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AG tries to reinstate charges against Worley

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Attorney General Troy King has asked an appeals court to reinstate felony charges against former Secretary of State Nancy Worley over campaign letters she sent to state employees she supervised.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs tossed out the five felony charges in July. Hobbs ruled that the state law that makes it a felony for state officials to use their public positions to influence someone's vote is vague and overbroad.

In a brief filed Thursday, the attorney general argued that the law fits Worley's conduct and that a jury, not a judge, should decide whether Worley's conduct constitutes a felony.

The felony law's "prohibition against an official's use of her authority to influence the vote or political action of any person is not vague when applied to Worley's conduct," the attorney general's office said in its legal brief.

Worley's attorney, James Anderson, said his reply to the attorney general's brief is due Sept. 22. Anderson will argue that Hobbs' ruling was correct, and the attorney general was overreaching by charging Worley, a former Decatur High School teacher, with misdemeanors and felonies for the same campaign mailing.

"They just missed the whole point of that statute," he said.

After an investigation by the attorney general's staff, a Montgomery County grand jury indicted Worley in March on charges involving campaign letters, campaign contribution envelopes and bumper stickers she sent to five of her employees in the secretary of state's office while seeking re-election in 2006.

She was charged under a state law that makes it a misdemeanor for a public official to ask for campaign donations from employees and a felony for an official to use his or her position to influence the vote of any person. Her trial on five misdemeanor charges was put on hold while the attorney general appealed the judge's ruling tossing out the felonies.

"Indeed, the Secretary of State, of all officials, should have known that such conduct would violate Alabama's election laws," the attorney general's staff wrote in its brief.

In the brief, Assistant Attorney General Marc Starrett said that at trial, prosecutors expect to show "that Worley told her employees that she could determine whether they voted and for whom they vote" and "that Worley used her office to obtain the home addresses of some of these employees."

Worley's lawyers counter by pointing out that Worley's letter told employees that they could support another candidate "without any problems from me."

Worley lost her re-election bid last year to Republican Beth Chapman, but Worley remains active in politics as vice chairwoman of the Alabama Democratic Party.

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

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