Sunday, May 19 2013 5:00 PM EDT2013-05-19 21:00:22 GMT
The Alabama Department of Transportation will conduct its annual rehearsal of the plan that helped safely evacuate the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dennis in 2005. On Wednesday,More >>
The Alabama Department of Transportation will conduct its annual rehearsal of the plan that helped safely evacuate the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dennis in 2005. More >>
It's all about the odds, and one lone ticket in Florida has beaten them all by matching each of the numbers drawn for the highest Powerball jackpot in history at an estimated $590.5 million, lottery officials...More >>
Some lucky person walked into a Publix supermarket in suburban Florida over the past few days and bought a ticket now worth an estimated $590.5 million - the highest Powerball jackpot in history.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 2:00 PM EDT2013-05-19 18:00:09 GMT
Spring cleaning doesn't get much easier than during Trash Amnesty Week, set aside each spring by the City of Auburn. During the week of May 20-24, 2013, the fees normally assessed to Auburn residentsMore >>
Spring cleaning doesn't get much easier than during Trash Amnesty Week, set aside each spring by the City of Auburn.More >>
A senior White House adviser insists President Barack Obama learned the Internal Revenue Service had been targeting tea party groups "when it came out in the news."More >>
A top White House adviser insisted Sunday that President Barack Obama learned the Internal Revenue Service had targeted tea party groups only "when it came out in the news" while Republicans continued to press the...More >>
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
Here's a prediction: Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who faces almost six years in federal prison for bribery and related charges, will serve no more than two years of that time, and perhaps only a few months in addition to the nine months he already has served
But let me be clear: This prediction is based on little more than my gut feeling.
Siegelman has been fighting to overturn his conviction for bribery and related charges for six years, but only succeeded in having his original 2006 sentence reduced by 10 months. Counting nine months he served prior to being released pending his appeals, that would leave him 69 months remaining on his sentence when he is scheduled to return to federal prison on Sept. 11.
But Siegelman still has one avenue left to avoid serving most of that time, and it goes through the White House. Siegelman told Fox Business Network this week that his "last hope for freedom" is a presidential pardon. Siegelman's daughter, Dana, has started an online petition supporting a pardon for her father.
It is entirely possible that President Obama will come to Siegelman's rescue before he leaves office. It is theoretically possible, but far less likely, that Republican Mitt Romney would do so if he is elected in November.
Dr. Wayne Flynt, professor emeritus of history at Auburn University, would not go so far as to predict a presidential pardon, but he said this week that one is possible.
"I don't think it is out of the question that a pardon might come at the end of a second Obama term, and possibly at the end of his first term," Flynt said.
Some background: The U.S. Constitution grants presidents the almost unfettered power to pardon individuals for federal crimes. The Constitution states that the president "shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." In addition to full pardons, presidents can reduce sentences. However, their pardoning powers do not affect state or local convictions or civil court findings.
Siegelman, an ardent Democrat throughout his political career, might start to wish that Obama loses in November, because that could be his best hope for a quick response from the White House.
The former governor's supporters have been pressuring the White House to intervene in the federal case against Siegelman for years now, but to no avail. That could be because of a concern about political fallout.
But after the November election, President Obama's political concerns lessen dramatically. If he wins, he won't have to worry about his own re-election although he still will be concerned about congressional mid-term elections in 2014. If he loses and becomes a lame duck, his concerns about political fallout essentially disappear.
So it is very possible that if Obama loses in November, he could grant Siegelman a pardon or reduce his sentence to time served before the president leaves office on Jan. 20. With past presidents, such "lame duck" pardons have been commonplace.
And if the president is re-elected, he could pardon Siegelman or reduce his sentence at any point before he leaves office in the next four years.
Flynt agreed that a presidential pardon for Siegelman is highly unlikely prior to the election. In fact, he flatly said it would not happen.
He pointed out that until now President Obama has issued fewer pardons than most of his recent predecessors. But he noted that historically with both Democratic and Republican administrations, pardons tend to "have more of a political edge to them after a president is defeated."
So again, here is my prediction: If President Obama is defeated in November, he will either pardon Siegelman or reduce his sentence to time served before he leaves office in January. If the voters return Obama to office, he will either pardon the former governor or commute his sentence by the end of the second year of his second term.