This month, four Alabama State Senators were among 11 arrested for corruption in a wide ranging corruption probe involving a bill to allow some forms of gambling. While reports of the inquiry had been coming in since last spring, it wasn’t until October 4th that the targets of the probe became known.
Speculation about the probe had been particularly intense, with several legislators acknowledged having received subpoenas, some legislators said that they had worn recording devices, and others saying that they had received surprise visits from FBI agents.
Gov. Bob Riley (R) had called the legislation “the most corrupt piece of legislation ever considered by the Senate,” but others were not so sure. Some proponents of the bill, mostly Democrats, said that the charges were politically motivated, and pointed to the unsealing of the indictments this close to the November elections as evidence.
This is not the first corruption case in Alabama—many still remember the conviction of former Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, in a case that was widely thought to be politically motivated.
Nonetheless, this remains a significant victory for the Department of Justice’s public corruption unit. The unit suffered a major embarrassment when a Federal judge accused DOJ attorneys of prosecutorial misconduct in the case of former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. Add to that the jury of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich hung on 23 of 24 counts, and the unit is looking for a win.
Other federal corruption cases in the news include Blagojevich’s retrial, the arrest of over 130 police officers in Puerto Rico, and former N.Y. State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s trial.