THE BLOG

An Open Letter to Powerline (And Others): For the Love of Karl Rove?

05/25/2011 12:25 pm ET

Dear Powerline (and others by association):

In your open letter to CBS News about their 60 Minutes broadcast on the Don Siegelman case, you begin by readily admitting that you are a late-comer to the story. Yet despite not having the facts or apparently seen the investigative reports done well before the CBS broadcast aired, you feel capable enough to issue an opinion and demand your questions be answered. Why not actually read the wealth of information already provided to see, if by chance, your questions have already been answered? Or better still, simply read the wealth of information already in the public sphere to see if you even know what you are opining about? (some links at bottom of this post)

Why go on an attack against 60 Minutes (see my latest post on smear jobs regarding this story) when you yourself have implied that you have no clue what you are talking about?

Your open letter, sadly, can be seen only in one of two ways: 1). you are either unable or uninterested in obtaining facts before you go into political Rambo mode; 2). or you are simply firmly lodged inside Karl Rove's colon. Which is it?

You seem to be well respected among your readers and lawyers of various political affiliations. So I am willing to give you the benefit that you are indeed simply misinformed.  I will, however, allow readers to decide for themselves which genre you fall into by addressing your "open letter" with my own. You see, you are not the first to jump on this band-wagon and sadly, likely not to be the last. You do, however, seem to be the most reasonable and open to new information, which is something I am more than happy to provide.

Let me say for the record that my interest in this case is only in seeing justice done. I do not know or claim to know if Mr. Siegelman is guilty or innocent of anything. What I do believe strongly is that he did not get a fair trial and more disturbingly is that the evidence points rather strongly to politics, rather than justice.

You surely agree that as Americans we are all entitled to a fair trial? This is the point of the CBS broadcast and the reason why so many people - of every political affiliation - are up-in-arms about this case.  Having said this, let me know discuss your open letter and your points.

You write:

"On its face, the segment is a remarkably thin piece of work from which
to lob serious accusations implicating the integrity of prominent
officials including Rove. Rove himself has responded
to the story by asking the question that occurred to me after watching
the segment: "Seeing where I was working at the time, a reasonable
person could ask why I would even take an interest in that case."'

Yes, a reasonable person did ask and has already answered that question. Rove's denial is the standard non-denial denial.  Here is what we know about "where I was working at the time," as Rove says:

"Karl Rove is known to have worked with Bill Canary on numerous
political races in Alabama, beginning in 1994 and including William
Pryor's campaign in 1998. Canary and Pryor both enjoyed a close
political and social relationship with Rove -- who went on to become a
senior adviser to the president, before Bush's "brain" resigned earlier
this year.

Two Republican lawyers who have asked to remain anonymous for fear
of retaliation allege that Canary and Rove also worked together on the
2002 Alabama governor's race. One of the lawyers is close to the
Republican National Committee in Alabama.

According to the lawyers, Rove and Canary initially supported
Republican Lieutenant Governor Steve Windom in his bid for the
nomination to challenge Governor Siegelman but then switched their
allegiance to Rep. Bob Riley after his victory in the primary. The
Windom campaign was well known to be sluggish, however, prompting many
observers to wonder just how serious an undertaking it really was.

<snip>

According to the Alabama RNC source, Rove met regularly with operatives
for the Riley campaign. The source's allegations are confirmed in part
by campaign disclosure forms, which show that Windom paid Canary as a
consultant between 1999 and early 2001 and later received large
contributions from Canary's business partner, a pattern that is
duplicated with Riley and Canary.

<snip>

Rove's meetings with Riley campaign operatives are said to have
taken place on street corners in Washington at prearranged times.
"Riley's people went up to DC and had a couple of meetings with
[Rove]," one of the Republican attorneys stated. In addition, Rove and
his wife purchased a property in Rosemary Beach, Florida in November of
2002, about 2-1/2 hour drive from Alabama's capital - Montgomery, a
little over an hour's drive from Mobile, and less than an hour by jet.

"He would never discuss anything on the phone. He would tell you to
meet him at some corner and then you get there and sure enough he is
standing in the middle of the intersection waving at you."

Riley did not return calls seeking comment.

