A few of you have written in to ask whether this is a case of Siegelman redux — that is, something akin to the case of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, a Democratic governor sandbagged by Republican partisans in the US Attorney’s office.
Short answer: Don’t bet on it.
Needless to say, I haven’t had any real chance to evaluate the specific charges themselves. But I would be extremely cautious about jumping to such conclusions. Patrick Fitzgerald, the US Attorney in Chicago, put the previous Illinois governor away too. That was Republican George Ryan. Fitzgerald was also the special prosecutor who investigated the Plame Leak case.
I remember a few years ago I was having lunch with a prominent Democratic consultant who told me that Fitzgerald was “naive” about how politics worked — relative to his work in Chicago. I just listened and waited to move on to another subject. What is true is that Fitzgerald takes a pretty stringent view of political corruption. But that’s not such a bad thing.
In any case, if he’s stringent, I think Fitzgerald’s record as US Attorney in Chicago and as special prosecutor in the Plame case has earned him more than enough credibility as a hard ass irrespective of people’s party designation to assume that this case has nothing to do with Blagojevich being a Democrat unless and until there’s very persuasive evidence to the contrary.
Everything I know about Fitzgerald tells me he’s exactly what you want in a US Attorney. The real thing.
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