Friday, March 03, 2006

Campbell trial: "I can't recall"

An interesting week in the corruption trial of Bill Campbell, the former Democratic mayor of Atlanta. There was, for example, an outbreak of a rare disease that sometimes strikes Democrats when they are compelled to testify under oath, courtroom amnesia:

Former Atlanta City Attorney Susan Langford returned to the stand Friday morning ... and her memory continued to fail her.
She answered “I don’t recall” more than 50 times during about 45 minutes of contentious cross-examination by Assistant U. S. Attorney Sally Yates about her handling of the city’s legal matters.
Langford was asked about her involvement in giving and revoking liquor licenses to Atlanta strip club owner Michael Childs, who the prosecution alleges paid Campbell about $50,000 in bribes to get licenses.
Langford ... said she didn’t recall whether she overruled the license board’s decision to revoke the license for Club Nikki’s, owned by Childs, because of a series of shootings, fights and other ordinance violations at the club.
At that point, Yates showed Langford a document detailing the hearing in which, claimed Yates, Langford ignored the wishes of the board and issued a renewal of Nikki’s license anyway.
“Does that refresh your recollection of what happened?” asked Yates.
“It really does not,” said Langford. “I just do not recall.”
Langford also testified that she did not know that Michael Coleman was Campbell’s personal attorney. Then Yates showed her documents, which Langford had seen while she was city attorney, indicating that Coleman epresented Campbell.
Langford said: “Perhaps I misspoke.”
Perhaps she did. The "I don't recall" response -- even when confronted with documents that clearly demonstrate the facts -- is a great way to avoid a perjury charge when you're trying to help a Democrat escape corruption charges.

Another great escape trick, blame the dead guy:

Steven Labovitz, Bill Campbell’s longtime friend, said he never knowingly violated any campaign laws while working as campaign treasurer in the 1997 mayoral election.
He laid discrepancies and illegal campaign contributions at the feet of deceased Campbell friend Rickey Rowe.
Asked by defense attorney Billy Martin if he ever authorized any illegal contributions, Labovitz responded. “Absolutely not. My integrity is incredibly important to me. I would never do anything like that.” ...
Labovitz’s testimony was in response to previous government testimony from businessman Ronnie Thornton who said he gave the campaign $126,000 in illegal campaign contributions in 1997 after being told by the mayor he needed to give at least $100,000 in donations or he would not be able to get a huge construction contract at the airport.
Samuel J. "Rickey" Rowe, the Campbell crony who was a central figure in the cesspool of corruption at Atlanta City Hall, died in 2004 of complications of diabetes. Now that he's dead, Campbell's lawyers are trying to lay all the blame on their client's late friend. This is kind of like how the Clintons did with Vince Foster, Ron Brown and Jim McDougal.

Another typical Democratic defense, amazing to outsiders, is the blind loyalty method:

A government handwriting expert testified that signatures on seven documents came from the hand of Campbell. But in testimony on Thursday, a former city employee stood by her contention that Campbell didn’t do it. ...
[Eunice] Lockhart-Moss says that Campbell did not sign the seven documents that federal prosecutors say bear his signature. She insists Campbell refused to sign them on the day he left his job as mayor. The documents approved millions of dollars for United Water, a company that paid for Campbell’s expenses during a trip to Paris.
Lockhart-Moss testified the last person she saw with the documents was Campbell’s chief operating officer, Dewayne Martin, whom she claimed sometimes signed documents with Campbell’s signature.
Government prosecutors challenged her, saying that twice, when interviewed before a government grand jury, she never mentioned the United Water documents. Her explanation -- “They never asked me.”

Q. Why would Ms. Lockhart-Moss name Dewayne Martin as the last man with the United Water contract, the $80 million scam that is the biggest single item on the federal indictment of Campbell?
A. Martin has been cooperating with prosecutors.

Ms. Lockhart-Moss is playing the thuggish, antinomian "no snitching" card. She is appealing to the ugly idea that cooperating with law enforcement is the worst possible crime -- especially when it might send a Democrat to prison.

We keep repeating this, but it is important to remember that no fewer than 10 people have already gone to prison for their roles in the federal crimes of which Campbell is acccused. Yet witnesses like Langford, Labovitz and Lockhart-Moss insist that Campbell himself -- the jet-setter with two mistresses who always paid his tabs with cash -- is innocent.

Lockhart-Moss is seeking to impugn the witnesses against Hizzoner by claiming that they, not he, were the criminals, and that they are liars to boot. Smearing Martin serves the same basic function as smearing the dead guy, Rickey Rowe. But of course, what do you call a mayor who surrounds himself with lying criminals like Martin and Rowe?

The word "corrupt" springs to mind.


Previous DONKEY CONS analysis of the Campbell trial:

2/24: Mayor: "What's in it for me?"

2/18: Hotlanta Mayor's Love Triangle

1/27: Campbell trial: "That's my ho!"

1/18: What did I tell you about Atlanta?

1/17: Atlanta mayor goes on trial today