In a Thanksgiving message to supporters, Siegelman thanked people who supported him during his incarceration in a federal prison and discussed his hopes for being home soon.
The former governor wrote in the Thanksgiving message that his earliest possible release date is Feb. 8. He said he also hopes a presidential pardon will clear his name before President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.
“We are just a few steps from the prison cell door, February 8th, but there is another deadline looming. D.J.T’s Inauguration day in DC. President Obama’s last day is our last hope. He is only person who can, with his signature, right the wrong that I, and so many of us, have been seeking,” Siegelman wrote.
The 70-year-old ex-governor is serving a 61/2 year sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice in a federal prison in Louisiana.
Siegelman for decades was a dominant figure in Alabama politics, holding the offices of secretary of state, attorney general, lieutenant governor and governor. He served as Alabama’s governor from 1999 to 2003. He was the last Democrat to hold the position in the deeply red state.
A federal jury in 2006 convicted Siegelman on charges that he sold a seat on a state regulatory board to HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s signature political issue, his 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery. He was convicted on a separate obstruction of justice charge that he tried to hide money he received from a lobbyist.
Siegelman supporters have contended the case was politically motivated and the appointment no different than presidential campaign donors getting an ambassadorship. A bipartisan group of more than 100 former state attorneys general in April sent a letter to the White House urging the pardon, arguing it was questionable if the evidence in the case supported a conviction.
There was no direct evidence of the two men conversing about an agreement to swap the donation for the appointment. Prosecutors at trial relied on what the two men told their subordinates. An aide, for example, testified Siegelman told a HealthSouth political consultant in 1999 that they needed to contribute $500,000 to his lottery campaign to make amends for Scrushy’s support of Republican Fob James in the governor’s race the year before.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.