Al Gore, former Unites States Vice President, is aiding former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman’s fundraising efforts this week by signing an email plea for contributions to his legal fund.
This is the second time Gore has lent his name to the effort. In 2008, Gore also supported the former governor’s legal defense fund.
The U.S. Supreme Court will make a decision next week whether it will hear the appeal of Siegelman’s conviction on public corruption charges six years ago.
Gore’s email states, “Don Siegelman’s recent petition to the U.S. Supreme Court will make history-one way or the other-and may be the most important decision for the reservation of justice and democracy that the court will have rendered in recent times.”
On Thursday, at the conference of the justices, Siegelman’s appeal was considered. This means, that as soon as Monday, it could be released on the list which announces which petitions they will accept and which they will not. Richard Scrushy’s, HealthSouth founder, appeal is also on the same schedule. Scrushy and Siegelman were convicted after a jury trial in Montgomery on charges that they exchanged donations to Siegelman’s lottery fund for an appointment to a state health board. Scrushy contributed $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery.
There was no evidence at trial of a conversation between the two men discussing the appointment, but prosecutors urged jurors in the case, to look at the totality of the evidence. This evidence included an aide’s testimony that Siegelman suggested the $500,000 figure to a lobbyist as a way for Scrushy to make amends for supporting his 1998 campaign opponent – $350,000 “plus interest,” the state aide said.
Siegelman has asked the U.S Supreme Court to review his conviction as his lawyers pointed to a court ruling in a West Virginia extortion case that said campaign contributions are subject to criminal prosecution only when they are made “in return for an explicit promise or undertaking by the official to perform or not perform an official act.”
Siegelman’s conviction on the bribery charge is being upheld by the 11th Court of Appeals which found that, while there has to be an explicit agreement to swap money and action, it doesn’t have to be verbalized. Jurors are free to interpret the actions of defendants in determining whether there was a corrupt deal, the court ruled.
The original article can be read here.