News just keeps getting worse for former governor
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–The far-reaching probe by the U. S. Justice Department into misconduct in the Siegelman Administration continues to send off tremors that would register on a seismograph.
In a stunning development, a federal grand jury in Birmingham has returned a nine-count indictment against Lanny Young. He is a close friend and political ally of former Gov. Don Siegelman.
To make matters even more bizarre, Young has been a cooperating witness for yet another federal grand jury in Montgomery. The question now is whether Young will continue to cooperate with the grand jury in Montgomery after being indicted by the grand jury in Birmingham.
Specifically, Young is accused of paying $65,000 in bribes to former Probate Judge Phillip Jordan of Cherokee County for him to use his influence in getting the county commission to approve a landfill in that county. Jordan has already admitted his wrong doing and resigned from office.
The nine count indictment returned against Young in the Cherokee County case includes two charges of bribery, five of money laundering, one of conspiracy and one of public corruption.
While the storm rages around Young, the question asked by most is what impact his legal problems may have on the political future of Siegelman, who has been indicted himself for alleged wrong-doing in a health care contract awarded to a Tuscaloosa medical care firm.
Siegelman reportedly is continuing to assure some of his supporters that he will be cleared of all wrongdoing and fully intends to run for a second term in 2006.
A side-bar to this story: The Alabama Probate Judges Association would be well-advised to send an e-mail to its membership to be wary of becoming involved in any landfill deals.
Jordan is the second probate judge in Alabama to run afoul of the law in recent years over landfills.
Several years ago Probate Judge Dwight Faulk of Crenshaw County was removed from office after his conviction for misconduct in a landfill project. Young was not involved in that case.
And yet another side-bar to the same story: A very powerful legislator is most desirous of being appointed to the vacancy in the PJ post in Cherokee County–State Rep. Richard Lindsey of Centre.
Rep. Lindsey is one of the most powerful members of the Legislature, serving as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee-Education.
His interest in the post puts Gov. Bob Riley in a bind of sorts. Lindsey is a Democrat and his appointment by Republican Riley to that choice seat would surely ruffle the feelings of the handful of Republicans who live in Cherokee County.
Main said the biggest challenge facing him would be to find a solution to the spiralling cost of health care in Alabama–Medicaid and the providing of health insurance benefits to teachers and state employees.
Gov. Riley has hinted that the crisis is so severe that he may call a special session later this summer to address the issue.
Bell, a former newspaper reporter, is seeking her fourth term on the board. She faces Democrat Debbie Corbett in the November General Election.
Her victory was a rare setback for the powerful Alabama Education Association, which had supported her opponent…John Draper…in the run-off.