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Siegelman is not out of the woods yet

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY-To borrow a line from a commercial advertising a movie of years ago, just when he thought it was safe to go back into the water (if you don't remember, the movie was "Jaws II"), former Gov. Don Siegelman got the bad news last week. Those waters…political waters…are still not safe.
The story broke that a federal grand jury in Montgomery is taking a hard look at some industrial development contracts awarded during his administration.
Some of them reportedly were connected to firms in which his brother, Les Siegelman, was involved.
After charges brought against him by a grand jury in Birmingham had been tossed out, Siegelman appeared ready to dive back into the political waters and make another run for governor. This latest development could create problems.
Even if this latest probe is what he insists…a political vendetta being waged against him by Republicans…it will nonetheless impact on his efforts to raise the millions of dollars he will need to make another run for governor. Now is the time that money is being raised for the primary election next year.
As long as this cloud hangs over his head, there will be reluctance on the part of some to contribute to a candidate who may not even be eligible to run.
Butts made it clear that he would be running as a "Moore Republican," which is to say he will be aligned with former Chief Justice Roy Moore, who will likely be a candidate for governor in the same primary.
In fact Butts predicted that there would be a slate of pro-Moore candidates on the ballot next year.
Butts political career has followed a strange course. After being elected to the high court he opted to vacate it for an unsuccessful race as a Democrat for attorney general in 1998, losing in a close contest to Bill Pryor.
Later he represented Moore in his Ten Commandments fight and was also on Gov. Bob Riley's legal team in his 2002 election dispute with Don Siegelman. His association with them, both Republicans, led to his conversion to that party.
Both the House and Senate have passed bills, which would require non-profit organizations who spend more than $1,000 in a political campaign to make public a list of their contributors.
While the Alabama Christian Coalition is not specifically mentioned in the proposed legislation, clearly that group is the target.
The Coalition spent vast sums of money in successfully opposing Gov. Don Siegelman's lottery and as recent as last year it was a major spender in the campaign to defeat a constitutional amendment which would have taken racist language out of the constitution.
The high court ruled that the execution of inmates who were under 18 years of age when they committed the crime was unconstitutional.
Alabama Atty. Gen. Troy King said he was "deeply disappointed" with the decision. He said it would "likely lead to more tragedy, to more brutality and to more victims."
Some of the crimes committed by the 13 whose lives were spared by the ruling were especially brutal.
Two 17-year-olds were sentenced to die after beating a woman to death and then cutting off her fingers for souvenirs.
In lieu of the death penalty, all 13 of the inmates will spend the rest of their lives in prison without hope of parole.