The Rove-Canary-Pryor Connection
became involved in Alabama politics in 1994, when he joined with
veteran GOP operative Bill
Canary to help elect pro-corporate Republican judges to
the Alabama state supreme court.
A further ally of Rove's and Canary's was Alabama Attorney General William Pryor.
Both Rove in Texas and Pryor in Alabama tried to
their respective states from actively pursuing the 1996-97 state
lawsuits against the tobacco industry, which formed an important aspect
of their pro-corporate agenda. However, Alabama's Democratic
Lieutanant Governor Don
Siegelman was a strong supporter of the tobacco lawsuits.
In November 1998, Siegelman was elected
Alabama governor, defeating the Republican
incumbent, at the same time that Pryor
was re-elected attorney general. Just
a few weeks after Siegelman took office,
Pryor began an investigation of his administration.
It was this investigation that would
lead many years later to Siegelman's conviction
Karl Rove is hired
by the Business
Council of Alabama to work with veteran GOP operative Bill Canary on
winning races for
the state supreme court. Rove brings with him from Texas the
strategy of successfully demonizing Democratic judges by painting them
as pawns of
"wealthy personal-injury trial lawyers."
of states brings lawsuits against the tobacco companies, with the
support of the National Association of Attorneys General. In
Texas, Karl Rove,
by then the top political consultant to Governor George W. Bush,
strategizes with the pro-smoking forces.
In Alabama , Republican Governor Fob James and Attorney General William Pryor resist
joining in the lawsuits. Democratic Lieutenant Governor Don Siegelman
accuses Pryor of being too close to the tobacco industry and privately
urges two universities to sue the tobacco companies on their own.
Public Justice (pdf)
Democrat Don Siegelman is
governor, defeating incumbent Fob James. Among his
campaign issues is a state lottery to fund public education.
At the same time, William
Pryor is relected attorney general, in a campaign managed
by Karl Rove
and Bill Canary.
|late March 1999
||Attorney General William Pryor opens
an investigation into the administration of newly-elected Governor Don Siegelman.
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff
had his own reasons for being opposed to Governor Don Siegelman.
Not only had Siegelman campaigned in 1998 on the issue of
setting up an Alabama
lottery to help fund public education, but he also supported Indian
gambling in the state. Abramoff saw both of these initiations
threatening the casino revenues of his own tribal clients, and early in
1999, he arranged for Ralph
to run a stealth lobbying campaign against them, using his connections
in the religious right. Reed was a long-time associate of
Abramoff's, going back to their College Republican days in the early
80's, and also an ally of Karl
Rove, who had helped him get into the lobbying business
when he left the Christian Coalition in 1997.
Abramoff and Reed were aided in their lobbying campaign by
Riley, whose former press secretary, Michael Scanlon,
had recently gone to work for Abramoff's ally Tom
would become an associate of Abramoff's the following year.
Riley wrote a fundraising letter for the campaign on the
stationery of a group headed by former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham, and
Abramoff and his wife donated to Riley's re-election campaign in
2000. It was Bob Riley who would run against Siegelman for
governorship in 2002.
the same time as their anti-lottery
campaign, Abramoff and Reed were also running a stealth
campaign in Alabama on behalf of their client, Channel One, carried
under the name of a front group whose leader was apparently employed by
either Bill Canary
or his business partner.
||Ralph Reed begins a
lobbying effort against Governor Don
Siegelman's state lottery and Indian gambling initiatives,
using funds from Jack
Abramoff's tribal clients. The lottery plan will
be defeated in October 1999.
Alabama Congressman Bob
writes a fundraising letter in support of Reed's campaign on the
stationery the U.S. Family Network, headed by Ed Buckham, formerly the
chief of staff to Texas Rep. Tom DeLay. Riley's former press
Scanlon, was on DeLay's staff at this time and would go to
work for Abramoff the following year.
Reed would lobby in Alabama again in early 2002, using funding from
both Abramoff and Scanlon.
and the Law
the same time as their anti-lottery campaign, Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed
are also conducting a stealth campaign in Alabama on behalf of their
client Channel One, which is threatened with Senate hearings into its
This campaign includes a series of
radio ads produced by a fictitious front group, which Reed eventually
acknowledged having been behind. The nominal head of the
group, Dax Swatak, would be described in 2002 as a business partner of
Bill Canary. As of 1999, Swatek appears to have been working
either for Canary or for Pat McWhorter, a business partner of Canary's.
Associated Press, 5/2/02
his wife donate $1000 to Bob Riley's congressional campaign.
