And by a Republican attorney. This will be interesting to watch.
In the rough and tumble of Alabama politics, the scramble for power is often a blood sport. At the moment, the state’s former Democratic governor, Don Siegelman, stands convicted of bribery and conspiracy charges and faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Siegelman has long claimed that his prosecution was driven by politically motivated, Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys.
Now Karl Rove, the President’s top political strategist, has been implicated in the controversy. A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove “had spoken with the Department of Justice” about “pursuing” Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama’s U.S. attorneys.
According to the affidavit, William Canary, GOP operative and Riley campaign advisor (and now President & CEO of the Business Council of Alabama), told a group on a conference call that there was no need to worry about Siegelman’s election challenge because “his girls” would take care of it. “His girls” being, apparently, his wife Leura Canary, the US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Alice Martin, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Canary also allegedly said 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.”
It looks like he got what he wanted.
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.
Wow! I’d always considered the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution legitimate. In fact, my only problem with Richard Scrushy going to jail any time soon is that he should have already been there — and stripped of his assets — because of the fraud he perpetrated at HealthSouth. This report makes me take a second look. It would be much easier to refute these allegations if the Bush administration hadn’t made the Justice Department its own political playground. And if Karl Rove weren’t a complete sleazeball willing to do literally anything to win.
ADDENDUM: Here’s an interesting tidbit. The affidavit alleges that Terry Butts, attorney for Riley and former Supreme Court Justice, was in on the conference call. Would that be the same Terry Butts who later served on Richard Scrushy’s defense team?