REPUBLICAN OPERATIVE SAYS KARL ROVE ASKED HER TO TAKE COMPROMISING PICTURES OF DEMOCRATIC ALABAMA GOVERNOR ? "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
A Republican operative in Alabama says Karl Rove asked her to try to prove the state's Democratic governor was unfaithful to his wife in an effort to thwart the highly successful politician's re-election. Rove's attempt to smear Don Siegelman was part of a Republican campaign to ruin him that finally succeeded in imprisoning him, says the operative, Jill Simpson. Simpson speaks to Scott Pelley in her first television interview, to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Feb. 24 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Simpson spoke to Pelley because, she says, Siegelman's seven-year sentence for bribery bothers her. She recalls what Rove, then President Bush's senior political adviser, asked her to do at a 2001 meeting in this exchange from Sunday's report. "Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman?" asks Pelley. "Yes," replies Simpson. "In a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides," clarifies Pelley. "Yes, if I could," says Simpson.
Simpson says she found no evidence of infidelity despite months of observation. She tells Pelley that Rove, who had been a top Republican strategist in Alabama, had made requests for information from her before in her capacity as an "opposition researcher" for Republicans running for office.
Rove would not speak to 60 MINUTES but elsewhere has denied being involved in efforts to discredit Siegelman.
Siegelman was convicted of bribery in a case that has drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans. In fact, 52 former states' attorneys general from both political parties petitioned Congress to investigate Siegelman's case, resulting in hearings held last fall.
Says Grant Woods, the former Republican attorney general of Arizona and one of those who petitioned Congress, "I haven't seen a case with this many red flags on it that pointed towards a real injustice being done," he tells Pelley. "I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square," says Woods. Siegelman was the only politician in Alabama history to be elected to all four of the state's highest offices of secretary of state, attorney general, lieutenant governor and governor, and he did it as a Democrat in the heavily Republican state.