Look Who's Covertly Controlling the GOP: Karl Rove, Scheming Election Theft and Raising a Fortune for Vicious Attack Ads
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AMY GOODMAN: Now, before we go forward, I wanted to go back a little further to show—to show Karl Rove’s power during the Bush years, both in 2000 and then—you devote an entire chapter to what happened in Ohio in 2004. And a lot of people might not remember this or might not have even known to begin with.
CRAIG UNGER: Right. Well, Rove did a lot of things that were sort of under the radar and that I think have enduring consequences, and they represent real threats to democracy. One of them was the U.S. attorneys scandal, and I think it was widely misunderstood. And, you know, this was—became best known when eight United States attorneys were fired for sort of not toeing the Republican Party line. Now, in fact, to me, the real question is not what happened in the unjust firing of those eight people; it’s what about the other U.S. attorneys who were appointed by the Bush administration and were toeing the party line? What were they doing? And what we see happening is that they were prosecuting Democrats, essentially. This is best—it came through best in—I think the most egregious case of this is in Alabama, and it’s the case of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman, who will probably—in early September, will face going to jail for eight years. And I think this is one of the most egregious, unjust acts we’ve seen from the Justice Department.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to turn former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, who was found guilty in a 2006 corruption case. Critics say Siegelman was the target of a political witch hunt, in part orchestrated by former Bush administration deputy Karl Rove. Democracy Now! spoke to Siegelman about his case in early 2009. We asked if he believed Karl Rove was involved in his prosecution. Let’s just go to his response.
DON SIEGELMAN: I was brought to trial one month before the Democratic primary by Karl Rove’s best friend’s wife, who was the U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Alabama, on charges that the New York Times said have never been a crime in America. Grant Woods, who’s the Republican—was the Republican attorney general from Arizona, said that they couldn’t beat Siegelman fair and square, so they targeted him with this prosecution. We have sworn testimony from a Republican political operative, Jill Simpson, who said that she was on a conversation with my prosecutor’s husband, who said that he had talked to Karl Rove, and Rove had spoken to the Department of Justice, and everything was wired in for them to—for the Department of Justice to pursue me.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: That’s former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman speaking to Democracy Now! in 2006. Siegelman is now appealing his prison sentence three weeks before he’s scheduled to report to federal prison to complete a more than six-year sentence.
CRAIG UNGER: Right. Well, I think Siegelman is absolutely right. I mean, it’s not the prettiest part of the American political system, but it’s sort of standard operating procedure that sometimes campaign contributors get political appointments. And in Siegelman’s case, Siegelman personally got zero dollars. He appointed a contributor to a non-paying state-appointed position. And if he’s to go to jail—George W. Bush gave appointments to over a hundred campaign contributors and was not prosecuted on any one of those. And it really has been standard operating procedure. Hundreds of ambassadors throughout the years, in one administration after another, have been campaign contributors.
And what you see that happened—and this is really under Rove’s aegis—is selective prosecution. And I think there’s nothing more damaging democracy than when laws are applied only to one group. And as I began to research this, I saw that, you know, you may notice that a mayor of Alabama was indicted or investigated, a mayor of Honolulu was investigated just before an election, mayor of Miami, mayor of San Francisco. And all in all, I found mayors of 12 major cities. There’s Cleveland; Detroit; Portland, Oregon; New Orleans; Chicago; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Memphis and Dallas. What do they all have in common? They are Democrats. They are governors and lieutenant governors from five states—Alabama, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey and Maryland—and on and on, over 200 politicians, and 85 percent of them are Democrats. And I think there’s no data suggests that the Democratic Party is seven times more corrupt than the Republicans.