Monday, March 31, 2008
On this day:

The Anniston Red Star on Siegelman

The Star actually asks a good question, one that I've wondered about myself:
What is the difference, one might ask, between Siegelman's accused crime and what President Bush does when he appoints a big campaign contributor to an ambassadorship?

There is no difference.
But, is there really no difference? It seems to me that there is, and that it boils down to this, from Siegelman's NY Times bio:
The two men [Siegelman and Scrushy] were convicted on bribery charges stemming from a donation Mr. Scrushy made to retire a campaign loan Mr. Siegelman had taken out during a referendum campaign seven years earlier.
If Scrushy's donation was not intended to fund the lottery campaign (which it couldn't have been, since the lottery referendum had been held seven years earlier), but rather to help Siegelman retire a loan that he had made to that campaign, then it seems to introduce an element of "personal benefit" that isn't typically involved in a run-of-the-mill campaign donation. I'd still be reluctant to characterize it as a bribe, though, and I'm curious to know how common a practice this sort of thing is and how federal campaign finance laws - and perhaps more importantly, Alabama's own campaign laws - would handle it.