Jim Zeigler says reversal of Virginia governor’s graft conviction could free Don Siegelman

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State Auditor Jim Zeigler said Monday he believes the U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision to overturn a prominent Virginia politician’s criminal conviction could spring former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman as well.

Saying Gov. Bob McDonnell was exonerated on charges “very close to what Siegelman was convicted of,” Zeigler said Siegelman — a longtime power broker in Montgomery and around the state — could benefit from procedural aspects of McDonnell’s case.

The high court found Monday morning that the jury that convicted McDonnell was instructed incorrectly. Specifically, the court ruled that state prosecutors interpreted a federal bribery statute too broadly, and instructed jurors to deliberate over the decision whether or not to convict McDonnell for something that may not have been technically unlawful at all.

The jury was instructed to interpret the term “public acts” to mean almost anything a governor does while in office, including setting up meetings between interests and constituents — precisely what McDonnell was convicted of doing in exchange for personal gifts from a businessman seeking access to public figures.

Zeigler sees parallels between McDonnell’s case and Siegelman’s in this regard.

Siegelman was convicted for re-appointing a hospital executive named Richard Scrushy to a state board that in part regulates hospitals, after Scrushy raised some $500,000 for a state lottery referendum at Siegelman’s request.

In doing so, under one reading of the precedent set by the McDonnell case, Siegelman may have simply carried out a “public act” in accordance with his office, one not subject to the harsh scrutiny set out under federal bribery laws.

Zeigler’s comments come amid a movement of activists in Alabama and beyond to free Seigelman.

In April, more than 100 former state attorneys general from across the country asked President Barack Obama to pardon the former governor.

In January the U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear an appeal from Siegelman, making a presidential pardon his last hope to reduce his sentence, aside from Monday’s high court ruling.

On Facebook, the group “Free Don Siegelman” has gained 2,800 supporters and counting, including Alabama 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, who all support Siegelman’s release.

The recent conviction of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, Zeigler opined, would not be affected by the recent McDonnell decision.

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19 Comments

  1. Here are the differences: Siegelman has spent years in jail already with zero evidence of any personal quid pro quo for appointing Scrushy. He was the obvious victim of a political frame up, engineered by Karl Rove, and carried out by a corrupt judge (since kicked off the bench) and a partisan politically active Republican prosecutor. He is totally innocent and his only crime in Alabama was being a liberal Democrat and a Jew! Mcdonnell, did receive gifts as did his wife. But he is a Republican and a gentile. Yet his case gets heard by the Supreme Court and Sieglman’s rejected. And McDonnell serves no time behind bars. Your damn right if McDonnell gets off than Siegelman must also. But how will he get back those years he spent in jail for a corrupt conviction if he does get out? Siegelman has suffered an unthinkable unjustice for trying to do something for the State that was not illegal with no personal gain for himself. Wake up Supreme Court.

  2. The Free Don Siegelman Facebook group does indeed have over 2,800 members – I started it in 2007. It is unfortunate that the VA Governor case has anything to do with it – Siegelman deserves to be free of his own accord unlike McDonnell and cannot get those years back he has been wrongly imprisoned. Cannot wait to see Siegelman free.

  3. Many are sniping at the President for not Pardoning Don Siegelman since his return to prison in 2012. READ the article; Don’s last Appeal possible was only decided 5 months ago, it’s inconceivable the President would interfere before then.
    His Early Release is scheduled for February 2017, BUT:
    Disgraced former Judge Fuller included the many counts Don was ACQUITTED OF as a factor in determining his sentence!
    Yes that is actually legal! Without that Don Siegelman would be OUT of PRISON already!!!

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