The 2002 Election -- Siegelman's Enemies Join Together to Work for His
In August 2001, Bill
was appointed a US Attorney for Alabama by President George W. Bush.
She quickly federalized William Pryor's long-running state
investigation of Governor Don
Siegelman, and even though she was
obliged to recuse herself in May 2002 because of her husband's
connections, she appears to have continued running things from behind
the scenes. When Siegelman was up for re-election in 2002,
investigation became an issue in the campaign.
opponent in the 2002 election was Congressman
who enjoyed both the support of Bill
Canary and funding from Jack Abramoff and
which allegedly amounted to millions of dollars. The Riley
campaign was also backed by Judge Mark
who had recently been nominated to a federal judgeship by George W.
Bush after serving as a local district attorney. After
Fuller left the district attorney's office, his
Siegelman-appointed successor announced that he had found evidence of
fraudulent accounting practices, which led Fuller to work for
Siegelman's defeat. In 2005, Fuller would refuse to recuse
himself from judging Siegelman's bribery trial.
night Siegelman was
leading in the tally until a midnight recount abruptly shifted 6000
votes over to
Riley. The change was officially blamed on a computer glitch,
no other races were affected, which is considered statistically
implausible. There have also been anonymous
the tally was altered electronically by a
Riley campaign advisor, Dan
Gans. Gans soon thereafter joined the
Alexander Strategy Group headed by Ed
Buckham, the Abramoff ally for
whom Bob Riley had written a 1999 fundraising letter.
what decisively determined the outcome of
the election was that Attorney General William Pryor
refused to allow a
recount, saying that state law required ballots to be kept
sealed. A few months later, in April 2003, Pryor was
nominated by George W. Bush for a federal judgeship. The
Democrats in Congress stalled his confirmation -- in part over his role
in questionable fundraising practices -- but he was
recess-appointed to the position by George W. Bush in February 2004.
August 2, 2001
Leura Canary, wife
of Bill Canary,
appointed a US Attorney by George W. Bush and federalizes the ongoing
Alabama investigation of Don
||Alice H. Martin is
appointed a US Attorney in Alabama by George W. Bush. She
would also become involved in attempts to prosecute Don Siegelman.
Attorney Leura Canary
recuses herself from the Siegelman investigation,
acknowledging her husband's political connections. However,
sources indicate that she continues to oversee it, keeping the
investigation in her own office and under the control of prosecutors
close to her and fighting the advise of her professional staff to drop
district attorney Mark
Fuller is nominated to a federal judgeship by
George W. Bush. Governor Don
appoints a new district attorney who investigate's his predecessor'
accounting practices and accuses Fuller of attempts to defraud
retirement system. Fuller dismisses the allegations as
"politically motivated" and works to defeat Siegelman in the election.
governor's race between
Democratic incumbent Don
Siegelman and Republican Congressman Bob
Canary is working for the Riley campaign, and the
Pryor-Leula Canary investigation of Siegelman is
used as a campaign issue.
Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon pour
dollars in tribal money into the Alabama governor's
November 5, 2002
Bob Riley narrowly
beats Don Siegelman
midnight recount in Baldwin County in which 6334 votes move to
Riley. This is attributed to a computer glitch, but no other
in the county is affected. An unidentified source alleges
Riley's former chief of staff and campaign senior advisor, Dan Gans,
changed the votes electronically.
Attorney General William Pryor denies
Siegelman's demand for a statewide recount, saying that a state law
requires ballots to be sealed except under limited
No judge issues an order to break the seal and the
federal Department of Justice also takes no action.
November 18, 2002
concedes "for the good of
the state of Alabama." A 2007 affidavit and testimony from
Reublican attorney Jill Simpson (see below) would suggest that this
concession had been coerced by Bill
Canary and Bob
Riley with the support of Karl Rove.
by February 2003
Dan Gans joins the
Alexander Strategy Group, headed by former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham.
April 9, 2003
is nominated as a federal judge by George W. Bush but Democrats stall
his confirmation. He will finally be recess-appointed on
Siegelman is Tried for Corruption
-- and Then Tried Again
In 2004, Don Siegelman was charged
with attempted bid-rigging in a case brought by US Attorney Alice H. Martin
After many twists and turns, the case was thrown out by a clearly
exasperated judge on grounds of
A year later, in October 2005, as Siegelman prepared for an
attempt to take back the governorship, he was indicted on fresh charges
bribery, conspiracy, and other crimes stemming from the long-running
investigation. The case was assigned to Judge Mark Fuller,
refused to recuse himself on the grounds of either his business ties as
a federal contractor or the possibility of his holding a grudge against
The indictment and trial helped ensure Siegelman's defeat in the
Democratic primary in June 2006. This was followed three
weeks later by his
conviction on 7 out of the 32 counts brought against him.