These allegations are similar to those made by consultant Marc Schwartz in The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power by James Moore and Wayne Slater" (PRM, Part III, Raw Story)

That is at least 3 people, all Republican by party affiliated (because I know that many people first need to have the political party identified, before facts will even be regarded), and from different states who don't know one another. All of them placing Karl Rove - despite where "he was working at the time" inside political campaigns on the state level. Surely 3 is more than 1, if I recall my math correctly? Thus far, Karl Rove is all alone in his claims. That said, he would add some credibility to his statements if he testified in front of Congress and under oath as did the whistleblower who has made some of the allegations against him. When someone testifies under oath, it certainly adds to their credibility in my book. Would you not agree?

Public testimony, under oath, also certainly underscores that the allegations are being seriously denied, rather than just deflected via lip service, does it not? Now back to your open letter:

"The 60 Minutes story quotes two sources at length, Jill Dana
Simpson and former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. Jim Hoft has
covered the issues concerning Simpson's contribution to the story here and here."

This is not accurate. Grant Woods is one of 52 former state attorney generals - of both parties - who signed a letter to Congress demanding this be investigated. Woods was giving his opinion in the CBS broadcast, not acting as a source. There are two sources cited by name in the CBS broadcast, one is Nick Bailey, a prosecution witness who alleges that he was coached on his testimony and appears to have lied about what he witnessed with regard to Siegelman. (See the above 60 Minutes portion regarding the check that Bailey testified  had changed hands). CBS also alleges that the prosecution was aware of this.

In addition, the whistleblower, Dana Jill Simpson, testified under oath to Congress, which adds to her credibility over that of Mr. Rove's, who is in contempt of Congress for not even showing up.

You then go on to cite a reporter who is seen by most people with whom I have spoken in Alabama (Republicans and Democrats alike) as a shill:

"Reading about the underlying controversy, I found the name of Eddie Curran.  Curran is the Mobile Press-Register reporter whose stories
played a role in initiating the investigation of Siegelman. Curran is
on leave from the Press-Register writing a book on Siegelman's
"administration, the trial, and the aftermath, including the 60 Minutes show on Siegelman."  Curran has now written a letter to 60 Minutes."

There is a small problem with regard to Curran. You see, he built his entire reputation on an investigation into Siegelman (ironically, the prosecution did not use much of his evidence) and is alleged by many people in Alabama to have worked closely with the prosecution (a journalistic no-no).

He took an unpaid leave from the Mobile Press Register to pen a book on his exploits and now his entire reputation is on the line.  He wrote a hit piece (read for yourself) against Scott Horton of Harper's too. Why do you suppose this man is so upset, so seething with hate when it comes to Horton?

Could it be that if Horton (and me, CBS, and Time) are right, then poor Eddie loses his reputation and book deal? He made his own bed, and he should now get used to it. I will say, however, that while I can understand  Curran's feelings of frustration, I cannot condone him attempting to smear others in order to keep his pen in the business.  Ask Eddie if his entire career depends on him being right on the Siegelman allegations.

But ultimately, all of this can be boiled down very simply. As I have said now over and over, if Mr. Rove had no involvement, as he claims, in the political prosecution of Don Siegelman, then why does he not appear before Congress and testify under oath? Why would he risk defying a subpoena and risk contempt instead of simply telling his side of the story?

Consider this too: Mr. Rove has not honored his subpoena, something you and I would end up in jail for. How is that possible? Is Mr. Rove above the law? If Mr. Rove is telling the truth, then why not tell it to the public and under oath in defense of himself? Surely Mr. Rove is not above the law? Surely, if he feels so strongly about his side of the story, he would want to clear his name? People who are telling the truth are willing to clear their name in the public sphere. In fact, they demand it. Mr. Rove hides and uses friendly-reporters as proxy attack dogs. It does not look good, does it? It does not look like the way an innocent person would behave, does it?

So I ask that instead of attacking CBS, you consider the questions I want answered and perhaps, because you are an American first - before your politics - you will also ask these questions and demand answers too:

1. Was Mr. Canary (a consultant for Bob Riley, Don Siegelman's opponent during the 2002 election) involved in a conversation on November 18, 2002 in which he said that "his girls" (allegedly in reference to his wife, US Attorney Leura Canary and their friend, US Attorney Alice Martin) would "take care of" Mr. Siegelman? Who else was on that call? Is it appropriate for a US Attorney to be investigating the opponent of her husband's client? Is that not a conflict of interest?

2. Mrs. Canary claims to have recused herself from the Siegelman case. Where is the evidence of this from the DOJ?

3. Did Mr. Canary and Mr. Rove discuss how to "take care" of Mr. Siegelman at any point while Mr. Rove was working at the White House?

