Signing a copy of, "The Governor of Goat Hill," at the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery.
On February 24, 2008, “60 Minutes” delivered a bombshell – claims that President Bush’s political advisor Karl Rove had assigned an Alabama woman to tail Governor Don Siegelman and take photos of him having extramarital sex.
The piece also presented an open and shut case that powerful Republicans – including Rove and Bob Riley, Siegelman’s successor as Alabama’s governor – had somehow ordered the Justice Department to prosecute Siegelman.
In this book, Eddie Curran -- the investigative reporter whose stories initiated the criminal investigation -- delivers a far different portrait of the one-time golden boy of Alabama Democratic politics.
Curran leads readers on a first-person account of his discoveries, including Siegelman’s use of his office to collect more than $1.3 million in legal fees while governor; the sale of his home through a straw man for twice its value; and a host of scandals involving the likes of Waste Management Inc., and Richard Scrushy, the deeply corrupt HealthSouth Corp. chairman prosecuted along with Siegelman.
“The Governor of Goat Hill” is both a scathing portrayal of a New South governor gone bad and an indictment of some of the top names in American journalism, who bought into a bogus conspiracy for no reason other than it led to Karl Rove.
about his father
published in the Mobile
Go here to read it.
Bob Riley's ethics
Read All About It
Author's Column in the Birmingham News on George Will's piece about the Siegelman Case
For Bonus Chapters
Here's a brief description of the
new material and links to each:
The Matrix Man
This chapter tells about my reporting on Alabama's best-known bare-knuckle political consultant, Joe Perkins, and some interesting things that happened along the way.
The Governor's Money Pot
Go here to learn about the outlandish abuses by Siegelman and others, including top aide-Nick Bailey, in spending money from the governor's contingency fund.
The company Group One was chosen by the governor's office to build and operate the web-site for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). To say they were overpaid and underperformed is putting it mildly.
Mobile lawyer Jim Zeigler -- the aformentioned Gadfly -- has almost surely filed more ethics complaints and citizens lawsuits than anyone in Alabama history. One of those complaints, for no fault of Zeigler's, caused me great discomfort.
Makes a Mint
One of the first acts by Susan Kennedy upon her appointment by Siegelman was to use her influence to clear the way for what became a $500,000 million payment to G.H. Construction figure Lanny Young, routed to him by garbage giant Waste Management. Before leaving as lead lawyer for the Alabama Department of Revenue, Kennedy set up some contracts that were to enrich her, starting immediately upon her departure from state government.
Fob James Section
This is a chapter-length section that tells about some of the stories I wrote about the governor and administration that preceded Siegelman, including those that led to the removal of three top cabinet members; and those that led to the prosecution of Siegelman's highway director, Jimmy Butts.
Notes on Journalism/Detritus
Among the subjects I address is a question I'm often asked: Did you feel in danger while covering the Siegelman administration?
Other headings include: "On Temptation and Public Corruption;" "Nick Bailey and Mikey;" "On the Record, or Off?;" "The Doctor and the Death Star;" "The Shopping Lists; and, with a sub-list all its own, "Nuggets."
They include: Tips for Wannabe Anonymous Sources; Two things Sources Needn't Say to a Reporter; Be Willing to Bite the Hand That Feeds You; The NY Times Got Greased by the Squeaky Wheel, and, To Keep Reading the NY Times, or Not?
Waste Management from chapter,
From 1996 to 1999, Waste Management paid Lanny about $8 million for his
labors in Cherokee County. The largest chunk came first, after Lanny’s company,
Alabama Waste Disposal Solutions, received a permit to build and operate the
landfill. Lanny, though, never built much less operated the landfill. Instead, he
sold the permit to Waste Management, which built and continues to operate what
is one of Alabama’s busiest landfills.
His and Waste Management’s next target was Lowndes County, which sits to
the west of Montgomery county. At the Siegelman trial it was revealed that Lanny
gave $10,000 to a close friend of Lowndes County commissioner Charlie King.
As incentive for corruption, it’s hard to top Waste Management’s secret
contracts with Young. Here’s the breakdown of the Lowndes County deal:
$4 million. Amount Waste Management was to pay Lanny after he won the
permit to build and operate the landfill, then sold/transferred it to the company.
$500,000. This sum would be Lanny’s on the second anniversary of the
$500,000. On the third anniversary.
$1 million. Amount Waste Management was to pay Lanny when the landfill
began receiving an average of 550 tons of garbage per day.
$1 million. When the average climbed to 750 tons.
$1 million. If and when the average reached 1,000 tons a day.
$2 million. Due Lanny if he could convince the Lowndes County commission
to decrease its “host fee” from $2 per ton $1.25.
