- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - President Barack Obama has denied a clemency petition from former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who is nearing the end of a prison sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice.

Attorneys for the former governor were informed of the decision Thursday in a letter from the Department of Justice office of the pardon attorney. The letter did not list a reason for the denial.

The 70-year-old Democrat is serving a 6½ year sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice in a federal prison in Louisiana.

The decision was a blow to supporters who had long hoped the president would free the incarcerated governor as one of his final acts in office. Siegelman’s attorney, Gregory B. Craig, and the ex-governor’s son, Joseph Siegelman, did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

The federal Bureau of Prisons lists the former governor’s projected release date as Aug. 8, 2017. However, he could be released sooner to house arrest. Siegelman told supporters in November that his earliest possible release date was Feb. 8.

Siegelman wrote in a letter to supporters that, “I am at peace with whatever the President chooses to do in my case.”

A federal jury in 2006 convicted Siegelman on charges that he sold a seat on a state regulatory board to HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s signature political issue - his 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery. He was convicted on a separate obstruction of justice charge that he tried to hide money he received from a lobbyist.

Appellate courts have upheld the convictions. Siegelman has maintained he is innocent.

Siegelman for decades was a dominating figure in Alabama politics, holding the offices of secretary of state, attorney general, lieutenant governor and governor. He served as Alabama’s governor from 1999 to 2003. He was the last Democrat to hold the position in the deeply red state.

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