Alleged Political Misconduct Case Starts Monday in Montgomery

MONTGOMERY, Ala., July 8, 2007 -- In what has become all to commonplace in Alabama of late, another case related to alleged political misconduct finds its way to court Monday, July 9, as things are scheduled to get rolling at some point Monday morning in Montgomery County Circuit Court in the case of former Secretary of State Nancy Worley and whether or not she improperly used her office in violation of the state's election laws during her campaign for re-election in 2006.

At a minimum, the discussion of pre-trial motions will happen before judge Truman Hobbs, Jr. and jury selection may also begin.  Whether or not the trial gets started will be dependant on jury selection and other court matters.  According to Hobbes' office, the judge has informed lawyers to be prepared for trial and for any possible delays.

In mid-June, Worley's trial was delayed when the defense received from prosecutors computer discs with e-mails from Worley's state computer in such numbers they did not have time to evaluate the newly provided evidence, especially in light of certain technical issues.

Attorney General Troy King announced the arrest of the former secretary of state March 15, 2007 on five felony charges of using her office to influence political action and five misdemeanor counts of soliciting political contributions from her employees.  Ms. Worley surrendered to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.

King said at the time in a press release, "It is deeply troubling when a person who was charged with overseeing our election laws is accused of breaking the very laws she swore to uphold, and of betraying the system whose integrity was entrusted to her.  If the people are to have confidence in their government, it is imperative that such allegations be thoroughly investigated, and where evidence warrants, that the case be prosecuted, regardless of who may be affected."

In her own press release Worley responded to King by saying, "Troy King's political prosecution is his desperate attempt to take the spotlight off of his own checkered ethical record...For Troy King to lead an investigation questioning my integrity is like Paris Hilton teaching a Sunday School class...I look forward to taking this case to the courts. At the conclusion of this process I will have proven that no matter what anyone thinks about my tenure as Secretary of State, that I always did my duties consistent with the law and with the highest integrity."

Charges were brought to a Montgomery County grand jury after Ed Packard, director of the elections division and Worley's opponent in the Democratic primary in 2006 filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office alleging Worley sent what amounted to campaign solicitation letters to employees.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the indictment that was handed down on Worley "contains five counts charging that Worley used her position as Secretary of State for the purpose of influencing the vote or political action of five individuals, by soliciting financial contributions, placement of bumper stickers on vehicles, door-to-door and telephone bank activities, letter writing, fundraising, obtaining of a yard sign and/or the providing of other clerical assistance...The indictment also contains five counts, charging that Worley, being an officer of the State in her position as Secretary of State, solicited political contributions from the same five individuals who were her subordinate employees."

According to the prosecution, "if convicted, Worley faces a maximum penalty of up to two years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine for each of the five felony counts, and up to 12 months imprisonment and up to a $2000 fine for each of the five class A misdemeanor counts."

Among one of the odder events that may have taken place during the investigation, according to the Associated Press, is the alleged wiring of a computer technician sent to Worley's office on Jan. 11 to discuss ending her state e-mail service.

Reported by: Helen Hammons