Total, with incentives: $10 million.
Waste Management wasn’t just paying for the right to own landfills. It was
also paying for a protective layer between the acts the company had to suspect
Lanny might commit to make his millions and the repercussions should he be
Plausible deniability. We don’t pay bribes. And if someone else does, we
Book gets big thumbs up from B'ham News columnist
Here's the start of Robin DeMonia's Sunday, March 28 column in the Birmingham News about corruption and, "The Governor of Goat Hill."
Maybe it was the bug that knocked me off my feet a couple of weekends running, or maybe it was just that good.
But I tore through former Mobile reporter Eddie Curran’s long-awaited book on ex-Gov. Don Siegelman. All 600 and something pages. The book recounts the saga of corruption in the Siegelman administration,
and what Curran calls the “hoax that suckered some of the top names in journalism.”
The “hoax” refers to Siegelman’s effort to portray his prosecution as the handiwork of Republicans, including Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and former President George W. Bush’s notorious sidekick, Karl Rove...
It is stunning to see the various Siegelman scandals laid out end to end — among them, the costly, unbid site work at the Honda plant; a sham company’s deal to build state warehouses; a bizarre tobacco settlement that benefited Siegelman’s old law firm; a trial lawyer’s purchase of Siegelman’s house for twice its appraised value; and, of course, the infamous tradeoff between Siegelman and HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy that landed both men in federal prison.
For the complete column, click here.
From the Epilogue of, "The Governor
of Goat Hill":
If reality is at all defined by the on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia, then give Jill Simpson and Scott Horton their due. The long entry on Siegelman provides the basics on his political career, but most of it devoted to the vast conspiracy, and from a decidedly pro-Siegelman point of view. High school and college students assigned term papers on Alabama’s 51st governor are going to be outraged at what Karl Rove and those other Republicans did to him.
Some but my no means all of the conspiracy-related Wikipedia subheads are: “Partiality of the Jury,” about the juror e-mails and other juror sins; “Testimony of Star Witness,” a Horton-flavored take on Nick Bailey’s testimony; "Federal Communications Commission Investigation,” about the “60 Minutes” blackout; and “Public Reaction,” which tells, among other things, about the support from all those former attorneys general.
The longest section, “Karl Rove connection,” concludes:
Simpson’s house burned down soon after she began whistleblowing, and Simpson’s car was driven off the road by a private investigator and wrecked.
As a result of the timing of these incidents, Simpson said, “Anytime you speak truth to power, there are
great risks. I’ve been attacked,” explaining she felt a “moral obligation” to speak up.
Scott Horton is the only journalist introduced by name, with Wikipedia
presenting his take on the “60 Minutes,” blackout.
The usual suspects are well represented in the, “References,” and, “External Links,” at the bottom of the entry. Those include links to Adam Zagorin’s work for Time; the New York Times entire Siegelman oeuvre; the same for Horton’s at Harper’s; even three links to the reporting on the conspiracy by Larisa Alexandrovna
and “Raw Story.”
DonSiegelman.Org is the first “external link” given. The mean-spirited propagandists who authored the Siegelman entry included, “The Dixie Mafia’s Contract on America.” That’s the story on the web-site of John Caylor, “reporting” that (Siegelman trial judge) Mark Fuller ran drugs for the Contras in the 1980s. (Needless to say, not true.)
There is some self-reference going on here. If you go to DonSiegelman.Org, you will find a link to “One Shot Coverage,” where people new to the scandal
can find good summaries.
These innocents are directed to sites including, “Rabbi Yonah’s blog, Wikipedia, video at TPM (the Talking Points Memo web-site) and more.”
For the entire entry, go here.
Jim Aucoin, chairman of the University of South Alabama's Department of Communication, on "Governor":
"Eddie Curran’s 'The Governor of Goat Hill' is a story of journalism as much as it is a story of political corruption in Alabama. It’s Curran’s first-person account of digging out evidence to nail the Siegelman administration’s systematic exploitation of public office for personal gain. Students will learn much from Curran’s day-to-day investigation tale. Not only does Curran explain how he got the goods on Siegelman, but he also shows why Harper’s magazine, the New York Times, and “60 Minutes” didn’t get the story right. It’s all about vetting sources and searching public records. That’s why I chose the book as required reading for my senior journalism students."
“I’d like to look you in the eyes and tell you how much
I appreciate what you’ve done for the state.”
-- Don Siegelman, to Curran, on May 30, 2001, a month after the first G.H. Construction stories and after the public announcement of a state- federal criminal investigation into the warehouse deal.
On Leaving the Newspaper,
and Concerns About
the Future of
In September 2009, Press- Register editor Mike Marshall called with an ultimatum.
