Governor outraged over finance report

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 12, 2002

BNI News Wire

Gov. Don Siegelman is "outraged" over reports that his personal financial records have been subpoenaed in a state and federal investigation of state contracts, his press secretary said Monday.

"(The governor) has been in public service for 20 years and never once has there been any blight on his record," Carrie Kurlander said. "He is outraged at the personal attacks being levied at him."

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On Sunday, The Birmingham News reported that records were subpoenaed from several financial institutions Siegelman uses.

But the governor had no knowledge of any such investigation – and still doesn’t, beyond published reports, Kurlander said.

"He learned about this story from the media," she said. "No one has asked him for any records."

The governor’s office has been under fire over the past two years for scandals involving state contracts.

According to The Associated Press, neither Attorney General Bill Pryor nor U.S. Attorney Leura Garrett Canary of Montgomery had any comment on a possible investigation.

Other gubernatorial candidates, however, were talking about the allegations, at least in broad terms.

"Where there is smoke, there is fire, and our state government is choking on a lot of smoke right now," U.S. Rep Bob Riley, R-Ashland, who is giving up his seat to run for governor, said in a statement. "Like all Alabamians, I’m tired of all the scandals and embarrassing things our state leaders do from time to time. It’s time to clean that place up."

A spokesman for Lt. Gov.Steve Windom, who held a press conference Monday afternoon, said Siegelman has "trouble accepting responsibility for the actions of his administration," according to AP.

Kurlander said Siegelman would be willing to cooperate with an investigation if asked.

The governor blamed the story on Republican opposition, she said.

"Their motives are to hurt the governor," she said.

"He was very upset by the story. He put it plainly that it just smacks of rotten Republican politics."

The story was released on the same day that two statewide polls showed Siegelman would run a tight race against either Windom or Riley in a general election.

Siegelman has a strong lead over Democratic challenger Charles Bishop in two polls – one sponsored by The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and WHNT television and the other sponsored by The Mobile Register and the University of South Alabama.

But Siegelman would face tough competition from either Windom or Riley, the polls found, with Windom having a slight edge.