This is the last of five installments from the chapter, "Creative Perjury," in my book, "The Governor of Goat Hill," and that address testimony by Jill Simpson to lawyers for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. As stated prior to the previous installments, t
Count Six: The relationship between the Rileys and Rove, and the latter’s directive
to the Justice Department that it eliminate the threat that was Don Siegelman.
Horton’s fabrication of a White House-issued directive to ruin Siegelman naturally
required someone at the Justice Department, for not even he could claim that Rove
investigated the case himself. The natural link was the Public Integrity Section, the
group of lawyers within Justice that focuses on public corruption cases.
Public Integrity’s role in the Siegelman case had been widely reported on since
2003, and section chief Noel Hillman came to Montgomery when Siegelman’s
indictment was announced. Horton simply connected fantasy (Rove’s role in the case)
with reality (the involvement of Hillman and Public Integrity) to create conspiracy.
In a July column, “Noel Hillman and the Siegelman Case,” Horton stated as fact
the Simpson-generated wives’ tale that, “Leura Canary’s husband, William Canary”
was “actively engaged in efforts to take down Governor Siegelman.” From there, to
the next dot: That Bill Canary “bragged about bringing Rove into the eff ort to ‘get’
Siegelman, and how Rove had involved the Justice Department in the process.”
Horton’s source for Canary’s bragging was an unidentified and in all likelihood
imaginary, “Republican lawyer working on the Riley campaign.”
Having established Rove’s participation with Simpson and the unidentified
Republican lawyer, Horton next drew a line from Rove to Hillman, or as he
described the latter, a “loyal Bushie.”
And then, uncharacteristically, humility.
“Now we still don’t know all the specifics of Karl Rove’s manipulation of
matters in the Department of Justice. We do know that he was feverishly involved
… It seems reasonably clear that one of Rove’s key levers at Justice throughout this
period was the Public Integrity Section (PIN).”
Here, Horton is admitting that he lacks proof connecting Rove to Hillman.
If he was worried for the lack of it, he needn’t have been. Help was on the way.
Two months after that column Simpson testified that Rob Riley had
complained to her (baby pictures) about Alice Martin’s “having messed up” the
Bobo case. With the Bobo rap beaten, Siegelman was “definitely running” again,
Riley told her.
"And then he proceeds to tell me that Bill Canary and Bob Riley had had a
conversation with Karl Rove again and that they had this time gone over and seen
whoever was the head of the department of — he called it PIS, which I don’t think
that is the correct acronym, but that’s what he called it. And I had to say, ‘What is
that?’ And he said, ‘That is the Public Integrity Section…And I read in the paper
since they call it PIN, but he called it PIS.”
Simpson’s use of PIS instead of PIN was an endearing touch. Just like it might
have gone down had it really happened.
She appears to be saying that Bob Riley and Bill Canary met with Rove,
then joined Bush’s senior advisor in a visit to the Justice Department. There, they
met with the head of “PIS,” who pledged to “allocate whatever resources” were
necessary to prosecute Siegelman.
With that testimony – under oath, mind you – Simpson had done it. She’d made
the final connection – from the Rileys and Rove to the Justice Department.
After release of Simpson’s transcript Horton wrote two columns that employed
her testimony to solidify the Rove-Justice Department link. They were called: “Karl
Rove linked to Siegelman Prosecution,” and, “The Noel Hillman connection.”
Simpson either hadn’t been able to recall Hillman’s name or pretended she
couldn’t. After all, it wouldn’t be realistic for her to remember everything. But of
course Noel Hillman was head of Public Integrity at the time. No one needed her
to fill in that blank. Hillman had led the public corruption unit from 2002 to
2006, to considerable praise from the press and Democrats.
“Let’s plug in a bit more information,” wrote Horton, filling in the void for
Simpson. “The head of Public Integrity during this period is named Noel Hillman.
He’s a New Jersey politico, and came to Justice as Michael Chertoff ’s sidekick.”
In the other column he congratulated himself for being right all along.
“As noted in the past, all available evidence so far had already pointed to Noel
Hillman as the principal vehicle through which Karl Rove tasked and pursued
the Siegelman case. And now we have a Republican attorney testifying under oath
about the Rove-Hillman links in relation to the Siegelman case.”
