BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — “There’s no way to put the feathers back in the pillow.” That’s how former Alabama governor Don Siegelman describes the trajectory of his life since 2002. “My life has dramatically changed; in 2002 I was looking forward to being re-elected–the election was stolen. I had planned to announce in December I was planning to run for the Democratic primaries. I had my speech, I gave part of it to the Democratic Governors Association in 2002. But that was 15 years ago and we are still fighting for the truth.”
The truth is, a lot has happened since Don Siegelman went to prison on corruption charges in 2006. Siegelman maintained that naming Richard Scrushy, the man who contributed half a million dollars to his lottery campaign, to a certificate of need board was just politics. Plus the money went to the lottery campaign, not Seigelman’s pocket.
But 10 years after Don Siegelman was sentenced to 6 years in federal prison for that action, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the conviction of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell who did indeed pocket money, and accepted lavish gifts from a Virginia business man who sought to do business in his state.
“McDonnell is I’m sure is a decent man but he admitted to taking $177,000 from a contributor, a donor, a Ferrari, Rolex and he was acquitted. Where as in my case there wasn’t even an allegation of that I benefitted by a single penny–not a dollar,” Siegelman said.
Siegelman doesn’t feel that the McDonnell case vindicates him in anyway. He said, “It just shows that justice can be bent one way or another depending on who is looking at the set of facts.”
In the case of Don Siegelman, he says having now disgraced Judge Mark Fuller look at his case was a problem from the start. Siegelman believes Fuller should be in jail.
“He should, he’s the one who abused his authority and he should have recused himself. Clearly he had a conflict: he opposed the lottery, he opposed me he, he was embarrassed by the fact we had audited his office after he left as DA,” Siegelman said. “But all of that aside, the US judicial conference made up of the chief judges of every circuit judge and chief judges of district courts around the country found and certified evidence to Congress that Judge Fuller had committed perjury and had lied to federal investigators repeatedly denying that he had kicked, punched and abused his wife at least eight times before and after their marriage.”
Mark Fuller resigned from the federal bench in August of 2015, a year after his arrest in an Atlanta hotel room on domestic violence charges against his wife.
“He committed violent domestic assault, he lied to federal prosecutor, lied to the state prosecutors in Georgia, lied to the state police, lied to the magistrate, the prosecutor over there–he was doing so to throw them off, to obstruct justice to cover up his crime–he committed perjury according to the highest ranking judges in the country,” Siegelman said. “Yet the department of justice is doing nothing, here is a man who really is a criminal, who really deserves punishment.”
Then there is Leura Canary, the former federal prosecutor who now sits on the board of the Capri Theater in Montgomery, who has been instrumental in blocking a screening of the documentary Atticus versus the Architect which details the peculiar prosecution of Don Siegelman and its political overtones.
A preview ran in Birmingham at the Alabama Theater earlier this year. The full documentary has been screened in Atlanta and is scheduled to run in several other venues including in Tuscaloosa, Decatur and in Leesburg, Virginia.
In previous news reports Canary has said the film defames her.
“There are good reasons why Leura Canary doesn’t want this documentary shown,” Siegelman explained. “It raises serious questions about whether she should be criminally charged. We plan to ask the Capri to reconsider again and hopefully they will realize that the first amendment is more important than one’s personal feelings about being embarrassed by a documentary.”
Siegelman also wants the public to see Department of Justice documents that the project on government oversight obtained, showing what he suspects will shine a light on the role politics played in his prosecution.
“This document from the Department of Justice confirms that this case was politically motivated, it cites an email from the lead prosecutor to my opponent’s son giving him an update on my prosecution. It verifies that one of the lead attorneys running the investigation had another conflict. The DOJ itself is saying that this case was politically motivated but they did not give us this information,” Siegelman explained.
Had they given his legal team the information Siegelman believes it could have be used in his defense years later in 2012 when he went before the supreme court.
“The email that they disclose was from 2002. If we had access to that, we could have easily shown that this case was politically motivated,” he said.
According to Siegelman “this letter is still under seal, it’s still not a public document–we still do not have a report for which they refer in this letter of June 3, 2010.”
Don Siegelman’s son Joseph who is now an attorney and has spent the majority of his professional life fighting for his dad’s release from prison. He filed a freedom of information act request to get that report.
The request remains before a judge who has yet to rule on the matter.
Until then Siegelman says “we will keep fighting. I’m sure my son will. We’ll do what we can within the system that we have to seek the truth.”