Jill Simpson is and the only reason the New York Times, 60 Minutes, Time, Harper's
and many others started reporting on the Siegelman case. Below is a chapter called,
Creative Perjury. It's long, but it's purpose is serious and telling it requires, not
generalities, but facts, testimony, and responses by various people accused of
crimes and misdeeds by Simpson and others, including Siegelman and Scott Horton
of Harper's, and others.
The chapter is somewhat complex, and in parts, probably requires of the reader
that he/she know what came before. Still, I think it's understandable without having
Again, each chapter starts with two quotes.
“Oh, by the way, your dress is ugly.”
-- Simpson, to Republican lawyer Caroline Lynch, after Lynch pressed her to
explain some of her stories about the Siegelman case during Simpson’s testimony
before Judiciary Committee lawyers.
“Simpson’s allegations match the facts we upturned in our investigative series on
Judge Fuller this summer.”
-- Horton, in October 2007 column on Harper’s web-site, following release of the
transcript of Simpson’s testimony.
Faulty memories, fuzzy impressions, all manner of factors can cause a person to
give testimony that is false but short of perjury. Jill Simpson has no such excuses.
The testimony she gave congressional lawyers on Sept. 14, 2007, was willfully
false, told with flair and impugned the reputations of innocent people. Declaring
that she committed perjury is not only too easy, but fails to get to the bottom of this
mess. I will argue that she was coached, that one or more persons gave her a series of
stories and talking points. Each was intended to buttress the case that the Siegelman
prosecution was, as the New York Times never tired of calling it, a “political hit.”
Simpson was the patsy, a weak, goofy character susceptible to flattery,
melodrama and the lure of fame. Such a dingbat as to almost be blameless.
Two lawyers accompanied Simpson that day to the Rayburn House building.
They were Mark Bollinger’s pal Priscilla Duncan from Montgomery and Washington
attorney Joseph Sandler. The latter was the general counsel for the Democratic
National Committee and one of the party’s premier lawyers on consequential
election and political issues. A conservative estimate of his hourly rate is $500.
Assigned to question Simpson were Sam Broderick-Sokol, the majority counsel
for the Judiciary Committee; and, on behalf of the Republicans, Caroline Lynch.
Simpson was administered the oath and told it would be “a crime to make
any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation in such
an authorized investigation.”
She spent most of the next four hours committing perjury, primarily of the
Some elements of Simpson’s testimony have been dealt with at length. They
include her accounts of Siegelman’s decision to concede the 2002 election (the
laughable KKK photos deal and the equally preposterous GOP pledge to make
the criminal investigation vanish.) While her accounts on the above represent
overwhelming evidence of perjury, the following will address additional
components of her testimony.
They are her sworn statements regarding:
• Rob Riley’s alleged familiarity with Mark Fuller and the judge’s part ownership
of Doss Aviation.
• Judge Fuller’s alleged grudge against Siegelman.
• Rob Riley’s alleged foreknowledge that Fuller would be assigned to
preside over the Siegelman case.
• The decision to prosecute Scrushy along with Siegelman.
• A 2003 poll in the Mobile Press Register.
• The relationship between the Rileys and Rove, and Rove’s alleged directive
to the Justice Department that it prosecute Don Siegelman.
In the months preceding her testimony Horton wrote about the above
matters in his columns and applied these manufactured grievances and motives
to support the central conspiracy of a GOP plot to remove Siegelman from the
political landscape by shuttling him to an American gulag. In columns written
after the release of her transcript Horton cited Simpson’s testimony as proving or
reinforcing the concoctions presented in those earlier columns.
Simpson ascribed her knowledge on each of the above subjects to statements
she claimed Rob Riley made to her on two occasions. The first was during what
she called a client-related meeting in 2002; the second on a supposed social visit
to his law offi ce in early 2005 which, for clarity’s sake, will be referred to here as
the, “baby picture meeting.”
It is conceivable if barely so that Simpson perjured herself without the
assistance or knowledge of another. Either that or she read Horton’s “No
Comment” columns religiously, analyzed them rigorously, and choreographed her
testimony to advance conspiracies introduced in his pieces.
The only other alternative – that she testified truthfully – is not viable.
Here, the case for perjury:
Count One: Rob Riley’s familiarity with Mark Fuller’s finances.
In 2002, Simpson represented a company that had performed storm cleanup
and filed a claim with FEMA seeking more money. She called Rob Riley and
sought his assistance. Riley agreed to help and retained Stewart Hall, a college
friend who’d become a Washington lobbyist. That much is not in dispute.
