Only about 50 people showed up at Rove's book signing, according to The Birmingham News, with protesters almost outnumbering book buyers. Maybe people are wising up, even in Alabama.
Glynn Wilson, of the Locust Fork News-Journal, says the News was being generous to Rove. Wilson said only about 20 people showed up for the book signing. And one of those was federal appellate judge William Pryor, long a Rove/Bush ally.
Wilson has an excellent first-person account, featuring plenty of photos. Writes Wilson:
The most prominent person to show up for a signed copy was none other than William “Bill” Pryor, the former Alabama attorney general who first started trying to investigate then-Governor Don Siegelman in 1998.
As a political payoff, Bush appointed Pryor to a judgeship on the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in 2004 while Congress was in recess, although he was later confirmed by the Senate after a deal was negotiated by Senator John McCain’s “Gang of 14.”
Yes, that’s the same Bill Pryor Rove tried to deny knowing before the House Judiciary Committee, although Rove’s political consulting company ran his campaign for attorney general in 1998. When Pryor walked up and Rove saw him, he smiled real big and said, “Hey, Bud!”
Rove appeared on private property at two locations--a shopping-mall bookstore and a snazzy dining club--so it's hard to know how much protesters' voices were heard. But two prominent Alabama progressives, both targets of the Bush administration, made sure their voices were heard in the hours leading up to Rove's stop in Birmingham.
Former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman and former GOP operative Jill Simpson spoke out about the irony of Courage and Consequence, the title of Rove's new book. In a report by Andrew Kreig at OpEd News, Siegelman and Simpson say Rove is low on "courage"--and he has not been forced to face the "consequences" for his unlawful actions. Reports Kreig:
"Rove is a pathological liar," Siegelman wrote me in response to Rove's denial that he helped frame Siegelman on federal corruption charges in 2006. Siegelman, Simpson and others have cited evidence that the White House ruined Siegelman's re-election campaign as part of a nationwide plan to rely on what a DOJ chief of staff in 2005 called "loyal Bushies" as prosecutors.
Siegelman was tough also on watchdog institutions.
"By failing to investigate Karl Rove's subversion of our constitutional rights, abuse of power and the use of the DOJ as a political weapon," he wrote, "Congress and the mainstream media will be held in contempt by history."
Rove denies in Courage that he had anything to do with Siegelman's prosecution on corruption problems. And he denies that he or other leading Republicans even knew Simpson, who became a key whistleblower in the case. Simpson has a ready reply for that one:
In response to Rove's claims, Simpson disclosed for the first time publicly that her late father and sister met both future Bush presidents in Texas beginning three decades ago. She said her sister worked at a Bush-affiliated bank in Texas on investor relations involving the oil business.
Simpson says her father occasionally met members of the Bush family on business dealings related to oil leases for his accounting clients, and she showed me photos illustrating that she and her son were invited to the White House in 2001.
"Karl Rove knows perfectly well what the truth is," says Simpson. An attorney, Simpson points out that a Democratic staffer cut her off during her 2007 House Judiciary Committee closed-door testimony when she started to respond to a question about her political experience by mentioning her family's connections to the Bush family. "It's right there in the transcript," she says, noting the bottom of page seven.
Simpson goes on to discuss the personal price she has paid for speaking out about Rove and his Alabama cohorts, led by Bill Canary, president of the Business Council of Alabama and husband of Siegelman prosecutor Leura Canary. Reports Kreig:
Simpson says she's received more than 100 requests for TV interviews but has granted only three: To CBS immediately after her closed-door congressional testimony so that public could see something tangible, and to MSNBC five months later on Feb. 25 after CBS sat on the footage until the day before the MSNBC program. The other was to a local reporter who spotted her at a meeting and put a microphone in front of her.
This rings true. Last June, she drove from Alabama to Washington to watch a path-breaking conference that I organized at the National Press Club to focus on prosecutorial abuse in political cases. But she declined my invitation to speak to the nationwide audience on C-SPAN.
"I just want to watch," Simpson told me last summer. "I've had my house burned, my car run off the road, my legal practice hit, all for what I said. I'm not sorry I did it. I had to do it. But I don't need more." She was a reluctant subject even for this interview.
Siegelman went on the offensive regarding an Associated Press article about Rove's visit to Birmingham. The story included this line: Siegelman went to prison but is now free on bond while appealing his more than 7-year sentence for taking a bribe from former HealthSouth Corp. CEO Richard Scrushy.
That prompted this e-mail from Siegelman to AP reporter Bob Johnson, with the heading, "And what bribe did I take?"
What was the government's contention? That I was engaged in Racketeering and Organized Crime and as proof they claimed I accepted a contribution to the Alabama Education Foundation to support free college education for Alabama students ... and in exchange they said I reappointed the contributor to a board to which he had been appointed by three previous governors and that instead of taking a FREE motorcycle from Honda I bought the exact same bike with my own money and later sold it to Nick Bailey who had taken money from a lobbyist!
Now that is hard to swallow.
By failing to hold Rove and other Bush officials accountable, Siegelman says, the Obama administration is making a mistake of historic proportions. Reports Kreig:
With the Obama administration opposing Supreme Court review or recusal of his trial judge, Siegelman, age 64, must prepare for the possibility of a long return to prison.
The former governor sees congressional investigators and the Obama administration alike avoiding the political heat of taking on such a powerful media figure as Rove, who is a columnist for Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal and a contributor to Fox News. Rove has used those outlets and others to attack those who question him.
Siegelman takes aim on his website at fellow Democrats who argue that the nation should put aside past disputes regarding the justice system. He amplified his views for my story today, as follows:
Now it not the time for America to only look forward to tomorrow while denying the evil deeds done yesterday....[H]istory will not treat kindly those who today, for politically selfish reasons, lack the moral strength to restore justice and preserve our democracy.
Kreig, for one, does not plan to let the matter go quietly. He writes:
Later this week, I'm planning to publish suggested questions for news reporters interviewing Rove as he proceeds on his book tour nationally. The questions are based on my 18 months research on prosecution misconduct cases, which has led to creation of the Justice Integrity Project to help reporters with the kind of in-depth research increasingly difficult during news industry budget cuts.
To check the facts and provide fair warning, I gave Rove the questions in advance in late March. Also, I invited him to appear on my radio show, which has hosted Siegelman and several prominent authors objecting to our nation's loss of civil liberties.
Karl Rove & Co. Chief of Staff Sheena Tahilramani responded to my invitations with a note, "As far as any background on this subject, it's just not something Karl's able to delve into while he's in the middle of the tour. I've already got him fully committed and his plate is full. Thanks for reaching out."