Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Four years after his release from federal prison, former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy says the media still gets key facts wrong about his role in Siegelman case

Richard Scrushy
Imagine serving six years in a federal prison for a "crime" that: (a) You did not commit; and (b) Isn't a crime, as defined by case law, anyway. Imagine that now, roughly four years after your release and a major effort to piece your life back together, the media continues to incorrectly report about key facts of the case that turned your life upside down.

Richard Scrushy, former CEO of Birmingham-based HealthSouth, finds himself in that position. His codefendant, former Governor Don Siegelman, recently made national news when he was interviewed about the corruption conviction of former Virginia Govenor Robert McDonnell--with Siegelman landing in solitary confinement at Oakdale (LA) Correctional Facility, not long after the story came out in The Washington Post.

Siegelman quickly was returned to the general prison population after his punishment became known to the public. For Scrushy, the episode served as a reminder that the public largely still does not know the truth about his role in perhaps the most blatant political prosecution in American history.

The public generally has been told that Scrushy: (1) Gave Siegelman $500,000; and (2) It was to help promote the governor's education lottery.

Neither is true, Scrushy says.

Scrushy did arrange for HealthSouth to give $250,000. But the money did not go to Siegelman; it was given to the Alabama Democratic Party, to help pay down debt after voters had rejected the lottery plan.

Why the confusion? Scrushy points to stories prosecutors repeatedly told the press during the 2006 trial in Montgomery. Prosecutors somehow convinced jurors that Scrushy was responsible for the entire $500,000.

In fact, a Maryland company called Integrated Medical Solutions gave the other $250,000, and that donation came before the lottery referendum--but Scrushy had nothing to do with that transaction, he says.

Prosecutors' theory, repeated often to the press, was that Scrushy gave the entire $500,000, in exchange for an appointment to the Certificate of Need (CON) Board, which regulates Alabama hospitals. In fact, Scrushy says, he gave half that amount, he gave it as he already was stepping down from the CON, and he gave it toward the Alabama Democratic Party's effort to pay down debt on the lottery campaign--at the request of former Alabama Power CEO Elmer Harris, not Don Siegelman.

Also, Scrushy had served on the board under three other governors. In other words, Scrushy was a CON veteran long before Siegelman was elected.

We have been among the media outlets to incorrectly report about the $500,000 figure. But in April 2013, roughly one year after Scrushy's release from prison, we ran a post designed to correct the record. Unfortunately, it hasn't always worked. Here is part of what The Washington Post reported in its recent articles about Siegelman:

Siegelman’s case is the reverse. He gave Alabama health-care executive Richard Scrushy a new term on an important industry regulatory board. But Scrushy’s offering was a $500,000 campaign contribution to push a referendum measure for a lottery that would benefit the state’s underfunded school system.

That, however, is not how it happened. "We weren't going to be a health-care company, operating in the Bible Belt, and look like we supported a form of gambling," Scrushy said. "It was too big a risk, and that's why we did not give prior to the referendum.

"After the vote, I said I would help--as a favor to Elmer Harris and to the Alabama Democratic Party, We felt there was nothing wrong with a company being friends with the Alabama Democratic Party. And a number of prominent businessmen had their names on the note, so I felt it would be good for me to have my name on there, too."

Little did Scrushy know that a relatively straightforward transaction could be so badly twisted--and it's still happening almost 10 years after the trial.


Anonymous said...

Scrushy beat the rap in the first trial by bribing the jury.

Anonymous said...

How many wealthy Democratic donors did the GOP go after with their Southern Strategy designs to "sweep the South?" Go back and research southern states you'll see before the 1990's there were few Republican governors. How many people did they ruin because they were Democrats that had to be removed from the political arena and funding campaigns? How many did they send to jail wrongfully with false accusations? How many did they discredit or destroy financially with false accusations? But worst of all now we're seeing what they were selling the Bible Belt with their GOP campaigns –– corruption so widespread and egregious the financial damage and embarrassment to many Southern States will last beyond our lifetimes. Look at the busted banks and real estate industry and gas prices before and soon after 2009. While the GOP was selling religious people their "upright" Lord Lovin' bill of goods, they were also running away with the bank, giving their friends and families businesses government contracts and appointing them to high offices. So when you run to the polls be sure to vote for more Republicans, because they'll thank you for the power you've given them to destroy others while taking everything they can get for themselves and their friends.

Yes we need Donald Trump. Three wives, and four bankruptcies. Did he pay his creditors before he became a bonafide billionaire? He's a Republican isn't he? He will be a perfect Lord Lovin' GOP example for the world representative of America at its best. At least he doesn't beat up women like Fuller and some others. And even if he does, the Lord will forgive him. Right?

There are good and bad Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives. Somehow someday this American thing about destroying thy neighbor, mother, father, or child through the courts, with police, lies and false accusations is going to have to stop in this country. Question is, how can we turn it or anything else around when the mainstream media's first loyalty is to its advertisers and business associates–– and for that, reluctant or unable to be trusted to deliver the truth?

2NakedFeet said...

So states, "Anonymous." Hilarious!

Anonymous said...

What about the time Steven Cohen grilled Holder about the Siegelman prosecution or when Biden said he would take a look at it. We're paid lip service while nothing is done. Obama is just responsible for this as Bush/Rove is at this point.

Anonymous said...

Joe had to get Ted's tail out of a crack in Auburn Alabama. The Riley Machine has the Obama Justice Dept. by the short hair. We will see soon if the Prosecuter from Georgia also dances to the Riley Tune.

Anonymous said...

What we have is a massive misuse of the legal system. This might be of interest: