AND- next door neighbors(Alabama and Mississsippi are adjoining states.)

      Note:Just for the record, Haley Barbour-gov of Mississippi- and Abramoff were lobbying partners years ago in DC.

      Here’s an interesting bit of info:

      Vows Not to Work for Gambling and Casinos-

      The Chairwoman of the Alabama Republican Party has been hired as a consultant for a lobbying firm that often works on the behalf of gambling and casinos interests.
      Chairwoman Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh took a consultant’s job at the lobbying firm Capitol Resources of Jackson, Miss. even though her party is deeply opposed to gambling and casinos.

      Capital Resources, which is one of Mississippi’s foremost lobbying firms, represents the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, which owns gambling and casinos operations in Mississippi and the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi.

      Henry Barbour, a partner in the firm and a nephew of the state governor, said that he asked Cavanaugh to come to work for Capitol Resources after they met at the Republican National Committee in Washington in 1994.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Internet gambling online – VIP

        Casino gambling is probably the most popular niche on the Internet – so check … Capital Resources, which is one of Mississippi’s foremost lobbying firms, …

        casinoak.com/ – Cached

    • Sara says:

      “US now executing German citizens too if they are in Pakistan.”

      Excellent articles in Der Spiegel last week about all this. Germany has apparently identified at least a hundred, perhaps more, of their citizens who have gone to the Afghan and Pakistan Border areas for training, some of whom are being arrested in Germany on return. Travel warnings now include both Japan and Sweden. It is a moving story, and at this juncture I am sure much needs to shake out.

      Given my very long term following of things Danish (because I read the language), I read that press daily, and they link many stories from Germany as well as of course the rest of Europe. There are many many threads to follow, the recruitment of volunteers for Pakistan being only one.

      Part of the German Army, as part of NATO is up in the northern part of Afghanistan, and as reported, at least one mission of some of these volunteers in Pakistan is to kill members of the German Army. Not at all a simple story.

  10. MadDog says:

    OT – Another modest document dump over at the National Security Archives on the:

    THE IRAQ WAR — PART III: Shaping the Debate

    From Document 2 (2 page PDF) – Foreign and Commonwealth Office, letter from Peter Ricketts, Political Director, to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, March 22, 2002:

    …5 US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al Qaida is so far frankly unconvincing…

    …This is something the Prime Minister and President need to have a frank discussion about…

    • MadDog says:

      And this from the same document:

      …6 The second problem is the END STATE. Military operations need clear and compelling military objectives. For Kosovo, it was: Serbs out, Kosovars back peace-keepers in. For Afghanistan, destroying Taleban and Al Qaida military capability. For Iraq, “regime change” does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam. Much better, as you suggested, to make the objective ending the threat to the international community from Iraqi WMD before Saddam uses it or gives it to terrorists…

  11. radiofreewill says:

    My guess is that the Dog Track owners and ‘other’ parties in Alabama would have a vested interest in stopping any competition – thier fear being that on-line Bingo would siphon-off the gamblers’ money before they even went to the track.

    Wasn’t/isn’t Shelby, along with DeMint, the worst offender about putting Obama’s nominees on ‘secret hold’? One of the things that this does is to give the Gooper Oppo Research Teams (anyone remember Monica and Griffin when they did this for Rove?) time to ‘get the dirt’ on their ‘targets.’

    Also, it’s not clear at all, to me at least, that Hillman’s PIN ever got a good ‘looking at’ in the wake of the Siegelman Railroading, which, iirc, featured a federal Judge-assignment – who had a money interest in a large, $100M Alabama contract that Shelby was connected with.

    Where’s Scott Horton on this – it seems like it involves all the same players as Siegelman?

  12. Sara says:

    Peterr, let me lay out why I raise this issue.

    You have done great posts on the Child Sexual Abuse, in all the various directions it has gone in the last few years, and as you know, I have been following it carefully too. I sorta remembered the process by which Jeff Sessions (Alabama, Republican) and Pat Leahy, (Vermont, Democrat) put this bill together back in 2005, and George Bush signed it, but it was not something I was tracking regularly. Then since I regularly read the New York Review, smack, there in the face, during the five years they worked on what best practices were, and the depth of the problems, here comes the David Kaiser pieces that impressed me profoundly.

    My starting point with what impresses — just a little line I remember out of the Philly Grand Jury Report from about six or seven years back, when one of the police authorities in Philly was asked, “well, if you find a priest in the park trying to hump one of the little buggers, what do you do with him?”

