POLITICS
07/26/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Siegelman: McCain Should Compel Rove To Testify

On Friday, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman called on John McCain to compel his informal adviser Karl Rove to testify before Congress, and to remove Rove from any and all campaign capacities.

"Sen. McCain should distance himself from Karl Rove," said Siegelman. "And I think it is important and a smart political move [for him] to call on Rove to go and obey the law and to show up before the Judiciary Committee, to put his hand on the Bible, and to try to tell the truth - or at least plead the fifth."

Siegelman, whose controversial trial for corruption contained many Rove fingerprints, would not go so far as to claim that by employing Rove as a consultant, McCain was sullying his own good-government credentials. "That's a question that is left to the people and the electorate and they will have an opportunity to express themselves in November," he said.

But he argued that it was absolutely vital that the presumptive Republican nominee -- who, according to published reports, has received money from and privately consulted with Rove -- insist that the former Bush confidante respect Congress' investigative prerogatives. Barack Obama, he added, should do the same.

"I would like to see Senator Obama speak out on this issue and call on Congress to hold Rove in contempt because no man is above the law," he said. "And I think its set a terrible example going forward if we do not hold Rove accountable."

Siegelman's charges were laid out in an interview with the Huffington Post at the Netroots Nation conference in Austin, Texas. He promised to elaborate on the issue during a panel discussion later on Friday.

The remarks came just days after Rove refused to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee about his involvement on the former governor's dubious prosecution on corruption charges. Rove, who witnesses say helped orchestrate Siegelman's conviction, has ignored a subpoena to appear before the Committee, and is expected to face contempt charges in the coming days.

Rove has argued that he is not required to testify before Congress due to executive privilege, which, he says, allows the president to receive political advise without the fear that it might one day be made public.

"It is ironic that Rove is now claiming executive privilege in saying he cannot be forced or compelled to testify on things he advised the president on," said Siegelman. "Well, is he now claiming that he did advise the president on my prosecution?"

Siegelman was sentenced to more than seven years in prison in 2006 under a bribery conviction for allegedly providing a state appointed medical position in exchange for funds to help a education-lottery program. Months ago, a Republican campaign volunteer issued sworn testimony that she overheard a phone conversation suggesting Rove was linked to his case. Other matters - ranging from what appeared to be politically driven prosecution, flimsy evidence and highly unusual (if not legally unethical) court proceedings - cast doubt on the case. And in late March 2008, Siegelman was released from prison on bond pending his appeal. His trip to Netroots Nation was the first outside of Alabama.