New testimony details alleged Rove ties to prosecution of Democratic governor
New testimony released yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee reveals details about the alleged involvement of former Bush administration advisor Karl Rove in the prosecution of Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.
Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican attorney and activist, stated earlier this year that an associate of Rove's had said that the then top White House political strategist had communicated directly with the Justice Department about "pursuing" the former governor via US attorneys.
In her new 143-page sworn statement to the House Judiciary, Simpson elaborates on the contents of conversations she says indicate that Rove helped to drive the prosecution of Siegelman.
Simpson says that she was told by the son of current Alabama Gov. Rob Riley, Rob Riley, Jr., that his father and another prominent state Republican named Bill Canary contacted Rove about Siegelman in 2004. That conversation, according to Simpson, prompted Rove to encourage the Justice Department to investigate and eventually indict the former governor.
"What I understood, or what I believed Mr. Canary to be saying," Simpson says in the transcript, "was that he had had this ongoing conversation with Karl Rove about Don Siegelman, and that Don Siegelman was a thorn to them and basically he was going to -- he had been talking with Rove."
"Rove had been talking with the Justice Department," she added, "and they were pursuing Don Siegelman as a result of Rove talking to the Justice Department at the request of Bill Canary.”
Additionally, Simpson was told a judge who “hated” the governor would be assigned to the case.
Rob Riley, Jr. "made a statement that [Judge Mark]Fuller would hang Don Siegelman," she said. "And I asked him how he knew that, if he got him in his court. And he said that Fuller was -- had been on the Executive Republican Committee at Alabama -- in Alabama before he had been a judge."
"[Riley,Jr.]said that Don Siegelman had caused Fuller to get audited," she added. "That's what Fuller thought. He hated him for that."
Siegelman was later convicted on seven counts of corruption -- following a trial presided over by Fuller -- and is currently serving time in Federal prison.
"If Simpson's version of events is accurate, it would show direct political involvement by the White House in federal prosecutions — a charge leveled by Administration critics in connection with the U.S. attorney scandal that led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales," Adam Zagorin reports in Time.
“But [Simpson’s] account is disputed; those who she alleges told her about Rove's involvement during a G.O.P. campaign conference call claim that no such conversation took place,” Time continues. “Rove himself has not responded to Simpson's allegations, which are clearly based on second-hand information, and the White House has refused to comment while Siegelman's case remains on appeal."
Rob Riley, Jr. "denied Ms. Simpson’s accusation,” reports the New York Times, adding that he said Simpson has more "outlandish accusations” and that “none of them are true.”
“Karl has made clear that he had no involvement in that issue at all,” a White House spokesman said of Rove, according to the Times.
The events leading up to the prosecution of Siegelman will be the subject of an upcoming House Judiciary joint subcommittee hearing.