Simpson mentioned the FEMA case when Judiciary Committee lawyers
asked her why she researched the judge’s (Fuller's) finances for Siegelman and Scrushy.
She testified that during a 2002 meeting with Riley and Hall, both men,
apropos of nothing, started talking about Mark Fuller. This was before Fuller’s
appointment to the bench and years before his assignment to the Siegelman
Simpson testified that she told them she didn’t know Mark Fuller and that
they corrected her. She’d known Fuller in Tuscaloosa but must have forgotten
him, they said. Riley and Hall then “proceeded to tell me that Fuller has all these
contracts, but his contracts are not the same type of contracts” as those of her
FEMA client, she said.
“They were amazed that my clients could get these (large cleanup contracts)
whereas Fuller was getting large contracts, but he was doing more what I consider
to be maintenance on aircraft and fuel contracts, aviation kind of stuff which was
not anything I was familiar with. It really sounded kind of like an oil job or doing
It’s unclear why a Washington lobbyist and an experienced lawyer would be
“amazed” that one type of company could win one type of contract and a different
type of company could win a different kind of contract, but that was Simpson’s
The second meeting between Simpson and Rob Riley was even more fruitful
than the first. It produced most of the testimony she gave regarding Judge Fuller
and other subjects as well. Simpson, who had recently adopted a child, said she
drove to Birmingham in early 2005 to shop for baby clothes. While there she
dropped by Riley’s law office to show him pictures of her new baby (thus, the
“baby pictures meeting.”)
Simpson testified that the topic quickly turned to Rob Riley’s favorite subject.
“OK, in that conversation in early 2005, Rob started talking about Mark Fuller.
And I’m like, where have I heard that name? Because I’d heard it before. And (Rob)
tells me, he says that Mark was going to be the judge (on the Siegelman case.)
“He said, ‘Oh, you know him.’ I’m like, ‘No I don’t.’ He said, ‘I think you do.’”
“I said, ‘Is he that guy y’all said before (during the 2002 meeting with Stewart
Hall) that does them aviation contracts?’”
“And that’s when he proceeded to say, ‘Yeah, he has a company called
“I said, ‘Is he still doing that since he became a judge?’”
“And he said, ‘Oh yeah,’ and he proceeds to start telling me about the company.”
Rob Riley learned about the above and other claims after the release of
Simpson’s testimony transcript. He went on the Internet and found that Fuller
was a third-year law student when he arrived in Tuscaloosa as a freshman.
“Ms. Simpson stated in her testimony that she understood that Judge
Fuller was in ‘college’ at Alabama with Stewart and me,” Riley said. “It is my
understanding based on an Internet search that Judge Fuller graduated from
college at the University of Alabama in 1982. I began college at the University
of Alabama in 1984.”
“I had a lot on my plate. I wasn’t hanging out with any law students.”
Riley said he didn’t know Fuller at Alabama and still doesn’t. He said the first
he’d heard of the companies Doss was from Simpson’s testimony. Nor should one
expect any different. Fuller is older than Rob Riley and from a different part of the
state. Doss, to put it mildly, is not a household name in Alabama.
“To my knowledge I have never spoken to Mark Fuller, ever, about anything,”
said the governor’s son. “I hate to say that and have been at an event with 1,000
or so people and have someone say I met Mark Fuller, but to my knowledge, I’ve
never met him.”
Stewart Hall, the lobbyist, recalled meeting Simpson, twice, both times
briefly, when she came to Washington for matters related to the FEMA dispute.
On neither occasion did he have a discussion with her that remotely resembled
what she testified to.
“I didn’t know there was a Mark Fuller until the Siegelman sentencing. I don’t
know the guy, never met the guy. I don’t know this Doss guy either,” said Hall,
who chuckled when told Doss was a company, not a guy.
“It’s a complete unadulterated joke,” he said of Simpson’s ever-changing tales.
Hall’s voice took a harder edge when he said he didn’t “feel like being part of
baseless conspiracy theories.”
Among the documents Simpson provided to the Judiciary Committee lawyers
was an e-mail from Rob Riley about the FEMA claim that referred to “Karl.”
“It was not uncommon for him to talk to Karl Rove and Stewart Hall about
that because he would make reference to it,” Simpson testified.
There was, however, another Karl in the mix – Karl Dix, an Atlanta lawyer
who specializes in FEMA claims, who was also hired to assist Simpson’s client and
who, like the other Karl, also spells his name with K.
