Friday, October 27, 2006
Former White House aide David Safavian faces sentencing for his conviction on four counts of obstruction of justice and false statements related to his contacts with former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff. Prosecutors have requested that the court apply the Sentencing Guidelines, which calls for a sentence in 30-37 month range, while defense counsel have asked for probation or home confinement. Safavian has received support from his former Capitol Hill boss, Utah Representative Chris Cannon, who sent a strong letter urging a light sentence. The letter takes an approach quite different from that seen in Congress in support of longer sentences and greater adherence to the Sentencing Guidelines:
As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I have personally struggled with sentencing issues, particularly post-Booker although certainly not to the extent you have. This episode has punctuated for me the importance of taking into account all facets of a person and the unique facts of each case, when determining what the proper and just punishment should be.
Has David made mistakes? Of course. But as you consider his sentence, I hope you will keep some of my personal observations in mind. This is a decent man who made an error in judgment. He has paid a terrible price and will continue to do so for the rest of his life. Separating him from his wife (who is also in public service) and his three-year old daughter will not do anyone any good.
The approach urged by Representative Cannon is almost the exact opposite of the Guidelines, which largely ignore "all facets of a person and the unique facts of each case." It will be interesting to see if this is a one-shot situation to help out a former aide -- Safavian served as Cannon's chief of staff -- or a signal that Congress will not move to make the Guidelines "topless" or limit judicial discretion after Booker. A Salt Lake City Tribune article (here) discusses Representative Cannon's letter and the sentencing. (ph)