My Blog

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman offers unique political perspective in national media upon release of Stealing Our Democracy

Don Siegelman, who served as Alabama’s governor from 1999 to 2003, was wrongfully convicted in proceedings he calls politically motivated. He spent more than five years in prison, including, tragically, time in solitary confinement. Now released, Siegelman has become something quite dangerous in the political game: a motivated policy genius who doesn’t need to worry about popularity or elections. Siegelman is focused on pushing forward reform for our justice system, arguing that political corruption in our courts subverts the rights of defendants and that our prisoners are not receiving the care they desperately need, particularly during this pandemic. Siegelman’s important voice has been broadcast over the airwaves following the release of his new memoir, Stealing Our Democracy, including appearances on NPR stations and Sirius XM.

In an interview with On Point, a program produced by NPR affiliate WBUR, Siegelman had this to say about his experience in the justice system: “If you believe that in every situation one should find a purpose . . . I quickly found mine. My purpose now is to expose what’s going on [in the justice system] and try to change it.” If charges can falsely be brought against a sitting governor, what’s to stop the same from happening to anyone?

As governor of Alabama, Siegelman was arguably one of the most influential political leaders in the heart of both the Confederacy and civil rights movement. He shouldered the weight of Alabama’s history of racial injustice with grace, meeting with and celebrating figures like Rosa Parks, C. T. Vivian, and the late John Lewis. Talking with Joe Madison, “The Black Eagle,” on Sirius XM, Siegelman recalled walking with Lewis and then-president Bill Clinton across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Lewis had been brutally beaten on Bloody Sunday. Siegelman called it the most impactful period of his governorship, remarking that “we all now have to share a greater burden in the struggle for truth, justice, and freedom now that John Lewis and C. T. Vivian have passed.” He agrees with President Obama that the fight continues and that the best way to ensure Lewis’s legacy is to strengthen the legislation he fought so hard for.

And Siegelman isn’t the only one who thinks his prosecution was a sham. A piece in The Washington Spectator analyzes the evidence showing that Karl Rove and other key political figures were covertly involved with prosecutors in his case. Spectator reporter Lou Dubose comments, “If I didn’t know the story . . . I might have considered the title of Siegelman’s new book—Stealing Our Democracy—broad and overstated. Which it is not.” The title of Siegelman’s memoir isn’t an overstatement; unscrupulous politicians, many of them right-wing, are threatening our core values of government through their unlawful use of the justice system. Siegelman’s book is a cautionary tale.

Read more about Stealing Our Democracy here.