My sabbatical (no pay, no benefits) was into its third year. I still had a desk with pictures, files, and such but rarely went down there.
Mike said they were working on the budget and needed to know if I was coming back. If so, I would need to return
in two weeks. It was a perfectly reasonable demand, but I wasn’t finished with the
book, and then, had to sell it.
I told him I couldn’t return in two weeks and thus ended, on perfectly good
terms, my almost 20-year relationship with my hometown paper.
Here, from the Epilogue:
I also told Mike that I had some
misgivings about coming back, regardless of the date.
Our paper, like those
everywhere, is thinner. Ad revenues are down, which translates to less space, less
money to pay a reporter who may go weeks or longer without a story. Many of
the Siegelman stories were quite long, as were the many investigative series I’ve
done going back 15 years.
Editors might say otherwise, but there is no way, under the current
circumstances, that a reporter could have done the work I was doing when I left.
Nothing would be more miserable than killing myself on a project, only to see it
trimmed to nothing.
The media’s role as a watch-dog over corruption and public spending has
diminished and, I fear, will continue to do so.
Author's Research Papers Donated
to University of South Alabama
On Feb. 12, 2014, the University of South Alabama Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library announced that it has received and deposited the research papers collected and produced during my reporting on former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. The records also cover events leading up to and including the 2006 trial, the sentencing and appeals, and my critical look at the national media coverage of the Siegelman case.
The collection — 20,000 pages of stories, notes, e-mails and records — is now available for review and research at the university's Springhill Avenue Campus.
To read the university press release, GO HERE. For the story on Al.Com (Mobile Register/Birmingham News) GO HERE
Author's New Project Examines Smear
Campaign Against Alabama Public
Service Commissioner Terry Dunn
The Alabama Public Service Commission has the embarrassing distinction of allowing the state's largest utility a mind-boggling and nation-leading rate of return on equity (allowed profit) in excess of 14 percent.
Alabama Power's profit never dips below 13 percent. The national average for electricity monopolies is about 9 percent.
If Terry Dunn were to succeed in bringing the company's profits even halfway to the national average, the monthly power bills of Alabama citizens -- rich, poor, elderly, middle class, owners of business -- would go down. That's not theory, it's fact.
In August 2013, I embarked on a one-person, self-funded investigative journalism project into the efforts to smear Dunn.
GO HERE to learn more about this ongoing project, and to watch my documentary, "Mr. Dunn Goes to Montgomery."
"(U.S. District Judge Mark) Fuller said the contributions were not reported on campaign finance forms or on tax returns for two years. He said it was not revealed until reporter Eddie Curran began asking questions, which is when state agencies became involved. "
-- From Montgomery Advertiser report on Siegelman's Aug. 3,
sentencing hearing, and referring to the two $250,000 contributions
that were at the heart of the Scrushy part of the Siegelman case.
"The Governor of Goat Hill" has two sections of pictures, 10 pages
each, with a a total of about 50 photos, political cartoons, and other
images. The cartoon at the upper left was by Press-Register cartoonist J.D. Crowe, who designed the cover.
That Suckered Some of the
Top Names in Journalism
Scott Pelley, now anchor of the CBS Evening News, interviews Jill Simpson during "60 Minutes" program on the Siegelman case. With the possible exception of the New York Times, no one deserves more scorn for its coverage of the matter than Scott Pelley and "60 Minutes." For the full story on the show's laughably bad investigative work on Jill Simpson and the Siegelman prosecution, go here to read the chapter in my book called, "60 Minutes Kicks Karl Rove's Ass."
My utter disbelief in this piece led me to expand an already long book to include a detailed analysis of the national media's coverage of the Siegelman case. Here is copy from the promo for the Siegelman report, published on "60 Minutes" web-site days before the show's Feb. 24, 2008, airing:
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 eff ort 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 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.
Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Alabama
and one of the most widely quoted experts on the state's politics,
on, "The Governor of Goat Hill":
"This is a book you will either love or hate. One thing you definitely won’t find it to be is boring. If you believe Don Siegelman got shafted by over-zealous, intensely partisan prosecutors you will find the case presented against him in great detail, making it easier for you to contradict with opposing evidence.
"If you found Siegelman a disappointment as governor, one who let down supporters who were eagerly looking for someone who would establish a new era in Alabama politics and make a clean break with past practices, Eddie Curran’s book will remind you of why you were greatly depressed by the way the Siegelman Administration turned out. I consider Don Siegelman a personal friend and this book has not changed my mind.
"He is a man of great ability and it will be up to the reader to decide if he abused the trust that was placed in him — or was the victim of a witch hunt orchestrated at the highest levels of American government."