3. Did Mr. Rove meet with operatives for Bob Riley (Siegelman's opponent during the 2002 election) and discuss how to  "take care" of Mr. Siegelman? Did Mr. Rove have these alleged meetings on street corners in DC, cafes, and at lobbying firms on K street throughout 2002 and later?

4. Did Mr. Rove ask William Pryor to seal the 2002 ballots before Siegelman's requested hand-recount could happen? Mr. Pryor's campaign for Alabama state Attorney General was run by Karl Rove in 1998. In 2002, Pryor  sealed the ballots of the Riley-Siegelman campaign after a late-night glitch suddenly made Riley the winner. The following April, Pryor was installed on a recess appointment to the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals. 

5. Why did Pryor seal those ballots?

6. Did Mr. Rove suggest that Mr. Pryor be appointed to the 11th Circuit? What were Mr. Pryor's qualifications and why was he installed on a recess appointment? Was he being rewarded for sealing the ballots.

7. Did Mr. Rove have any relationship with Mark Fuller, the judge who was appointed by President Bush and later, somehow, got the Siegelman case?

8. Did Mr. Canary ever say that Judge Fuller "would hang Siegelman," before Fuller had gotten the case? How about after?

9. Where is the court transcript of the trial, which is needed for Siegelman to file his appeal? It has been 30 months, already. How long does a court transcript take?

10. Why did Judge Fuller not let Siegelman report after he was indicted, instead having him shackled and brought in like a violent offender? The charges, after all, were bribery.

11. Why is Siegelman not allowed to be out of prison while he appeals his case? What is the reason for this?

12. Did Mr. Rove  discuss the Siegelman case in 2002 or at any point after with then chief of the department's Office of Public Integrity at the DOJ, Noel Hillman? If so, what was the subjects of that/those discussion(s)?

13. Did Mr. Hillman's appointment to a federal judgeship have anything to do with the Siegelman case?

14. Did Mr. Hillman bury any evidence in the Jack Abramoff case connecting Mr. Rove and Jack Abramoff and/or Bob Riley and Jack Abramoff?

15. Michael Scanlon, the team-Abramoff member who bribed Republican members of Congress and laundered money for the GOP, was both an employee of indicted House Majority Leader, Tom Delay (R-TX) and then-Congressman Bob Riley (R-AL), who later went on to become Siegelman's opponent. He also did work for Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH).

Delay was indicted on money laundering charges and was forced to resign from Congress. Ney plead guilty to bribery and corruption and is now serving time in prison. The other two members of Congress involved with Scanlon - disgraced Montana Congressman Conrad Burns, and scandal-ridden California Congressman John Do0little - are or have been under investigation. How then is it possible that Bob Riley - Scanlon's one-time boss - was the only one of Scanlon's associates to never have been investigated for his ties to both Scanlon and Abramoff?

16. Did Mr. Rove have any contact with Hillman regarding Bob Riley, Tom Delay, Conrad Burns, and John Doolittle and their ties to Abramoff and Scanlon?

17. Did the US prosecutors on Siegelman's case threaten the brother of witness Nick Bailey if Bailey did not cooperate with the prosecution?

18. Why was the other prosecution witness in the Siegelman case - Lanny Young - seen as credible with regard to Siegelman, but dismissed as not credible when he also implicated Judge William Pryor and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)  in the same types of allegations? If he gets 2 of the 3 wrong, how is he still credible? Or is it that Jeff Sessions were not prosecuted because they are Republicans, while Siegelman is a Democrat?

19. Why won't the DOJ provide any documents to Congress regarding the Siegelman case or other selective prosecution cases?

20. And again, I ask, why won't Karl Rove testify under oath if he has nothing to hide?

21. Why did Judge Fuller not investigate the jury-tampering issues when they were brought to his attention?

Ask these questions if you really have an interest in seeing justice done, instead of citing Eddie Curran and questions that are not remotely relevant to the material issue: did Siegelman receive a fair trial? If not, why not?

Or continue to demand answers from CBS and prove that justice is not the reason for your open letter in the first place. 

I leave that choice to you and the judgment of that choice to the public, a jury of your peers - Americans.

##

See articles and information about the trial as follows:

Harper's Excellent Coverage via Scott Horton, here

My blog, at-largely,  here

60 Minutes broadcast, here