Siegelman Seeks Answers, Eyes Rove
By Steve Benen
Upon his release from prison last week, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman sounded like a man intent on figuring out why partisanship apparently landed him behind bars for nine months.
Speaking by telephone in his first post-prison interview, shortly after he had left the federal penitentiary at Oakdale, La., Mr. Siegelman said there had been “abuse of power” in his case, and repeatedly cited Karl Rove, the former White House political director.
“His fingerprints are smeared all over the case,” Mr. Siegelman said, a day after a federal appeals court ordered him released on bond and said there were legitimate questions about his case. He was sentenced to serve seven years last June after a guilty verdict on bribery and corruption charges a year earlier.
In measured tones after spending nine months at the prison, the former governor, a Democrat, said he would press to have Mr. Rove answer questions to Congress about his possible involvement in the case.
“When Attorney General Gonzales and Karl Rove left office in a blur, they left the truth buried in their documents,” Mr. Siegelman said, referring to Alberto R. Gonzales. “It’s going to be my quest to encourage Congress to ensure that Karl Rove either testifies, or takes the Fifth.”
Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, told the NYT, “There’s absolutely, positively, no truth to any of the allegations and literally no evidence for any of it.”
Really, Bob? “No evidence” at all?
I seem to recall Republican lawyer Dana Jill Simpson, answering questions under oath from House investigators, offering at least some evidence.
In the interview, first obtained by Time and released today by the committee, Simpson explains the context in which she knew what Alabama Republican operative William Canary meant on a campaign conference call in 2002 when he said “Karl” had gotten the Justice Department on Siegelman. Simpson told House investigators that the son of Gov. Bob Riley (R), Rob Riley, had told her about the conversations between Rove and Canary. From the transcript:
“But I knew from conversations that I had had with Rob that Bill Canary was very connected to Karl Rove. Additionally, there was some talk — and that’s not in my affidavit — about Karl had — about Washington; that Karl had it taken care of in Washington.”
The investigation into Siegelman didn’t lead to any prosecutions before he could run for re-election, so in 2005, Dana Jill Simpson said Rove went back to the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice to push for a more aggressive approach. (Apparently, there was a concern that the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama “messed up” the case that was supposed to keep Siegelman from running.)
Q: Okay. And did Rob give you the name of the person at — I’m just going to call it Public Integrity — that he thought he understood Karl Rove had spoken to?
[Simpson]: No, he said it was the head guy there and he said that that guy had agreed to allocate whatever resources, so evidently the guy had the power to allocate resources, you know.
Q: To the Siegelman prosecution?
[Simpson] Yes. And that he’d allocate all resources necessary.
“Literally no evidence” of Rove’s involvement in this controversy? Maybe someone ought to make Mr. Luskin a copy of the recent “60 Minutes” report.
As for Siegelman, he told the NYT that he was confident that the appeals court would see this case for the nonsense it is. Otherwise, he said, “every governor and every president and every contributor might as well turn themselves in, because it’s going to be open season on them.”