Posted by CrisisPapers
Tue Jan 29th 2008
| Ernest Partridge |
Today, Don Siegelman, former
governor of the state of
Alabama, sits in a federal
prison, sentenced to a seven
year term for bribery.
Every day that Siegelman
remains in prison every
American citizen who openly
dissents from the policies and
protests the criminality of the
Bush/Cheney regime is less
free and more vulnerable to
For the plain fact of the matter
is that Don Siegelman is, in
effect, a political prisoner. The
formal charge against him was
bribery. But, practically
speaking, his offense was his
political success as a
Democrat in a "red" Republican
state. When Siegelman
indicated an interest in reviving
his political career, one of his
accusers was heard to say,
"(We're) going to take care of
Siegelman." And so they did.
Larisa Alexandrovna, one of the
few journalists to investigate
this case in depth, writes:
For most Americans, the very
concept of political prisoners is
remote and exotic, a practice
that is associated with
third-world dictatorships but is
foreign to the American
tradition. The idea that a
prominent politician - a former
state governor - could be tried
on charges that many
observers consider to be
trumped-up, convicted in a trial
that involved numerous
questionable procedures, and
then hauled off to prison in
shackles immediately upon
sentencing would be almost
The Siegelman case stinks
from top to bottom of political
vendetta and manipulation. It's
a rather complicated story,
which I cannot recount in detail
here. Those details may be
found in the Raw Story
(Alexandrovna et al) series and
the DemocracyNow Scott
Horton interview, listed and
linked below. However, these
are the essential elements:
The bribery charge rose out of
Siegelman's appointment of
Richard Scrushy to the
Alabama hospital regulatory
board, a non-paying position
that Scrusky had held under
two previous governors. The
Scrushy's donation of a half
million dollars to a Siegelman
foundation and gained
Siegelman no financial
advantage whatever. Of course,
political favors to donors is
routine in both state an federal
government, as numerous
will testify. Moreover, clearly
illegal campaign contributions
were received by Alabama
Republican Senator Jeff
Sessions and Federal Judge
William Pryor, who have not
been investigated much less
Siegelman held the distinction
of serving all four elective state
offices: Attorney General,
Secretary of State, Lieutenant
Governor and Governor. With
his prestige, popularity, and
name-recognition, he was a
persistent threat to the
well-oiled Alabama GOP
political machine. As his
daughter, Dana, describes it,
The men and women behind
this conspiracy have a lot
against my dad. My dad wanted
an education lottery, brought
jobs to the state, made big
businesses pay their taxes,
sought to completely change
Alabama's constitution, raised
teachers' salaries, gave African
Americans jobs that
Caucasians had supremacy
over for years, helped in
fundraisers for other
Democrats, supported the arts,
was well-respected on a
national level, etc... It was a
battle against a truly liberal
leader, not some moderate
Democrat. He held the highest
offices in the state and was
Alabama's longest running
politician. Republicans wanted
their state back, and they got it.
"They got it," typically, through a
stolen election. In 2002,
Siegelman appeared to have
won re-election against
Republican challenger Bob
Riley. But then, in Baldwin
county, Republican election
supervisors (no Democrats
allowed), locked the doors and
"discovered" a "computer glitch"
that tilted the election to Riley,
whereupon the GOP Attorney
General, William Pryor, put the
kibosh on Siegelman's appeal
for a recount by sealing the
ballots. (Siegelman gives his
account of the theft here).
While Siegelman vowed "to
come back and fight another
day," the GOP was determined
to see to it that he was at last
down for the count.
Enter Bill Canary, Republican
kingmaker, friend and
confidant of Karl Rove,
campaign advisor to William
Pryor and Bob Riley, and, not
coincidentally, husband of U.S.
Attorney, Leura Canary. It was
Mrs. Canary, along with U.S.
Attorney Alice Martin, who
brought the case against
Enter next, Dana Jill Simpson, a
rare and endangered political
animal: a republican political
operative with a conscience and
an allegiance to the rule of law
that trumps partisan loyalty. As
Scott Horton reports, in a sworn
affidavit Ms. Simpson, Riley's
campaign attorney, provide(d) a
detailed specific account of what
transpired, starting with (Bill)
Canary's statement "not to worry
about Don Siegelman that 'his
girls would take care of him.'"
