Don Siegleman, the Democratic governor of Alabama from 1998-2002, was just found guilty on multiple corruption charges, including bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice. The charges were related to the fraudulent practices of the HealthSouth conglomerate. This was the second trip to Federal criminal court for “Dirty Don.” Back in 2004, a lengthy set of charges was dismissed by a friendly judge (Carter appointee U.W. Clemon). This time around, Siegleman wasn’t so lucky, and unless he can manage to shop himself another partisan judge on appeal, he’s going away for quite a while.
Alabama’s old political machine, which Siegleman has been a member of since his college days, is thorougly and irredemably corrupt. I’d like to think this conviction might mark the beginning of the end of its reign, but frankly, I doubt it. There just isn’t much appetite among either the political class or the public to get serious about cleaning up the rest of the statehouse.
Disgraced former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy was also convicted, in his case for providing a $500,000 campaign contribution to Siegleman in return for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board. I wish I could say that kind of thing is unusual in Alabama, but it’s the way the things have been done since time out of mind.