Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

February 25, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

DON SIEGELMAN....The case of Don Siegelman, the popular Democratic governor of Alabama who was convicted two years ago on almost certainly bogus bribery charges, has been circulating for a long time. Last night 60 Minutes aired the story, and if you didn't see it you should go read the story on their website. It's too complicated to summarize, so I'll just give you the titillating bit:

Now a Republican lawyer from Alabama, Jill Simpson, has come forward to claim that the Siegelman prosecution was part of a five-year secret campaign to ruin the governor. Simpson told 60 Minutes she did what's called "opposition research" for the Republican party. She says during a meeting in 2001, Karl Rove, President Bush's senior political advisor, asked her to try to catch Siegelman cheating on his wife.

"Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman?" Pelley asks.

"Yes," Simpson replies.

"In a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides," Pelley clarifies.

"Yes, if I could," Simpson says.

That sure sounds like Karl, doesn't it? In any case, Siegelman was almost certainly convicted on absurd charges, and almost certainly convicted as part of a partisan hit job (see here for more). Somebody ought to be in jail, but it probably isn't Don Siegelman.

POSTSCRIPT: The 60 Minutes segment was blacked out on CBS affiliate WHNT in northern Alabama. Technical difficulties. Or perhaps not.

Kevin Drum 3:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Sounds like a police state, smells like a police state.

Posted by: Speed on February 25, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

There is no need to encourage the bitter and hyper partisan tone of Washington by talking as if the Senior Advisor to the President is a two bit enforcer of the Mafia.

We are above that. We should ignore such extravagant claims by disgruntled lawyers, and try to reach out to Karl Rove to find ways to improve the relations across the partisan divide. Only then can we win the war against the mortal enemies who has the temerity to hide in caves in the country of our most trusted ally.

Posted by: gregor on February 25, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, there's no sex or race angle in this story, so the echo chambers won't pick it up.

Funny, too, that Republicans defended Scooter Libby by decrying "the criminalization of politics". Yet, this is precisely why Siegelman was indicted and sent to prison. While I get that everyone projects to one degree or another their own demons, this case is so blatant you'd have to be in an utterly dissociated state not to see it.

Posted by: walt on February 25, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Karl just loves the USA! Unlike Barack Osama!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 25, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as an Alabamian... Siegelman was not popular. He looked to be on his way out when he was prosecuted for the first time (the case was dropped at trial). He wound up losing his re-election bid in a close race, and it's possible that the prosecution cost him, but at the same time it rallied disgruntled Democrats (like myself) around him. I was actually planning to vote Libertarian until late in the process.

The second prosecution (which put him in jail) was extremely shady, and apparently politically motivated. But it had no political effect, because he wasn't going to win the nomination in 2006. He got killed in the primary.

Posted by: Mac on February 25, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the link, Kevin! You are so right - someone needs to be in jail, but not the guy who is serving the time.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 25, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Both times I saw her say the quote in the post, I realized that there's a difference between setting someone up for an embarassing incident, and simply recording that embarassing incident if you see it happening. Of course, 60 Minutes wants you to think it was the first, when the second could be true if the gov was known to be philandering.

[Note: WM and/or KD have a habit of deleting and editing comments without notice, so this comment might disappear or be edited.]

Posted by: The annoying LonewackoDotCom on February 25, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm from Alabama and, while I'm not up on the details of the case, the story I heard was that Siegelman got off on some charges earlier that he *should* have been convicted on and then later on got convicted on charges that he *shouldn't* have been convicted on. So just because Siegelman probably was the victim of a Republican witch hunt, it doesn't exactly mean he's as innocent as a lamb as far as political ethics go.

Not intending to advertise, but here's a local Alabama blog that has followed the story.

http://thomasontracts.wordpress.com

Specifically, see this link:

http://thomasontracts.wordpress.com/2007/10/02/oh-hooray-2/

FWIW.

