Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal?

60 Minutes Reports On Bribery Conviction Of Don Siegelman In A Case Criticized by Democrats And Republicans

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Now a Republican lawyer from Alabama, Jill Simpson, has come forward to claim that the Siegelman prosecution was part of a five-year secret campaign to ruin the governor. Simpson told 60 Minutes she did what's called "opposition research" for the Republican party. She says during a meeting in 2001, Karl Rove, President Bush's senior political advisor, asked her to try to catch Siegelman cheating on his wife.

"Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman?" Pelley asks.

"Yes," Simpson replies.

"In a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides," Pelley clarifies.

"Yes, if I could," Simpson says.

She says she spied on Siegelman for months but saw nothing. Even though she was working as a Republican campaign operative, Simpson says she wanted to talk to 60 Minutes because Siegelman's prison sentence bothers her conscience.

Simpson says she wasn't surprised that Rove made this request. Asked why not, she tells Pelley, "I had had other requests for intelligence before."

"From Karl Rove?" Pelley asks.

"Yes," Simpson says.

Rove was a strategist in Alabama. Simpson says she worked with him on several campaigns.

60 Minutes contacted Rove. Through his lawyer, he denied Simpson's allegations. One of Rove's close Alabama associates was Republican consultant Bill Canary. Simpson says she was on a conference call in 2002 when Canary told her she didn't have to do more intelligence work because, as Canary allegedly said, "My girls" can take care of Siegelman. Simpson says she asked "Who are your girls?"

"And he says, 'Oh, my wife, Leura. You know, she's the Middle District United States Attorney.' And he said, 'And then Alice Martin. She is the Northern District Attorney, and I've helped with her campaign,'" Simpson says.

"Federal prosecutors?" Pelley asks.

"Yes, Sir," she says.

Bill Canary denies the conversation ever happened. He told 60 Minutes he never tried to influence any government official in the case. His wife Leura Canary and Alice Martin are top federal prosecutors in the state. Both were appointed by President Bush, and their offices investigated Siegelman. Details of some of those investigations leaked to the press. And Siegelman lost his 2002 re-election campaign narrowly to Republican Bob Riley.

Two years later, as Siegelman geared up to run again, the Justice Department took one of its Siegelman investigations to trial-an indictment involving an alleged Medicaid scam.

"He's indicted. He goes to trial. That's a pretty big deal to have your former governor on trial. Everybody's there. The government gives their opening argument. The judge says, 'I want to see you in chambers because this case, there's no case here,'" Grant Woods says.

Woods says the judge threw the case out, without a witness testifying. "The case is so lame that he throws it out," he says.

Vindicated, Siegelman focused on winning the 2006 election. And that's when Jill Simpson says she heard the Justice Department was going to try again. She says she heard it from a former classmate and work associate Rob Riley, the son of the new Republican governor.

"Rob said that they had gotten wind that Don was going to run again," she says.

"And Rob Riley said what about that?" Pelley asks.

"They just couldn't have that happen," Simpson says.