Elmer Harris

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Elmer Harris Testimony: No Bribe

From Legal Schnauzer: Evidence at trial showed Scrushy did not even want anything from Siegelman. Here is how a 2006 Associated Press story, written by the late Bob Johnson, put it:

Former Alabama Power Co. CEO Elmer Harris, the chairman of Don Siegelman’s transition team when he was elected governor in 1998, testified Monday that Scrushy said he had no interest in serving on the Certificate of Need Review Board. The prosecution claims he was named to the panel in exchange for arranging for $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman’s campaign for a statewide lottery.

“He did not want to serve on the CON Board. He was not going to serve on the CON Board. He was going to tell Don Siegelman he didn’t want to do it,” Harris said.

Harris was called by the defense to challenge testimony of Bailey, who said Siegelman told him that Scrushy had agreed to arrange the campaign donations in exchange for a seat on the CON Board. Bailey has pleaded guilty and defense attorneys say he is lying to in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.

How could a jury believe Nick Bailey, who had pleaded guilty to corruption charges, and not Elmer Harris, one of the state’s most respected corporate executives at the time? I don’t think anyone’s ever been able to explain that one. But regardless of what was going on with the apparently compromised Siegelman jury, Harris’ testimony raised clear reasonable doubt that, by law, should have precluded convictions.

The McDonnell ruling helps drive that home. If no one asked Siegelman to take “official action” — and court testimony from a highly credible witness showed Scrushy did not — then how could Siegelman take “official action,” as now defined by McDonnell? The answer: he couldn’t.

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