Posted by: e. nonee moose. on February 25, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

The second prosecution (which put him in jail) was extremely shady, and apparently politically motivated. But it had no political effect, because he wasn't going to win the nomination in 2006. He got killed in the primary.

Sending your political opponent to jail for blatantly trumped up reasons has no political effect? What about the effect of it sending a message to everyone else that if you oppose us, we can do this to you, too? Intimidation isn't a political effect?

Posted by: Stefan on February 25, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

... while I'm not up on the details of the case, the story I heard was that Siegelman got off on some charges earlier that he *should* have been convicted on and then later on got convicted on charges that he *shouldn't* have been convicted on.

Thank you for sharing your lack of knowledge of the case with us.

Here is an excerpt from Scott Horton's blog:

Grant Woods is co-chair of the McCain for President leadership committee, and a lifelong friend and advisor to the presumptive 2008 G.O.P. presidential candidate. Woods is also godfather to one of the McCain children.

Attorney General Woods has this to say about the Bush Justice Department’s prosecution of Siegelman: “I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square. This was a Republican state and he was the one Democrat they could never get rid of.”

Posted by: mattski on February 25, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Rove has been involved in Alabama politics since 1994. See Harpers

The TV station is owned by Bush Pioneers Lee and Robert Bass.

Posted by: Laney on February 25, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Also in Alabama. Remember, too that Rove has a history down here. He ran a truly sleazy race for the Alabama Supreme Court which involved a whisper campaign accusing the opponent of child molestation. Karl's guy won that one.

The popularity of Siegelman is debatable. He was elected to several state-wide offices on his way to gov, and was surely gearing up for a Senatorial challenge to either Shelby or Sessions after his Governorship. That is probably the reason the national GOP went after him. I don't think the GOP cares one way or another about Riley, but they need every Senator they can keep.

Posted by: Martin on February 25, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

got off on some charges earlier

And how did that happen? I'll tell you. The judge (not Judge Fuller) in the first indictment took one look at the prosecution's "case" and threw them out of court. They had to judge-shop to find a reliable Republican (Fuller) who would let the case go forward.

You must be reading the Alabama print media.

Posted by: joel hanes on February 25, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

The newly elected Democratic president should issue a full and unconditional pardon to Siegelman gthe minute the Oath of Office is taken.

A grand jury investigation would also be warranted.

Posted by: bobbyp on February 25, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

In Alabama? What kind of Democrat wins regularly down there?

Sure sure he was set up and knocked down and oughta be free while Rove & Co oughta be in jail.

But, Alabama? Even if Siegelman had won a senate seat, what kind of senator would he have been?

With this scandal out in open does it mean a Dem has a chance in Alabama next time around?

Posted by: MarkH on February 25, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

"...try to reach out to Karl Rove..."

LOL. Next stop, Godzilla!

Posted by: Kenji on February 25, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me that the Republican party should be disbanned.

I'd never defend a country that had that kind of political party; That was one of the reasons to destroy the old Soviet Union. Looks like the Republicans are the new Communist party of the world. China must be proud.

Posted by: James on February 25, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Don Siegelman is a true American political prisoner.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 25, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

He wound up losing his re-election bid in a close race,

There are questions about the election Siegelman narrowly lost, involving computer 'glitches'.

Scott Horton in Harpers:

Dan Gans, who served as Riley’s chief of staff both in Washington and Montgomery. He left Riley to work with Ed Buckham and Christine DeLay at the Alexander Strategy Group, which has been repeatedly implicated in the Abramoff Scandal. Gans is a Republican “voting technology expert” who played a mysterious role in the 2002 gubernatorial election—he was in Republican controlled Bay Minette, Alabama, when 6,000 votes inexplicably shifted from Siegelman’s column to Riley’s due to a “computer glitch.” Now this is significant for a number of reasons. The likelihood that this was an innocent “computer glitch” in which only one single candidate—Don Siegelman—lost votes is approximately zero.
Posted by: Conrad "Con" Sordino on February 25, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

footage here if you missed it: http://www.dailymotion.com/dr_henry_killinger/video/x4i1be_don-siegelman-alabama-prosecution-r_politics

Posted by: i recorded you a show on February 25, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

I voted for Siegelman, and stayed up that night blogging the results. I'm quite certain that the later count was the correct one. The vote shift was in a heavily Republican area (Baldwin County) which the initial results had him leading. The shift brought the results more in line with the other statewide races in that county.