“The memo to Karl? Well, heck, that was for the lawyer in Georgia helping us
with the appeal!” Riley said, his voice rising in astonishment as is often did when
talking about Simpson.
And then revealed how much “Karl Rove” helped with the FEMA claim.
“We got zero!” Riley said, laughing.
If Rob Riley and Hall are telling the truth, then Jill Simpson learned about
Fuller’s perfectly legal and fully disclosed part-ownership in the Doss companies
from someone other than the governor’s son.
And if that’s the case, the only remaining conclusion is that she committed
Mark Fuller, the federal judge who presided over the Siegelman trial.
Count Two: Fuller’s ‘grudge’ against Siegelman.
This example regards a dispute between Fuller and his successor as district attorney for
Coffee and Pike counties. It produced the most oft-quoted line from Simpson’s testimony –
that Rob Riley told Simpson that Fuller told him he “would hang Don Siegelman.”
Late in his tenure as district attorney Fuller nearly doubled the salary of his chief
investigator for a one-year period. After Fuller’s appointment to the bench, Siegelman,
in keeping with the duties of his off ce, appointed a successor district attorney to
complete Fuller’s term. The replacement, Gary McAliley, was not Fuller’s fast friend.
The new D.A. conducted an audit of Fuller’s office and concluded that Fuller
raised the investigator’s salary in part to increase the man’s retirement benefits. It’s
a sign of Scott Horton’s twisted genius that he was able to convert a little-known,
long-forgotten southeast Alabama dispute between the former district attorney
and his successor into A) a reason that Fuller should have recused himself from
the Siegelman trial; and B) a motive for Fuller to want to “hang” Siegelman.
It’s almost inconceivable that Horton, up in New York, found this Fuller factoid
or was otherwise already familiar with it, such as by possessing an encyclopedic
knowledge of every aspect of the judge’s past. I apologize to readers for not being
able to say conclusively who fed this and other information to Horton, along with
the angles for him to spin the data into the vast conspiracy storyline.
Horton’s summer series (a number of highly critical columns on Harper's web-site)
excoriating Fuller included a piece called, “Judge Fuller: A Siegelman Grudge Match.”
He wrote that Fuller blamed Siegelman for the audit because the governor had appointed
McAliley. He took it a step further in a subsequent column, declaring that it was inappropriate
for Fuller to preside over the trial because of his “clash with the Siegelman administration
over the ‘salary spiking’ case in Coff ee County.”
District attorneys are not members of a governor’s administration nor considered as
such by anyone I’ve ever met. Only someone of Horton’s deeply rooted
dishonesty could place the district attorney of Coffee County within the Siegelman administration.
If Simpson was testifying truthfully, then Rob Riley was indeed far gone with
his Fuller obsession. Per Simpson, the governor’s son made it his business to know
everything about Fuller. What’s more, Riley was such a compelling storyteller that two
years later Simpson was able to testify to the Fuller minutia with exacting clarity.
“(Rob) made a statement that Fuller would hang Don Siegelman,” she said.
“He told me about a backlogging case, which is what you call the salary spike. He
called it the ‘backlogging.’”
Simpson told the congressional lawyers she’d “never heard the term ‘backlogging”
so “had to ask Rob what backlogging was.”
Riley (baby pictures meeting) laid it all out for her, allowing her to do the
same, thusly, for the Judiciary Committee lawyers:
“Evidently from what I understand, Fuller had an employee when he was at the
DA’s job … And he had two employees, a secretary and an investigator. And during his
term of being DA, somehow that investigator wasn’t making your typical salary, and he
(Fuller) kicked it up. And Rob got to telling me that there was an audit done, a couple
of audits, I think, and that Fuller just hated Don Siegelman and thought he was
responsible for these audits on those salaried employees and that there was something
involving a backlogging because they go back to fi gure your retirement and there was
something kind of backlogging deal. But I didn’t understand it at the time ...
“He said that Don Siegelman had caused Fuller to get audited. That’s what Fuller
thought. He (Fuller) hated him (Siegelman) for that.”
The day after public release of the transcript, Horton pulled the “hang Don
Siegelman” quote from Simpson’s testimony and reminded his readers that he had
“previously documented Judge Fuller’s grudge against Siegelman.” To prove it, he
gave readers a link to what he called “the complete background” on the issue. The
link led readers to his “Judge Fuller: A Siegelman Grudge Match” column.
