Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Securites and Health Care - Scrushy Asks Court to Dismiss Bribery Conviction

Ex HealthSouth Corp. CEO Richard Scrushy and former Alabama governor Donald Siegelman have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to overturn their bribery convictions. Scrushy was convicted for providing the former Alabama governor a $500,000 campaign contribution in return for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board. Siegelman was convicted for taking the money.

Siegelman and Scrushy both argued to the court that the government failed to prove that Siegelman offered Scrushy a seat on the board in return for the campaign contribution. Moreover, Siegelman's arguments bring into focus the issue of whether in today's lobbying climate a politician can be held criminally responsible for accepting donations from a supporter who wishes to receive consideration in return.

The essence of the issue is whether the government has proved a quid pro quo existed around the contribution. The defendants argue that a bribery conviction must involve an agreement to such quid pro quo and that a contribution with a mere hope of future benefit is insufficient as a basis for a bribery conviction.

The case has received significant comment and attention as questions have arisen concerning whether the prosecution was politically motivation by the Justice Department since Siegelman is a Democrat.

The Eleventh Circuit has scheduled oral argument for December 8, 2008.

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