Then Riley's son asked Canary if
he was sure that Siegelman
would be "taken care of," and
Canary told him not to worry that
he had already gotten it worked
out with Karl and Karl had
spoken with the Department of
Justice and the Department of
Justice was already pursuing
Don Siegelman." "His girls"
were Canary's wife Leura
Canary, who as U.S. Attorney in
the Middle District of Alabama,
did in fact start the investigation,
only dropping off when
objections were raised by
Governor Siegelman's counsel
due to her obvious political bias
and the U.S. Attorney in
Birmingham, Alice Martin. Ms.
Simpson, who gave the affidavit,
is a lifelong Republican and was
a worker in the Riley campaign
against Siegelman, and her
account has been
While communicating with
Siegelman's attorney prior to
releasing her affidavit,
Simpson's house was
demolished by a mysterious
fire, and Simpson herself was
forced off the road. Mere
coincidences, of course.
The judge at Siegelman's trial,
Mark Fuller, a Bush appointee
and a former member of the
executive committee of the
Alabama Republican party, had
a well-known grudge against
Siegelman. Fuller refused to
recuse himself from the case,
denied bail, immediately put
Siegelman in shackles and
ordered him to the Atlanta
federal prison. After seven
months Judge Fuller, in
violation of the law, has failed to
release the trial transcript
without which the defendant
can not appeal his conviction.
Don Siegelman has since
been shuttled back and forth
among several federal prisons
out of touch with his attorneys
and not allowed access to the
internet or to press interviews.
This treatment has prompted
an unprecedented demand by
forty-four former state attorneys
general for a Congressional
investigation of the Siegelman
The Purge in Progress
The Siegelman Saga puts a
human face on a widespread
politicization of the U.S.
Department of Justice. In a
similar case in Wisconsin,
Georgia Thompson, a
purchasing official in the state
government, was convicted of
corruption in a case that
worked to the advantage of a
Republican candidate for
governor. The Seventh Circuit
Court of Appeals was so
shocked by the injustice of her
conviction that they ordered
release, even before issuing a
ruling. The evidence against
her, said Judge Diane Wood,
was "beyond thin."
The December, 2006, firings of
eight Republican U.S.
attorneys, who insisted upon
conducting their offices without
partisan bias, has brought
national attention to the political
corruption of the Justice
Department and has caused
many to wonder about the
behavior of the remaining
eight-five U.S. attorneys that
Alberto Gonzales saw fit to
retain. It is a troubling question.
A study by Donald Shields and
John Cragan, two professors of
communication, may supply an
answer: "the offices of the
U.S. Attorneys across the
nation investigate seven
times as many
Democratic officials as
Republican officials, a
number that exceeds
even the racial profiling of
African Americans in
traffic stops." (The numbers:
298 Democrats, 67
Republicans, 10 "Others").
This apparent partisan purge of
Democrats, combined with
amnesty for Republicans, hits
close to home. It is reported
that Carol Lam, one of the eight
sacked U.S. Attorneys, was hot
on the trail of my Republican
Congressman, Jerry Lewis. I've
heard nothing more about this
investigation, so it appears that
Lewis is off the hook.
So now we have in place a
thoroughgoing corruption of the
federal justice system. The
blindfold has been torn off the
face of lady justice, as the
Department of Justice
becomes, in effect, an
extension of the Republican
Party, and possession of a
public office by a Democrat
becomes a de facto crime,
should the hounds of the
Department of Justice decide to
go after said official.
The Democratic Congress has
been remarkably complacent
about all this. True, they have
called a few young graduates
from Pat Robertson's Regent
U. Law school to testify, they
have heard from the fired U.S.
attorneys, and they have
promised hearings on the
Siegelman case. But its all
show - a bark without a bite - as
the White House and the
Department of Justice
steadfastly refuse to recognize
subpoenas or allow the key
players to testify under oath.
