« Rhode Island: Ethics commission investigates campaign contributions to A.G. | Main | "Improving Voter Participation" »

Alabama: Siegelman was personally liable for the lottery campaign's debts

The Birmingham Weekly reports: Even before Siegelman took the oath of office, the campaign to legalize a state lottery was underway. The plan would have to clear two major hurdles: it would have to pass the Alabama Legislature and then face approval from voters at the ballot box.

For Siegelman it was almost as though his campaign for governor had never ended. Some of his politically savvy allies encouraged the governor to wait until 2000, to put the lottery on the ballot during a large election season with broader participation. Siegelman refused, though, and lottery was set for a special referendum in the fall of 1999.

It was a fatal mistake. Religious conservatives who opposed the lottery on moral grounds turned out with a fervor to kill it. The lottery campaign cost millions of dollars and the political committee set up to fund it incurred more than $1.2 million of debt. Siegelman personally signed on much of that debt and would have had to pay it, had not other new donors agreed to bear that burden.

In Alabama political circles, Siegelman was known as the most aggressive fundraiser the state had ever seen. If donors promised pennies, he squeezed them for dollars.

“The hardest person to say ‘no’ to for funds was the governor, so that was the person we set up to solicit donations,” his fundraising consultant Darin Cline testified during the trial. -- Birmingham Weekly Online

My comment: Siegelman's personal liability for the debt puts him in a different category than I thought at first. I can see now why the jury would find that a contribution to the lottery campaign was a "thing of value" to Siegelman.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)