By Ben Evans • The Associated Press • May 8, 2008
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Office of Special Counsel last year shut down a previously undisclosed investigation into the federal prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, according to an internal memo made public Wednesday.
The investigation was being conducted by a task force formed at the agency a year ago to pursue high-profile political investigations in Washington, most notably whether the White House played politics in firing U.S. attorneys. It began gathering information on the Siegelman case in September and was planning to request documents from the Justice Department in October before Special Counsel Scott Bloch ordered the case closed, according to the Jan. 18 draft memo, made public by the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group.
Siegelman has long claimed that Republicans engineered his prosecution on bribery and other corruption charges to kill his chances for re-election, a claim repeatedly denied by federal prosecutors. His attorneys requested earlier this year that the Justice Department appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether White House appointees in Washington, including former Bush adviser Karl Rove, influenced the case. Rove also has denied any involvement.
FBI agents raided the office and Bloch's home this week in an investigation into whether he destroyed evidence potentially showing he retaliated against staffers who opposed his policies.
Siegelman, who served one term as governor after being elected in 1998, was convicted in 2006 on bribery and other charges and sentenced to more than seven years in prison. He was recently released on bond pending appeal.