Rob Riley said he never told Simpson the first thing about the Coffee County
district attorney dispute, in part because he didn’t know the first thing about it.
“I have no knowledge of any ownership in any business or alleged grudges Ms.
Simpson says Judge Fuller holds against Mr. Siegelman, and I never discussed
such with Ms. Simpson,” he said.
The fantasy of Mark Fuller telling Rob Riley or anyone else that he “would
hang Don Siegelman” appeared in stories published by Time, the New York Times
and others, and was repeated on four different Dan Abrams shows. The Judiciary
Committee Democrats footnoted Simpson’s testimony (in a later report alleging "selective
prosecution" of Democrats by the Bush Justice Department.) to support its finding that Fuller
was “a judge who Mr. Riley stated could be trusted to ‘hang Don Siegelman.’”
From Scott Horton to Jill Simpson to the top names in the national media and,
lastly, into a congressional report.
Fiction to fact, Tinkers to Evers to Chance-like.
Scott Horton, the rising star at the fading Harper's magazine.
Count Three: Riley’s foreknowledge that Fuller would be assigned to preside
over the Siegelman case.
Among the mini-conspiracies conceived by Horton to support the primary
conspiracy was his assertion that the Justice Department engaged in “amazing and
blatant judge-shopping” by bringing the Siegelman case in Montgomery.
“In fact, moving the case out of the district in which it was initiated so as to
evade the control of the federal judge (Clemon) to whom it was assigned was the
first clear-cut sign of prosecutorial misconduct in the history of the Siegelman
prosecution,” he wrote in mid-July.
Horton’s unique to say nothing of wildly erroneous interpretation was that
the Bobo case and warehouse investigation were linked. They were investigated by
prosecutors and agents from the districts in which the cases were brought -- the
Birmingham-based Northern District for the Bobo case and for the “G.H.” case,
the Middle District. It would have been uncalled for and odd indeed for Franklin
to take the Montgomery case to Birmingham.
Assuming for the moment that Horton is correct – that the G.H. case was
an extension or related to the Bobo case -- Clemon wouldn’t have been the judge.
After Clemon’s outrageous conduct in the second Bobo trial, the 11th Circuit
Court of Appeals removed him from presiding over the continuing prosecution
of the Tuscaloosa doctor.
Horton’s “judge shopping” charges didn’t end there.
In his first story on Fuller, he wrote that a “well-placed Alabama GOP source
who wishes to remain anonymous” had told him that “senior figures in the
Alabama GOP appear to have known from the start that this case was going to
be handled by a man they counted a friend, namely, George W. Bush–appointee
Six weeks after that column, Simpson testified that state Republicans knew
well ahead of time that the grudge-holding Fuller would get the Siegelman
case. She knew this because Rob Riley told her so during the 2005 baby picture
After release of Simpson’s transcript, Horton wrote:
“In her Congressional testimony, Republican attorney Jill Simpson charges
that senior G.O.P. operatives had hand-picked Judge Mark Fuller as the judge who
would handle the Siegelman case because they knew he was a loyal Republican
who bore a deep grudge against Siegelman.”
And concluded: “Simpson’s allegations match the facts we upturned in our
investigative series on Judge Fuller this summer.”
The House Judiciary Committee completed the circle. The Democratic
majority’s April 2008 report on selective prosecution cited Simpson’s testimony
as the source for its assertion that Rob Riley “also said the case would be in the
Middle District of Alabama and would be heard by Chief Judge Mark Fuller…”
That someone so dishonest and wrong on so many points could have an
impact on the Judiciary Committee and, it would seem as well, the coverage by
the likes of Time, the New York Times, CBS, and MSNBC jars the mind. I know
– I know! – I’ve made the point before. And will again. Just because it happened
doesn’t mean it’s any less incomprehensible.
Count Four: The government’s decision to prosecute Scrushy along with
In one of his post-sentencing Fuller columns, Horton wrote that inclusion of
“Richard Scrushy, the notorious CEO of HealthSouth” into the Siegelman case
was “clearly calculated for dramatic effect …”
Alabamians were “seething over the botched prosecution” in Birmingham
and there was “a broad public demand for Scrushy’s head,” Horton wrote, and
then: “Given this situation, the linkage between Scrushy and Siegelman was weak
and highly prejudicial to Siegelman. The judge should have investigated whether
prosecutors were attempting to capitalize on public anger against Scrushy to ‘get’
Siegelman -- but I can find no evidence at all that Fuller examined this possibility.”
