A transplanted Midwesterner puts down roots in Alabama and helps show how "loyal Bushies" have corrupted our justice system.
Why have prominent Democrats in the Deep South been the target of apparent political prosecutions by the Bush Justice Department?
It can be traced to political and legal battles over tobacco and gambling, according to an intriguing new article by Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane in the Jackson (MS) Free Press:
Paul Minor, a highly successful trial attorney and generous contributor to Democratic causes, was targeted because of his role in historic lawsuits several states brought against the tobacco industry in the 1990s. The nation's four largest tobacco companies wound up paying $246 billion in the largest civil settlement in history:
Bitterness over the huge settlement sparked a tort-reform movement that was financed by massive corporate donations to the GOP. Who was at the heart of that movement? Why, Karl Rove, who helped engineer Republican takeovers of state courts in Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi. Other key players were Haley Barbour, a former tobacco lobbyist who is now governor of Mississippi, and disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Alexandrovna and Kane show how Mississippi and Alabama are entertwined in efforts to help business interests gain the upper hand on consumers. Minor was prosecuted and remains in federal prison pending appeal, along with former Mississippi state judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield.
In Alabama, former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman was targeted for prosecution. Why? Apparently because his plan for an education lottery was seen as a threat to gaming interests in Mississippi. Those interests were represented by Abramoff, who helped funnel millions of dollars to Siegelman's opponent, Republican Bob Riley.
The end result? Alabama has a governor who was backed largely by Jack Abramoff's gambling interests. Mississippi has a governor who was backed largely by tobacco interests.
Paul Minor and Don Siegelman have appeals slowly working their way through the federal court system. Siegelman is free pending appeal. Minor and his codefendants remain in federal prison.