Don Siegelman

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Don Siegelman
Don Siegelman at Netroots Nation 2008.jpg
51st Governor of Alabama
In office
January 18, 1999 – January 20, 2003
Lieutenant Steve Windom
Preceded by Fob James
Succeeded by Bob Riley
26th Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
In office
January 16, 1995 – January 18, 1999
Governor Fob James
Preceded by Jim Folsom
Succeeded by Steve Windom
43rd Attorney General of Alabama
In office
January 19, 1987 – January 21, 1991
Governor Guy Hunt
Preceded by Charles Graddick
Succeeded by Jimmy Evans
44th Secretary of State of Alabama
In office
January 15, 1979 – January 17, 1987
Governor Fob James
George Wallace
Preceded by Agnes Baggett
Succeeded by Glen Browder
Personal details
Born Don Eugene Siegelman
(1946-02-24) February 24, 1946 (age 68)
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lori Allen
Alma mater University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Georgetown University
University of Oxford
Religion Roman Catholicism

Don Eugene Siegelman (born February 24, 1946) is an American Democratic Party politician who held numerous offices in Alabama. He was the 51st Governor of Alabama for one term from 1999 to 2003, and to date is the last member of the Democratic Party to hold that office. Siegelman is also 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.

In 2006 Siegelman was convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to seven years in prison.[1] Various former attorneys general and officials have contended that his prosecution was intentionally wrongful.[2][3] On March 6, 2009, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld key bribery, conspiracy and obstruction counts against Siegelman and refused his request for a new trial. Siegelman is currently serving a 6.5 year sentence.

Personal life and earlier career[edit]

Siegelman was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Catherine Andrea (née Schottgen) and Leslie Bouchet Siegelman, Sr.[4] Siegelman is married to Lori Allen, and they have two children, Dana and Joseph. Siegelman is Catholic,[5] and his wife Lori is Jewish; they raised their children in the Jewish faith. He has studied martial arts for decades and holds a black belt in World Oyama karate.

He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama, where he was a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Psi chapter), in 1968, and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1972. He then studied international law at the University of Oxford from 1972–1973.[6] While at the University of Alabama, Siegelman served as the President of the Student Government Association. While in law school, Siegelman worked as an officer in the United States Capitol Police to meet his expenses.

In 1979, Siegelman was elected Secretary of State of Alabama. He served as Secretary of State from 1979 to 1987, then as state Attorney General from 1987 to 1991, then as Lieutenant Governor from 1995 to 1999. In 1998, he won election to governor with 57% of the vote, including over 90% of the African-American electorate.

Career as Attorney General[edit]

In 1988, Siegelman addressed the Alabama Chemical Association and met with Monsanto lobbyists, leading to permission for Monsanto to direct their own, very inadequate cleanup of PCBs at their plant in Anniston, Alabama. As a result, Monsanto dredged PCBs from just a few hundred yards of Snow Creek and its tributaries.[7]

Governorship[edit]

Siegelman's term as governor took place in the midst of explosive growth in Alabama's automotive manufacturing industry. The first new major plant, for Mercedes-Benz, had come to Alabama in the administration of Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. During Siegelman's administration, Mercedes agreed to double the size of that plant. Siegelman became an energetic industrial recruiter, visiting several countries and securing commitments from Toyota, Honda,[8] and Hyundai[9][10] to build major assembly plants in Alabama.

Governor Siegelman presided over eight executions (seven by electric chair, one by lethal injection), including that of Lynda Lyon Block, the first female executed in the state since 1957. He also oversaw the transition from electrocution as a sole method to lethal injection as the primary method.

Siegelman was the first native Mobilian to be elected to the state's highest office.

State lottery and universal education[edit]

One of the keystone issues of Siegelman's campaign had been the issue of the state lottery. The proceeds would fund free tuition at state universities for most high school graduates. Siegelman supported a bill that placed the lottery on a free-standing referendum ballot in 1999. The measure was defeated.[11] Some advisers had suggested that Siegelman wait until the regular 2000 elections, when anti-gambling interests would command a smaller percentage of the electorate.[citation needed]

After the defeat of the lottery, Siegelman struggled to deal with serious state budget problems. Alabama's tax revenues were down during most of his administration. Despite this, observers felt that Siegelman did a decent job of managing the limited revenue produced by this system during a national economic downturn.[citation needed]

Siegelman launched the "Alabama Reading Initiative", an early education literacy program that was praised by both Democratic and Republican officials, and emulated by several other states.

