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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Poll shows Siegelman a factor in state politics

The pollsters didn't ask if Alabamians think former Gov. Don Siegelman is guilty as charged in a recent federal indictment.

But only 20 percent of those asked in the Mobile Register and University of South Alabama poll said they thought he would be found guilty. There is a difference, of course.

Rich and powerful people always get off. Right?

The attitude of the 43 percent who said he was likely to get off might suggest that Alabamians are cynical about the strength of the late-hour charges against the former Democratic governor by a Republican prosecutor.

Having had nearly three years to nail him on a variety of rumored offenses, the feds in Montgomery finally charged Mr. Siegelman with racketeering, mail and wire fraud and extortion, along with a former aide and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

The timing of the indictment is certainly suspect, which is not lost on voters.

Another question asked in the poll shows that Mr. Siegelman is definitely a factor in next year's gubernatorial race. The survey found that 42 percent of those polled have a favorable opinion of the former governor.

That's even after a federal judge threw out an earlier federal indictment that charged him with Medicaid fraud in a Tuscaloosa case involving Dr. Phillip Bobo, who goes to trial Nov. 28.

Given a margin of error, just about as many people have a favorable opinion of the former governor as those who do not.

The indictment came at a critical time in Mr. Siegelman's campaign when he needs to be raising money. The courts should not be used to influence political races.

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