Dirty Don Goes Down

Don Siegleman, the Democratic governor of Alabama from 1998-2002, was just found guilty on multiple corruption charges, including bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice. The charges were related to the fraudulent practices of the HealthSouth conglomerate. This was the second trip to Federal criminal court for “Dirty Don.” Back in 2004, a lengthy set of charges was dismissed by a friendly judge (Carter appointee U.W. Clemon). This time around, Siegleman wasn’t so lucky, and unless he can manage to shop himself another partisan judge on appeal, he’s going away for quite a while.

Alabama’s old political machine, which Siegleman has been a member of since his college days, is thorougly and irredemably corrupt. I’d like to think this conviction might mark the beginning of the end of its reign, but frankly, I doubt it. There just isn’t much appetite among either the political class or the public to get serious about cleaning up the rest of the statehouse.

Disgraced former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy was also convicted, in his case for providing a $500,000 campaign contribution to Siegleman in return for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board. I wish I could say that kind of thing is unusual in Alabama, but it’s the way the things have been done since time out of mind.


5 Responses to “Dirty Don Goes Down”

  1. nedludd Says:

    The only politician I ever saw handle something like this with any class or syle was Pennsylvania’s former treasurer, R. Budd Dwyer.


  2. Sulizano Says:


    I’m waiting to see this show up on the front page.

  3. surf Says:

    Remember, jeez, what was the name of that group back at Auburn? I’d have to check the Glom. Oh yeah, the Spades. Was Dirty Don a member at AU or UA? I recall the pres of my fraternity being a member. His dad was a Judge in Abbeville.

    Not being an original Southerner, but a transplant as a military brat, I was amazed by the sheer audacity of a group like that. It seemed to me like it was a brazenly public pipeline for state level, and higher if you measured up and were thought to be able to deliver results, nepotism. I could be wrong about that of course, but from the outside looking in, and given the state’s history of political corruption, it looked like the good ol’ boy network perfected.

    I can recall how excited my fraternity brother was upon getting asked to join. I just shook my head and chukled with a not inconsequential amount of cynicism.

  4. andy Says:

    Never heard of the Spades, but at UA I know we had “the Jasons” and “the Machine.” Not sure about the influence of the Jasons, but the Machine more or less controlled student politics.

    However, just like in “grown up” Alabama, the power of the Machine came from the apathy of those who could vote for change, as well as a general inability to do math (the Machine puts up one candidate for SGA president, the independents put up 10… when greeks are 25% of the population, it’s not hard to know who will win).

  5. Will Collier Says:

    Dirty Don, like Dick Shelby an innumerable other figures in Alabama politics, was indeed a member of “The Machine” (real name is Theta Nu Epsilon) while at UAT.

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