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FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
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EDITORIAL

Did Worley run afoul of GOP 'gotcha' machine?

Former Secretary of State Nancy Worley thinks the state Republican Party is her worst enemy, but it's not.

It's Nancy Worley, former Decatur High School teacher and a two-time president of the Alabama Education Association. We might say that Ms. Worley is one of our favorite people, but we must work at that relationship full time. Republicans don't care to do that.

The Attorney General's Office said this week a grand jury indicted her for campaign violations relating to her office.

She's gifted, hard working and stubborn but was a ripe target for Republicans in last year's statewide elections. Auditor Beth Chapman ousted Ms. Worley in a bitter, name-calling race that left the defeated incumbent exposed to GOP spoils of victory.

The indictment says she used her position as secretary of state to lean on her employees to support her re-election. The five misdemeanor- and five felony-count indictment says she solicited a campaign contribution from five employees in violation of state law. Some were unhappy with her management style. Ed Packard, who ran an unsuccessful primary race against his boss, filed the complaint over some of her alleged activities.

We are not sure how many other incumbents, covertly or overtly, get campaign funds from their employees. But this could be another instance of Republicans singling out a Democrat. The other example is the indictment and conviction of former Gov. Don Siegelman for appointing HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy to a key state regulatory board. Prosecutors convinced a federal jury that Mr. Scrushy bribed his way onto the board with a $500,000 contribution to the governor's education lottery campaign.

Governors usually appoint financial contributors to public office without a federal or state prosecutor getting involved. If the Siegelman and Scrushy convictions stand, they will set a precedent that could come back to haunt Republicans.

The Worley indictment, like the Siegelman indictment, raises questions about partisan politics.

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