The italics are mine, the lies and innuendo his, and, in keeping with the pattern,
the Judiciary Committee’s as well. Simpson’s testimony was the footnoted source
for this segment from the April 2008 majority report on selective prosecution by
the Bush Justice Department:
Most significantly, Ms. Simpson described a conversation in early 2005 in which
Governor Riley’s son Rob, a colleague and friend of Ms. Simpson, told her that his
father and Mr. Canary had again spoken to Karl Rove who had in turn communicated
with the head of the Department’s Public Integrity Section about bringing a second
indictment against Don Siegelman since the first case in Birmingham had been
dismissed. According to Ms. Simpson, Mr. Riley also told her that Mr. Rove had asked
the Department to mobilize additional resources to assist in the prosecution.
Though the report didn’t identify him by name, Hillman, as the head of Public
Integrity, was, or so it would appear, implicated by the Judiciary Committee as a
key player in the scheme to destroy Siegelman.
In early 2006, about five months before the Siegelman trial, I called Justice to request
an interview with Hillman. I was thinking of doing a feature on him and the Public Integrity
Section. This small sub-section of Justice was I assumed little known to our readers – I’d
never heard of it before the Siegelman case – and Hillman was receiving much praise,
including from Democrats, for Public Integrity’s aggressive prosecution of public corruption,
especially for its work on the Abramoff case.
Hillman seemed distracted, something less than thrilled to talk to a reporter,
or in any event one from Mobile. He was polite enough, but I could see I wasn’t
going to get a story out of his yes-no and one-sentence responses.
This was pre-Simpson and thus, pre-Rove. Siegelman was of course still telling
anyone who would listen that Bob Riley was behind his prosecution. It was a
ludicrous claim but deserved a response from Hillman, so I asked.
He paused. “I’m – this just shows my ignorance – but is he the current
That was all the answer I needed but informed Hillman that, yes, Bob Riley
was Alabama’s current governor.
More than two years later, I called Hillman again, this time to ask about the
accusations made by Simpson, Horton and others. By then he was a federal judge
in New Jersey, and I was surprised when he took my call.
“Yeah I am mad,” he said. “Horton and others have slandered and libeled me
and the good people at (Public Integrity)… When this case started I did not know
and did not care what party Siegelman called home.
“I've never spoken with, met with, communicated in any way with, Karl Rove
or anyone I knew to be acting on his behalf. Th e notion that he would call a career
section chief who himself reports to a career deputy assistant attorney general
(Jack Keeney) about a pending case is absurd and everyone at DOJ thinks it’s the
biggest joke ever.”
He expressed incredulity at the level of hearsay that’s been allowed to fuel
the fantasy that Karl Rove directed Public Integrity to prosecute Siegelman. “She
(Simpson) said he (Rob Riley) says my father (Bob Riley) says that someone else
said that they said that Karl Rove talked to Public Integrity – it’s at least four layers
of hearsay and there’s a reason why courts don’t allow hearsay as evidence. And
everybody along the line has denied it.
“I’ve been sitting here scratching my head and wondering why this isn’t clearly
unreliable,” Hillman said. “No one who asserts these things has ever bothered to
call me and ask.”
Leura Canary made no eff ort to infl uence the Public Integrity Section’s
decisions on the case, nor did she seek to have any input, he said. “The single
biggest force pushing the case was Louis Franklin, with Feaga to a lesser degree.”
Scott Horton, said Hillman, “literally makes stuff up.”
Simpson had testified for an entire day, concluding at about 4:30 p.m. If one
accepted her testimony at face value, she’d done much to advance the case that
Siegelman was the victim of a political hit. She’d established motive for Bob Riley
and the Republicans to seek the prosecution of Siegelman; a motive for Fuller
to “hang” the former governor; and most critically, she’d sealed the Riley-Canary-
Her next appearance, or so it seemed, was coming soon, before the
entire Judiciary Committee. This time it would be in public, for all to see.
Author’s Note: As is probably clear, I think Simpson was coached, probably by
Scott Horton, who she referred to, at least on occasion, as “Professor Horton.”
In October 2009 I e-mailed questions to Horton and Simpson regarding,
among other things, Simpson’s testimony. I asked Horton: “Did you coach and/
or assist Jill Simpson in the preparation of her September 2007 testimony?”
Neither he nor Simpson replied to my questions. I don’t think they like me,
so their failure to answer shouldn’t be seen as proof of my suspicions.