Siegelman Future Hinges On Appeal

Former Alabama Governor Is Free As Congress Investigates His Prosecution

A federal court has released former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman from prison, six weeks after 60 Minutes aired a report about a prosecution so suspect that 52 former state attorneys-general have asked Congress to investigate.

In 2006, Siegelman was convicted of bribery, but the prosecution was so troubling that Congress started the investigation. Siegelman says his prosecution was political, orchestrated in the White House.

Siegelman was in prison in February when he watched the original 60 Minutes broadcast with other inmates.

In an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley, he describes the jailhouse reaction to the broadcast: "Well immediately people were standing up, sayin', 'You got screwed.' And I'd say, 'Well, you know, I think there were a lot of ya'll that got screwed.' And then, one guy stood up and said, 'No, I was guilty. You got screwed.'"

Using different words, a federal appeals court raised the same possibility, agreeing that his "appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact likely to result in reversal" of his conviction.

Siegelman was once the most successful Democrat in Alabama. He claims his prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice was influenced by the president's former political advisor, Karl Rove.

"What we need," Siegleman says, "is Karl Rove to get himself over to the Judiciary Committee and put his hand on a Bible and take an oath and give testimony. And he can either tell the truth or take the Fifth. Either one will satisfy me."

Rove declined to appear before the House Committee investigating the case. but, he told 60 Minutes "I never talked to the Department of Justice about Siegelman. I never talked to anyone at the White House about Siegelman."

Siegelman's case is now on appeal.

By David Gelber
  • CBSNews

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