Press Release

Justice Dept. Downplays Evidence of Politics in Probe of Governor

A federal prosecutor brought politics into an investigation of former Alabama Gov. Donald E. Siegelman before the Democrat was charged with public corruption, convicted, and, in 2007, sent to prison, according to a story published today by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

Evidence newly uncovered by POGO shows that a Department of Justice prosecutor told the son and campaign manager of Siegelman’s principal Republican opponent about the confidential probe.

A document obtained by POGO says the prosecutor emailed the campaign manager that he and “a small group of like minded conservative prosecutors” were frustrated by resistance they were encountering as they sought to investigate Siegelman’s administration.

An internal DOJ review of the Siegelman matter faulted actions of four prosecutors based on political conflicts and other considerations. Nonetheless, the review, a summary of which was obtained by POGO, concluded “that the evidence did not establish that political motivation played a role in the investigations or prosecution of Mr. Siegelman.”

The case offers a glimpse into how DOJ investigates allegations of misconduct by its own prosecutors. An earlier POGO report found that while there have been hundreds of violations of professional standards at the DOJ over the past decade, the DOJ releases little information about the findings of its internal affairs office and seldom discloses the names of the offending prosecutors. The effect is to shield both the offenders and the Justice Department officials who sit in judgment of their conduct from meaningful public scrutiny.

Follow the link to read POGO’s story on the Siegelman case.

Follow the link to read POGO’s earlier report on prosecutorial misconduct.