Monday, July 02, 2007

USA vs. Thomas Anderson Day 6 (my day 3)

U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska
Court Calendar for Monday, July 2, 2007
Current as of 07/02/2007 at 10:00 PM

9:00 AM 3:06-CR-00099-JWS Judge Sedwick Anchorage Courtroom 3

You can see my posts on Day 4 and Day 5.

I didn't make to court til 10am when Stockler (Anderson's attorney) was still cross examining Frank Prewitt, the FBI's main wire in the case. Basically Stockler was going back over the transcripts, plus adding in some that apparently his office had made of tapes the FBI didn't make transcripts of, trying to get Prewitt to admit to some different interpretations of what was said:
  1. That basically Anderson was a guy totally into politics who was eager to help, eager to please any constituent or even anyone coming in. Thus he helped out Prewitt, not for pay but because that is the kind of guy he is.
    1. He did this by trying to show that Anderson helped Prewitt out before money was involved and going through the transcripts to show that Anderson hadn't asked for money.
      Prewitt's response was that Bobrick had asked for the money so Anderson didn't have to
  2. That the things Anderson did for Prewitt were consistent with Anderson's values (supporting private enterprise, for example) and they were the kind of things that legislators do for lobbyists all the time.
    1. He used Rep. Mike Hawker as a regular example - if you had written talking points or a letter to sign as though it were his own would you think there was something wrong?
      If you make a campaign contribution to someone you could ask him do these things and there would be nothing wrong?
    2. So, what's the difference then between what Anderson was doing and these others?
    3. Stockler asked Prewitt whether the work Anderson did to try to change the staffing levels at half-way houses wasn't just good government. Even though they didn't have the number of residents they were designed for, they had to continue full staffing which made no economic sense. But Commissioner Antrim was being bureaucratic and wouldn't budge or give a good reason for his position. [Antrim was a witness in the afternoon. I got the impression he was added to respond to this characterization.]
      Prewitt's response each time was: The difference is that he was working for me. Or I was paying him to do these things. [I would also note that the campaign contributions are reported to the Alaska Public Offices Commission, but these were secret even from Anderson's then girlfriend Rep. McGuire.
  3. Anderson never asked for money, that he never considered the payments related to the work he was doing for Prewitt (see 1 and 2 above) and while he asked Prewitt at various times whether there was such a connection or there was a conflict, Prewitt never said yes. If he had, Anderson would have ended it there and Prewitt wouldn't have gotten what the FBI wanted. He challenged Prewitt to show where in the transcripts Anderson had asked for money.
    1. Prewitt said he couldn't recall the specifics and would have to go through the transcripts, but that it was clear Anderson knew there was a relationship between the money and the work. And it wasn't his job as a lobbyist to give Anderson legal advice
    2. Stockler also repeatedly asked Prewitt what the FBI told him to do or not do.
      1. Prewitt: I was there to listen, ask questions.
    3. Anderson didn't ask for money, because Bobrick was taking care of that and Anderson knew Cornell (the prison company Prewitt was a lobbyist for) really didn't care about the ads in the sham internet company that Bobrick set up to hide the source of the payments to Anderson.
  4. He also tried to get Prewitt to say that Anderson didn't want it known he was working for Cornell because it would be politically damaging, not because it was illegal. He had some union support that he could lose if they knew he was working for Cornell. [Of course that is one of the purposes of disclosure laws, so voters know the potential conflicts of interest of the candidate.]
  5. At another point, Stockler was trying to show that there was nothing in Anderson's past that would indicate that he was unethical and would accept illegal money. That caused the Prosecuter, Mr. Marsh, after the jurors left for the morning break, to say that since Stockler had raised this, an excluded part of the transcript which showed that Anderson had worked for Veco on contract "for doing nothing" (according to Bobrick) should now be brought in to show that there was something to indicate this. Marsh was allowed to bring this back in when he did the redirect with Prewitt later on.
  6. Finally, Stockler worked to clear Lesil McGuire's name by getting Prewitt to say he had no reason to believe she knew anything about the arrangement Tom Anderson had with him and Cornell.
And then it was lunch break at noon.
Back in court at 1:30. Stockler finished the cross examination at 1:47 pm.
Marsh was up right away. I have to say, I've been impressed had how quickly the transitions go from one attorney to the next. Marsh worked to get Prewitt to reinterpret what had been said in the morning. It was clear that Prewitt is a witness for the prosecution. He did not let Stockler push him into anything he wasn't ready to accede. He would say, "I have to read the transcripts again before I can say that." He would disagree with Stockler's characterization. But for (Prosecutor) Marsh he was always supportive.