Six weeks after that column, Simpson gave testimony that, once again,
confirmed that Horton was right on target.
She testified that Rob Riley told her (baby picture meeting) that “they had
come up with an idea to prosecute Don with Richard Scrushy … because nobody
likes Richard Scrushy, and (Riley) thought that that would assure a conviction for
The governor’s son said “they” had “figured a way to do it,” she testified.
Riley’s statement that day in 2005 produced another opening for Curious
Jill. She was always asking, was Simpson. Hey, Rob, what is backlogging? she’d
wondered. And, to Bill Canary during the 2002 conference call, she’d asked who
he meant by “his girls,” after which Canary hung himself with the words he never
spoke. And, she’d wondered aloud to Rob Riley (baby pictures): Has Fuller, since
becoming a judge, continued to be involved with the Doss companies?
This time Simpson’s curiosity was piqued by Riley’s statement that “they” had
conceived a plan to throw Scrushy into the Siegelman case.
“… and I basically asked him, ‘What way are you – how are they going to
do that?’ And (Riley) proceeded to lay out to me the lottery issue,” she told the
Judiciary Committee lawyers.
It’s a good thing she asked and Riley answered, since it helped the Judiciary
Committee get to the truth. This from the April 2008 “selective prosecution”
report: “Mr. Riley’s comments about plans to have Mr. Scrushy and Mr. Siegelman
tried jointly have also drawn notice from commentators …”
The footnote to that statement was a blog posting from the Huffington Post.
Such is the nature of what passes for Congressional evidence these days.
Si Newhouse (above), the head of the Newhouse media company that owns, by way
of Advance Publications, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, and newspapers throughout the
country, including, in Alabama, the Mobile Press-Register, the Birmingham News, and the
Huntsville Times. Among the many ludicrous claims by Horton was his frequently declared
allegation that the Newhouse papers in Alabama conspired to go after Siegelman. The
"Newhouse conspiracy" -- supported by not one iota of evidence -- figures into the next
segement of, "Creative Perjury."
Count Five: A 2003 poll in the Mobile Press Register.
Every Sunday for years, the Mobile Register published a poll, usually on a topic
in the news. Not infrequently, ideas ran short and our pollsters were asked to query
citizens on an arguably meaningless subject. So it was for the poll published Nov. 16,
2003, a year after the 2002 gubernatorial election and three years before the next one.
Two months earlier voters had crushed Riley’s proposed billion dollar tax increase.
He’d received national acclaim for trying to reform Alabama’s tax code but angered
many voters, especially his fellow Republicans. It was for such reasons that his popularity
was at an ebb.
According to the poll, at that moment in time, Roy Moore held a 17 point lead
over Riley among likely Republican candidates in 2006. Were there to be a repeat
of 2002, Siegelman could expect about 46 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Riley,
with the remainder undecided.
In 2007, this insignificant, long-forgotten poll found itself playing a critical
role in the conspiracy. It served as the must-have motive that prompted Karl Rove,
Bob Riley, the Justice Department and others to employ extreme and illegal methods to
take out Siegelman. The poll established that a Siegelman candidacy in 2006 was
simply too grave a threat to trust to the electorate. The Democratic behemoth had to
be – must be – vanquished. That, in any event, became the story.
The poll’s relevance to the Siegelman prosecution was first reported in Horton’s
columns. Time (magazine) and others whose idea of research was reading what Team
Siegelman gave them followed.
In one of his July 2007 columns, Horton wrote that the 2003 poll “set off alarm bells” and
“was cause for a number of meetings and discussions about how to deal with the ‘Siegelman
problem.’” He wrote that unidentified “sources within the Alabama GOP” told him about the
poll and the response to it within the Riley camp.
“Before long, I believe, a solution to that problem manifested itself in the form of an
indictment,” Horton wrote.
The 2003 poll was published almost two years before the charges were brought in Montgomery
and six months before the Bobo indictment. Riley’s fortunes improved dramatically from November
2003 onward, as shown by subsequent polls that Horton, Time, the House Judiciary Committee and others
A May 2004 survey by the polling arm of the state teachers’ association and taken before the
Bobo indictment showed Riley leading Siegelman 50 percent to 37 percent. The same poll showed
Lt. Gov. Baxley topping Riley by two points, indicating that she was the only Democrat with a chance
of beating the
Republican incumbent. If it wasn’t already the case, the poll all but assured that when donation time
came, the Democratic power structure would back Baxley, not Siegelman.