$1.4 million, at least
Amount paid to Siegelman as "legal fees" during his four
years as governor. To find out how he managed that, read,
"The Governor of Goat Hill"
Above, a portion of Siegelman's financial disclosure to the Ethics Commission reporting his outside income for 2000, his second year as Alabama's governor. In December 1999, Siegelman secretly negotiated a settlement of an old tobacco lawsuit with the University of South Alabama that specified payments by the state -- not the tobacco companies -- of $20 million to the university. Of that, the settlement called for $2.8 million to go to the firm by then called Cochran, Cherry & Givens. Siegelman has never provided records of his arrangement with the firm, or the exact sum he was paid, though he said, after the Press-Register's first stories that Cherry, Givens paid him about $800,000 in 2000 and 2001.
Dan Abrams, who at the time had a nightly show on MSNBC, was among
the most fervent backers of the "Rove ordered the Siegelman prosecution" farce. Jill Simpson, shown on the right, appeared on Abrams' show the night after the "60 Minutes," piece, and managed to expand on what she'd told Scott Pelley.
The Rainsville, Ala., lawyer, sold herself as a prominent figure in Alabama
Republican politics. In truth, party figures weren't even aware of her existence.
With the help of Siegelman, Scrushy and their lawyers and operatives, Simpson
birthed the conspiracy that Karl Rove engineered Siegelman's prosecution on
behalf of Bob Riley and other leading Alabama Republicans. The "Governor of
Goat Hill" presents evidence to support its position that The New York Times,
Time, "60 Minutes," MSNBC, Harper's, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and
others willfully ignored reality and mountains of evidence to the contrary to
re-write history by essentially accusing Rove of directing the Justice Department
to prosecute Siegelman for purely political reasons.
I challenge anyone (including the reporters and editors at the offending
publications) to read the final section of, "The Governor of Goat Hill,"
called -- "The Hoax that Suckered some of the Top Names in Journalism" --
then defend the national media's performance on the Siegelman case.
"Three Case Studies in Dreadful
Reporting on the Siegelman case by the World's Greatest Newspaper."
"Oops... We Caught The Wrong Bass"
"The Missing Identifier"
"No Questions Asked"
(Photo by Charles Nesbitt of the Birmingham News.)
Many say the stories reporting that Birmingham trial lawyer
Lanny Vines was the real buyer of Siegelman's house for at least
twice its value cost Siegelman the 2002 governor's race.
The Record that Revealed
Vines' Hidden Role
in the Sale
of Siegelman's House
Shown above is a page from discovery questions presented to Vines by attorneys for Vines' former accountant, Wray Pearce, who Vines was suing in a case involving federal taxes.
When I came to the page and read down I knew -- as our readers soon would -- why Pearce (as we reported 6 months before) paid Siegelman more than twice the home's value, as we'd reported six months before.
The accountant had been acting as Vines' Straw Man.
For the full story on the house deal, read the chapter, "Selling a House, Siegelman Style," in, "The Governor of Goat Hill."
The Alabama Media
Jill Simpson's Affidavit
Dana Beyerle has covered Alabama state government for the New York Times-owned papers in Alabama for decades, and probably knows as much about Alabama politics as anyone. His byline has appeared many times over the years in the parent paper. Had Times' editors and reporters read some of the stories by their man in Alabama, they could not be excused for still hopping on the Jill Simpson bandwagon. The second possiblity -- that they read them -- raises questions best left answered by the Times.
"Of all people, Siegelman would know if he conceded the 2002 election for the reasons sworn to by Simpson. But he told Beyerle he dropped his recount challenge because he was facing 'what Al Gore had just gone through – this painful experience in Florida and the U.S. Supreme Court.'
Siegelman didn’t recall the first thing about a KKK meeting but deployed his elasticity with the truth by declaring in the same interview that Jill Simpson was a 'great American citizen' who had placed Karl Rove 'at the scene of a crime.'
-- From, "The Governor of Goat Hill."
From the book:
In June 2007, after Time and the Times bit on Canary’s “his girls” quote and the Rove tale, the Alabama media had no choice but to report on Simpson’s affidavit.
Unlike the Times and Time, numerous state reporters – including Bob Johnson with AP; several at the Birmingham News; and Dana Beyerle, the Montgomery bureau reporter for the three New York Times-owned Alabama papers -- took the trouble to examine the KKK tale.
The tenor of their stories reflected a degree of skepticism not to be found in the national reports, to say nothing of basic fact checking.
“Two of three Republicans who reportedly took part in a 2002 telephone conference call to plot against former Gov. Don Siegelman said Friday the phone call never took place and the third called reports of the conversation an ‘outrageous allegation,’” began Bob Johnson’s wire story the day after Time and the Times introduced Simpson to the world.