2002 election controversy[edit]

Representative Bob Riley defeated Siegelman in his November 2002 reelection bid by the narrowest margin in Alabama history: approximately 3,000 votes. 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, Baldwin County, was claimed to have produced the votes needed to give Riley the election. Democratic Party officials objected, stating that the recount had been performed by local Republican election officials after Democratic observers had left the site of the vote counting, thus rendering verification of the recount results impossible. The state's Attorney General, Republican Bill Pryor, affirmed the recounted vote totals, securing Riley's election. Pryor denied requests for a manual recount of the disputed vote warning that opening the sealed votes to recount them would be held a criminal offense.[12] Some observers have opined that perhaps the most objective observation about this vote shift is that there was no corresponding vote shift in other issues and candidates on these same ballots, a shift that would be expected if they were actually anti-Siegelman voters, probably a mathematical impossibility. Largely as a result of this obvious inconsistency, the Alabama Legislature amended the election code to provide for automatic, supervised recounts in close races.[13]

Federal prosecution[edit]

The 2004 trial[edit]

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, U.W Clemon, a Carter appointee, threw out much of the prosecution's evidence and stated that no new charges could be refiled based on the disallowed evidence.[14]

The 2006 conviction[edit]

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, a non-paying position. Scrushy, who had served on the state hospital regulatory board over the past three Republican administrations, had recently been acquitted of charges of securities fraud for his part in the HealthSouth Corporation fraud scandal which cost shareholders billions.[15]

During his trial, Siegelman continued his campaign for reelection, running in the Democratic primary against Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley and minor candidates. On June 6, despite Baxley's relatively low-profile campaign, she easily defeated Siegelman with almost 60% of the vote compared to Siegelman's 36%.[16] Baxley went on to lose to incumbent Bob Riley in the general election by a large margin.

On June 29, 2006, just three weeks after losing the primary, a federal jury found both Siegelman and Scrushy guilty on seven of the 33 counts in the indictment. Two codefendants, his former chief of staff, Paul Hamrick and his transportation director, Mack Roberts, were acquitted of all charges. 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.[17] Siegelman was acquitted on 25 counts, including the indictment's allegations of a widespread RICO conspiracy.[18] Siegelman was represented by Mobile attorneys Vince Kilborn and David McDonald, along with Greenwood attorney Hiram Eastland and Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey, who is an authority on RICO. Siegelman was sentenced by Judge Mark Everett Fuller to more than seven years in federal prison and a $50,000 fine.[1]

Siegelman has said in his defense 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. Scrushy was released from federal prison in April 2012. He resided in a Houston, Texas halfway house until he was released on July 25, 2012.[19][20]

Release from federal prison[edit]

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 appealed his conviction in the corruption case. He was released on Friday the 28th.[21] Siegelman stated that he wanted to see Karl Rove held in contempt for refusing to testify before the House committee that investigated Siegelman's conviction.[22]

The 2009 appeal[edit]

On March 6, 2009, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld key bribery, conspiracy and obstruction counts against Siegelman and refused his request for a new trial, finding no evidence that the conviction was unjust. The Court struck down two of the seven charges on which Siegelman was convicted and ordered a new sentencing hearing.[23] His sentence was thereafter reduced by 10 months, leaving him with 69 months.[24]

The 2014 appeal[edit]

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear Spiegelman's appeal for a new trial in October 2014.[25][26]

Objections raised against the prosecutors and the court proceedings[edit]

Testimony of the star witness[edit]

Witness Nick Bailey, who provided the cornerstone testimony upon which the conviction was based, was subsequently convicted of extortion; having been facing 10 years in prison, Bailey had 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 present.[27][28]

Partiality of the jury[edit]

Documents indicated that prosecutors interviewed two jurors while the court was reviewing charges of juror misconduct, in violation of the judge's instruction that no contact with jurors should occur without his permission.

Karl Rove connection[edit]

Allegations that Siegelman was prosecuted at the insistence of Bush-appointed officials at the Justice Department, as well as the insistence of Leura Canary, a U.S. Attorney in Montgomery whose husband was Alabama's top Republican operative and who had for years worked closely with Karl Rove, led federal courts to release the accused on bail.[29] In June 2007, a Republican lawyer, Dana Jill Simpson of Rainsville, Alabama, signed a sworn statement that, five years earlier, she had heard that Karl Rove was preparing to neutralize Siegelman politically with an investigation headed by the U.S. Department of Justice.[30] Simpson later told The Birmingham News that her affidavit's wording could be interpreted in two ways, and stated that she had written her affidavit herself, whereas in her Congressional testimony she had admitted to having help from a Siegelman supporter.[31]

