Siegelman commends committee for Rove agreement

Published 1:59 pm Thursday, March 5, 2009

MONTGOMERY — Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman said he hopes the U.S. House Judiciary Committee will aggressively question former White House aide Karl Rove, who has agreed to testify about possibly influencing his prosecution.

But Siegelman, a Democrat who was convicted in a government corruption probe, also wants the panel to seek sworn testimony from another Republican political operative, Bill Canary, the husband of the U.S. attorney whose office prosecuted him.

In an e-mail to supporters and news reporters, Siegelman commended the committee for securing Rove’s agreement to testify under oath. He said he hopes its investigation doesn’t end with Rove.

“As much as this is an important breakthrough toward the truth, we must remember there are others, for example, the husband of the U S Attorney who prosecuted me … who must also be called before Congress to answer for his part in my prosecution,” Siegelman said.

Bill Canary did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.

His wife, U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, recused herself from the Siegelman investigation in May 2002 after his attorneys demanded it.

The federal prosecutors who handled the case have insisted there was no political involvement by Rove or anyone else. But a whistleblower in the U.S. attorney’s office later was quoted as saying Leura Canary continued to keep up with every detail of the case.

Leura Canary did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.

Siegelman, in his e-mail Wednesday night, encouraged the committee “to muster the strength needed to hold Karl Rove’s feet to the fire to the fullest extent of the law until he is forthcoming.”

Siegelman did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking further comment.

Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers agreed Wednesday to testify under oath before the House Judiciary Committee. The agreement calls for Rove and Miers to be interviewed by the House Judiciary Committee in closed depositions. The committee says it also might call the two for public testimony.

The agreement says the interview with Rove will include facts relating to the prosecution of Siegelman.

Siegelman’s attorney, Vince Kilborn, said he was pleased with the Rove agreement but expressed frustration it has taken so long.

Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy were convicted in 2006 on charges that Siegelman in 1999 agreed to appoint Scrushy to an important hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman’s campaign for a statewide lottery.

Siegelman was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison and is currently free on bond while his conviction is being appealed. The 11th U.S. Circut Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in December, but has not yet ruled. Scrushy is serving an almost seven-year sentence at the federal penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas.

Siegelman has said his prosecution was politically motivated by Republican leaders trying to derail a popular Democrat in a GOP-leaning state.