Jim Zeigler is an attorney and author from Alabama. Zeigler was president of the Student Government Association at the University of Alabama, before being elected to the Alabama Public Service Commission. He was a Republican operative in the first part of the 21st century, but also made a name as a critic of the Bush-led government.
Zeigler is a native of Sylacauga, Alabama (1948); his father, Bloise Zeigler, was mayor of the town for 20 years.
University of Alabama
Zeigler graduated from the University of Alabama in 1972 with a degree in public administration and journalism. He was President of the Mallet Assembly, a student honors program with a colorful history of political activism. Zeigler himself was active in campus politics in the 1960s, speaking out in public and in hearings against what was widely seen as police repression of student life on and around campus at a time when anti-war protest had erupted in Tuscaloosa.
Student politics at the University have been dominated since 1914 by a semi-secret coalition of fraternities and sororities called "The Machine." In 1968 Zeigler and other students founded an anti-Machine party called "The Coalition", and succeeded in electing Zeigler President of the Student Government Association (SGA) in 1970, his election one of only a few in which UA students defeated The Machine.
In 1971, on the night the Student Court had thrown out an attempt by Student Senators who were members of The Machine to impeach Zeigler as SGA President, his dormitory room in Mallet Hall burned. The cause of the fire was never determined.
Alabama Public Service Commission
Called "the PSC", the Alabama Public Service Commission is a three-member body, all elected statewide, which regulates private energy utilities, including Alabama Power Company, Alabama Gas Company (Alagasco), and Mobile Gas Service Corporation.
In 1972, Zeigler and his friends Tommy Chapman, Steve "Red" Wadlington, and Dennis Nabors, went to work for Kenneth "Bozo" Hammond in his campaign against PSC President Eugene "Bull" Connor. Hammond won, and Zeigler and friends learned how to run a campaign for PSC. 
In 1973, Zeigler filed a legal complaint before the PSC alleging that Alabama Power Company was earning excessive profits. He lost the case but generated state news coverage and highlighted the issue of rising electric bills.  In 1974, he filed to run statewide against veteran PSC incumbent C.C. "Jack" Owen, a longtime PSC member who had voted in favor of most utility increase requests. Zeigler vowed to oppose them. In a four-way race, Owen led the first primary but lost to Zeigler in the run-off. In January 1975 Zeigler took office as the youngest state elected official. where he served 1975-79.
In 1975, Zeigler intervened before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to block the construction of two nuclear reactors planned for the Chilton-Elmore County line. He alleged that the Barton Nuclear Plant would have operated at the expense of Alabama consumers while generating electricity for other states. The application for approval of the reactors was then withdrawn.
After serving one term on the PSC, Zeigler did not run for re-election. He ran for the Alabama Supreme Court, State Treasurer, Civil Appeals Court, State Board of Education, President of the Public Service Commission and State Auditor, losing each by a narrow margin. He thus earned the nickname "Mr. 49%."
From 1982 through 2002, Zeigler lost by narrow margins in races for state supreme court, state treasurer, civil appeals court, and state auditor. He thus earned the nickname, "Mr. 49%." In 2004 he made a come-back, defeating Republican National Committeeman and former Chief Justice Perry Hooper Sr. for Statewide Delegate to the Republican National Convention. Zeigler announced his retirement from Alabama politics in 2006.
Activism against "wasteful government spending"
In 1983, Zeigler filed a successful legal action against what he termed "illegal extra paychecks" to over 400 political officials. A year-long court battle ended in a victory at the Alabama Supreme Court and return of the money to state coffers.
In 1984, he challenged paying legislators full pay and expenses during a 13-day Christmas holiday break. He won a circuit court injunction blocking the "holiday pay" but was later reversed by the state supreme court.
In 1985, Zeigler and Montgomery businessman Malcolm Brassell formed The Taxpayers Defense Fund (later called Taxpayers Defense Force), a legal action group. It contested government spending decisions for 20 years.
In 1985, Zeigler filed suit to stop public officials from disguising state cars by purchasing private license plates called "cover tags." The suit was settled by executive order of the governor outlawing cover tags.
In 1985, Zeigler filed suit and successfully blocked political officials from entering the state retirement system. In 1988 and 1999, Zeigler chaired the vote no campaign on statewide referendums to allow political officials to get into the State Retirement System.  The proposed constitutional amendments were defeated both times.
