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General News    H2'ed 5/5/09

Is Alabama GOP Governor Caught Red-Handed?

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Message Roger Shuler
Is Alabama GOP Governor Caught Red-Handed?
Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
An article in yesterday's Montgomery Advertiser reveals that Alabama Governor Bob Riley apparently has committed a federal crime--not once, but twice.

The article, by reporter Sebastian Kitchen, was meant to provide details about the two political parties' financial condition heading into Alabama's 2010 election.

But Kitchen, perhaps inadvertently, reveals that Riley appears to have violated federal bribery and honest-services fraud statutes. Riley certainly committed crimes if the Don Siegelman case is to be believed as the law of the land.

Siegelman, Alabama's former Democratic governor, and codefendant Richard Scrushy, the former CEO of HealthSouth, were convicted on federal corruption charges in 2006. At the heart of the case was a transaction where Siegelman accepted $500,000 from Scrushy for an education-lottery campaign and then appointed Scrushy to a position on a state health-care board, where he had served under three previous governors.

Now, let's take a look at what Kitchen reveals in his reporting about the Alabama's GOP's swelling coffers.

First, Kitchen states that Riley is chairman of the Alabama GOP's Campaign 2010 fund-raising effort.

Then, comes this nugget about Raymond J. Harbert, CEO of Harbert Management Corporation in Birmingham:

Some of those donors to the Republican Party include Raymond Harbert of Birmingham, who Riley appointed to the Auburn University board of trustees as an at-large member in March 2009. He donated $10,000 in 2008.

Let's review that information briefly. Harbert made a donation to a fund-raising campaign, chaired by Riley, and then was appointed by Riley to the Auburn University board of trustees.

But that isn't the only curious transaction in Kitchen's story. We also have this regarding Birmingham physician Swaid Swaid:

Dr. Swaid N. Swaid, who Riley appointed to the Certificate of Need Review Board, donated $5,000 in 2008.

Again, let's review. Swaid gave to a campaign chaired by Riley and then was appointed by Riley to a spot on the Alabama Certificate of Need (CON) Review Board.

Both of these transactions sound an awful lot like the alleged crimes in the Siegelman/Scrushy transaction, do they not? And Swaid even was appointed to the same board to which Scrushy was appointed.

A devil's advocate might point out that there was no proof of a quid pro quo in Riley's transactions with Harbert and Swaid. But a student of the Siegelman/Scrushy trial knows that a quid pro quo was not shown in that case either, and U.S. Judge Mark Fuller's jury instruction did not require one.

A devil's advocate might also point out that the amounts of Harbert's and Swaid's donations were not nearly as large as the one from Scrushy. But if memory serves us correctly, the amount of the donation was not an overriding factor in determining whether a crime took place in the Siegelman/Scrushy case.

Finally, the donations apparently went to the Republican Party, not to Riley personally. But that also was the case in the Siegelman/Scrushy matter.

Scrushy currently is in federal prison, and Siegelman might be heading back, because Siegelman received a donation from Scrushy and then appointed the CEO to a state board.

That is exactly what appears to have taken place with Bob Riley's donations from Raymond Harbert and Swaid Swaid.
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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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