The Associated Press reported on the poll so it would have been available, from a simple Nexis
search, to Horton, Time, the Judiciary Committee or anyone else with the slightest interest in being thorough.
This two-minute search of polls pitting Siegelman against Riley would have also turned up three
other polls, all with far greater time relevance to Siegelman’s actual chances of defeating Baxley or Riley.
In late January 2005 – after the dismissal of the Bobo case and well before the Montgomery
indictment – the Register published two polls. Both were carried on the wire by the AP. The first
had Riley beating Siegelman 46 percent to 34 percent.
The next week’s survey was limited to likely Democratic voters. It showed the cheerful, responsible,
much-liked Baxley pounding Siegelman 45 to 31 percent.
The state’s top-ranked Democratic official had a sky-high favorability rating of 70 percent. Her
negative rating, of 7 percent, was so low as to seem like a typo.
Siegelman’s negatives were in the 40 percent range, and that according to self-described Democrats.
“(Baxley) comes into this with very little baggage … It’s hard to imagine what kind of strategy Siegelman
could be thinking of as far as attacking her,” our pollster, Keith Nicholls, said of the Democrat liked, if not
supported, even by most Republicans.
In early October 2005, a Register poll -- the last taken before Siegelman’s indictment – showed Riley
crushing Siegelman 46 percent to 31 percent.
Translation: Siegelman, pre-indictment, was political toast. The notion that he had to be indicted to secure
Riley’s and the GOP’s hold on the governors’ office is a joke.
I don’t think it unreasonable to propose that if these later polls showed Siegelman advantages then they, not
the grey-haired 2003 poll, would have been cited by Horton, Time, et. al.
Now, the relevance of the 2003 poll to the claim being made here that Jill Simpson committed perjury.
She told the Judiciary Committee lawyers that she and Rob Riley also discussed the 2006 election.
They talked about Lucy Baxley’s “weaknesses and how we could hit her, you know, with what we could run
with on that.”
With Baxley thus dismissed, Riley told Simpson that Siegelman “was the biggest threat that we had ... and also
we talked about a little fact that Don had – there had been a poll done somewhere in 2003. And based on
communications I had with Rob … Don had decided to run (in 2006)…”
With that testimony, Simpson displayed familiarity both with the ancient Mobile poll and its place in making
the case for what Horton, two months before, called the “Siegelman problem.”
But there was no Siegelman problem. It was a con conceived by Horton and his Alabama sources to manufacture
a motive that never existed. Only those without an understanding of the Alabama political situation – such as dupes
with certain national media outlets – could have believed and then promoted the nonsense.
By now, the pattern should be familiar enough so that you already know what Harper’s on-line star did next. In
one of his columns after release of Simpson’s transcript he wrote: “At the moment when, according to Simpson’s
testimony, Rove was being approached and encouraged to make the prosecution of Siegelman
happen, a poll in … the Mobile Press-Register was showing Siegelman defeating Riley in a rematch.”
One person not buying the Siegelman as Democratic Goliath story was David Prather, the editorial page
editor with the Huntsville Times. In a column dismissing the burgeoning national conspiracy, Prather wrote
that at that point in Siegelman’s career he “wasn’t worth Rove’s trouble.”
"The Don had bet the ranch on the education lottery that anti-gambling folks detested and people
who believe in tax fairness had to hold their nose to support. When that failed, the rest of Siegelman’s
administration was without a map, and degeneratedinto cronyism and lethargy. Can you name another governor
who named his driver to head a state agency?
Siegelman’s career was on the skids, but the idea that someone is being persecuted strikes a chord in the
public heart, and Siegelman and Scrushy know how to raise questions, innuendoes and uncertainty better than most."
Horton went apoplectic. The ink wasn’t dry on Prather’s column before he told Harper’s readers that the
Huntsville writer was a “Kool-Aid Drinker” whose column “perfectly demonstrates the mental integrity of his paper.”
The Huntsville Times, like the Mobile and Birmingham papers, is owned by the Newhouses. Up until then it had
escaped Horton’s fury, one assumes because it did little investigative reporting or editorializing on the Siegelman case.
But after Prather’s column, Horton tossed the Times in with its sorry sister papers. He wrote that big hitters in the national
media were forever shaking their heads at the “very sorry landscape of the
Alabama print media … The worst species are the Newhouse papers which control the market, of which Prather’s paper is one.”
He completed the thrashing by diagnosing Prather with something called, “Tolstoy syndrome.”