These offenses, by the way,
were among the articles of
impeachment against Richard
Unsurprisingly, these outrages
by the Department of Defense
have not excited much interest
in the mainstream media, with
the honorable exception of
Keith Olbermann and Dan
Abrams of MSNBC. Abrams
series, "Bush League Justice,"
which was broadcast last
December, was magnificent,
and he promised that "we're not
going to let this go away... We
are going to be watching very
closely." Six weeks later, we are
awaiting the follow-up. In
addition, rumor has it that 60
Minutes is preparing a
segment on the Siegelman
Two Roads Diverge
The fate of Don Siegelman may
reflect the fate of our republic.
We are at a crucial crossroads,
one road leads to a restoration
of the rule of law, and the other
road leads to despotism.
If Don Siegelman persecutors
have their way and he serves
out his term of seven years,
and if the culprits who stole his
re-election and railroaded him
to federal lockup enjoy the fruits
of their villainy and escape
punishment, then the rule of
law is dead in Alabama and in
critical condition in Washington
D.C. Then the gangrene of
lawlessness in Alabama may
spread until it destroys the
entire body politic.
I seem to recall a comment by
some Bushie to the effect that
"we're pushing the limits until
someone or something stops
us." To date, those limits have
extended well beyond the
Constitution and the rule of law.
Acts of Congress are nullified
by signing statements,
Congressional oversight is
blinded by "executive privilege"
and a refusal to recognize
subpoenas. Elections have
been privatized and are
unverifiable. All that's left to the
Congress to contain this
burgeoning power of "the
unitary executive" is
impeachment, as we all know,
is "off the table."
Someone, somehow, must
draw a line in the sand and say
"no further!" And then, push
back - and back - and back.
If, somehow, we follow the road
to restoration of democracy and
the rule of law, we should see
at the beginning of that road the
release and exoneration of Don
Siegelman, the disgrace and
punishment of his tormenters,
and the end of political
Don Siegelman, former Alabama governor
Bill Canary, Republican kingmaker, friend and confidant of Karl Rove,
campaign advisor to William Pryor and Bob Riley, and, not coincidentally,
husband of U.S. Attorney, Leura Canary, along with U.S. Attorney Alice
Martin, are opposed by 52 former states' attorney generals.
The Prosecution of Governor Siegelman pg 2
Now a Republican lawyer from Alabama, Jill Simpson, has come forward to claim that the
Siegelman prosecution was part of a five-year secret campaign to ruin the governor. Simpson
told 60 Minutes she did what’s called “opposition research” for the Republican party. She says
during a meeting in 2001, Karl Rove, President Bush’s senior political advisor, asked her to try
to catch Siegelman cheating on his wife.
"Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman?" Pelley asks.
"Yes," Simpson replies.
"In a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides," Pelley clarifies.
"Yes, if I could," Simpson says.
She says she spied on Siegelman for months but saw nothing. Even though she was working as a Republican campaign
operative, Simpson says she wanted to talk to 60 Minutes because Siegelman’s prison sentence bothers her conscience.
Simpson says she wasn’t surprised that Rove made this request. Asked why not, she tells Pelley, “I had had other requests
for intelligence before.”
“From Karl Rove?” Pelley asks.
“Yes,” Simpson says.
Rove was a strategist in Alabama. Simpson says she worked with him on several campaigns.
60 Minutes contacted Rove. Through his lawyer, he denied Simpson’s allegations. One of Rove’s close Alabama
associates was Republican consultant Bill Canary. Simpson says she was on a conference call in 2002 when Canary told
her she didn’t have to do more intelligence work because, as Canary allegedly said, “My girls” can take care of Siegelman.
Simpson says she asked “Who are your girls?”
“And he says, ‘Oh, my wife, Leura. You know, she's the Middle District United States Attorney.’ And he said, ‘And then Alice
Martin. She is the Northern District Attorney, and I've helped with her campaign,’” Simpson says.
“Federal prosecutors?” Pelley asks.
“Yes, Sir,” she says.
