More than 100 former state attorneys general revealed on Thursday that they support the latest appeal by former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (D), who’s petitioning the Supreme Court to reconsider the corruption charges that sent him to jail in 2006.
Siegelman, one of the nation’s most famous political prisoners, was convicted in what prosecutors described as a pay-to-play scheme. They alleged that Siegelman appointed former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board after Scrushy organized $500,000 in donations for Siegelman’s campaign to launch a statewide lottery. The governor was ultimately charged with 32 counts of bribery and other crimes and convicted on seven counts, after one of his top aides testified against him.
Reporting on Siegelman’s case revealed the direct involvement of former Bush political adviser Karl Rove and a freshly politicized Justice Department, which then sparked the so-called “Attorney-gate” scandal, resulting in the resignation of then U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Raw Story’s investigative series on the Siegelman case was nominated for an Online Journalism Award in 2008, after it revealed how a coterie of Republican heavyweights collaborated to send a Democratic governor to jail.
In the 2012 amicus brief, Seigelman’s attorneys argue that his conviction ultimately boiled down to “the criminalization of First Amendment freedoms — the giving and receiving of campaign contributions — based on an indefinite standard that will significantly alter the liberty of constituents to contribute to political campaigns without fear of criminal liability and the desire of citizens to run for political office in a system that largely depends on private contributions.”
A total of 113 former attorneys general signed a friend of the court brief on the Siegelman case this year, up from 52 who signed a request for a congressional investigation in 2008, and 92 who signed another appeal in 2009. It is not clear if the Supreme Court will hear his appeal.
This video was broadcast by CBS News’ 60 Minutes on Feb. 24, 2008.
(H/T: Wall Street Journal)
With prior reporting by Larisa Alexandrovna and Daniel Tencer. Photo: Flickr user Mike Disharoon.