Rob Riley, son of Alabama Governor Bob Riley, seems to be waging an interesting campaign to counter the Congressional testimony of Rainsville lawyer Jill Simpson.
Simpson testified under oath that Rob Riley told her that an offer was being extended to former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to drop a criminal investigation in exchange for his decision not to contest Bob Riley's razor-close electoral victory in 2002. The investigation continued, and Siegelman wound up being convicted on corruption charges in case now drawing scrutiny as a possible example of selective prosecution by the Bush Justice Department.
Rob Riley, finding a receptive audience in reporters from The Birmingham News and the Montgomery Advertiser, fired back that he was preparing a sworn statement of his own and was willing to testify before Congressional investigators, just as Simpson has.
Is Riley serious or merely bluffing? It seems he might have some difficulty answering certain questions under oath. For example, two of his colleagues on the conference call described by Simpson (Terry Butts and Bill Canary), have denied the conversation with Simpson took place. If clear evidence exists that the conversation did take place, doesn't that put Rob Riley in a tough spot?
Also, Riley has stated in published reports that, at one point, he hadn't seen Simpson in "13 or 14 years" and, while she might have called his office, he could not recall any conversation with her. But Glynn Wilson of Locust Fork World News & Journal reports that Simpson's phone records show she was in almost constant contact with the Rileys in the days immediately after the 2002 election.
Would Rob Riley really agree to be interviewed under oath, particularly if matters related to the 2002 election could come up? Would he want to possibly address the funny numbers that came from Baldwin County on election night? Would he want to be asked about Auburn University professor James Gundlach and his paper showing that the election results almost had to have been electronically manipulated? Or how about the Mississippi Choctaw casino money that was reportedly funneled from Jack Abramoff to the Riley campaign? And if such an interview were wide-ranging--and the eager Rob surely would want it to be wide-ranging--would he discuss the awarding of state contracts under his father's administration?
And here's a question: If Riley is interested in testifying before Congress, why is he seemingly waging a major media battle against Simpson? Why worry about the Alabama media if he's going to tell his story under oath before Congress? And why talk only to Alabama reporters? Why not hold a press conference and invite reporters from all over, especially that pesky Scott Horton, from Harper's.org?
And why hasn't Rob Riley already signed a sworn affidavit? He could have done that weeks ago, not long after Simpson's affidavit came to light.
Speaking of Scott Horton, he had this interesting assessment of The Birmingham News' articles this past weekend on Simpson's testimony: "The articles . . . are heavily driven by one person--Rob Riley. Instead of putting squarely to Mr. Riley the accusations that were leveled in the Washington deposition (and thus, unlike Riley's statements, were answered under oath), the News focuses on attempting to show why Simpson shouldn't be believed."
The Birmingham News is not the only state newspaper fawning over Rob Riley these days. For two days running, the Montgomery Advertiser has run articles about Thomas Gallion, opposing counsel in a lawsuit against Bob Riley, allegedly making a threatening phone call to Rob Riley.
And what kind of threat did Gallion supposedly make? Did he threaten to shoot or knife someone? Did he threaten to plant a bomb somewhere? Did he threaten bodily harm upon Rob Riley or his father?
Nope. According to reporter Francis X. Gilpin, Thomas Gallion allegedly said, "This is war," in a reference to the lawsuit. "It's not the kind of voice mail you're going to forget," Rob Riley says in today's story, obviously still shaken.
It's a wonder the Robmeister didn't need to be sedated.
And what does Gallion have to do with Jill Simpson? Get this: The two of them have evidently communicated. Well snip my pickle and call me Shlomo, two people who have concerns about the Riley administration have actually spoken to each other. I never would have believed it.
Hopefully, someone will get Rob Riley some Xanax to help him get over that terrifying phone call from Tommy Gallion. Meanwhile, one must wonder: If the Robmeister is so unsettled by one phone call from a hometown attorney, how is he going to handle questions under oath from Congressional investigators?
Guess we'll find out before too long.