Bill Canary denies the conversation ever happened. He told 60 Minutes he never tried to influence any government official in
the case. His wife Leura Canary and Alice Martin are top federal prosecutors in the state. Both were appointed by President
Bush, and their offices investigated Siegelman. Details of some of those investigations leaked to the press. And Siegelman
lost his 2002 re-election campaign narrowly to Republican Bob Riley.
Two years later, as Siegelman geared up to run again, the Justice Department took one of its Siegelman investigations to
trial-an indictment involving an alleged Medicaid scam.
“He’s indicted. He goes to trial. That's a pretty big deal to have your former governor on trial. Everybody's there. The
government gives their opening argument. The judge says, ‘I want to see you in chambers because this case, there's no
case here,’" Grant Woods says.
Woods says the judge threw the case out, without a witness testifying. “The case is so lame that he throws it out,” he says.
Vindicated, Siegelman focused on winning the 2006 election. And that’s when Jill Simpson says she heard the Justice
Department was going to try again. She says she heard it from a former classmate and work associate Rob Riley, the son
of the new Republican governor.
“Rob said that they had gotten wind that Don was going to run again,” she says.
“And Rob Riley said what about that?” Pelley asks.
“They just couldn't have that happen,” Simpson says.
If Siegelman is
acquitted, will Karl
Rove and friends go
Or will they get a pardon
on George Bush's last day
Bush gave no such
pardons. Rove and
friends are fighting
hard against giving
testimony and giving
Siegelman a new trial.
CBS pg 3
Asked how they were going to prevent that from happening, she
says, “Well, they had to re-indict him, is what Rob said.”
Simpson told this same story, under oath, to Congressional investigators in a closed session. Rob Riley told 60 Minutes
he never talked to Jill Simpson about this.
Four months after Simpson says they spoke, Siegelman was indicted on new charges. Doug Jones, Siegelman’s lawyer,
says one of the prosecutors told him that Justice Department headquarters in Washington had ordered a top to bottom
review of the case. Today, the Alabama prosecutors deny that it was Washington - but whoever ordered it, there was a big
boost to the investigation.
“They started over. People started getting subpoenas that had never gotten subpoenas before, for testimony, for records.
The governor's brother, his bank records started getting subpoenaed. The net was cast much wider than had ever been
cast before,” Jones says.
“You know, on the other hand, what's wrong with the Department of Justice vigorously investigating a case if they think there
is an indictment to be made on public corruption charges?” Pelley asks.
“Well, you still have to investigate crimes, not people. It undermines the entire system of justice because at that point
anybody can be a target. Any prosecutor can look across the table and say, ‘You know what? I just don't like you,’” Jones
...Governor Siegelman was "denied 45 days to report to prison to give him time
to put his affairs in order, an opportunity which is commonly granted" ..."
Governor Siegelman is not in any way a flight risk, the denial of a bond
pending appeal appears inappropriate, and the shackling of the
Governor in handcuffs and leg irons as he was taken out of the
courtroom was shocking." The petition noted in contrast that when
"another former Governor of Alabama was convicted of corruption
charges a few years ago in a case where he personally benefited from
his action," unlike Siegelman, he was merely sentenced to probation
and that case "was handled by the same lead prosecutor."
[A] petition from the former state attorneys general then noted that "The
sentence sought by the prosecutor in Governor Siegelman’s case – 30 years –
was excessively disproportionate."
Siegelman was immediately taken to a maximum security prison. While in
prison, Siegelman endured solitary confinement...
...Don Siegelman is the only person in the history of Alabama to be elected to serve in all four
of the top statewide elected offices: Secretary of State, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor
and Governor. He served in Alabama politics for 26 years, winning his first election for the
governorship with 57% of the vote, including over 90% of the African-American electorate.
...Siegelman was defeated for reelection in November 2002 by Representative Bob Riley by
the narrowest margin in Alabama history: approximately 3,000 votes.
The result was controversial, as on the night of the election, Siegelman was initially declared
the winner by the Associated Press. Later, a voting machine malfunction in a single county
was claimed to have produced the votes needed to give Siegelman the election. When the
malfunction was claimed to have been corrected, Riley emerged the winner.
