Rove Fingered In New US Attorney Scandal

This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

At the heart of the Siegelman scandal in Alabama is the question of selective justice. In 2002, a lobbyist/landfill developer told the U.S. Attorney's office that he used illegal campaign contributions to bribe some of the biggest names in Alabama Republican politics, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a Bush-appointed federal judge William Pryor Jr. He also identified Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D).

The U.S. Attorney's office proceeded to ignore every piece of evidence against Sessions and Pryor, and prosecute Siegelman with everything prosecutors could come up with. One person involved in the prosecution said they left the Republicans alone on purpose because they had Rs after their name: "Sessions and Pryor were on the home team."

Given what we've learned over the course of the year about the politicization of U.S. Attorneys' offices, and the pressure to prosecute Dems and look the other way for Republicans, the next question, of course, is what drove the process in Alabama. Republican lawyer Dana Jill Simpson, answering questions under oath from House investigators, implicated Karl Rove in the mess.
In the interview, first obtained by Time and released today by the committee, Simpson explains the context in which she knew what Alabama Republican operative William Canary meant on a campaign conference call in 2002 when he said "Karl" had gotten the Justice Department on Siegelman. Simpson told House investigators that the son of Gov. Bob Riley (R), Rob Riley, had told her about the conversations between Rove and Canary. From the transcript:
"But I knew from conversations that I had had with Rob that Bill Canary was very connected to Karl Rove. Additionally, there was some talk -- and that's not in my affidavit -- about Karl had -- about Washington; that Karl had it taken care of in Washington."
It's probably worth noting that Rove may have resigned from the White House, but that wouldn't necessarily protect him against obstruction of justice charges.

Now, the investigation into Siegelman didn't lead to any prosecutions before he could run for re-election, so in 2005, Dana Jill Simpson said Rove went back to the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice to push for a more aggressive approach. (Apparently, there was a concern that the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama "messed up" the case that was supposed to keep Siegelman from running.)

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