A Legend in Republican Circles
He was “someone you dropped into a state where something needed fixing and it got fixed.”
Michael Kramer wrote in a 1995 TIME magazine article that Bill Canary was a “legend in Republican circles,” an “expert political paratrooper” and “someone you dropped into a state where something needed fixing and it got fixed.” Bill Canary apparently felt that one of Alabama’s biggest problems was Democratic Statesman Don Siegelman, and he set out to “fix” that problem.
Karl Rove and Bill Canary became pals during Canary’s days at the White House in the 80’s. Bill Canary’s resume includes being former Special Assistant to President George Bush and Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee, with much thanks to Karl Rove.
Now residing in Alabama, Mr. Canary became the architect of a special relationship between the Alabama GOP and the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) that proved the financial lifeline for many Alabama GOP election campaigns. He was widely described as the GOP’s Alabama “kingpin.”
Bill Canary and Karl Rove worked closely in 1994 in Alabama when Canary brought Rove from Texas to execute a Republican takeover of the Alabama Supreme Court like the one he had accomplished in Texas.
In 1998, Bill Canary took on the campaign for Bill Pryor’s run for Attorney General of Alabama. With a GOP controlled Supreme Court at his back, now Attorney General Pryor began investigating Siegelman almost immediately after taking office.
In ’01 Canary became Steve Windom’s campaign consultant for the ’02 Governor’s race.
Steve Windom, during his primary campaign against Bob Riley, continuously drew on the William Pryor/Leura Canary investigation of Siegelman for political grist. As a result, Windom ran almost exclusively on calling for an investigation of Siegelman.
Windom’s campaign posturing, rhetoric, and advertising were primarily arranged by William Canary. The criminal investigations that nourished the campaign was managed by his wife, Leura Canary. The strategy was different, and ended up helping opponent Riley more than client Windom. Campaign rule of thumb is to attack your primary opponent – that would have been Riley. In fact Windom did Riley’s dirty work for him, helping Riley appear to take the high road.
Rove in the White House
Rove and Canary maintained their working relationship, forged in the trenches of Alabama, when Karl Rove went to the Bush White House – especially concerning the “Siegelman problem”. As a result, in 2002, Karl Rove served as Canary’s White House connection to the DOJ, giving assurances to Bill Canary – on the famous conference call testified to by Jill Simpson – that Justice was pursuing Siegelman. In turn, Canary gave assurance to Rob Riley, son of Alabama Governor Bob Riley, that “his girls” would “get Siegelman”. Canary’s confidence in successfully “getting” Siegelman was grounded in the George Bush appointment of Canary’s “girls.” His girls were his wife, Leura Canary and Alice Martin, newly appointed to US Attorney positions in Northern and Middle District Alabama. Doing their duty, each “girl” began immediately to pursue the Siegelman prosecution upon their appointment.
During Riley’s Governorship, Canary presented himself as an Alabama Governor Bob Riley adviser, tightly wired into Riley’s policy making.