JUNE 29, 2007
A powerful Democrat governor best known for selling the favors of his office for cash, plane rides and fancy cars will go to jail for more than seven years and pay nearly $200,000 in restitution to the state agency he cheated.
As Alabama governor from 1999 to 2003 Don Siegelman accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a friend who he later appointed to a coveted state review board that approves hospital construction projects. That friend, who is the chairman of a health company, was also sentenced to prison for his role in the public corruption scandal.
Siegelman also accepted lucrative bribes from other sources. He received a $200,000 all terrain vehicle from a landfill developer in return for helping him get tax breaks as well as a $25,000 sports car in return for helping another business obtain state contracts and $40,000 from a toll bridge developer.
When he was finally convicted for bribery and obstruction of justice in 2006, the governor, once among the most prominent Democratic leaders in the South, actually said his case was engineered by Bush administration officials who wanted to eliminate him as a threat to Republican dominance in the South.
Incredibly, Siegelman ran for governor during his federal corruption trial, attending court proceedings during the day and campaigning at night. Alabama voters instead elected Republican Bob Riley http://www.governor.state.al.us/ as governor.
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