I wanted Siegelman to contest the election, but eventually he gave up. There just wasn't any chance of him getting it overturned, even if the Republicans hadn't packed the Alabama Supreme Court.

As for the first contest, which was dropped at the trial, Joel greatly oversimplifies the issue. (I must have written 50,000 words on that case.) The US Attorney (Alice Martin) did a remarkably awful job on that. Leaving aside that she's an utterly incompetent Bush hack who refused to let more seasoned prosecutors actually try the case, she went through a round of judge-shopping, getting two to recuse themselves. U.W. Clemon refused to become the third, leading Martin to vilify him in the papers and to his face. Clemon kicked two of the charges (a theft charge that never should have been admitted in the first place, and conspiracy), and then the USA dropped the fraud charges. Here's what I wrote about their relationship with Clemon:

The prosecution's attempts to remove Judge Clemon, however, were so shoddy, unprofessional, and slanderous that they destroyed any chance of success. They attacked Clemon in the press. They tried to insinuate that he was "really" guilty of crimes in the last decade that he was never charged with. They charged that he was irredeemably biased against the Federal government, a charge that if true would essentially end his career as a Federal jurist. When attacking his character, ethics, and morals did not work, they tried to go over his head to get him chucked out. The Court of Appeals needed four lines to dismiss their attempt.

All that being said, I really did study the case, a lot, and I think Siegelman was guilty of the charges. If not, it truly was a massive conspiracy, involving many committed Democrats of my personal acquaintance.

Posted by: Mac on February 25, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

In Alabama? What kind of Democrat wins regularly down there?

Well, there was George Wallace;>

Seriously, the history of the Democratic Party in the south is quite interesting. Up until about 20 years ago, politicians in this state ran as Republicans locally then switched to the Democratic party when they wanted to run for a statewide party. Richard Shelby was first elected by beating Republican Jeremiah Denton. He was re-elected as a Democrat, then switched parties when the Repubs took over the Senate.

Don Siegelman is a "New South" Democrat, which is kinda like a New England Republican. He's not the big liberal dream candidate, but at least his knuckles don't get scrapped up when he walks.

Posted by: Martin on February 25, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Mac, for the corrections and amplifications.
I'm always grateful when someone points out where I'm wrong so I can be wrong about one less thing.

Got a pointer to your earlier blogging, or to any other detailed source material that you consider reliable?

Posted by: joel hanes on February 25, 2008 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

"But, Alabama? Even if Siegelman had won a senate seat, what kind of senator would he have been?"

So, in other words, the ends justify the means? Democrats who don't win aren't entitled to justice? There's a new twist. "You better win, boy, or you might be only good for prison." You have a litmus test for qualifying Dems?

I think the damning evidence was the comments by the Republican Woods himself--a man is sitting in prison because of his political affiliation. Gu Lag USA, isn't it?

Posted by: elr on February 25, 2008 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

You're overlooking the fact that the real target of the Siegelman bribery case was the briber, the infamous Richard Scrushy, who somehow beat the rap in an OJ-like verdict in his securities fraud case. The prosecutors were looking for something to nail Scrushy on, no matter how trumped up, and the payment to Siegelman was a convenient target.

Posted by: pj on February 25, 2008 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK
Seems to me that the Republican party should be disbanned.

I think you mean either "disbanded" or "banned".

Posted by: cmdicely on February 25, 2008 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Karl should just rent a porno film...