According to Simpson's statement, she was on a Republican campaign conference call in 2002 when she heard Bill Canary tell other campaign workers not to worry about Siegelman because Canary's "girls" and "Karl" would make sure the Justice Department pursued the Democrat so he was not a political threat in the future.[30] "Canary's girls" supposedly included his wife, Leura Canary, who is United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Alice Martin.[30] Leura Canary did not submit voluntary recusal paperwork until two months after Siegelman attorney David Cromwell Johnson's press conference in March 2002.[32][33][34]

In interviews with the press, Simpson has emphasized that she heard Rove's name mentioned in a phone conversation in which the discussion turned to Siegelman, clarified that she heard someone involved in a 2002 conference call refer to a meeting between Mr. Rove and Justice Department officials on the subject of Siegelman, and revealed that Karl Rove ordered her to "catch Siegelman cheating on his wife."[27] 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."[35]

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.[36]

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. Investigations of the fire and the wreck found no foul play. 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.[37]

Alleged Misconduct by Attorney General[edit]

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 were alleged to have occurred.[29] 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 Siegelman's sentencing, the prosecutors urged the judge to use these public statements by Siegelman as grounds for increasing his prison sentence.[29]

Public reaction[edit]

Government officials[edit]

In July 2007, 44 former State Attorneys General, both Democrats and Republicans, filed a petition to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees requesting further investigation of the Siegelman prosecution.[38][39]

On July 17, 2007, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D, MI-14) and Reps. Linda Sánchez (D, CA-39), Artur Davis (D, AL-07), and Tammy Baldwin (D, 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 would resign.[40] 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."[41] Press reports have suggested that perhaps U.S. Attorney Leura Canary did not follow proper Department of Justice procedures in recusing herself from the Siegelman matter, since there were no filings to that effect made in court and Justice refused to disclose her recusal form under the Freedom of Information Act.[42]

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 Bob Riley had named the judge who would eventually be assigned to the case. She also claimed Bob Riley told her the judge would "hang Don Siegelman." In contrast with what she told 60 Minutes, in her sworn testimony she never mentioned having met or spoken with Karl Rove.[43][44]

Wider public[edit]

Siegelman defenders point out that over 100 charges were thrown out by three different judges. Further, they 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 campaign manager.[30] Siegelman defenders argue that the sentence is unprecedented and the punishment excessive because, for example, former Alabama Governor H. 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.[30]

Federal Communications Commission investigation[edit]

60 Minutes aired an investigative segment on the case called "The Prosecution of Governor Siegelman" on February 24, 2008.[45] During the broadcast, CBS affiliate WHNT-TV in Huntsville, Alabama, did not air this segment of the program but claimed technical issues with the signal.[46] Scott Horton of Harper's Magazine has stated 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.[3] Horton also accused the station of a history of political hostility toward Siegelman. The station responded to the controversy by rebroadcasting the report later that night, and again the next day.[47] 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 Minutes" installment.[48] The investigation resulted in no action.

Siegelman Sentenced[edit]