The recount of that county's votes was affirmed by the state's Attorney General, Republican Bill
Pryor. Largely as a result of this controversy, the Alabama Legislature amended the election
code to provide for automatic, supervised recounts in close races.
...On May 27, 2004, Siegelman was served an indictment on federal charges, but the day
after his trial began, prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges. The judge threw out much
of the prosecution's evidence and stated that that no new charges could be refiled based on
the disallowed evidence.
...On October 26, 2005, Siegelman was indicted on new charges of bribery and mail fraud in
connection with Richard M. Scrushy, founder and former CEO of HealthSouth. Two former
Siegelman aides were charged in the indictment as well. Siegelman was accused of trading
government favors for campaign donations when he was governor from 1999 to 2003 and
lieutenant governor from 1995 to 1999. Scrushy was accused of arranging $500,000 in
donations to Siegelman's campaign for a state lottery fund for universal education, in
exchange for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board. Scrushy, who had served on the
state hospital regulatory board over the past three Republican administrations, had recently
been investigated for his part in the HealthSouth Corporation fraud scandal which cost
During his trial, Siegelman continued his campaign for governor, running against Lt. Governor
Lucy Baxley and minor candidates in the Democratic primary on June 6. Despite Baxley's
relatively low-profile campaign, she easily defeated Siegelman in the primary with almost
60% of the vote compared to Siegelman's 36%. Siegelman was convicted of federal
corruption charges just three weeks later. Baxley went on to lose to incumbent Bob Riley in
the general election. Riley won 58% of the vote; Baxley, just under 42%.
On June 29, 2006, a federal jury found both Siegelman and Scrushy guilty on seven of the
33 counts in the indictment. Siegelman was convicted on "one count of bribery, one count of
conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, four counts of honest services mail fraud
and one count of obstruction of justice", according to a press release from the U.S.
Department of Justice.
... his former chief of staff, Paul Hamrick, and transportation director, Mack Roberts, were
acquitted of all charges.
Siegelman was sentenced by Judge Mark Everett Fuller to more than seven years in
federal prison and a $50,000 fine.
Siegelman says that Scrushy had been on the board of the state hospital regulatory board
during several preceding governorships, and that his contribution towards the state lottery
fund for universal education was unrelated. He says that such charges, in addition to being
unfounded, are without precedent...
Testimony of star witness
Witness Nick Bailey, who provided the cornerstone testimony upon which the conviction
was based, was subsequently convicted of extortion; upon being given 10 years in prison
Bailey cooperated with prosecutors to lighten his own sentence.
Although he engaged in over 70 interviews with the prosecution against Siegelman, none
of the notes detailing these interviews were shared with the defense.
In addition, after the case was tried it was confirmed that the check he testified he saw
Scrushy write for Siegelman was actually written days later, when he was not actually
Partiality of the jury
Following the trial, Kilborn and McDonald raised issues regarding the jury's impartiality after
receiving emails exchanged between two jurors during the trial.In court at the time the judge
would not hear the concerns of the defense regarding jury partiality, insisting, "I do not
want to deliberate too much about these e-mails".
Documents obtained by Time magazine in November 2008, revealed that one or more
jurors had repeatedly contacted the government's legal team during the trial.
The documents also indicated that prosecutors interviewed two jurors, despite express
instructions from the judge that no contact with jurors should occur without his permission,
while the court was reviewing charges of juror misconduct...
Leura Canary did not submit voluntary recusal paperwork until two months after Siegelman
attorney David Cromwell Johnson's press conference in March 2002.
...The Anniston Star published an editorial stating that, "If that's his story, then Rove should
not hesitate to go under oath and answer questions before a congressional committee."
...Raw Story reports that Karl Rove advised Bill Canary on managing Republican Bob Riley's
gubernatorial campaign against Siegelman in the election fraud controversy of 2002, based
on the testimony of "two Republican lawyers who have asked to remain anonymous for fear of
retaliation," one of whom is close to Alabama's Republican National Committee.
Simpson's house burned down soon after she began whistleblowing, and Simpson's car
was driven off the road by a private investigator and wrecked. As a result of the timing of
these incidents, Simpson said, "Anytime you speak truth to power, there are great risks.
