Riley critic met with attorney about GOP's role
Businessman, lawyer discussed Republicans' alleged involvement in Siegelman prosecution
By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer
MONTGOMERY — Tuscaloosa businessman Stan Pate, an outspoken critic of Republican Gov. Bob Riley, met with attorney Jill Simpson in July after the release of her affidavit alleging GOP politics appeared involved in the federal prosecution of former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman.
Pate said Thursday he believed Simpson's story and gave her encouragement, but did not offer her any advice.
"I had nothing to share with her. I asked her specific questions for clarification of what she was saying to me. It was mostly Jill Simpson talking," Pate said.
Arranged by Gallion
The meeting between Simpson and Pate took place in the conference room of a Birmingham law firm and was arranged by Montgomery lawyer Tommy Gallion, according to a memo from Gallion to Simpson. The memo was part of documents submitted to the House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating allegations of selective prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department, including the prosecution of Siegelman.
The documents were made public this week, showing that Simpson had more extensive involvement in the Siegelman case than previously known. Included were a letter she wrote to the federal prosecutor and material she gathered in an attempt to make the trial judge disqualify himself.
Simpson told investigators with the Justice Department that Riley's son, Rob Riley, told her that Siegelman agreed to drop a challenge of his 2002 election loss to Bob Riley because he was told the federal investigation of his administration would "go away" if he did get out of Alabama politics.
Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy were convicted last year of bribery and other charges in a federal government corruption case and are serving federal prison sentences.
Rob Riley, a Birmingham attorney who was Riley's campaign manager in 2002, has denied telling Simpson that any promises were made to Siegelman. He said he plans to make his own sworn statement and provide it to the judiciary committee's investigators.
"I think it's important that I refute many of the things she said. I think it's important that committee members know I had no role in meeting with Karl Rove or with anybody who had anything to do with the prosecution of Don Siegelman or Richard Scrushy," Riley said Thursday.
He also said he had read all the additional documents released by the committee and that Simpson makes no mention of an offer to drop the case, as she claimed in her sworn testimony.
In her original affidavit and in her statement to committee investigators, Simpson says she was part of a conference call on Nov. 18, 2002 with Rob Riley, GOP attorney Terry Butts and Republican operative Billy Canary. She said Canary indicated Rove was involved and that Canary said his "girls" would take care of Siegelman. She identified his girls as his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. Attorney in Montgomery, and Alice Martin, the U.S. Attorney in Birmingham. Earlier in 2002, Canary recused herself from the investigation of Siegelman and turned the case over to career prosecutor Louis Franklin.
Martin's office unsuccessfully prosecuted Siegelman in a Medicaid fraud case out of Tuscaloosa.
Franklin said Thursday that prosecutors never discussed dropping the investigation if Siegelman would drop out of politics.
"No one ever talked about that. No one ever approached us about dropping this case," Franklin said. "In 2002 we really had no idea where the prosecution was going. We don't make those kinds of promises. We don't deal away prosecutions."
The memo from Gallion says Pate would meet with Simpson and may have information that would help "all parties."
But Pate said he did not give Simpson any new information.
"She was believable to me. There were things that concerned me. I would have liked to have heard that she had conclusive evidence of those meetings. She talked in support of the affidavit," Pate said.
Simpson did not immediately return a message left at her Rainsville law office seeking comment Thursday. Her attorney, Priscilla Duncan, was out of the state and could not be reached for comment.
The documents submitted to the committee also included a letter Simpson wrote to Scrushy's attorney, Art Leach, in which she details research she said she had done on U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who presided over the trial of Siegelman and Scrushy. The letter detailed claims that Fuller had a conflict of interest because he has an interest in a company that does business with the government.
Fuller denied a motion filed by Scrushy asking for a new trial and for Fuller to step down from the case because of the alleged conflict.
Leach did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.
The documents also included a letter Simpson wrote to Franklin, but may not have mailed. She complains that Franklin had falsely characterized Simpson as being disgruntled because she had lost out on a state contract. She says in the letter that she has never bid for a state contract, but has represented clients seeking state contracts.
She also said Franklin had falsely implied that Scrushy and Siegelman came up with the idea to accuse Fuller of having a conflict. She said the truth was that she had told Leach "about the judge's conflict with the judge being a federal contractor."
Franklin said Thursday he never received the letter from Simpson. But he said he did have a telephone conversation with Simpson.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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