Republican effort jails largest Democratic
donor in Mississippi, helps put ex-RNC chairman in governor's chair
an exclusive interview with RAW STORY, a former Mississippi Republican
state legislator who was later backed by Democrats to win a seat on the
Mississippi Supreme Court discussed political prosecutions and what he
sees as the corruption and politicization of the Department of Justice.
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. was indicted in 2003 on charges
relating to his receipt of a loan guarantee from trial lawyer Paul
Minor – a personal friend and the largest Democratic donor in
Mississippi – to help defray campaign debts. A Bush-appointed US
Attorney, Dunnica Lampton, brought charges of bribery against Diaz,
Minor and two other Mississippi judges.
was acquitted of all those charges. A jury acquitted Minor of the
charges related to Diaz, but was unable to reach a verdict on other
charges. Within days of his acquittal, Diaz was indicted a second time.
He was again acquitted.
a criminal investigation begins after a crime is committed,” Diaz told
me. “Investigators are sent out to gather evidence and a list of
suspects is drawn up. Sometimes an investigation is begun after a
complaint is made about suspicious activity. In our case neither of
these things occurred.”
other words,” he continued. “An individual was singled out for
examination from the federal government and prosecutors then attempted
to make his conduct fit into some criminal statute. This is not how our
system of justice is supposed to operate.”
first contacted me after having read Raw Story’s “Part One – The
Political Prisoner” in this series, which reported on the prosecution
of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. Our interview was conducted
over a period of several months in telephone conversations and email
Permanent Republican Majority Part V: Interview with Diaz," is part of
our ongoing investigation into the undermining of both the electoral
process and the US legal system by corporate interests, their lobbyists
and elected and appointed government officials aligned with them.
to being appointed to the judiciary, Diaz served in the Mississippi
House of Representatives as a Republican for seven years, representing
Biloxi and D'Iberville. Diaz was elected to the Mississippi court of
appeals in 1994, and in 2000 he was appointed to the state Supreme
Court by Democratic governor Ronnie Musgrove.
emerges during our interview are allegations of even more aggressive
prosecutorial tactics and intimidation than has previously been
reported. The allegations seem to fit the pattern of prosecution in
Alabama, where another Bush-appointed US Attorney successfully
prosecuted a popular democratic governor for bribery. As in Alabama,
Diaz was indicted a second time after the first set of charges failed
to hold up in court. Diaz was ultimately acquitted and still retains
his state Supreme Court seat.
broken into, wife 'threatened'
I was indicted and before my trial, my home was also broken into,” Diaz
tells RAW STORY. “Our door was kicked in and our documents were
rummaged. Televisions, computers and other valuables were not taken,
despite the fact that we were out of town for several days and the home
was left open by the burglars. We could not figure out a motive for the
burglary and reported it to the Biloxi Police Department. The crime was
previously reported in “The Permanent Republican Majority Part II” in
our investigative series, Governor Siegelman’s home was broken into
twice during the trial, and his attorney’s office was broken into at
least once during the tortuous process of his case.
another eerie parallel, Mississippi judge John Whitfield, who was tried
along with Diaz and Minor, had his office set on fire. The Alabama
Republican whistleblower, Dana Jill Simpson – who alleges White House
involvement in the Siegelman case – had her home set on fire and her
car run off the road after she came forward.
FBI agent was also reassigned to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba after he voiced
his concerns about the way Lampton was running his investigations.
Agent Michael Campbell’s specialty is forensic accounting; so it’s
unclear what his role might be at the prison.
wife, Jennifer, was indicted along with her husband. According to Diaz,
the US Attorney’s office offered a veiled threat when discussing a plea
agreement, making her an offer she could not refuse.
before our trial, federal prosecutors spoke to Jennifer’s attorney and
told him that they were willing to make a deal,” Diaz told me. “They
explained that she and I were each facing many years in federal prison
and millions of dollars in fines. They told her that it would be a
shame if both she and I were convicted because they knew that we had
two small children.”
said that if she would agree to plead guilty to a single count of tax
evasion they would guarantee her that she would serve no time and would
pay no fine,” Diaz added. “All she would have to do is fully cooperate
with investigators by telling them everything she knows and to
truthfully testify if they called her to the stand. Not being able to
risk the loss of our children, Jennifer accepted this deal.”
Diaz notes, prosecutors did not call Jennifer to testify, as she was
not able to add anything to their case.
of indictments helps elect GOP governor
prosecutions – and those of the largest state Democratic donor and
other Democrat- supported judges also seem to be part of a larger
pattern to use flimsy criminal indictments for political gain.
was indicted three months prior the Mississippi’s gubernatorial
elections. Because he’d been appointment by the incumbent Democratic
governor, Republicans used his name as part of a smear campaign to
bolster their candidate, Haley Barbour.
was the Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997.
indictment was used prominently in the Republican campaign,” Diaz said.
“The Haley Barbour campaign used the indictments of Paul Minor and me
to taint Governor Musgrove. Minor had been one of Musgrove's largest
contributors, and I was his appointee to the Supreme Court.
was also a large contributor to Democratic candidates across the
country,” Diaz. “In fact, at the time he was one of John Edwards’ top
ten largest contributors. The indictments would also serve to embarrass
Edwards, who was considered at that time to be one of the most serious
challengers to George Bush in the 2004 Presidential election. A
political operative could not have picked a better time to issue the
indictments in order to influence the upcoming elections.”