Posted by: Jet on February 25, 2008 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Why isn't Karl Rove in prison?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 25, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 25, 2008 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

I just saw the attoney on Abrams's show. She was not impressive. Rove denies any contact with her and the state republican party denies that she has ever worked for republicans. I assume the truth will sort itself out, but she would not instill much confidence in you guys still trying to get Rove. I would not give her a lot more credance than that guy on the you tube video and filing the lawsuit making crazy allegations about Obama.

The 60 minutes written story does make it seem like a weak and questionable prosecution.

Posted by: brian on February 25, 2008 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

The TV station is owned by Bush Pioneers Lee and Robert Bass.

I'm an ex-Huntsville resident. WHNT-TV used to be owned by the New York Times.

Bud Cramer, btw, is a Democrat (his district includes Huntsville) who's been in Congress since 1991. He ran unopposed last time and the only time he got less than 56% was in 1994.

Posted by: Randy Paul on February 25, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

I went to high school with Siegelman's son. We were in AP American History together.

Posted by: Amanda on February 26, 2008 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Rove has turned the US into an f'ing Banana Repubic. Bit of a pity. But then Americans let him do it. So why feel sorry about it.

Posted by: Name on February 26, 2008 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

The case of Don Siegelman, the Democratic
former Governor of Alabama who was convicted last year on corruption charges,
has become a flash point in the debate over the politicization of the [Republican
President] Bush Administration's Justice Department. Forty-four former
state attorneys general — Republicans and Democrats — have cited "irregularities"
in the investigation and prosecution, saying they "call into question the
basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice.

Posted by: bad credit credit cards on February 26, 2008 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

TPM has an update: Karl Rove is calling everyone (except him) a liar. And I SO trust what Karl Rove says (not).

Posted by: pgl on February 26, 2008 at 5:16 AM | PERMALINK


pgl: TPM has an update: Karl Rove is calling everyone (except him) a liar. And I SO trust what Karl Rove says (not).

been there, done that..

September 29, 2003 ABC reporter asks Rove, "Did you have any knowledge or did you leak the name of the CIA agent to the press?"

Rove answers "No."

Posted by: mr. irony on February 26, 2008 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

@Randy Paul

> WHNT-TV used to be owned by the New York Times.

The Bush brothers bought it a year or two ago.

Posted by: Laney on February 26, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

I wrote

> Bush brothers

Sorry. The Bass brothers who are Bush Pioneers.

Posted by: Laney on February 26, 2008 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

since when is it bribery to reward a political contributor with a position in government?

If that's a crime, Chimpus Maximums along with EVERY OTHER POLITICIAN ON EARTH should be IN JAIL.

sheesh.

Stick a fork in the Republic. It's done.

Posted by: getaclue on February 26, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Laney,

I know. That's why I wrote used to be.

Posted by: Randy Paul on February 26, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Siegelman's no angel -- neither is any other governor. It's how politics and business work.

Siegelman was a thorn in the opposition's side, so they had to bring him down. Because they could.

What Jill Simpson (I've known her since '83) knows or remembers is really irrelevant at this point, except that it may help draw more attention to the case. I can believe she's doing this for her conscience; I can't believe she's in it just for the drama.

If -- IF -- Siegelman's conviction is overturned, it'll be on the legal aspects such as the judge's actions, the jury's, the Nick Bailey testimony-coaching, etc.

Posted by: Jeff (no, the other one) on February 26, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: brian, everyone's favorite faux-reasonable GOP-plant concern troll, calls someone else "not impressive." The rest is just run-of-the mill Republican obfuscation, proving yet again that brian's propaganda isn't worth a bucket of piss. Whatever he's being paid to post here is a waste.

Posted by: Gregory on February 26, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Can Rove be forced to testify or can he just refuse?

Posted by: fred on February 26, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Am I naive or is this something that happens every day?

Posted by: David Rosenberg on February 27, 2008 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly