The New York Times reported fifty-four former state attorneys general filed a brief Friday supporting the appeal of former Gov Don Siegelman of Alabama.
A year ago, Mr. Siegelman was sentenced to serve more than seven years in prison for appointing a wealthy businessman to a state health board in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to a campaign for a state lottery. Mr. Siegelman had intended the lottery money to go the state’s schools.
The former governor and his supporters have contended that the money was nothing more than a routine political contribution and that there was no agreement that the businessman, Richard M. Scrushy, would be re-appointed to a board on which he had previously served.
The new brief, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, largely restates those arguments.
“Completely absent from the trial record is any evidence that Governor Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy entered into an explicit agreement whereby Mr. Scrushy’s appointment to the Con board was conditioned upon Mr. Scrushy’s making the political contributions in question,” the brief says.
According to a related story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the brief asks the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Siegelman’s conviction.
Abrams is quoted in the Times saying the brief reflects strong feelings that there should not be inappropriate inhibitions on people’s rights to participate in the political process.
The country’s got to guard against politically inspired prosecutions.
No doubt this support is deeply appreciated by Mr. Siegelman as was the support he acknowledge earlier in an April interview on 60 minutes reported by TPM:
…there was also this memorable quote from the interview, where Siegelman describes watching February’s broadcast of the 60 Minutes segment with his fellow inmates:
“Well immediately people were standing up, sayin’, ‘You got screwed.’ And I’d say, ‘Well, you know, I think there were a lot of ya’ll that got screwed.’ And then, one guy stood up and said, ‘No, I was guilty. You got screwed.'”
With that and the 54 former state attorneys general filing the brief, it certainly can be said there is widespread consensus the former governor did indeed get screwed. Hopefully the 11th circuit will give full consideration to the opinion of his fellow inmates as well as the brief.