    Answer, well we put him in the squad, and take him over to his Bishop. We never write it up.

    Police Policy????? That has to be where we start.

    Now some have fond dreams about sending the 82nd Airborne after the Pope and other outlandish things that would be quite unconstitutional, but how about just following all the avenues where DOJ does have authorities and influence? The Catholic Charity’s money for distribution to programs comes 80% from the Federal Government, ditto for lots of parallel stuff all over the landscape.

    Guidelines of course have lots to do with mandated reporting to police and child protection, but a lot more to do with understanding how institutions foster environments where abuse is pretty common. People who are disturbed by what has been put on the table by the Survivors of Abuse going public, making their horrors known, really need to review what is now understood, and how the field work shows where and how various risk reduction strategies work, don’t work. In my mind, those citizens and yes Church Going Citizens who want to see change need to comprehend what is on the table, and contribute what they have learned since the 1980’s when this first became public with the work of Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter folk, and many many others. (And yes, DOJ can say not handing the possible offender back to his Bishop for protection is terrible police practice, and they can force change.)

    Obviously DOJ’s authorities mostly run to public institutions, such as youth prisons, jails, most half-way houses, and the like. The rates of Sexual Abuse of kids in these places is quite high — but can be substantially reduced, they found. But the structures where it happens are so similar, places where kids have no recourse, Places where Hierarchy and Authority roost, places where perps protect perps. We all understand this if we have read the horror stories.

    This is why I think just asking for a good hard look at what has been done, what is now proposed, and how all sorts of institutions that are fraught with these problems need to first be informed, and then ask how citizens, and yes, church going citizens, can follow the efforts and be intelligent commentators. Grant Funds will be involved. I don’t want to see them wasted on nonsense. This is a case where the Secular Side took an intelligent look at the whole problem, and there are plenty of ways to get in touch with that effort, and push in directions where they will not be making the main effort.

  13. bmaz says:

    I just posted this update in the main post above:

    UPDATE: The DOJ has now made the statement that Leura Canary and the rest of her office, save for two individuals, are recused from the bingo case:

    Breuer said Assistant U.S. Attorneys Louis V. Franklin and Steve P. Feaga from the Middle District of Alabama are assisting in the prosecution. But the Assistant Attorney General said the U.S. Attorney’s office is otherwise recused from the case. He declined to comment on the reason for the recusal.

    Of course, Leura Canary saying she has recused herself in favor of Louis Franklin has a proven history of questionable veracity. Not to mention, of course, Canary’s involvement in the critical workup including the first wrongful impingement on the Alabama legislative function described above. This reeks, and the DOJ is just pretending they can wish it all away

  14. Romberry says:

    I’m on the ground here in Alabama and I gotta say that regardless of timing, I don’t see dirty tricks here.

    Bob Riley has actually been a pretty good governor. (It pains me to say that, but it is none the less true.) He risked everything in his first term to try and make the Alabama income tax much more progressive, and paid a steep political price for it. But beyond that, he has been fighting against the gambling interests and their paid-for supporters in the legislature and constitutional offices in state government for years. And these people really are the worst kind of sludge.

    McGregor’s “Victoryland” sucks enormous amounts of cash out of one of the poorest counties in the state, and through some pretty skillful bookkeeping, provides only a fraction of the support for local schools that they were supposed to provide. But put all that aside and leave the debate about gambling’s merits off the table…

    The fact is that under the Alabama constitution, these venues are illegal. The state supreme court agrees with that. And these illegal institutions have gone out of their way to buy off legislators and other powerful interests in the state so that they can keep right on robbing the state.

    I don’t have anything against people indulging in gambling if that is what they want to do. But I don’t support graft and bribery and other illegal activity that enriches the few at the expense of the many. I expect that these will be successful prosecutions and when it comes to people like McGregor, I couldn’t be happier.

    • bmaz says:

      I would like to see a heck of a lot more evidence (too many years as crim defense atty), but I don’t necessarily dispute that. My point is more to do with the way the investigation and charging have been conducted. If you will recall, in the Ted Stevens case (another Brenda Morris and PIN special project by the way), it also was not a matter of whether there was guilt so much as a completely rotten and unethical prosecution. The critical points the government has chosen to make its grand shows is pretty disturbing to my experience in such things.