One of Bob’s stories concluded with commentary from Bill Stewart, the longtime political science professor at the University of Alabama and a favorite go-to guy for reporters seeking pungent analysis on state politics. Stewart said it would be most improbable for a veteran politician like Siegelman to have conceded under the terms described by Simpson.
“I can’t imagine someone dropping out for something like this,” he said. “Those sorts of things happen in campaigns. It’s not something to be proud of,
but on the scale of things that have happened in Alabama campaigns, I don’t find it to be very important.”......
Several weeks later Beyerle gave his readers the most thorough examination yet of the KKK farce. He interviewed Simpson, Butts, Rob Riley and, most importantly, Siegelman.
Of all people, Siegelman would know if he conceded the 2002 election for the reasons sworn to by Simpson. But he told Beyerle he dropped his recount challenge because he was facing “what Al Gore had just gone through – this painful experience in Florida and the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Siegelman didn’t recall the first thing about a KKK meeting but deployed his elasticity with the truth by declaring in the same interview that Jill Simpson was a“great American citizen” who had placed Karl Rove “at the scene of a crime.”
Another AP story by Johnson remarked that “even the Siegelman camp discounts” the KKK pics deal.
Joe Espy and Bobby Segall, Siegelman’s lawyers during the recount battle, rejected the KKK story with a certainty equal to that of Riley’s people. “I never heard that. I was never around any talk like that,” Espy told Johnson.
Siegelman conceded for a number of reasons, Espy said. He was worried about putting the state through a protracted, Gore-Bush type battle; didn’t know where he’d get the money to pay for an ongoing legal challenge; and recognized that the final say belonged to the Republican-dominated Alabama Supreme Court.
In October 2007, following release of Simpson’s congressional testimony, it was again left up to the Alabama media to provide a reality check on Simpson’s new story – that in addition to making the KKK pictures vanish, Butts also pledged to make the joint state and federal criminal investigation into the Siegelman administration go away if Siegelman would concede.
.....“Siegelman, who conceded the narrow loss in November 2002 but continued to be investigated and prosecuted by the Justice Department, has never made any comment indicating such an offer was made,” noted the AP’s Johnson.
Walter Braswell, in 2002 a partner of David Cromwell Johnson’s and an active participant in Siegelman’s defense, told the News he’d never heard that the investigation was to evaporate upon Siegelman’s concession of the election.
To summarize: Siegelman, his election lawyers and criminal attorneys – top tier Democrats all -- said they had never heard of the KKK deal or the vanishing investigation offer...
The stories by state reporters vaporizing Simpson’s tales about the two-pronged offer to make the KKK pictures and the investigation go away should have been the end of it. Those in the national media who had based stories on Simpson’s allegations should have come back and informed their readers that her credibility was shattered and that her claims against the Canarys, the Rileys, Rove and others should accordingly be reconsidered as almost certainly false.
That’s not what happened.
The reporting by the Alabama media, to say nothing of the facts upon which it was based, was ignored by the Times, Time, CBS News, the Judiciary Committee, and many others as well.
Congressional Democrats and those in the national media who swallowed Simpson’s story had become too invested in the fantasy placing Karl Rove “at the scene of the crime.”
The office of G.H. "Goat Hill" Construction, as empty as the company. The firm secretly owned by Siegelman backer and associate Clayton "Lanny" Young stood to be paid $2.3 million for a no-bid contract to build two state warehouses, one for the state liquor agency. The following is from the book, with prosecutor Steve Feaga asking witness David Campbell to describe the function of G.H. Construction on the project. Campbell represented a bonding firm that insured the project.
This, from the book:
... Feaga asked Campbell to review the contracts showing that Lanny’s company was to be paid a fee equal to 12 percent of the $16.6 million construction budget.
The unsmiling witness, making no effort to conceal his contempt for G.H. Construction and, it seemed as well, the manner in which the state of Alabama conducted its business, told jurors that the industry standard for construction
management contracts was three to five percent.
With his final question Feaga asked the insurance executive to describe G.H.
Construction’s “function” on the warehouse job.
After a short pause, Campbell sneered, “Receiving money at the end of the
Lanny’s company wasn’t to do – would not be allowed to do – anything.
Cash checks. That was it.
11th Circuit Decides
Bad day for Siegelman; partial win for Scrushy
Go here for more.
And here to read the ruling
for my column predicting that Siegelman's silly,
relentless blaming of Karl Rove for his prosecution
will haunt him at sentencing
Alabama media vs. National Media
(Hint: We're The Tail, the NY Times, etc., are The Dog)
"I was trying to get the tail to wag the dog. Actually, I should have been speaking to the national media the whole time, because I think the national media would have gotten the message earlier and maybe someone like Jill Simpson would have stepped forward earlier.”