On August 3, 2012, Siegelman was sentenced to more than six years in prison, a $50,000 fine and 500 hours of community service. Siegelman will get credit for the time he has already served which leaves 5 years, nine months remaining in his sentence. An online petition has been created by his daughter, Dana, requesting a presidential pardon for Siegelman. Richard Scrushy was not released on bail and has since served all his time. At the re-sentencing the judge told Siegelman that he did not hold this against him personally and wished him well with his sentence. The judge gave Siegelman until September 11 to report to prison.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Ex-governor of Alabama Gets 7 Years in Corruption Case", Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2007, p. A15[dead link]
  2. ^ "Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal? 60 Minutes Reports On Bribery Conviction Of Don Siegelman In A Case Criticized by Democrats And Republicans"; CBS News, Feb. 24, 2008
  3. ^ a b Scott Horton (February 24, 2008). "CBS: More Prosecutorial Misconduct in Siegelman Case". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ Alabama Official and Statistical Register - Alabama. Dept. of Archives and History - Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  5. ^ "Don Siegelman on the Issues". Ontheissues.org. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  6. ^ "How the World Changed After 9/11 - Speaker List". Howtheworldchanged.org. 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  7. ^ Grunwald, Michael (August 21, 2012). "Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution PCBs Drenched Ala. Town, But No One Was Ever Told". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  8. ^ "Honda Announces Major Plant Expansion," Talladega Daily Home, July 10, 2002
  9. ^ "Hyundai Announcement Ends Long Fight," The Montgomery Advertiser, April 2, 2002, p. A1
  10. ^ "Hyundai News". Hyundai News. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Voters Say No, Now What?". Birmingham Post-Herald. October 14, 1999. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  12. ^ "The Changing of the Guards: Bay Minette, Election Night". Baldwincountynow.com. July 20, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Alabama Code § 17-16-20". Alisondb.legislature.state.al.us. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Siegelman Fraud Case Dismissed," The Huntsville Times, October 9, 2004, p. 1A
  15. ^ "HealthSouth to Settle S.E.C. Charges; Scrushy Jury Pauses" The New York Times, June 9, 2005, p. C3
  16. ^ "Alabama Secretary of State: 2006 Democratic Primary Certification". Sos.state.al.us. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Department of Justice press release". Usdoj.gov. June 29, 2006. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  18. ^ View all comments that have been posted about this article. (June 29, 2006). "Jury Convicts HealthSouth Founder in Bribery Trial". The Washington Post. p. D1. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  19. ^ Lyman, Brian (2012-07-26). "Scrushy released from custody". Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  20. ^ Hutchens, Aaron (2012-07-26). "Richard Scrushy released from federal custody". Alabama's 13. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  21. ^ "Freed Ex-Governor of Alabama Talks of Abuse of Power" The New York Times, March 29, 2008, p. A13
  22. ^ "Siegelman Pleads His Case At DNC". Wkrg.com. Associated Press. August 25, 2008. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Around the Nation". The Washington Post. March 7, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Don Siegelman returns to prison Tuesday". Breaking News from The Birmingham News. September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  25. ^ Chandler, Kim (August 28, 2013). "Former Gov. Don Siegelman seeks new trial". AL.com. 
  26. ^ "Siegelman's Appeal Set for October". WTOK-TV. July 24, 2014. 
  27. ^ a b "Did Ex-Alabama Governor get a Raw Deal?". 60 Minutes (Cbsnews.com). February 24, 2008. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  28. ^ Adam Zagorin, "Selective Justice in Alabama?"; Time, October 4, 2007
  29. ^ a b c Zagorin, Adam (November 14, 2008). "More Allegations of Misconduct in Alabama Governor Case". Time. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  30. ^ a b c d e "Ex-governor Says He Was Target of Republican Plot" The Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2006, p. A15[dead link]
  31. ^ Bob Sims, al.com. "In her own words: Jill Simpson interview excerpts". The Birmingham News. Blog.al.com. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Siegelman Lawyer Says US Attorney Should Recuse Herself," The Bulletin's Frontrunner, March 26, 2002
  33. ^ "Riley Denies Siegelman Case Claims," The Birmingham News, May 5, 2006, p. 1B
  34. ^ U.S. Department of Justice Press Release[dead link]
  35. ^ Editorial: "Start Talking, Mr. Rove: Siegelman Questions Need Answering". The Anniston Star, April 8, 2008, p. A8
  36. ^ Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane. The Raw Story | The Permanent Republican Majority: Part III – Running elections from the White House
  37. ^ Glynn Wilson, (Oct 24, 2007). "The Nation". Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  38. ^ Text of petition, including names of signers
  39. ^ Introductory letter, July 13, 2007
  40. ^ "Government Blog". Speaker.gov. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  41. ^ Editorial (August 28, 2007): "The House Lawyer Departs" The New York Times, p. A20
  42. ^ Scott Horton, (September 14, 2007). "The Remarkable ‘Recusal’ of Leura Canary". Harper's Magazine. Harpers.org. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  43. ^ Zagorin, Adam (October 10, 2007). "Rove Linked to Alabama Case". Time. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  44. ^ Interview of Dana Jill Simpson, U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, September 1, 2007[dead link]
  45. ^ "The Prosecution Of Governor Siegelman". 60 Minutes (CBS News). February 24, 2008. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  46. ^ "60 Minutes Programming Note," WHNT-TV, February 24, 2008[dead link]
  47. ^ Triplett, William (March 4, 2008). "FCC questions '60 Minutes' blackout". Variety. p. 6. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  48. ^ "‘60 Minutes’ Blackout Investigation" AP March 4, 2008

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Agnes Baggett
Secretary of State of Alabama
January 15, 1979–January 19, 1987
Succeeded by
Glen Browder
Preceded by
Jim Folsom
Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
January 16, 1995–January 18, 1999
Succeeded by
Steve Windom
Preceded by
Fob James
Democratic nominee for Governor of Alabama
January 18, 1999–January 20, 2003
Succeeded by
Bob Riley
Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles Graddick
Attorney General of Alabama
January 19, 1987–January 21, 1991
Succeeded by
Jimmy Evans
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim Folsom
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
1994
Succeeded by
Dewayne Freeman
Preceded by
Jim Folsom
Democratic nominee for Governor of Alabama
1998, 2002
Succeeded by
Lucy Baxley