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Grand jury indicts Worley
Ex-secretary of state, former Decatur teacher faces charges

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Former Decatur High School teacher and Secretary of State Nancy Worley is expected to turn herself in Thursday on criminal charges that she solicited campaign contributions from employees.

Worley's attorney, James Anderson, said he received notice of Worley's indictment by a Montgomery County grand jury from the state attorney general's office Tuesday but has not seen the indictment.

Anderson said he expects Worley to turn herself in and be served with the indictment at that time. Typically, people under criminal indictment turn themselves in to a sheriff's office.

Letter led to charges?

Although Anderson did not know other details Wednesday afternoon, he said he assumes the indictment stems from a letter Worley wrote to her employees in the secretary of state's office before the 2006 Democratic primary last June.

In the letter, Worley outlined ways employees could help, but stressed that there would be no discrimination against employees who did not, he said. An accompanying envelope contained volunteer opportunities that recipients could check off and return to Worley's campaign.

Ed Packard, an employee of the secretary of state's office who ran against Worley in the Democratic primary, first filed a complaint about the letter and envelope in 2006. Worley won the primary but lost to Republican Beth Chapman in the general election in November.

Anderson said he understood the grand jury indicted Worley on five felony counts and five misdemeanor counts of soliciting campaign contributions from her state employees during her 2006 re-election campaign.

Worley willingly cooperated with the investigation and supplied information without a subpoena, Anderson said.

"I would never have allowed her to talk to the investigators if I thought there was anything to this," Anderson added.

Worley told the Associated Press that "nothing would surprise me" when "you've got a Republican attorney general appointed by a Republican governor."

A former Decatur High School English teacher, Worley is also the current first vice chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. By virtue of that office, Worley also holds a seat on the Democratic National Committee.

In January, Worley, with backing from Joe L. Reed and Paul Hubbert, ousted Decatur resident Amy Burks from the state party's second-highest volunteer post.

Reed leads the Alabama Democratic Caucus, the black wing of the state Democratic Party, and is associate executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association.

Worley served two terms as president of AEA.

AEA Executive Secretary Hubbert said the indictment has a political smell to it.

"It seems to be a tempest in a teapot," Hubbert said.

Reed did not respond to The Daily's request for an interview.

State Democratic Party spokesman Zack McCrary said the party had no prior knowledge of the grand jury proceedings. The state Executive Committee will take a wait-and-see approach to the issue, he said.

"She has a long career as a classroom teacher and public servant, and deserves the same presumption of innocence unless proven guilty as any other citizen," McCrary said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her."

Attorney General Troy King's spokesman, Chris Bense, acknowledged the investigation began in his office. But Bense said state law prohibits the attorney general's office from speaking about an indictment before it is served.

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