Nominee for Most Dishonest
in America Working for a
Scott Horton of Harper's
Siegelman, right, shakes the hand of Scott Horton, the Harper's writer and on-line columnist who served as patron saint for Siegelman, Jill Simpson and all their whacky tales. The book's final section, called, "The Hoax That Suckered Some of the Top Names in Journalism," opens with a short chapter called, "The Dishonest Broker." Here is that chapter.
Here is a link to another portion of the book related to Horton's
appearance in Huntsville, and a You-Tube video showing me questioning Horton, and to the crowd's considerable displeasure.
| Nick and Siegelman: Gov. Siegelman and his loyal aide Nick Bailey during good times, before the G.H. Construction scandal changed both their lives. Here they are viewing documents at the state archives. Photo courtesy of Kevin Glackmeyer
A side view of the house Siegelman sold to Birmingham trial lawyer Lanny Vines for $250,000 -- at least double its value. The sale was concealed by a straw man buyer (Vines' accountant) and a Delaware company formed solely for the deal. Many said the stories about the sale cost Siegelman the 2002 election, since voters could easily identify with the favoritism bestowed upon the governor with the sale. Siegelman has steadfastly refused to comment in depth on the sale, such as to even confirm that he knew Vines was the true buyer. Photo by Eddie Curran.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
In January 2000, Siegelman summoned Lanny Young to his office. He needed money to cover some large checks he'd just written. He had over a half-million dollars in his stock account, but chose not to use it. Instead, he asked the Waste Management lobbyist, landfill developer and future owner of G.H. Construction to get with Nick Bailey and make the necessary arrangements. As the checks above show, on Jan. 20, 2000, Young used a personal check to purchase a $9,200 cashier's check, made payable to Bailey and showing Young as "remitter." Bailey deposited the check, and on the same day, wrote one for the same amount to, "Lori Allen." That is the maiden name of Siegelman's wife. The governor deposited the $9,200 in his account, and avoided bouncing the checks written days before.
The three checks played a key role in the "obstruction of justice" part of the government's case against Siegelman, also known as the "motorcycle case. " As readers of, "The Governor of Goat Hill," will see, the convoluted motorcycle deal was actually a ruse designed to explain away the $9,200 payment from Young to Siegelman, Bailey as bag man.
May 2009 mug-shot of Scrushy at Shelby County jail, where he was brought from prison in Texas to testify in a shareholders lawsuit seeking a $2.6 billion judgment against him. The shareholders won.
Click to enlarge
A common denominator of the coverage of the Siegelman case in the New York Times, Time magazine, by “60 Minutes,” and others in the national media is that none reported the first thing about the first $250,000 check Scrushy gave Siegelman. As jurors if not national readers knew, the check to the lottery foundation from the almost-bankrupt Maryland company was the farthest thing from an ordinary campaign contribution. If you want to know why Richard Scrushy is in prison and Don Siegelman is likely to return, read, "The Governor of Goal Hill." A part of that can be found here.
about my business,
Curran Research and Writing Services
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Siegelman returns to prison, still blaming Rove
Ex-governor has projected 2018 release date
Governor of Goat Hill
available in e-book,
such as for Kindle, at Amazon.Com.
Click Here for Author's Report on Roger Bedford's Campaign Spending. Even veteran Bedford watchers will be surprised by his excess. Big bucks plumped down on, among other things, iTunes, liquor, Bama football tickets, clothes, meals $500 and up, and much much more.
For Curran's take on the Sam Jones campaign spending scandal. Author asks:
Is Mobile's mayor being
held to a far higher standard than other local
and state politicians?
See Curran Interview
With WPMI on Jones' case
Author's Reporting Cited
in New Book on Alabama history called,
For more, Go Here
In this radio intervew, I covered many of the topics in the book. Among them:
-- How I came upon the lottery foundation/Scrushy stories.
-- A discussion of the the Jill Simpson/Kar Rove silliness.
-- My analysis of the systematic failings of the New York Times regarding the paper's understanding of Alabama politics.
To listen, Go Here.
The Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) included, "The Governor of Goat Hill" in its annual list of investigative reporting books. Go here for list.
Cast of Characters
You Tube and Videos
Rappin' on Rove
The Travails of Richard Scrushy
The Siegelman stories from the Mobile Register
New York Times Siegelman Page
Two of Alababama's Best Political Web Sites
Siegelman's Favorite Blogger
The nuttiest conspiracy theorist on the planet is either this guy, or this guy
Go here for links to video of my talk on self-publishing to the Friends of the Mobile
Public Library, and
here for an article on self-publishing published in June in Mobile's Lagniappe
Go here for
April 30, 2010: The annual Alabama Writer's Symposium in Monroeville.
