First Gubernatorial Debate: Ethics Question II

Mike Cason, political reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser:

Five months after becoming governor, you sold your former home to a Birmingham businessman for $250,000 even though the county only appraised that home at $150,000. Then you appointed the buyer to a non-pay position on the Alabama Securities Commission. How can you explain to our viewers how you were able to make a six figure profit on your home without using the appointing authority or power as governor for personal gain?

Governor Siegelman:

Well Mike, let me say that my wife and I talked about what we wanted for the house and what we thought it was worth. I got an offer and we accepted it. I don't believe I was paid one penny more for that house than it was worth. The names that came to me for the Securities and Exchange Commission were selected from an independent body and I selected that gentleman to go on that board. But, I do not believe I was paid one penny more for the house than it was worth. Again, I think this is another issue that's being thrown out there by Republican political operatives. The person who filed the complaint is a Republican candidate for state auditor. He's been out there yapping at me trying to cause political damage to me.

And, it is nothing more than a political smokescreen. We need to be talking about the real issues Mr. Riley. We need to be talking about how we're going to raise money for our schools not how to un-earmark education taxes and cut the schools more money. We need to be talking about how we're going to lower the price of prescription drugs and we ought to be out talking about maybe your record in voting in favor of the big drug companies and trying to prevent those generic drugs from coming on the market. I think we need to be talking about what we have done to help our children and the mentally ill and disadvantaged kids and foster children. We need to talk about the issues that confront the state.

Mike Cason:

I understand that a Republican file a complaint about that but that was after newspapers reported the sale of the house. Can you explain what your original asking price of that house was and if it was well above the appraised value, why would you have though you could get a lot more than the appraised value?

Governor Siegelman:

Mike, the original asking price was what I got for the house. The house went on the market for a listed price and that was the offer I got and that's what I took. And again, I don't think I received one penny more for the house than the house was worth.

Congressman Riley:

First, I've got to go back to what the Governor said a moment ago about my vote on taxes. I did vote for an economic stimulus package that I believe this country desperately needs right now. It passed with over 400 votes in Congress. It was passed by Democrats who voted for it like Dick Gephardt, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters.

I guess the Governor is making the case tonight that he is even more liberal than the most liberal members of Congress. As far as the Republican operatives Governor, I think that if you look at all the charges that have come out in the last year, year and a half, I don't know of a Republican that has ever brought those charges. It's been in the Mobile paper, in the Montgomery paper, in the Birmingham paper. Unless you think that the editorial boards are full of Republicans out to get you then I think that that's a defenseless case.