I've been attacked," explaining she felt a "moral obligation" to speak up.
Misconduct by Attorney General
In November 2008, new documents revealed alleged misconduct by the Bush-appointed U.S.
attorney and other prosecutors in the case. Extensive and unusual contact between the
prosecution and the jury appears to have occurred. According to Time, a Department of
Justice Staffer furnished the new documents at the risk of losing her job. The documents
included e-mails written by Canary, long after her recusal, offering legal advice to
subordinates handling the case. At the time Canary wrote the e-mails, her husband was
publicly supporting the state's Republican governor, Bob Riley. In one of Leura Canary's e-
mails made public by Time, dated September 19, 2005, she forwarded senior prosecutors on
the Siegelman case a three-page political commentary by Siegelman. Canary highlighted a
single passage which, she told her subordinates, "Ya'll need to read, because he refers to a
'survey' which allegedly shows that 67% of Alabamans believe the investigation of him to be
politically motivated ... Perhaps [this is] grounds not to let [Siegelman] discuss court activities
in the media!" At Siegleman's sentencing, the prosecutors urged the judge to use these
public staements by Siegelman as grounds for increasing his prison sentence.
...On July 17, 2007, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and Reps. Linda
Sánchez (CA-39), Artur Davis (AL-07), and Tammy Baldwin (WI-02) sent a letter to
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asking him to provide documents
and information about former Alabama Democratic Governor Don
Siegelman’s recent conviction, among others, that may have been part
of a pattern of selective political prosecutions by a number of U.S.
Attorneys across the country.
The deadline for the Attorney General's office to provide the
information to Congress was July 27, 2007.
The documents had not been produced by August 28, 2007, the
date that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that he
In an editorial that day, The New York Times said that despite Gonzales' departure, "[M]any
questions remain to be answered. High on the list: what role politics played in dubious
prosecutions, like those of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, and Georgia Thompson,
a Wisconsin civil servant."
...On October 10, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee released testimony in which Dana Jill
Simpson alleged Rove "had spoken with the Department of Justice" about "pursuing"
Siegelman with help from two of Alabama's U.S. attorneys and that Rob Riley had named the
judge who would eventually be assigned to the case. She also claimed Rob Riley told her the
judge would "hang Don Siegelman."...
Siegelman defenders ... argue that there was a conflict of interest in the prosecution against
Siegelman, since the investigating U.S. Attorney was married to his political opponent's
Siegelman defenders argue that the sentence is unprecedented and the punishment
excessive because, for example, former Alabama Governor Guy Hunt, a Republican, was
found guilty in state court of personally pocketing $200,000, and state prosecutors sought
probation, not jail time, in the Hunt case. Siegelman's supporters and interested academics
established a website, donsiegelman.org, explaining their points of view.
Federal Communications Commission investigation
60 Minutes aired an investigative segment on the case called "The Prosecution of Governor
Siegelman" on February 24, 2008. During the broadcast, CBS affiliate WHNT in Huntsville,
Alabama, did not air this segment of the program, but claimed to have had technical
issues with the signal. However, Scott Horton of Harper's Magazine has staed that he
contacted CBS News in New York regarding the issue and claims that he was told that there
were no transmission issues, and that WHNT had functioning transmitters at the time...
In March 2008, the Federal Communications Commission began an investigation
into why the north Alabama television station went
dark during a February 24 broadcast of the "60
"The deadline for the Attorney General's office to provide the
information to Congress was July 27, 2007.
"The documents had not been produced by August
28, 2007, the date that Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales announced that he would resign."
Sept. 25, 2009. John
Eric Holder about the
In this letter he asks Holder to
review the allegations of
prosecutorial misconduct in
the Siegelman Case.
sends a reply to the
opposition of a new trial:
The court cannot refuse to
examine new evidence
because "as the Government
seems to boldly claim, ' We’re
the Government, so it must
be true.' "
91 Former Attorney's General
petition for "Writ of Certiorari"
to the US Supreme Court of
A Public Official may not be
prosecuted for the receipt of a
campaign contribution in the
absence of an explicit
Quid Pro Quo...