June 4, 2010: The Alabama Press Association's Annual Conference in Orange Beach.
Sept. 17, 2010: The Mobile Bar Association.
Oct. 15, 2010:The Alabama Council of Association Executives, at its annual convention at the Grant Hotel in Point Clear.
Oct. 21, 2010: Downtown Mobile Rotary Club.
Oct. 29, 2010: A self-funded talk at the National Press Club in Washington.
Jan. 27, 2011: Presentation to the Friends of the Mobile Public Library.
Feb. 17, 2011: The Alabama Association of Professional Land Surveyors, annual meeting.
March 17, 2011: Panelist, M. Stanton Evans Symposium on Money, Politics and the Media, Troy University
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Trip and Program called:
"The New York Times Couldn't Find Alabama on a Map: An Examination of the Mis-Coverage of the Siegelman case in the National Media."
On Friday, Oct. 29, I presented the above-named talk at the National Press Club in Washington.
Attendees were provided a booklet containing summaries of arguments that I made. By week's end I will have, on this site, a report/blog of the (sparsely attended) presentation, and a Printable Version of the Booklet handed out to the two handfuls of people who watched my mesmerizing performace.
The Author's Big
The following is from the book's introduction:
The final days of July 2001 were the worst of my professional life. I was as I deserved to be on the receiving end of a sharp reprimand from my editors. My only defense, that I’d been provoked, paled in comparison to my response -- an astonishing, explosive and vulgarity-laden tirade directed at a young Siegelman press aide, Rip Andrews. For several minutes, or before our city editor pried the phone from my hands, the newsroom looked on in shock as I invented cuss-word combinations at rock concert decibels
I soon found myself in the big corner office of Mobile Register Editor Mike Marshall, who was about as angry at me as I’d been moments before with Rip. But Mike seethed where I’d shouted. The short version: If I ever did that again, or anything close to it, I was gone. Fired, finished, no matter what.
In the days to come, Siegelman’s people would call Mike to ask that he remove me from covering the administration. To my everlasting gratitude, he did not.
Upset that I wasn’t being removed or better yet, fired, the administration told Mike that it was putting together a list of other sins I’d committed and which it intended to present to Mike’s boss, Register publisher Howard Bronson. Siegelman was in effect appealing Mike’s decision to the paper’s highest court.
Mike said I should chill out for several weeks, work on other things, and wait.
Siegelman, I knew, had skilled, ruthless opposition researchers at his disposal. These are the guys used by politicians to scour the backgrounds of opponents in search of misdeeds for use in negative campaign ads and the like.
But instead of, say, Fob James, Siegelman’s researchers were targeting me, or so I imagined.
The shoe’s on the other foot, turnabout’s fair play, call it what you want ... The hunter turned prey, and not liking it one bit.
About two weeks later I was at my cubicle in the Register’s stuffy, ages-old downtown Mobile newsroom when word came that Mike wanted to see me. I instinctively knew what for and shuffled to his corner office, wondering if a career in pizza delivery could support a wife and two young children.
Mike greeted me with a grin, and my paranoia melted away. Before he uttered the first word I knew I wasn’t going to be fired or -- and it would have been equally awful – pulled off covering the administration and the bottomless pit of juicy stories waiting to be unearthed in Don’s World.
“Most of this stuff is silly,” Mike said, handing me the letter.
The letter, with a one-page attachment, was addressed to Mr. Bronson from Siegelman’s new chief of staff, Jim Buckalew. A summary of the letter might be: “If the Mobile Register has an ounce of journalistic integrity, it will fire Eddie Curran.”
Buckalew was an outsider, brought in the month before to provide maturity and an ethical compass to an administration lacking both. The exodus of Siegelman’s first chief of staff Paul Hamrick, highway director Mack Roberts, and the demotion and eventual resignation of Nick Bailey -- gubernatorial driver, confidential assistant, state budget officer and a few other titles as well – followed a barrage of stories under my byline that began six months before and ignited a state and federal criminal investigation.
Five years later, Siegelman and former HealthSouth Corp. Chairman Richard Scrushy were found guilty of charges including bribery and extortion. Several witnesses -- most notably Bailey and the ubiquitous landfill developer/lobbyist Clayton “Lanny” Young -- had by then already pleaded guilty to bribery and other crimes. All, Scrushy included, appeared in my stories well before they were named in guilty pleas or indictments, as did Waste Management Inc., by a long shot the worst corporate actor in this story.
