Alabama Governors

Don Siegelman

photo of portrait of Governor Don Siegelman


Governor: 1999-2003
Lieutenant Governor: 1995-1999
Attorney General: 1987-1991
Secretary of State: 1979-1987


Governor Don Siegelman’s public policy efforts focused on improving education, children’s services, and economic development, and on promoting anticrime initiatives including drunk driving and domestic violence prevention. Siegelman began his administration with an effort to establish an education lottery, a goal that had been a key part of his campaign. The proposal for a lottery was rejected by Alabama voters in a statewide referendum in 1999.


Despite this loss, efforts to improve education continued to be a priority throughout Siegelman’s administration. His first act as governor was to sign an executive order to eliminate portable classrooms in public schools and to build safe new classrooms for school children. He also signed a bill into law to raise teacher salaries and an another that removed tenure for principals. Siegelman supported implementation of the nationally recognized Alabama Reading Initiative in 429 schools and sought to provide rewards for schools that meet and exceed Alabama’s standards for education. During his administration the Fordham Foundation recognized Alabama for being among the top five states in the nation with academic and accountability standards.


Additionally, Governor Siegelman supported the creation of the Office of School Readiness to begin providing early learning opportunities to four-year-olds throughout the state. He also focused on programs for children by appointing the state’s first children’s commissioner and a children’s cabinet.


Governor Siegelman also initiated a variety of proposals for making Alabama’s homes, streets, and schools safer, and signed a number of domestic-violence bills into law, including one making domestic violence a crime in Alabama. He pushed for tougher DUI laws, including increasing penalties for adults driving drunk with a child in the car.


A major area of success for the Siegelman administration was in economic development initiatives. Siegelman expanded industry across the state through aggressive efforts to attract new businesses including Honda, Navistar, Fiat, and Boeing, and by the further expansion of Mercedes in Alabama. He was also instrumental in enacting tort reform legislation, including provisions for caps on punitive damages, and he established a task force charged with developing the State’s first long-term strategic plan for economic growth.


Governor Siegelman was defeated in his bid for re-election in November 2002 by the Republican candidate, Bob Riley.  After his defeat, Siegelman and his family moved to Birmingham.


In October and December 2005, Governor Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy were indicted on charges of racketeering, bribery, extortion, mail fraud, and conspiracy. Tried in Federal court in 2006, both men were found guilty of bribery, conspiracy, and mail fraud. On June 28, 2007, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller  sentenced Siegelman to seven years, four months in prison, three years on probation, restitution of $181,325, a $50,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service. Governor Siegelman maintained the prosecution was politically motivated and appealed the conviction.


On March 27, 2008, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals approved the release of former Governor Siegelman from federal prison while he appealed his conviction in the corruption case. He was released on Friday the 28th. On March 6, 2009, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld key bribery, conspiracy and obstruction counts against Siegelman and refused his request for a new trial, finding no evidence that the conviction was unjust. The Court did strike down two of the seven charges on which Siegelman was convicted, and it ordered a new sentencing hearing.


On August 3, 2012, Siegelman was sentenced to more than six years in prison, a $50,000 fine and 500 hours of community service. Siegelman will get credit for the time he has already served which leaves 5 years, nine months remaining in his sentence.


Governor Siegelman was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1946. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1968 and from Georgetown University School of Law in 1972. He studied International Law at Oxford University in England from 1972 to 1973. He and his wife, Lori, have two children, Dana and Joseph.


Montgomery Advertiser, August 3, 2012.


Information provided by the Governor's Office, updated February 13, 2001, and other sources.