Monday, July 30, 2007

Erase All Doubts, Release Zimmermann Tapes

Star Tribune LTE:

Nearly a year ago, former Minneapolis Councilmember Dean Zimmermann was convicted on three counts of bribery. To this day, many of Zimmermann's supporters claim he is innocent, even though audio and videotapes presented at the trial clearly showed him soliciting and accepting large amounts of cash.

The U.S. Department of Justice did not release those tapes to the media at the conclusion of the trial. The tapes were shown in open court and are part of the public record. Similar FBI tapes showing public officials accepting bribes have been released to the media.

Zimmermann's supporters have said that then-U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty, the FBI, the judge and jury were part of a conspiracy to "frame" Zimmermann. Some supporters have even conjured a conspiracy that involved Zimmermann's opponent in the last election and even DFL Party officials.

Recent allegations that other federal investigations and prosecutions may have been politically motivated lend credence to those claims. Those allegations have eroded public confidence in the fairness and impartiality of the U.S. Department of Justice.

I believe allowing citizens to view the evidence that convicted Zimmermann would help restore some of that lost confidence. The anniversary of Zimmermann's conviction would be an opportune moment for the government to release those tapes.


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