Indictment could be end for campaign
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY—The other shoe has dropped, as that old expression goes…a federal grand jury has returned a laundry list of indictments against former Gov. Don Siegelman and the timing for him could not have been worse.
Siegelman has already made it official he will seek a second term as governor in the Democratic Primary next June, and after the indictments were announced he reiterated his intentions to stay in the race.
The question provoked by the indictments was a predictable one: What impact will they have on his candidacy?
Certainly the most obvious is the dampening effect it will have on his fundraising, and he will need millions of dollars to wage a serious campaign for the office.
As long as these indictments are hanging over his head, Siegelman will surely be hard-pressed to raise the money he needs. The people and the PACs who finance the campaigns are understandably going to be uneasy giving big bucks to a candidate who if convicted would not be eligible to run.
And that leads to a second question: How long will it be before Siegelman stands trial?
Fairness demands that the federal prosecutors…who took an endless amount of time in investigating Siegelman and the others who were indicted…move at a much quicker pace in bringing him to trial. The old truth that justice delayed is justice denied has never been more applicable.
While the indictments came as no surprise, what was a surprise was that only four men were charged—Siegelman, former Health South CEO Richard Scrushy; and two of Siegelman's one-time Cabinet members—Paul Hamrick and Mack Roberts. Rumors had abounded that as many as eight or 10 men would be indicted.
An intriguing sidebar to the Scrushy indictment: A political insider I greatly respect said that putting Siegelman and Scrushy in the same political bed, so to speak, will further enhance Siegelman's standing with the black voters in Alabama. Scrushy is muchly admired by the black community of this state.
Siegelman has made no secret of the fact that he expects that the Democratic Primary will include an overwhelming turnout of black voters and he is confident he has a much stronger call on them than does his opponent, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley.
Certainly nothing is more critical than the outcome of the trial, whenever that comes. Obviously if Siegelman is found guilty his political career will be over. The crimes he is accused of committing are felonies.
However, if he is acquitted or the charges are dismissed…as was the case in earlier allegations by a federal grand jury… his claim that the long-running investigation was a politically inspired witch hunt could resonate well with the voters.
You could have gone to a casting bureau and not found a woman better suited to play the part she played in history.
Before she was ordered to give up her seat on that cold and dreary night other black women had been given the same order and were arrested. But they were not "right," as the late E. D. Nixon—one of the boycott leaders—once told me.
Rosa Parks…well respected, soft-spoken, neither threatening nor abrasive, was "right" and Nixon, Fred Gray and others knew this.
I cannot say I was a close friend of Mrs. Parks but I met and talked with her a number of times during the days of the boycott. You had to be impressed by her demeanor, her quiet courage and her determination.
Her death last week provoked an enormous amount of coverage in the print and broadcast media…and it was appropriate. She deserved it.