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Sunday, February 24, 2008

How is Don Siegelman different from John McCain?
Posted by Jill | 7:21 PM
I haven't written about the Don Siegelman case largely because I am one blogger and I usually have only two hours in a day to write, and the parade of horrors committed by the Bush Administration is so huge that there's only so much one person can cover.

The Siegelman case is important because it is yet another example of the Atwater/Rovian tactic of stealing elections your candidate didn't win (George W. Bush, 2000), overturning elections you didn't win (Bill Clinton) or preventing candidates you can't beat from running (Don Siegelman).

The 60 Minutes segment on the case just ran, and it occurs to me that Don Siegelman is in jail for essentially what John McCain did for Paxon Communications and other clients of Vicki Iseman.

Siegelman was convicted of trading campaign donatinos for political favors, specifically a seat for Richard Scrushy, CEO of HealthSouth on the hospital regulatory board in Alabama in return for a half-million dollars in campaign contributions.

The 60 Minutes piece shows a Republican state attorney general from Arizona stating unequivocally that there's no there there. But Siegelman is doing seven years in Louisiana, and John McCain, having already been one of the Keating Five, is apparently doing similar favors for the well-connected:

Broadcaster Lowell "Bud" Paxson yesterday contradicted statements from Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign that the senator did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist before sending two controversial letters to the Federal Communications Commission on Paxson's behalf.

Paxson said he talked with McCain in his Washington office several weeks before the Arizona Republican wrote the letters in 1999 to the FCC urging a rapid decision on Paxson's quest to acquire a Pittsburgh television station.

Paxson also recalled that his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, likely attended the meeting in McCain's office and that Iseman helped arrange the meeting. "Was Vicki there? Probably," Paxson said in an interview with The Washington Post yesterday. "The woman was a professional. She was good. She could get us meetings."

The recollection of the now-retired Paxson conflicted with the account provided by the McCain campaign about the two letters at the center of a controversy about the senator's ties to Iseman, a partner at the lobbying firm of Alcalde & Fay.

The McCain campaign said Thursday that the senator had not met with Paxson or Iseman on the matter. "No representative of Paxson or Alcalde and Fay personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC regarding this proceeding," the campaign said in a statement.

But Paxson said yesterday, "I remember going there to meet with him." He recalled that he told McCain: "You're head of the Commerce Committee. The FCC is not doing its job. I would love for you to write a letter."

The Paxson situation may not involve a quid pro quo of money for legislation, but it's impossible to believe that John McCain is doing favors for corporations solely out of the goodness of his heart, particularly when there's at least one lobbyist involved.

It's clear that Don Siegelman was railroaded, and there's no more hard evidence against McCain of specific instances of bribery than there was against Siegelman. But Siegelman is in jail because Republican operatives targeted him, while John McCain is going to be the Republican nominee for president, in one of the most flagrant examples of the IOKYAR Rule that we've seen in a long time.

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