US Justice Department opposes Siegelman appeal

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2009 5:45 PM

The Obama administration is opposing former Gov. Don Siegelman's appeal of his felony corruption conviction before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that federal prosecutors presented enough evidence to prove bribery.

Siegelman, a Democrat like the president, and former HealthSouth Corp. CEO Richard Scrushy claim their case raises broad questions about how much evidence is needed to prove that bribery occurred. They contend the conduct in question was routine politics.

The Justice Department filed papers late Friday contending the law lets jurors infer criminal conduct even if there was no explicit agreement of a bribery scheme.

"Under a standard that requires not just a quid pro quo, but one that is verbally spelled out with all 'i's dotted and 't's crossed, all but the most careless public officials will be able to avoid criminal liability for exchanging official action for campaign contributions," the government argued.

The Birmingham News first reported the filing by the Obama administration's solicitor general.

Siegelman was convicted of swapping $500,000 in donations arranged by Scrushy for Siegelman's statewide lottery campaign in exchange for HealthSouth retaining a seat on a powerful state medical regulatory board.

The defense argues the donations Scrushy made to Siegelman's lottery fund and Siegelman's subsequent appointment of Scrushy to the state health board were normal political dealings, not criminal.

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The filing Friday said the court does not need to take up the appeal.

Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted in 2006. Siegelman began serving a sentence of more than seven years but was released on bond during his appeal. Scrushy, sentenced to almost seven years, remains in prison because a judge ruled he was a flight risk if freed.


Information from: The Birmingham News,

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