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Former Alabama Secretary of State Nancy Worley leaves the Montgomery County Jail after surrendering and being released without bond. She is accused of using her office to solicit political contributions
AP photo by Karen S. Doerr
Former Alabama Secretary of State Nancy Worley leaves the Montgomery County Jail after surrendering and being released without bond. She is accused of using her office to solicit political contributions.

Worley surrenders on charges of soliciting funds from staff

By Desiree Hunter
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Former Secretary of State Nancy Worley surrendered Thursday and was released without bond on state charges accusing her of using her government office to solicit political contributions in her re-election campaign last year.

The indictment says she used her official position to seek campaign funds or assistance from five of her employees, such as displaying bumper stickers and yard signs and doing door-to-door or telephone bank work.

"It is deeply troubling when a person who was charged with overseeing our election laws is accused of breaking the very laws she swore to uphold," Attorney General Troy King said in a statement.

Worley, after being booked at the county jail, promptly called the charges "totally political," brought by a Republican prosecutor.

"Through decades as a public school teacher, community leader, and public servant no one has ever questioned my integrity or commitment to the law," Worley said in a statement. "Troy King's political prosecution is his desperate attempt to take the spotlight off of his own checkered ethical record."

Released, no bond

Worley, a prominent Democrat, spent about 40 minutes filling out paperwork at the Montgomery County Detention Facility and was released after promising she would not leave the area, Worley's attorney, Jim Williams, said.

"It was certainly an unusual event, but everybody in the sheriff's office was very, very nice and they treated me with a great deal of kindness," Worley said after completing additional paperwork at the county courthouse.

"So I'm glad to be done and look forward to my day in court."

The indictment, which covers five felony counts and five misdemeanor counts, says Worley used her government post as secretary of state to influence the vote or political action of five employees — James E. Brasher III, Gloria D. Flint, Catherine Jensen, Rebecca A. Morris and Richard Pitts. The indictment also says she solicited a campaign contribution from each of the five in violation of state law.

When reached at work Thursday, Morris said she and the others are now employed by Secretary of State Beth Chapman and would have no comment on the Worley investigation.

"This is an ongoing case and it has nothing to do with the current secretary of state," she said.

"This is a place of business and I need to be working."

Williams said he wondered why it took King's office "nearly a year" to file the indictment and said the charges should have been brought much sooner "if it was really a violation of law."

"She intends to plead 'not guilty' and the allegations do not appear to be a crime," he said. "If what she did appears to be a crime, it looks to me that the attorney general needs to indict himself."

Worley, 55, won the Democratic primary in June after being opposed by one of her employees, Ed Packard, who filed a complaint with the attorney general's office over a letter with a bumper sticker and campaign contribution envelope Worley sent to her employees on April 26, 2006.

She lost the general election in November to Republican Beth Chapman, but later was selected by the state Democratic Party to be its first vice chairman, which gives her a seat on the Democratic National Committee.

Before being elected secretary of state, she was prominent politically while serving two terms as president of the Alabama Education Association.

The indictment does not give details on when and how Worley allegedly violated the law, and King said further information would not be available at this point.

But Williams said he understood the indictment was "based on a complaint that was made by an employee," presumably Packard.

Worley said it was clear the materials she sent to employees in her office had nothing to do with contributing money. She also wrote that employees could support another candidate "without any problems from me."

"It's politics in its worst form," she said of the indictment before driving away from the courthouse.

In her statement, she pointed to recent reports questioning King's free use of an Alabama Power skybox at an Atlanta Braves game and seeking assistance from then-Chancellor Roy Johnson when the attorney general's office was investigating the two-year college system Johnson oversaw.

"For Troy King to lead an investigation questioning my integrity is like Paris Hilton teaching a Sunday School class," continued Worley.

On the Net

Ed Packardís complaint, www.edpackard.us/agcomplaint.cfm.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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