A federal grand jury indicted former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and two others Thursday in a bid-rigging scheme involving a $100 million program to help poor pregnant women.
Siegelman, a Democrat, denied the charges and called them "Republican politics at its worst."
Siegelman and former chief of staff Paul Hamrick were accused of aiding Phillip Bobo of Tuscaloosa, Ala., a Siegelman backer, in an attempt to rig bids for the federally funded maternity program shortly after Siegelman took office in 1999.
Siegelman and Hamrick were accused of moving $550,000 from the state education budget to the Alabama Fire College, where Bobo was a director, so Bobo could offer the money to a competitor not to seek the contract to serve pregnant women in a seven-county area.
The indictment described a network of unnamed conspirators -- lobbyists, lawyers, Siegelman aides and others -- who allegedly pressured state Medicaid officials to change rules and bid specifications to help Bobo's company, Neighborhood Health Services.
The bid from Bobo's company would have cost the program $1 million more than the bid from the other bidder, Alabama Health Network, prosecutors said.
While Siegelman was not accused of personally profiting from the deal, prosecutors said Bobo had contributed to Siegelman's gubernatorial bid and was raising money for Siegelman's campaign for a state lottery.
"When people try to rig bids to go to them, that's an offense," said U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin, a Republican appointee.
In a statement, Siegelman said the indictment was made public the same day he was set to fly to New York to begin a drive to raise $10 million for Democratic candidates and "on the eve of yet another election in Alabama."
"The charges against me are baseless. As the facts come out, I will be proven innocent," Siegelman said.
Martin denied politics were involved. "We don't ever look to see if there is an R or a D behind anyone's name," she said.
Siegelman was narrowly defeated in 2002 by Republican Bob Riley.