- - Monday, June 4, 2012

The Supreme Court will not take another look at the bribery conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

The high court on Monday turned away Siegelman’s appeal of his 2006 convictions. Siegelman was convicted of selling a seat on a hospital regulatory board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery.

Siegelman’s attorneys wanted to argue that campaign donations can’t be bribes unless there’s a clear agreement between the donor and the politician, and that there was no such agreement in Siegelman’s case. Siegelman has been free on bond while appealing his conviction.

The appeal was turned away without comment.


Obama ad targets Romney’s record in Massachusetts

President Obama’s campaign says Mitt Romney’s economic promises didn’t pan out when he was governor of Massachusetts and “won’t work now.”

In a television advertisement released Monday, the campaign blames Mr. Romney for leaving Massachusetts in debt and among the lowest-ranking states in job creation. The ad tells voters that when Mr. Romney says what he would do as president, “remember, we’ve heard it all before.”

The ad is part of the targeted effort the Obama campaign launched last week to seek to discredit Mr. Romney’s economic record in Massachusetts. The Obama campaign is grappling with its own economic message to voters after an uptick in the nation’s unemployment rate to 8.2 percent.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul, responding to the ad, said the Republican nominee would be happy to compare the 4.7 percent unemployment rate in Massachusetts during his term as governor with Mr. Obama’s record on the economy.

“It’s time for a president who has worked in the real economy and understands how to get this economy moving again,” Ms. Saul said.

The Obama campaign said the 60-second ad will air in nine battleground states, including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.


Republicans play offense in medical device tax fight

A bill aimed at repealing a tax on the makers of medical equipment is giving its Republican authors an election-season chance to claim they are protecting jobs and cutting taxes. At the same time, they are taking a bite out of President Obama’s health care initiative.

GOP leaders plan to push the measure through the House this week. It would repeal a 2.3 percent tax on the makers of medical devices for their U.S. sales.

The tax was enacted as part of the 2010 health care overhaul. It is estimated to generate $29 billion over the next decade — a small part of the cost of revamping the health care system.

Democrats say the device industry can easily afford the tax and will get millions more customers from the health care law.


Ex-senator sentenced in corruption case

PITTSBURGH — A former Pennsylvania state senator has been sentenced to prison on charges that she illegally used her legislative staff to do campaign work and then forged documents to cover it up.

Republican Jane Orie was ordered to serve her 2 1/2- to 10-year state prison sentence immediately Monday and was taken from the courtroom.

The 50-year-old suburban Pittsburgh lawyer was convicted of five felony counts involving theft of service and conflict of interest for using her state-funded staff to perform political fundraising and campaign work, and nine related misdemeanors. She resigned from the Senate in May.

It was not known whether Orie must pay up to $2 million in restitution, as well as legal fees spent on her behalf by the state GOP caucus.


U.S. gives visas to Zimbabwe officials to attend meeting

The Obama administration has granted visas to two senior officials from Zimbabwe to attend a meeting of an international body charged with monitoring and preventing the sale of blood diamonds, despite human rights concerns and financial sanctions against the pair.

The State Department said Sunday that Zimbabwean Attorney General Johannes Tomana and Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu would be part of the country’s delegation to the U.S.-hosted meeting of the Kimberley Process, which begins Monday.

The department would not confirm that the two men had been given visas, citing privacy concerns, but officials acknowledged that they would not be able to participate if they did not have proper travel documents.

Both men are subject to U.S. financial sanctions under an executive order because of their positions in Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s government, which is accused of numerous human rights abuses. They are not covered by a travel ban.

In addition, the department noted that as the current chairman of the Kimberley Process, the United States is “obligated to facilitate the entry” of participants.

Hillary Renner Fuller, a spokeswoman for the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, said the participation of the officials “is in no way indicative of an easing of U.S. concerns about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, nor a change in our sanctions policy.”

• From wire dispatches and staff reports



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