Marsh started by asking what his instructions from the FBI were. Did they set rules, parameters?
  1. They identified specific persons of interest
  2. He was not allowed to propose something illegal, just carry out my business as a lobbyist
  3. He was instructed not to shut down any illegal proposals that came up. "It would have a chilling effect"
  4. He was never told "you have to bag a legislator."
All this seemed to go to answer Stockler's point that he was proposing the illegal activity and that if he had told Anderson it wasn't legal, Anderson would have stopped right then.

They went on to:

  1. Highlight times when Anderson did, in fact,
    1. show he knew that the Internet Journal ads were not the reason Cornell was paying him (Anderson said, "Quit the BS on the banner [ads] thing.") and that in fact that Prewitt never saw any articles that Anderson or anyone else had written for it and he's pretty sure it never came to be
    2. show places in the transcripts where Anderson did ask for money - particularly, the Nov. 16, 2004 meeting where Anderson came to Prewitt to complain that Bobrick was taking a big cut out of his money for himself and that he really needed money. Prewitt said rather than cut out Bobrick, he make an extra payment for Anderson. Another was where Anderson was asking if he should get out of the legislature (because the pay is so low) and work for Prewitt. Anderson answers his own question, "No, you want votes in the legislature."
Then Stockler asked another 15 minutes worth of questions of Prewitt.

At 3:25pm Mark Antrim, former Commissioner of Corrections was the witness. After giving a brief biography - first job after getting a BA in Justice at UAF, was as a Corrections Officer II for the State of Alaska in the 1980s and appointed as Commissioner by Gov. Murkowski. Palin asked him to resign and he is now back as a Corrections Officer II until retirement soon.

He gave a totally different view of the logic of the Half way house staffing levels. Stockler had argued and Prewitt hadn't argued[disagreed], that what Anderson did on this was simply good government to stop a blatant inefficiency of forcing the contractors to keep full staff when they had only a few residents. It was an example of how the work Anderson did was stuff any good legislator would do.

But Antrim's picture was much different. There was increased pressure to fill the halfway houses and so more prisoners who normally would be classed at a higher risk level were being sent to halfway houses and the number of 'walkaways' or prisoners who escaped [was going up fast]. A corrections employee had been sent out to audit all the privately run halfway houses [and] found that most had only one staff when they should have had three. The halfway house contractors - Cornell and two others - were told to get back to contract mandated staffing levels. One complied right away, but Cornell and another gave a lot of 'pushback.'

Although Anderson and Antrim had had good relations before, things were a little tense this time. Anderson wanted Antrim to make a supplemental budget request to increase funding for the halfway houses. Antrim said no. The head of OMB would laugh at him. Why would he ask for more money for something they already were paying for based on the contract with Cornell?

Stockler, in the cross examination, raised the question about Antrim and Hawker being like oil and water. Antrim thought that was a fair assessment, but added that before he left his appointment he told Hawker that in hindsight he was grateful for his close oversight - it had helped him run the Department better.

Finally, at 4:04 - Bill Bobrick began his stint as a witness. We'd heard a lot of about Bobrick to this point so it was interesting to see the actual person. I thought he walked in rather slowly, not at all eagerly. He was a lobbyist who lobbied the Municipality of Anchorage. He'd started construction work in Alaska after his third year of college, gotten into union work, executive director for the Democratic Party of Alaska, became a legislative staffer, and eventually realized that people would pay him to help them deal with the Anchorage Municipal Assembly. He's been doing that for 20 years. He met Anderson around 2001 when Anderson was on the school board and both worked as lobbyists for clients needing to deal with the Municipality of Anchorage. They hit it off and they saw a future lobbying business together after Anderson was out of the legislature. Anderson, a Republican would work in Juneau and Bobrick, known as a Democrat (though he's now registered Independent) would stay in Anchorage. [All this background on Bobrick was stuff he said when asked to give his background.]

And soon it was 4:30 and adjournment. It's late, and while I should proof this, I'm too tired to do it. So I'll post as is. I'd love to add some pictures, but you can't bring your camera into the court side of the Federal Building. There was an artist doing great drawings for Channel 4 in court in the morning.

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