In exclusive interview, Alabama whistleblower says Rove trying to smear her
Rove's attorney says CBS should apologize for story
After a CBS affiliate blacked out 60 Minutes in Alabama, Dana Jill Simpson, the Republican attorney from Alabama and a whistleblower in the Don Siegelman case, told RAW STORY Monday that the coordinated smear attack on her credibility by the state's GOP and the American Spectator publication are being pushed by Karl Rove – the former senior aide to President Bush – in retaliation for her revelations of his role in the investigation and conviction of Don Siegelman.
Siegelman was convicted of corruption charges and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2006. A 60 Minutes piece Sunday, as well as several by RAW STORY and Harper's Magazine, have raised questions about the circumstances of his conviction.
Over the weekend, a series of articles appeared in the Montgomery Independent and the American Spectator attacking both Simpson and Harper’s reporter Scott Horton.
Karl Rove, through his attorney, declared that Simpson’s allegations are false and the story foolish.
“60 Minutes owes Mr. Rove an apology for circulating this false and foolish story," Rove attorney's Robert Luskin said.
Simpson, however, points to the fact she testified to Congress under oath. Though called to testify, Rove did not show up.
“Mr. Rove was subpoenaed to testify in front a Congressional committee,” said Simpson this morning during a telephone interview. “He would not testify. He did not even appear in front of Congress, which is like not showing up for a court subpoena.”
“I testified under oath in front of Congress," she added. "He won’t even show up. Now you tell me who is lying?”
The American Spectator article, "The False and the Absurd," written by Quin Hillyer, alleges that Ms. Simpson’s story has changed.
“On Thursday, the 60 Minutes website began hawking a feature to run on its show this Sunday wherein an already discredited Alabama attorney will claim that Rove asked her to photograph Democratic former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in "a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides."
Nothing about her story even begins to stand up to scrutiny; indeed all of it spectacularly fails every basic test of common sense. A former Democratic Alabama Supreme Court justice (and sometime Siegelman adversary) who represented a co-defendant and close ally of Siegelman's in the trial that convicted Siegelman of federal bribery and obstruction charges said that the previous incarnations of the woman's oft-changing allegations "must have been created by a drunk fiction writer."
Hillyer goes on to claim that this is the first time Ms. Simpson has alleged that Karl Rove had directly asked her to be involved in finding dirt on Governor Siegelman. This allegation, however, is not true. This reporter was aware months ago of this allegation as was Scott Horton of Harper’s who provided his own account of what Simpson told him, also months ago. In addition, Hillyer cites Toby Roth as a “Republican activist” who claims to have never heard of Simpson before.
“For one thing, Simpson consistently has made claims of being a longtime, and fairly high-level, Republican activist in Alabama. But my Republican sources in Alabama say they either don't even know her or barely remember her having done some rather low-level volunteer work. On Friday, longtime activist Toby Roth said of the 2002 campaign (around which most of her allegations revolve): "I was the campaign director [for now-Gov. Bob Riley, who challenged Siegelman]. I did not know her. Never met the lady." His only contact with her, he said, came four years later when she faxed him letters demanding that one of her clients be awarded a state contract to clean up a tire dump. The contract went to somebody else, and Roth says her bizarre allegations began surfacing only after her client lost the business.”
Earlier this month, this reporter interviewed Republican party members who have known Ms. Simpson for a very long time in Alabama. Documents regarding business contracts also indicate that Ms. Simpson worked closely with Governor Bob Riley’s son, Rob Riley Jr. In addition, the Spectator fails to mention that Mr. Roth is a lobbyist for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and had close business dealings with Michael Scanlon, the lobbyist who has plead guilty to bribery and money laundering charges and Jack Abramoff, also a lobbyist and Mr. Scanlon’s mentor, who is now serving time also for money laundering and bribery charges. Both Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff have admitted to moving Choctaw casino funds into political campaigns.
Alabama GOP launch mass mailings
Yet despite these conflicts of interest, the Alabama GOP –- via state representative Mike Hubbard -- issued a series of emails citing the American Spectator article in order to criticize Simpson.
Simpson came forward last year to testify in front of House Judiciary Committee about what she alleges was Karl Rove’s involvement in the Don Siegelman prosecution.
As reported by Raw Story in the first part of an ongoing investigation into the Don Siegelman case, the Permanent Republican Majority, Simpson testified that she was on a conference call that discussed how Governor Siegelman would be “hanged.”
It would take a Riley campaign attorney -- long-time Alabama Republican Dana Jill Simpson -- to finally blow the whistle on the Republican governor. In a 2007 affidavit and sworn testimony, Simpson stated unequivocally that dirty tricks had sealed her boss’s victory in the 2002 election, and she named Karl Rove and the US Department of Justice as conspirators in the case.
Simpson had worked for the Riley campaign in 2002 as an opposition researcher, digging up dirt on then-Governor Siegelman. According to Simpson's May 2007 affidavit, Siegelman was pressured to concede the 2002 election because the Riley camp threatened to make public a set of photographs of one of Siegelman's supporters planting Riley campaign signs at a Ku Klux Klan rally. Simpson also stated that Canary had indicated that “Karl” -- by which she had no doubt he meant Karl Rove -- had taken a personal interest in the matter.
In this additional testimony, Simpson described a conference call among Bill Canary, Governor Riley's son Rob and other Riley campaign aides, which she said took place on November 18, 2002 -- the same day Don Siegelman conceded the election. Simpson alleged that Canary had said that “Rove had spoken with the Department of Justice” about “pursuing” Siegelman and had also advised Riley's staff “not to worry about Don Siegelman” because “‘his girls’ would take care of” the governor.
The “girls” allegedly referenced by Bill Canary were his wife, Leura Canary -- who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2001 as the US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama -- and Alice Martin, another 2001 Bush appointee as the US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Simpson added that she was told by Rob Riley that Judge Mark Fuller was deliberately chosen when the Siegelman case was prosecuted in 2005, and that Fuller would “hang” Siegelman.”
Just prior to Simpson’s Congressional testimony, her house was burned down and she was once driven off the road in Alabama.
“I don’t feel safe,” Simpson added this morning.
Correction: Due to an editing error, Hillyer was incorrectly identified as a lobbyist in the first edition of this article. He says he is not affiliated with the National Center for Public Policy Research, which wrote about a conference that he moderated in 2006. The Center is not defunct.