Siegelman, the Democratic Governor of Alabama, lost his re-election race to Bob Riley (R) in 2002 by a mere 3,000 votes. There were accusations of electronic vote tampering that gave Riley his victory. Because Siegelman wouldn't go away quietly, Karl Rove himself got involved, according to an affidavit filed by a Republican lawyer who was in on the conversation, in trying to railroad Siegelman. Bring him up on trumped up charges and send him to jail. Which is what they basically did, with the help of the U.S. attorney's office. In other words, the Justice Department became little more than what banana republics have, silencing opponents by throwing whatever they could at them and seeing what stuck.
According to Simpson's statement, William Canary, a senior G.O.P. political operative and Riley adviser who was on the conference call, said "not to worry about Don Siegelman" because "'his girls' would take care of" the governor. Canary then made clear that "his girls" was a reference to his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Alice Martin, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
Canary reassured others on the conference call — who also included Riley's son, Rob, and Terry Butts, another Riley lawyer and former justice of the Alabama supreme court — that he had the help of a powerful pal in Washington. Canary said "not to worry — that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl and Karl had spoken with the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice was already pursuing Don Siegelman," the Simpson affidavit says. Both U.S. attorney offices subsequently indicted Siegelman on a variety of charges, although Leura Canary recused herself from dealing with the case in May 2002. A federal judge dismissed the Northern District case before it could be tried, but Siegelman was convicted in the Middle District on bribery and conspiracy charges last June.
Siegelman, together with former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, was convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges and faces sentencing June 26. Lawyers for Siegelman and Scrushy told TIME they were considering whether to use Simpson's affadavit in expected motions to dismiss charges against their clients, or in some other phase of what is likely to be a protracted appeals process.
Siegelman was convicted of appointing Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to a campaign for a state lottery to fund education. Defense lawyers have argued that Siegelman drew no personal financial benefit from Scrushy's donation to the lottery campaign, and they note that Scrushy had served on the hospital regulatory board under three previous governors, before Siegelman reappointed him. The reappointment, they have argued, offered little of value to Scrushy except more work.
That's the most bizarre thing. Siegelman merely re-appointed Scrushy to the SAME POST he held under THREE previous governors, including Republican ones. And he received no personal benefit from it. How exactly is that a crime?
For more information on this, please read Harper's Scott Horton, one of the few reporters actually investigating all the sordid connections. In the end, Siegelman was probably guilty of nothing but being a Democrat in Alabama with Karl Rove working out of the White House.
Also, TIME magazine had another must-read follow-up last week which opened up a new avenue, the one that was discussed on Bill Maher's show.
On may 8, 2002, Clayton Lamar (Lanny) Young Jr., a lobbyist and landfill developer described by acquaintances as a hard-drinking "good ole boy," was in an expansive mood. In the downtown offices of the U.S. Attorney in Montgomery, Ala., Young settled into his chair, personal lawyer at his side, and proceeded to tell a group of seasoned prosecutors and investigators that he had paid tens of thousands of dollars in apparently illegal campaign contributions to some of the biggest names in Alabama Republican politics. According to Young, among the recipients of his largesse were the state's former attorney general Jeff Sessions, now a U.S. Senator, and William Pryor Jr., Sessions' successor as attorney general and now a federal judge. Young, whose detailed statements are described in documents obtained by TIME, became a key witness in a major case in Alabama that brought down a high-profile politician and landed him in federal prison with an 88-month sentence. As it happened, however, that official was the top Democrat named by Young in a series of interviews, and none of the Republicans whose campaigns he fingered were investigated in the case, let alone prosecuted.
So not only does the Justice Dept. prosecute Democrats on trumped up charges, when presented with evidence showing Republicans got ILLEGAL campaign contributions, they decided NOT to file any charges. And so Sessions is still a Senator (up for re-election in 2008), and Pryor is still a federal judge, instilling conservative decisions in all his rulings. We discuss this more on DailyKos, if anyone's interested in reading more commentary about this.
And just on Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI) released an interview with Simpson that implicated Karl Rove in all this mess. This scandal is not over, not by a long shot. This may be the real scandal behind the U.S. attorney firings that eventually cost Attorney General Alberto Gonzales his job. It's already led to the retirement of New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici (R). It led to an innocent woman being thrown in jail on trumped up charges in Wisconsin just to tarnish Democratic Governor Jim Doyle's administration right before the election.
We've only hit the tip of the iceberg in the deep-seated corruption that is now, sadly, our Justice Department.