To show just how wrong Prather was, Horton again brandished the 2003 poll in declaring as fact
that Siegelman had remained the state’s Democratic colossus.
Though the New York Times did not cite the poll in its editorials or news coverage, the same notion of Siegelman
as the great threat to Riley was embedded in the paper’s opining and news stories.
The 2003 poll entered the public record when the House Judiciary Committee cited it to establish the required
motive-related case that Siegelman was at the time of his indictment a “major political force” in Alabama.
Count Six: The relationship between the Rileys and Rove, and the latter’s directive
to the Justice Department that it eliminate the threat that was Don Siegelman.
Horton’s fabrication of a White House-issued directive to ruin Siegelman naturally
required someone at the Justice Department, for not even he could claim that Rove
investigated the case himself. The natural link was the Public Integrity Section, the
group of lawyers within Justice that focuses on public corruption cases.
Public Integrity’s role in the Siegelman case had been widely reported on since
2003, and section chief Noel Hillman came to Montgomery when Siegelman’s
indictment was announced. Horton simply connected fantasy (Rove’s role in the case)
with reality (the involvement of Hillman and Public Integrity) to create conspiracy.
In a July column, “Noel Hillman and the Siegelman Case,” Horton stated as fact
the Simpson-generated wives’ tale that, “Leura Canary’s husband, William Canary”
was “actively engaged in efforts to take down Governor Siegelman.” From there, to
the next dot: That Bill Canary “bragged about bringing Rove into the eff ort to ‘get’
Siegelman, and how Rove had involved the Justice Department in the process.”
Horton’s source for Canary’s bragging was an unidentified and in all likelihood
imaginary, “Republican lawyer working on the Riley campaign.”
Having established Rove’s participation with Simpson and the unidentified
Republican lawyer, Horton next drew a line from Rove to Hillman, or as he
described the latter, a “loyal Bushie.”
And then, uncharacteristically, humility.
“Now we still don’t know all the specifics of Karl Rove’s manipulation of
matters in the Department of Justice. We do know that he was feverishly involved
… It seems reasonably clear that one of Rove’s key levers at Justice throughout this
period was the Public Integrity Section (PIN).”
Here, Horton is admitting that he lacks proof connecting Rove to Hillman.
If he was worried for the lack of it, he needn’t have been. Help was on the way.
Two months after that column Simpson testified that Rob Riley had
complained to her (baby pictures) about Alice Martin’s “having messed up” the
Bobo case. With the Bobo rap beaten, Siegelman was “definitely running” again,
Riley told her.
"And then he proceeds to tell me that Bill Canary and Bob Riley had had a
conversation with Karl Rove again and that they had this time gone over and seen
whoever was the head of the department of — he called it PIS, which I don’t think
that is the correct acronym, but that’s what he called it. And I had to say, ‘What is
that?’ And he said, ‘That is the Public Integrity Section…And I read in the paper
since they call it PIN, but he called it PIS.”
Simpson’s use of PIS instead of PIN was an endearing touch. Just like it might
have gone down had it really happened.
She appears to be saying that Bob Riley and Bill Canary met with Rove,
then joined Bush’s senior advisor in a visit to the Justice Department. There, they
met with the head of “PIS,” who pledged to “allocate whatever resources” were
necessary to prosecute Siegelman.
With that testimony – under oath, mind you – Simpson had done it. She’d made
the final connection – from the Rileys and Rove to the Justice Department.
After release of Simpson’s transcript Horton wrote two columns that employed
her testimony to solidify the Rove-Justice Department link. They were called: “Karl
Rove linked to Siegelman Prosecution,” and, “The Noel Hillman connection.”
Simpson either hadn’t been able to recall Hillman’s name or pretended she
couldn’t. After all, it wouldn’t be realistic for her to remember everything. But of
course Noel Hillman was head of Public Integrity at the time. No one needed her
to fill in that blank. Hillman had led the public corruption unit from 2002 to
2006, to considerable praise from the press and Democrats.
“Let’s plug in a bit more information,” wrote Horton, filling in the void for
Simpson. “The head of Public Integrity during this period is named Noel Hillman.
He’s a New Jersey politico, and came to Justice as Michael Chertoff ’s sidekick.”
In the other column he congratulated himself for being right all along.
“As noted in the past, all available evidence so far had already pointed to Noel
Hillman as the principal vehicle through which Karl Rove tasked and pursued
the Siegelman case. And now we have a Republican attorney testifying under oath
about the Rove-Hillman links in relation to the Siegelman case.”
