— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The vice chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, former Secretary of State Nancy Worley, was fined $100 Friday for soliciting campaign support from her office staff during her last re-election bid.
Her attorney, James Anderson, said Worley entered a "best interest" plea to one misdemeanor count Friday, and prosecutors agreed to drop four other misdemeanors and five felony charges. Worley had been scheduled to go to trial Monday before Montgomery Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs, who levied the fine.
The "best interest" plea that Worley entered is rarely used in Alabama and is different from a no contest plea. With a best interest plea, a defendant does not admit to doing anything wrong, but agrees that a guilty plea is in her best interest.
Worley said she still believes the case was motivated by party politics, but she was glad to settle it for less than the cost of a speeding ticket.
"Having dealt with this for almost six years, it's good to have it off the plate and be able to move on to other things," she said.
Former state Attorney General Troy King, a Republican, got a Montgomery County grand jury to indict Worley in March 2007 on five felonies and five misdemeanors. The five felonies accused her of violating state law by using her official position to influence the vote of another person. The five misdemeanors accused her of violating a state law against public officials seeking campaign contributions from their public employees.
The charges stemmed from campaign material she sent to her employees in the secretary of state's office in 2006 that included a donation envelope and bumper sticker. She won the Democratic primary, but lost the general election to Republican Beth Chapman.
The charges stemmed from a complaint filed with the attorney general by Ed Packard, a veteran employee in the secretary of state's office and Worley's opponent in the 2006 Democratic primary. Packard said Friday he was disappointed that Worley did not admit to any wrongdoing and that the fine was small.
"I thought there was clearly enough evidence that she broke state law and that it could be proven at trial," he said.
When the case first started in 2007, Hobbs threw out the felonies and said the law was vague and overbroad. The attorney general's office appealed, and the state Court of Criminal Appeals reinstated the felonies.
State Attorney General Luther Strange, who handled the case after King, had no comment on the outcome, his spokeswoman said.
The outcome allows Worley to remain active in politics. "I'm happy serving in the party. I'm not looking at any public office right now," said the 60-year-old Worley.