Ethics complaints against Siegelman, others
Zeigler has brought numerous ethics complaints against leading public officials in Alabama, including two against then-governor Don Siegelman. The first, in 2001, alleged that Siegelman used his position to orchestrate a secret settlement of a long-dormant lawsuit by the University of South Alabama against tobacco companies. The settlement committed the state to pay $20 million to the university, and required the university to pay 14 percent of the money to the law firm that brought the case, and to which Siegelman had formerly been associated. Zeigler's complaint tracked a Mobile Register story reporting details of the settlement and subsequent payment of an estimated $800,000 from the law firm to Siegelman. The Siegelman administration accused Register reporter Eddie Curran of helping to edit the ethics complaint -- a charge refuted by Curran and the paper. Siegelman's press office sought to play down the complaint by issuing a rather bizarre statement about Zeigler. It read: "These false claims are among a long list of deranged acts by a man who believes America is being surrendered to a New World order and who has stated that the public education system has been taken over by communists." The Alabama Ethics Commission, composed of political appointees, voted three to one to dismiss the tobacco complaint.
The second complaint also mirrored a Mobile Register story. It alleged that Siegelman sold his Montgomery house for over twice the appraised value and then appointed the buyer to the state securities commission. Subsequent stories reported that the buyer, a Birmingham accountant, merely served as a middleman, and that the real purchaser was Birmingham lawyer Lanny Vines.  Before that case concluded, federal agents seized the files from the ethics commission. A federal grand jury later indicted Siegelman on multiple charges un-related to the ethics complaints. Siegelman was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in federal prison. After serving nine months, he was released pending an appeal, but returned to prison in 2012.
In 2002, Zeigler filed ethics complaints against State Sen. Sundra Escott-Russell and State Rep. John Hilliard. He alleged that both hired family members at non-profit organizations and then used their positions to divert state funds to the non-profit groups. The ethics commission voted unanimously that there was probable cause that ethics violations had occurred and forwarded both cases to the state attorney general for prosecution.
Challenge to new Medicaid nursing home restrictions
On February 8, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA). Among other changes, the Act placed serious restrictions on senior citizens seeking to qualify for Medicaid to cover their nursing home costs. Five days later, Zeigler (who had been a Bush delegate at the 2000 and 2000 Republican National Conventions) filed a federal lawsuit seeking to void the law. He alleged that one version of the bill had passed the U.S. Senate and a different version passed the U.S. House.
As of 2013[update] Zeigler has an elder care law practice representing seniors and veterans in protecting assets and gaining eligibility for elder care costs. He is 2013 state chairman of the League of Senior Voters.
- Sprayberry, Gary S. (2013). "Student Radicalism and the Antiwar Movement at the University of Alabama". In Robert Cohen. Rebellion in Black and White: Southern Student Activism in the 1960s. David J. Snyder. JHU. p. 154. ISBN 9781421408507.
- Kathy Dean,Mobile Register, Feb. 5, 1993, "Taking on Machine a battle on UA Campus."
- Kathy Dean, Mobile Register, "Taking on 'Machine' a battle on UA campus," February 5, 1993
- Bailey Thomson, Tuscaloosa News, Zeigler: Rising politician or flash in the pan?, March 23, 1975.
- Associated Press, Utility's Profit To Be Probed, Sept. 1, 1973.
- Stan Bailey, Birmingham News, "Two Republicans Seek Nominations for Appeals Court; Zeigler Vows to Try Mediation in Appeals Court," May 3, 1996.
- Associated Press, "Court Fight Threatened over Power Plant Permit," June 14, 1975.
- Bree Hocking, Roll Call, "Botched-Bill Challenger Zeigler No Stranger to Controversy," March 20, 2006
- Associated Press, June 27, 2004, "Founder of modern GOP loses to Roy Moore supporter", Philip Rawls
- Associated Press, Judge Refuses to Dismiss Pay Suit, Jan. 10, 1985.
- Phillip Rawls, Associated Press, Noise Taxpayers Defense Force is silenced by new ethics law, May 31, 1998.
- Associated Press, Judge orders stricter procedures on tags, Dec. 21, 1985.
- Associated Press, Third Proposal Offered to Settle Lawsuit, Sept. 11, 1985.
- Eddie Curran and Jeff Amy, Mobile Register, "Siegelman target of ethics charge," July 27, 2001.
- Eddie Curran, Mobile Register, "Siegelman's debate prep includes corruption responses," Oct. 9, 2005.
- Times-Journal, The (Fort Payne, AL), "Former Alabama governor reports to federal prison," Sept. 11, 2012.
- Associated Press, Ethics hearing set for Birmingham Senator, Aug. 1, 2004
- Dana Beyerle, Tuscaloosa News, "Many ethics cases close, unresolved," May 28, 2006
- Dean, John (2007). Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches. Penguin. p. 69. ISBN 9781101202593.