Political parties will 'take no prisoners'

Published 10:44 am Wednesday, September 26, 2007

By By Steve Flowers
Several weeks ago I commented on the mean-spirited nature of politics today. There is a vicious, pervasive, take no prisoners, warfare mentality prevalent between the two political parties.
I attributed this acrimony to the legislative and congressional districts around the country being drawn so that they are either extremely republican or extremely democratic. This makes the legislators from that district very partisan. Therefore, he or she is dogmatically republican or democratic with very few moderate rational lawmakers. They detest their counterparts. This is a recipe for disharmony and gridlock with no real pragmatists or statesmen to create meaningful compromise legislation. It is no surprise that congress has an abysmal approval rating, even lower than President Bush which is pretty low.
Speaking of low, one of the murkiest areas that has evolved in recent years is in the area of political prosecution or it could be referred to as political persecution. Many democrats believe that Don Siegelman was targeted by federal prosecutors directed to prosecute and persecute Siegelman. They drew a direct correlation to the Bush Administration scandal which revealed that Bush political operative, Karl Rove, fired impartial U.S. Attorneys around the country who would not do the political bidding and prosecution ordered by the political side of the White House.
The Siegelman case is hard to determine if it was politically motivated. There was certainly enough evidence and innuendo to warrant an investigation without any political pressure. There was enough cronyism to convict Siegelman on ethical lapses. Ironically he was convicted on something that was probably not illegal.
Our other recent gubernatorial conviction, Guy Hunt, was definitely the victim of political shenanigans. Democratic Attorney General Jimmy Evans was on a witch-hunt to get Hunt. He convicted him on flimsy evidence and minor offenses. If George Wallace had been indicted for every time he used the state airplane for personal use he would have had a planeload of indictments.
Currently our GOP Attorney General, Troy King, is on a vendetta to convict former Secretary of State Nancy Worley. This effort was totally unwarranted and mean-spirited. Ironically, King himself has been accused of ethics violations involving the taking of favors and soliciting a job for a friend from ousted Junior College Chancellor Roy Johnson. King's endeavors would be a lot more subject to ethics law violations and convictions than his partisan and petty attempt to convict Nancy Worley for writing a letter to employees asking for their campaign support. The Circuit Judge in Montgomery threw King's allegations against Worley in the garbage and basically labeled them ridiculous and petty.
This continued selective political prosecution needs to end. That is not to say that public officials who blatantly steal and abuse their power should not be prosecuted. There should be a lot of prosecutions for the brazen thievery in the Junior College scandal. However, malicious and vicious prosecutions for misdemeanor offenses is taking partisanship to an extreme and mean-spirited level that is serious. What is to keep a democratic administration in Washington from indicting King if they take over the White House in 2008 or if a democrat wins the Alabama Attorney General's office in 2010?
Neither Worley nor King are guilty of anything more than misdemeanors at best. They neither one deserve to be prosecuted for capital offenses not to mention the embarrassment and fear of possible incarceration. Even when they are exonerated their legal expenses could deplete their entire life savings. Both Worley and King have lived on state salaries their entire working life and an expensive trial could ruin either financially.
Partisanship and politics should not be the primary reason to indict and prosecute an individual. It is bad enough that they hate each other so much that they do not speak to the other side in the Senate and they ultimately slug each other in the face on the Senate floor. Hopefully they will reserve the partisan zeal to the legislative branch and keep the judicial branch somewhat impartial and fair
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us <http://www.steveflowers.us/>

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