  15. Gitcheegumee says:

    Has Obama Failed to Root Out Scoundrels? | The SeminalMay 6, 2010 … Rob Riley’s UAB-Related Hanky Panky–It’s a matter of public record that a company partly owned by Rob Riley, son of Governor Bob Riley, …

    seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/45670

    NOTE: This diary is a MUST read. Originally posted at the Seminal, it is riveting-especially the info about Medicare fraud involving Riley’s son-and- the Rahm Emanuel references.

    • bmaz says:

      Gitchee, you gotta figure out how to use that link button! Just highlight the URL on whatever page you want to link to and copy it. Then highlight whatever text in your comment you want to be a link and click the button that looks like a chain link. A text box will come up that says “enter the URL” and it should have http:// highlighted already. Just hit the delete so that disappears and paste in your previously copied URL and hit OK. Walla you are done and the final posted version of your comment will have an active link (don’t worry if it looks goofy or doesn’t work in preview mode, the final one will work.

      Oh, and the Seminal diary you reference is by Roger Shuler from Legal Schnauzer I reference in my post. He does very good work over at LS. And he and an old friend ours by the name of Lotus, who used to run a blog named Folo, really kicked ass on the Alabama and Mississippi cases. They do some great work down there.

  16. paperweight says:

    I live in southeast Alabama, and of course, this is big news here. One of the indicted senators is “my” senator. One point of correction: several folks have referenced “online” gambling or bingo. What is in question here is electronic bingo, which is to say, this is bingo done on machines, geographically local, as opposed to online gaming. A small point, perhaps, but important, I think when you consider that it would have a tremendous local impact and really no one outside our area would be affected.

    Also, I did a little poking around, since I was curious, and visited the DOJ’s site regarding the Public Integrity Section. I, too, was struck with the timing of the indictments; seemed fishy to me. I wanted to arm myself with the PIN info you cite. The problem is, all I could find regarding recommendations about timing of the release of information about investigations involved fraud about actual votes and voting procedures (“election crime”). I take that to mean citizen votes in public elections, rather than bribery of elected officials in order to influence a legislative vote, which is clearly the case here. Unless it’s in a section I didn’t find, I don’t think the DOJ gives a rat’s ass about when they open indictments.

    That said, there ARE those who DO give a rat’s ass about the upcoming election, although, at least in my corner, I don’t think the incumbent, indicted senator was going to have a chance anyway. She had been kicked out of the Republican party for endorsing a Democrat for the U.S. House and is running as an Independent. When she was invited to leave the Republicans, she of course lost their funding, which would make it highly suspect that she could possibly be enticed by large campaign contributions in exchange for a yes vote (as well as influencing other senators), except for the fact that she is extremely wealthy, personally. I believe she could fund her campaigns herself, and it would hardly be a blip on her financial radar. She had been a very popular and powerful senator until her endorsement of the Democrat candidate (who won). I believed then that it would spell her political demise. She is a personal acquaintance and it’s been very surreal to watch this all unfold.

    Wow, sorry to get so long-winded, but I was so glad to stumble across this blog, and all the intelligent and cogent comments. It’s strange to be in the middle of this mess; there are lots more details that fill in the blanks, that range from the minute to the large, e.g., Indian gambling interests in the state – I’m thinking they’re not too keen on competition and have plenty of money to fight it (gambling is “illegal” in Alabama, except on Indian lands. Although how Victoryland, McGregor’s non-Indian dog track has operated, I’ll never understand).

    • bmaz says:

      Well, I believe the rule I was referencing includes not only election offenses, but patronage offenses, which are the core of the Alabama bingo case. The rule, and more importantly the standard practice historically at DOJ, is not that such cases can never be brought in the immediate period before an election that could materially effect them, but that special permission is required and there is a preference for not so disturbing elections. And that is a good policy. Now there are times when you just have to press ahead. But all available facts so far tend to indicate this could have been done earlier. And, again, it is hard to give any benefit of the doubt when the thing has got Leura Canary and Brenda Morris, not to mention Canary’s right hand man Louis Franklin, written all over it. Hey, maybe it is all hunky dory, but thre is a VERY shaky track record and appearance here. That is the problem. People should not have to have those suspicions about the administration of justice, but when they keep covering up prosecutorial misconduct and flat out ethical violations within the DOJ across the spectrum from OLC to Deputy AGs making false avowals to the Supreme Court, to the antics of Morris and Canary, how do you not look at it with a jaundiced eye? Why would the DOJ put these people on this heated case? Why would anybody give this the benefit of the doubt?

  17. orionATL says:

    romberry @66

    and

    paperweight @70

    thank you for your very informative comments. it is always very helpful to hear a sensible local reporter’s comments.

    southeast ala?

    phoenix city?

    doesn’t leura canary have a history ,thru an uncle with the famous fifty’s scandals there?