Law Professors file a "Friend
of the Court" appeal to the US
The Indictment and
Prosecution of Government
Officials Under the Statutes
in This Case ... Produce a
Significant Burden and a
Chilling Effect on a
First Amendment Right
August 11 2009 -
defying 2 subpoenas
Rove agreed to be
questioned on his own
Rove's Special Agreement
July 28 2009 -
Locust Fork News
Federal prosecutors' in
response to the motion
for a new trial.
Their response?No new
June 30 2009 -
Don Siegelman files a
motion for new
trial based on newly
Motion for a New Trial
May 21 2009 -
WTVM Channel 9
U.S. District Judge U.W.
asked Attorney General
Eric Holder to
prosecution of Don
Siegelman... the "most
criminal case" he ever
Feb. 24, 2008
Is Don Siegelman in prison
because he’s a criminal or
because he belonged to the
wrong political party in
Siegelman is the former
governor of Alabama, and he
was the most successful
Democrat in that Republican
state. But while he was
governor, the U.S. Justice
Department launched multiple
investigations that went on year
after year until, finally, a jury
convicted Siegelman of bribery.
Now, many Democrats and
Republicans have become
suspicious of the Justice
Department’s motivations. As
correspondent Scott Pelley
reports, 52 former state
attorneys-general have asked
Congress to investigate
whether the prosecution of
Siegelman was pursued not
because of a crime but
because of politics.
Ten years ago life was good for
Don Siegelman. After he
became governor, many
believed he was headed to a
career in national politics. In
1999, Siegelman’s pet project
was raising money to improve
education, so he started a
campaign to ask voters to
approve a state lottery. He
challenged Republicans to
come up with a better idea.
“You tell us how you’re going to
pay for college scholarships.
You tell us how you’re going to
put state of the art computers
inside every school in this
state,” he said.
But now the applause has long
faded. Today, Siegelman is at
a federal prison camp in
Louisiana. He’s doing seven
years. The main charge
against him was that he took a
bribe, giving a position on a
state board to businessman
Richard Scrushy, who had
made a big donation to that
lottery campaign. There was a
star witness, Nick Bailey, a
Siegelman aide who had a
vivid story to tell.
“Mr. Bailey had indicated that
there had been a meeting with
Governor Siegelman and Mr.
Scrushy, a private meeting in
the Governor's office, just the
two of them,” says Doug
Jones, who was one of
Siegelman’s lawyers. “And
then, as soon as Mr. Scrushy
left, the governor walked out
with a $250,000 check that he
said Scrushy have given him
for the lottery foundation.”
“Had the check in his hand
right then and there? “ Pelley
“Had the check in his hand
right then,” Jones says.
“That Scrushy had just handed
to him, according to Bailey's
testimony?” Pelley asks.
“That's right, showed it to Mr.
Bailey. And Nick asked him,
‘Well, what does he want for
it?’ And Governor Siegelman
allegedly said, ‘A seat on the
CON Board.’ Nick asked him,
‘Can we do that?’ And he said,
‘I think so,’” Jones says.
The CON board regulates
hospital construction, and
Scrushy ran a healthcare
company. Both Siegelman and
Scrushy were convicted in
|San Diego Education
(CBS story contiued from right column)
But, as 60 Minutes found out, the imprisonment of Don Siegelman is not nearly as simple as that.
“I haven't seen a case with this many red flags on it that pointed towards a real injustice being done,” says Grant Woods, the
former Republican attorney general of Arizona.
Woods is one of the 52 former state attorneys-general, of both parties, who’ve asked Congress to investigate the Siegelman
“I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because
they could not beat him fair and square. This was a Republican state and he was the one
Democrat they could never get rid of,” Woods says.
Don Siegelman released from Federal Prison
On Thursday, March 27, 2008, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals approved
the release of former Governor Siegelman from federal prison while he appeals
his conviction in the corruption case. He was released on Friday the 28th.
Siegelman is currently working to see Karl Rove held in contempt for
refusing to testify before a House committee that is investigating his