Transcript: Ralph Reed. Church exempt status, Karl Rove, selective prosecutions. Sep 30th 2008

They discussed whether a church should lose its tax exempt status if any of its pastors preached politics in the pulpit. Thom asked about Karl Rove's role in the effort to defeat Don Siegelman's proposed lottery to pay for education. They discussed whether there was selective prosecution of Democrats like Don Siegelman, Paul Minor, Richard Scrushy and even Republican Bob Ney who upset the Bush administration (some of whom are said to be innocent), while others at least as guilty were not prosecuted.

Thom Hartmann interviews Congressman Ralph Reed, 30 September 2008

I have summarized the first part of the interview, and started transcribing when they turned to the Don Siegelman case and other prosecutions or lack of prosecutions.

Ralph Reed, GOP consultant (7 presidential, 88 Congressional and Gubernatorial races). Author of the political thriller "Dark Horse", who was on the show on 12 June 2008. He first predicted a woman on the national ticket.

As the former director of the Christian coalition, is he uneasy that 33 pastors are breaking the tax code by preaching politics from the pulpit? It's not illegal; they have the first amendment right to. The Christian coalition did not tell them to. He thinks that losing tax status is a death knell for charities and that the church should not be penalized so long as only a small percentage (5%) of the church's money goes towards political activity. Thom saw that as the camel's nose under the tent.

[Thom]: In 1998 when you were working with Jack Abramoff bringing casino money into Alabama through the Christian Coalition to defeat Don Siegelman's lottery proposal that would fund education, what was Karl Rove's role in that?

[Reed]: None.

[Thom]: You never discussed any of this with Karl Rove?

[Reed]: No.

[Thom]: And, interesting, OK.

[Reed]: And incidentally I might add, just in the interest of fairness...

[Thom]: Sure.

[Reed]: The effort that we undertook through the Alabama Pro Family movement to defeat Don Siegelman's lottery plan did not involve a dime of revenue derived from gambling activity. That was later determined by outside auditors. Unfortunately on the other side of the aisle where the money was raised for the lottery plan, as you know, there were multiple convictions in federal trials for that activity...

[Thom]: Right.

[Reed]: And it was found to have been corrupt.

[Thom]: Jack Abramoff.

Well, there are a lot of people who are allegedly...

[Reed]: No, I'm saying on the other side of the aisle.

[Thom]: OK. Yeah, Paul Minor, for example.

[Reed]: One of the donors to Siegelman's political committee went to prison and Siegelman was convicted. Now, his conviction, as you know, Thom, is on appeal. But I've always found it kind of interesting that we get criticized because we defeated the lottery plan and it was people on the other side who were found to have been corrupt and ultimately went to prison.

[Thom]: Well and that, which raises a good question, because there were a number of Republicans who were also investigated at the same time for the exact same thing and were never prosecuted. And there's, and in fact you're one of the names that was prominently omitted from some of the subpoenas that came down the road. I know you were subpoenaed in one case but you were not subpoenaed in the Shields and Cragan study, as it were. And was the US attorney's office selectively prosecuting Democrats and not Republicans in those cases?

[Reed]: You know, Thom, I certainly don't have any evidence to believe that that's the case, and as I said, it's ultimately going to be a matter that's going to be resolved by the courts, but Don Siegelman was convicted by a jury of his peers, as was Richard Scrushy, and this was thoroughly looked into and the case was that positions on state boards were effectively sold in exchange for campaign contributions to people who would benefit from the regulation of the board that they were appointed to.

[Thom]: You're talking about Scrushy. This is a guy who had been on the hospital board under two previous, under, in two previous administrations - Republican administrations.

[Reed]: Right.

[Thom]: It was a voluntary position for which he was not paid. And he turned it down. Don Siegelman asked him to do it. You know it's, you're either not familiar with this or you're mischaracterizing it, Ralph.

[Reed]: All I'm saying is what happened, you know. It is...

[Thom]: Right, and that's my question, is, is what happened the consequence of Karl Rove corrupting the political process by not prosecuting people like yourself who seem to have been involved in money laundering, conspiracy, campaign finance violations, mail fraud, and other misdeeds, I mean those are some of the implications, and selectively prosecuting Democrats? Do you have any information or any evidence that that might be the case?

[Reed]: No.

[Thom]: And how can you say that that's not the case when Democrats, when, for example, Scrushy goes to jail for doing exactly what he did with a Republican governor prior to that and nobody ever looked into the Republicans, Don Siegelman goes to jail for putting this guy on a board that, to which no benefit accrued to Don Siegelman or to Scrushy?

[Reed]: You know, look, my analysis of it is, I think there are bad actors in both parties. And I think nobody has a monopoly on either vice or virtue. There have been a number of Republican members of Congress, including former congressman Duke Cunningham and former congressman Bob Ney who ended up being either convicted or pleading guilty and were punished accordingly.

[Thom]: Well, even Bob Ney now is suggesting that...

[Reed]: And it's also happened on the Democratic side of the aisle. So I don't like any party here can claim, you know, we're perfect...

[Thom]: But, well, I get that, but even Bob Ney is now even claiming that he was the, he speaks Farsi, that he was the guy who brought the information from Iran that they were willing to recognize Israel and stop all nuclear development, and delivered that in writing to the Bush Administration and then 'boom!' a ton of bricks falls on him.

[Reed]: That's the first I've heard that. I don't know anything about that, Thom.

[Thom]: I'd suggest you call Bob Ney and ask him about it. Anyhow, Ralph Reed, he's the author of "Dark Horse", ... the first political thriller, "Dark Horse" predicted the first woman on the national ticket, first one since 1984. And Ralph thanks for dropping by.

[Reed]: Thank you, Thom. Good to be with you.

[Thom]: Good talking with you.

Transcribed by Sue Nethercott.

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