The Story Behind the

'Former Attorney Generals For Siegelman Story':

They're his old friends

 

http://www.donsiegelman.org/images/grant_woods.jpg       http://www.stroock.com/bioimages/bio334.jpg

                                        

Grant Woods, on "60 Minutes                   Robert Abrams

             

 

             "The Siegelmans once spent Thanksgiving with his family; Abrams came to Montgomery to see Siegelman sworn in as governor; and Lori Siegelman sometimes

stayed with the Abrams when in New York. He spoke warmly and convincingly of Siegelman’s attributes as a friend and honorable man. But of the actual case against Siegelman,

Abrams knew next to nothing."

              -- From the "Governor of Goat Hill," regarding Abrams testimony as a character witness at Siegelman's sentencing hearing.

 

              “It’s an awesome statement. Never before, in the history of this nation, have former attorneys general banded together in unity before the courts of this country

in such great number.”

              -- Abrams, to the New York Times

 

              "Another perspective: Never before, in the history of the nation, have so many former attorneys general banded together in unity to support extortion and

obstruction of justice."

              -- from, "The Governor of Goat Hill"

 

              After Jill Simpson's affidavit, perhaps the second most convincing argument on Siegelman's behalf was the immense and heavily publicized support he received from members of the

former state attorneys generals community. The group started with 44 ex-AGs; for the next act and news story, 54; then 75; and finally -- after what one supposes were relentless pleas by

Siegelman and his friends -- rested at 91, about 4-5ths Democrats.

              For the guy on the street, that's pretty powerful -- all those high-level law enforcement veterans saying such strong things for Siegelman, and the New York Times reporting the group's every

new act.

              Rarely, though, was it reported that Siegelman was essentially a member of the group that came to his aid; and that he was especially close to the two men who spearheaded the

effort on his behalf -- Robert Abrams, former attorney general of New York, and Grant Woods, former AG of Arizona.

              The Times noted in its first ex-AG story -- published two months after Jill Simpson's affidavit -- that Abrams and Siegelman were old friends. The paper was to use Abrams as a go-to-guy

for quotes on other Siegelman case developments. He could be counted on to declare this or that new development as an outrage.

              I suspect that few if any of what became 91 former AGs -- Abrams and Woods included -- could pass a simple test on the evidence presented at trial against Siegelman.

 

              Some background: Siegelman served as Alabama's Attorney General from 1986 to 1990. During that time, he came to be close to other attorneys general throughout

the country, primarily through the National Association of Attorneys General. In the late 1990s, then lieutenant governor Siegelman became heavily involved in the effort get Alabama

involved in lawsuits against the tobacco companies when then AG Bill Pryor refused (as memos and records showed, Siegelman did so with plans to make huge fees from the tobacco litigation.)

He worked closely with attorneys general, including Grant Woods, during this time.

              It is not uncommon for ex-NAAG member so sign legal petitions. For example, in 1997, Siegelman joined 22 other former AGs in signing a petition in support of a consumer-related issue.

Many of those signed the Siegelman petition 10 years later.

             

           Siegelman Vacationed with AG group

 

              In Siegelman's final year as governor, the Montgomery Advertiser filed a public records request seeking records of expenditures from what is known as the "Governor's Contingency Fund."

Siegelman refused to turn over substantial amounts of records. He claimed they would reveal too much about his industry recruiting efforts, which he wanted to keep secret.

             

              Soon after Siegelman left office, I sought the records from the new administration. Among the hundreds of thousands of dubious and in many cases undocumented expenses were records

showing that Siegelman spent thousands of Alabama tax dollars in flight, hotel and other expenses so he and his wife could attend the annual conventions of the Conference of Western

Attorneys General. That's an organization connected to the national AGs organization, and, obviously, with no connection whatsoever to the official business of the state of Alabama.

              One of these conferences/boondoggles was in Custer, S.D.; another in Sun Valley, Idaho; and the last, in Monterey, Calif.

              I don't think it a stretch to suggest that many of the folks Siegelman spent Alabama tax dollars to  vacation with later signed on to what was, at heart, nothing more than a clever public

relations effort to convince people that Siegelman was a victim of a politically-inspired prosecution with Karl Rove as Oz.