    • paperweight says:

      While I have lived in LA (Lower Alabama!) for 20 years, I grew up and still have logged more time in Texas, which has its own set of political shenanigans. So, I really don’t know much about Phenix City (that’s the correct spelling, for whatever reason).

      In fact, until digging into this indictment stuff, I had never heard of Leura Canary. There is so much swirling around this whole situation, I think there were lots of interests involved.

      I’ve always thought it odd that VictoryLand existed (machines and a dog track) while gambling was purportedly illegal in Alabama, with the exception of Indian organizations. The Indians were tied in tightly with Jack Abramoff and I think that duo contributed, worked for, whatever, Bob Riley (the governor) in his races. [any connection between Abramoff and Canary, hmm?]

      Then, when Country Crossings opened (the electronic bingo place), suddenly all the gambling places were raided. Yes, in the middle of the night, hundreds of state troopers showed up to lock down the gambling places. Woulda been a good night to be speeding; I don’t think the staties were anywhere but here and VictoryLand. Riley has had an irrational dedication to closing these places, almost to the point of exclusion of any other policy decision. The state has so many bigger problems, I just couldn’t understand this monomania, other than the Indian interests.

      It may be a bigger “party” issue, with the Republicans wanting to punish Smith (my senator who was booted from them), although the other legislators indicted are both Republicans and Democrats.

      @bmaz I still stand my reading of the DOJ Public Integrity Section regarding timing of the release of investigations or indictments (p. 91), although since there’s not really a law at stake, it’s moot. Plus, whether or not there’s a policy in this type of case, there’s no way that this revelation does not at least have the appearance of some connection to an upcoming election. I’m not sure, however, of who is helped or hurt by this. I hasten to add that I don’t really know much about the races outside my area.

      @maeday – I was unaware that the VFW’s were beneficiaries of the bingo income. All groups are hurt these days by cutbacks and job losses. Country Crossing employed hundreds who are now out of work. I see this hysteria the same way I see Obama’s suspension of drilling in the Gulf: overreaction. The response to a remote chance of another rig accident caused job losses by tens of thousands – not a remote loss, but an actual blow to oil workers and attendant industries and their dependents, many of whom had already lost *their* jobs due to layoffs.

      My understanding is that Bentley and Sparks both have come out as saying that the people of Alabama should be able to vote on the gambling issue. Easy way out for them, for then they can both say they are “personally” against gambling, yet allow the state to reap the income the industry could bring.

      I only wish I had the skills; the indictment reads like a good thriller. Unfortunately, the players and situation are real, further besmirching a state that couldn’t use any more bad press.

  18. maeday76 says:

    In response to bmaz, romberry, paperweight, et. al. I live in Mobile, Al. and am incensed by the connection between Bob Riley and Mississippi gaming. The campaign contributions he received have at least the appearance of a conflict of interest regarding his scorched earth crusade against bingo and all other gaming in Alabama. Allegations (not sure if this has been verified) that the Alabama Poarch Creek Indians have financially influenced his campaign against Alabama gambling to protect their lucrative interests (including a HUGE new Wind Creek Casino complex) further undermine his appearance of propriety and the timing of these recent indictments constitute a trifecta (no pun intended) of serious questions as to the connections between the Governor’s office, DOJ and Attorney(s) General in their pursuit of political influence and financial gain. Where is Ron Sparks’ firebreathing press conference? His statement on the indictments was tepid at best, and he stands to lose not just the governor’s seat but his reputation as an independent thinker and proponent of regulated gambling and lottery in our state. I expect more from a man who is so directly affected by these developments.

    FINAL NOTE: PLEASE PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG…Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts across the state are suffering, cutting back programs and staff, and in some cases closing due to lost revenue they once derived from bingo machines. The VFW and the men and women they support deserve at least the same exemption from gambling prohibition enjoyed by Indians. This is a sad consequence of the political/moral hypocrisy of Riley (and his probable successor, Bentley) at a time when our veterans need all the support they can get. I have not seen this part of the story covered yet, and it should be a major talking point for Ron Sparks and all Alabamians who support our troops and the rights of individuals to choose for themselves whether to participate in gaming.

    Vote for freedom, support our veterans, and shout from the rooftops that the only choice in the coming gubernatorial election is Ron Sparks.

    Thanks for such a comprehensive and elucidating discussion, everyone. I have learned a lot.