May 27, 2004
Don Siegelman, his
former chief of
staff, and a physician are indicted on charges of attempting to rig
Medicaid bids in 1999. Three judges recuse themselves from
the case over the
next few months.
Spegelman case is assigned
to US District Judge U.W.
Clemon. On August 16, prosecutors
ask that Clemon recuse himself, citing indirect ties to
but he refuses. On September 29, a federal appeals court will
refuse to remove Clemon from the case.
September 10, 2004
One charge in the
is thrown out by Judge Clemon, who also cites an assistant
U.S. Attorney and an assistant state attorney general for contempt of
charges against Siegelman and his co-defendents are dropped after Judge
Clemon bars most of the prosecutors' evidence.
October 26, 2005
As Don Siegelman
begins his campaign
to return to office, he is
indicted by a federal grand jury in Leura
Canary's district on 32
counts of bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud, and obstruction of justice.
The charges stem from accusations that in 1999 former HealthSouth
CEO Richard Scrushy donated to a political fund that was
for Siegelman's lottery
plan in exchange for being appointed to a key medical licensing board.
case is assigned to Judge Mark
Fuller, who refuses to recuse himself, despite having
federal contracting connections and a history of opposition to
June 6, 2006
Don Siegelman is
defeated in the Democratic primary.
June 29, 2006
Don Siegelman is
acquitted of 25 of the
counts against him but is found guilty of the other 7 after the jury
deadlocks twice and is sent back by the judge. There have
since been allegations of jury-tampering.
Speaker of the
Accusations of Political Interference
May 2007, one month before
was sentenced to an extended prison term, an Alabama
Republican attorney, Jill
Simpson, issued an
affidavit claiming political interference in the outcome of
the 2002 Alabama governor's race and naming Karl
Rove as having
taken an interest in the
accusation came out at the same time that the US Attorneys
scandal was breaking, and because Siegelman had been prosecuted by two
Bush-appointed attorneys, there was immediate speculation that the
prosecution might have been the product of a politicized Justice
May 21, 2007
Republican attorney Jill
Simpson states in an affidavit that Don Siegelman
conceded in 2002 because
threatened with the release of photos of one of his supporters planting
Riley signs at a KKK rally. She also says that Bill Canary stated Karl Rove was taking
an interest in the matter.
Prior to Simpson's
signing the affidavit, but after she began communicating with
Siegelman's lawyers, her house had burned down and her car had been run
off the road.
June 1, 2007
The New York Times draws attention to
the Siegelman case, citing the Simpson affidavit and noting the
possible connection to the US Attorneys scandal.
and Scrushy are sentenced to extended prison terms by Judge Mark
Fuller, who refuses to allow them to remain at liberty while they
appeal the sentences.
lawyer's office is broken into. Files are rifled through but
taken. However, the Siegelman files are not in the office at
July 11, 2007
is moved from the federal prison in Atlanta, GA to Texarkana, TX.
former state attorneys general ask Congress to investigate
whether the prosecution of Siegelman was politically based.
is moved again, to Oakdale, LA.
House Judiciary Committee asks then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
for documentation on the Siegelman matter.
||Speaker of the
prosecutors recommend leniency for the key witness against Siegelman,
an aide who had admitted to taking bribes without Siegelman's
knowledge. Siegelman's lawyers call this "deplorable."
||Jill Simpson expands
on her May affidavit, telling House Judiciary Committee lawyers that
she heard Bill Canary
say in a conference call on November 18, 2002 that
"his girls" -- US Attorneys Leula
Canary and Alice
Martin -- would "take
care" of Siegelman. She says Siegelman
was promised that the federal investigation of him would end if he
would both concede the election and agree to stay out of politics.
also states that on the same occasion, Canary told Governor Riley's son
Rob that he had worked it out with "Karl" -- which she took to mean
Rove -- and that Karl had already spoken to the Department of Justice.
says further that Judge Mark
Fuller was deliberately chosen for the Siegelman case in
2005 and that Rob Riley had told her Fuller would
subcommottee of the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing
on“Allegations of Selective Prosecution: The Erosion of Public
Confidence in Our Federal Justice System,” featuring the