- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, who is best known for overseeing corruption investigations that put a string of prominent politicians and public officials behind bars, announced that she is running for Alabama attorney general.

Martin confirmed to The Associated Press that she is seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general. Martin will challenge Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall, who was appointed this spring by then-Gov. Robert Bentley.

“My top priority will be cleaning up the culture of corruption in Alabama politics,” Martin said. “I’m running to fight that corruption and protect Alabama’s law-abiding citizens from crime.”

Martin is making her prosecution record a centerpiece of her campaign as she makes a bid for elected office after years of serving in appointed roles. Martin said she has not shied away from prosecuting corruption “all the way from the top of the executive branch with governors and the speaker, all the way down to the local mayor.”

Martin was the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama from 2001 to 2009 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.

As U.S. attorney, Martin created a public corruption task force that did a number of high-profile investigations that included uncovering a bribery scheme related to Jefferson County’s massive sewer bond debt and a probe of the state’s two-year college system. Department of Justice statistics show the office amassed 140 public corruption convictions during her tenure, she said. Those included the head of the state’s two-year college system, former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford and multiple county commissioners and legislators.

Her office also helped handle a prosecution of accounting fraud at HealthSouth Corp. The investigation resulted in the conviction or guilty pleas of 17 officials, although HealthSouth founder and CEO Richard Scrushy, who was considered the top target of the probe, was acquitted.

Martin, a native of Mississippi, went to Vanderbilt University for nursing, but switched career paths and graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law. She served as an assistant U.S. attorney and a local judge before being appointed as U.S. attorney.

Then-Attorney General Luther Strange named her as chief deputy in 2015. Martin said her duties in that time included working with the trial team prosecuting then-House Speaker Mike Hubbard. She said she also, for a time, oversaw the state investigation of Bentley who was under scrutiny in the fallout of an alleged affair with a former staffer.

Marshall named a special prosecutor to oversee the Bentley matter. Bentley later resigned in a deal where he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign finance violation to end an impeachment probe and the investigation.

After Strange was appointed to the U.S. Senate, Martin interviewed with Bentley for the position of attorney general. However, Bentley named Marshall, a longtime district attorney, to the post. Asked about the fact that she interviewed for the appointment when she was investigating Bentley, Martin said she didn’t expect to get the appointment.

“I never expected to be appointed. I went over for a meeting when I was asked,” Martin said, adding, “Would you appoint me to investigate you in a corruption case?”

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