The Justice Integrity Project delivered an update on Capitol Hill streamed live April 21 regarding the notorious and continuing imprisonment of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman for fundraising in 1999.
People Demanding Action Executive Director Andrea Miller introduced this editor to speak about the case to her group during its monthly roundtable held at the Cannon House Office Building. The talk portraying the case was for 15 minutes beginning 36 minutes into the event.
The stream will be embedded on PeopleDemandingAction.org for two weeks; the live stream becomes a YouTube. Here is a direct link to the roundtable video, which after live streaming was archived at the same locale for two weeks.
The talk began with thanks to the group conveyed to the group from the state’s last Democratic governor, whose term was 1999 to 2003. Siegelman continues to be imprisoned in Louisiana on federal corruption charges primarily stemming from his 1999 request to one of Alabama’s then richest businessmen, HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, to donate to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation to help retire its debt for an advocacy campaign for a referendum to fund K-12 schools with proceeds from a proposed state lottery.
To recap, courts have consistently upheld Siegelman’s convictions following two trials even though an unprecedented coalition of 113 former state attorneys general — the chief law enforcers in more than 40 states — have argued that his actions did not constitute a bribe or other crime.
I summarized his defense and requested listeners visit the DonSiegelman.org website to sign a petition for a presidential pardon.
The overview noted the worldwide notoriety of the case in human rights circles and the enormous burden on the state’s one-time leading Democrat. I added these updates:
- Scrushy, shown in a file photo with his son during his seven-year imprisonment on corruption charges from the donation, has amplified following his release that the figure of a $500,000 used at trial and in news accounts since then is completely bogus, and that the donation was a $250,000 corporate donation much like other major companies provided to the non-profit; and
- U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this month has asked the federal appeals court in Atlanta supervising Alabama, Florida and Georgia federal cases for a status update on Siegelman’s disgraced trial judge, Mark Fuller of Montgomery. Fuller, chief U.S. district judge during Siegelman’s second trial after the first judge pressured prosecutors for more evidence, has been stripped of his caseload after being arrested in Atlanta in August on a misdemeanor charge of beating his wife.
The former governor, now 68, has been continually investigated by political opponents since he took office in 1999. Among other reprisals, authorities have targeted with prosecutions and other reprisals a number of whistleblowers and bloggers who have risen to his defense through the years.
Siegelman, given his vulnerable circumstances in prison in the courts as he awaits the results of another of his years of appeals to hostile courts, makes merely mainstream requests of his audience, as always: Learn about such cases as his, sign the petition, consider support for a film documentary about his case entitled “Killing Atticus Finch,” and support prison reform efforts affecting others.