Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Obama's DOJ Against Siegelman Appeal to Supreme Court

By Andrew Ramonas | Main Justice | November 17, 2009

The Justice Department opposes an appeal from former Alabama Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman for the Supreme Court to reconsider his 2006 conviction on corruption charges, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

Siegelman, who is out on bond pending his appeal, is asking the Supreme Court to review an earlier decision by a federal court in Alabama that let most of his conviction stand. Siegelman, who served as governor from 1999-2003, was sentenced in 2006 to seven years in a federal prison on bribery and mail fraud charges brought by Middle District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Leura Canary. Canary still serves in that post, as a holdover from the Bush administration, while the Obama administration works on getting its own nominee in place. Her then-counterpart in the Northern District of Alabama, Bush U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, also pursued charges against Siegelman, but was unsuccessful.

Members of Congress and 44 former state attorneys general have questioned the conviction, which many critics have claimed was the politically motivated work of then-Bush aide Karl Rove and other Republican officials. We reported last month that the Justice Department Office of Special Counsel found no evidence to support a whistleblower’s claims that the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Alabama acted inappropriately in the prosecution of the former governor and his co-defendant, former HealthSouth Corp. CEO Richard Scrushy, who is serving a sentence of almost seven years arising from the 2006 conviction.

Siegelman and Scrushy have maintained their innocence. Their attorneys have argued that donations the health care business executive made to the then-governor’s lottery fund and Scrushy’s later appointment to the Alabama health board wasn’t criminal, just ordinary politics.

DOJ recommended that the Supreme Court not hear the appeal, court papers filed Friday night said, according to the AP.

“Under a standard that requires not just a quid pro quo, but one that is verbally spelled out with all ‘i’s dotted and ‘t’s crossed, all but the most careless public officials will be able to avoid criminal liability for exchanging official action for campaign contributions,” the DOJ argued, according to the AP.


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