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Siegelman compares federal probe to Watergate

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman says in a letter from federal prison that he is confident his conviction will be overturned and a congressional probe will show that Republican politics was behind the probe of his Democratic administration.

Siegelman, in a handwritten letter to The Associated Press received Monday, said he believes former presidential aide Karl Rove was behind the federal investigation.

“I am also encouraged by The Congressional inquiry and upcoming investigation which should prove the political involvement and establish this Alabama case as the ‘Watergate of 2008,’ ” Siegelman wrote.

Responding to questions in a letter sent by AP to Siegelman at the federal prison in Oakdale, La., the veteran political figure said, “You asked how I’m doing? I’m fine! My spirits have been uplifted because of my friends’ prayers, letters and action. I am blessed and I give thanks to God many times each day.”

Federal prosecutors have denied that Rove or anyone in the administration of Republican President Bush had any influence over the Justice Department’s prosecution of the Democratic governor. Prosecutor Steve Feaga said Monday he’s confident the convictions of Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy will be upheld on appeal.

Feaga called Siegelman’s letter “typical jailhouse correspondence.”

Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted last year of bribery and other government corruption charges. In the key charge, Siegelman was accused of appointing Scrushy to an influential hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman’s campaign for a state lottery.

Attorneys for both Siegelman and Scrushy have filed notice of appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and are seeking their release while the appeal is pending.

In his letter, Siegelman expresses confidence he will be vindicated.

“Based on established law recognized in previous cases by The U.S. Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, I believe this ‘Alabama Case’ will be vacated or reversed with little delay,” Siegelman wrote.

Near the end of the five-page letter, Siegelman indicates he wants to be a political player again in Alabama.

“I have learned a great deal about our prosecutorial, judicial and penal system and will be seeking changes, when the time comes, to help balance the scales of justice once again,” he wrote.

Siegelman, 61, was sentenced on June 28 to more than seven years in prison and Scrushy, 54, to almost seven years.

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

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