The italics are mine, the lies and innuendo his, and, in keeping with the pattern,
the Judiciary Committee’s as well. Simpson’s testimony was the footnoted source
for this segment from the April 2008 majority report on selective prosecution by
the Bush Justice Department:
Most significantly, Ms. Simpson described a conversation in early 2005 in which
Governor Riley’s son Rob, a colleague and friend of Ms. Simpson, told her that his
father and Mr. Canary had again spoken to Karl Rove who had in turn communicated
with the head of the Department’s Public Integrity Section about bringing a second
indictment against Don Siegelman since the first case in Birmingham had been
dismissed. According to Ms. Simpson, Mr. Riley also told her that Mr. Rove had asked
the Department to mobilize additional resources to assist in the prosecution.
Though the report didn’t identify him by name, Hillman, as the head of Public
Integrity, was, or so it would appear, implicated by the Judiciary Committee as a
key player in the scheme to destroy Siegelman.
In early 2006, about five months before the Siegelman trial, I called Justice to request
an interview with Hillman. I was thinking of doing a feature on him and the Public Integrity
Section. This small sub-section of Justice was I assumed little known to our readers – I’d
never heard of it before the Siegelman case – and Hillman was receiving much praise,
including from Democrats, for Public Integrity’s aggressive prosecution of public corruption,
especially for its work on the Abramoff case.
Hillman seemed distracted, something less than thrilled to talk to a reporter,
or in any event one from Mobile. He was polite enough, but I could see I wasn’t
going to get a story out of his yes-no and one-sentence responses.
This was pre-Simpson and thus, pre-Rove. Siegelman was of course still telling
anyone who would listen that Bob Riley was behind his prosecution. It was a
ludicrous claim but deserved a response from Hillman, so I asked.
He paused. “I’m – this just shows my ignorance – but is he the current
That was all the answer I needed but informed Hillman that, yes, Bob Riley
was Alabama’s current governor.
More than two years later, I called Hillman again, this time to ask about the
accusations made by Simpson, Horton and others. By then he was a federal judge
in New Jersey, and I was surprised when he took my call.
“Yeah I am mad,” he said. “Horton and others have slandered and libeled me
and the good people at (Public Integrity)… When this case started I did not know
and did not care what party Siegelman called home.
“I've never spoken with, met with, communicated in any way with, Karl Rove
or anyone I knew to be acting on his behalf. Th e notion that he would call a career
section chief who himself reports to a career deputy assistant attorney general
(Jack Keeney) about a pending case is absurd and everyone at DOJ thinks it’s the
biggest joke ever.”
He expressed incredulity at the level of hearsay that’s been allowed to fuel
the fantasy that Karl Rove directed Public Integrity to prosecute Siegelman. “She
(Simpson) said he (Rob Riley) says my father (Bob Riley) says that someone else
said that they said that Karl Rove talked to Public Integrity – it’s at least four layers
of hearsay and there’s a reason why courts don’t allow hearsay as evidence. And
everybody along the line has denied it.
“I’ve been sitting here scratching my head and wondering why this isn’t clearly
unreliable,” Hillman said. “No one who asserts these things has ever bothered to
call me and ask.”
Leura Canary made no eff ort to influence the Public Integrity Section’s
decisions on the case, nor did she seek to have any input, he said. “The single
biggest force pushing the case was Louis Franklin, with Feaga to a lesser degree.”
Scott Horton, said Hillman, “literally makes stuff up.”
Simpson had testified for an entire day, concluding at about 4:30 p.m. If one
accepted her testimony at face value, she’d done much to advance the case that
Siegelman was the victim of a political hit. She’d established motive for Bob Riley
and the Republicans to seek the prosecution of Siegelman; a motive for Fuller
to “hang” the former governor; and most critically, she’d sealed the Riley-Canary-
Her next appearance, or so it seemed, was coming soon, before the
entire Judiciary Committee. This time it would be in public, for all to see.
Author’s Note: As is probably clear, I think Simpson was coached, probably by
Scott Horton, who she referred to, at least on occasion, as “Professor Horton.”
In October 2009 I e-mailed questions to Horton and Simpson regarding,
among other things, Simpson’s testimony. I asked Horton: “Did you coach and/
or assist Jill Simpson in the preparation of her September 2007 testimony?”
Neither he nor Simpson replied to my questions. I don’t think they like me,
so their failure to answer shouldn’t be seen as proof of my suspicions.