But in August 2001, I was the defendant. I sat down and with reddened face and bouncing knee, read the letter, then the second page entitled, “Personal and Confidential.” This sheet of paper contained what amounted to a seven-count indictment against Edwin Jerome Curran III, DOB 10/21/61, WM, 6-3, 230 lb., brown hair, blue eyes.
The charges, in their entirety:
• Mr. Curran helped edit an ethics complaint filed against the governor and then reported on that complaint the next day. The Governor’s Office has kept on file an edited copy of an ethics complaint Mr. Curran sent to the office and a copy of the final complaint filed with the Ethics Commission. The final version includes handwritten edits, some of which mirror the edits made by Mr. Curran. The following day, Mr. Curran wrote to Ted Hosp, in an attempt to justify this matter. In doing so, he admitted that he had discussed the contents with Jim Zeigler, who filed the complaint, before it was filed.
• Mr. Curran engaged in an extreme display of temper during a conversation with a member of the governor’s staff. He cursed at the staff member so loudly and for such a long time that another Mobile Register reporter felt compelled to express his embarrassment the next time he called the office. Mr. Curran’s verbal attack lasted non-stop for more than five minutes. He called the staff member a “f—ing piece of rat s—t.”
• During the last night of this year’s Regular Session of the legislature, Ted Hosp walked into a Republican Senate office, where he found Mr. Curran drinking alcohol with a Republican senator, Claire Austin, and others. Drinking is not allowed in the Alabama State House.
• On the last night of this year’s session, Mr. Curran became so inebriated at a Montgomery bar that he was not able to drive home. He had no money and asked then-Chief of Staff Paul Hamrick for $20 for a cab.
• Mr. Curran once commented to Mr. Hamrick about the breast sizes of women working in the Governor’s Press Office.
• Mr. Curran called Press Secretary Carrie Kurlander at her home on a Saturday night after 9:30 p.m., in a non-emergency situation.
• After having the opportunity to interview members of the governor’s staff for hours, Mr. Curran continued a pattern of harassment against certain staff members, including calling Nick Bailey once after midnight.
“Mike! This is crazy! That night at …” I went on and on, which wasn’t really necessary, as Mike didn’t appear concerned with the case against me.
A month later, after the Siegelman administration changed the state’s public records policy to prevent me from seeing certain documents, the above charges were aired in a story in our paper. And lots of fun that was.
You can be sure that I will be addressing the charges, especially the one that troubled me most – that I helped edit an ethics complaint against the governor.
This is neither a biography of Don Siegelman nor a complete history of his first and only term as governor. It’s a first person account of covering, or rather, uncovering, activities of the Siegelman administration that the governor never expected the public to learn about, much less be reported on with the level of detail and depth allowed me by my editors. It’s the story of Siegelman’s dark side, of the implosion of his obsessively crafted political career and in the end, of the disintegration of his character.
It’s about at least $1.37 million in legal fees paid Siegelman during his four years as governor, and the use of a straw man to buy his Montgomery home for twice its value. It’s about landfill giant Waste Management’s use of serial briber Lanny Young to win millions of dollars in concessions from the governor and his aides and the hick judge who ran Cherokee County, and the cynicism that had to exist for a company called Goat Hill Construction to steal from the state by forging a bogus receipt two days before it even incorporated itself.
It’s the story of a New South Governor as disseminating shakedown artist.
For the entire introduction, go here.
Here's an excerpt from the, "Governor of Goat Hill," where I explain the legal requirements for a bribery charge, and the application of "quid pro quo" (Latin for, "Something for Something") to campaign contributions. Qui Pro Quo appears likely to play an even larger role in the bingo case than in the Siegelman case. Click Quid Pro Quo.
A free chapter about Jill Simpson, Scott Horton, and others, called,
Video Interview with
During the Arts Alive program last April in downtown Mobile, a nice young guy bought a copy and asked if I would talk about it for a new arts and culture web-zine called, "Mod Mobilian." The results, for better or worse, are here.
When the product's not moving, it's time to put your kids to work. Below, my daughter Eva, at right, with her friend, Alex Jenkins, outside the Ashland Gallery on Old Shell Road. The gallery, one of Mobile's coolest stores, has autographed copies of the book for sale.
What does the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the
Skilling case mean for
Siegelman and Scrushy?
Click here for author's take.
The Eddie Smith Stories: In my almost 20 years at the Mobile paper, nothing I wrote created a response to compare to what I call, "The Eddie Smith Stories." Smith is now in prison for, among other crimes, trying to hire a hit man to kill a federal judge and a federal prosecutor. I was also among those he asked the cellmate-turned-federal source to murder