What was behind the Alabama Supreme Court's decision to throw out most of a $3.6 billion jury award that the state had secured against oil giant ExxonMobil?
Cold, hard campaign cash, according to Harper's Scott Horton.
Horton reports that in the past six years, Republican candidates for Alabama's highest court have taken more than $5.5 million in campaign contributions from ExxonMobil lobbyists and lawyers, and groups allied with the company.
"That means that the eight judges who voted to throw out the state's massive jury award against ExxonMobil were actually placed on the court with ExxonMobil's money and support--though that support is almost all carefully funnelled in an indirect way, of course," Horton writes.
Where did the money come from? Horton provides a list:
* Tort reform groups whose leadership includes Exxon lobbyists gave $3 million.
* Seven political action committees, controlled by Exxon's Alabama lobbyist Fine Geddie & Associates, gave $293,000.
* Alabama lawyers who represent Exxon in the gas-royalties suit gave thousands of dollars.
* The Business Council of Alabama gave at least $2.1 million. (That's the group headed by Bill Canary, of the famous "my girls will take care of Don Siegelman" quote. And a close associate of Bill Canary is Dax Swatek, whose father William E. Swatek filed a bogus lawsuit against me and is being protected from his crimes by the Bush Justice Department.)
"Just think of it from a corporate perspective," Horton writes. "An investment of $5.5 million to eliminate a $3.6 billion liability? The best investment those oil men ever made."
One thing is for sure: The Alabama Supreme Court's ruling was not based on the law. In fact, the court violated its own well-settled precedents in order to let Exxon off the hook.
In a neighboring state, Mississippi, the Bush Justice Department has treated similar alleged activity by a Supreme Court justice as a federal crime. Actually, the Mississippi justice in question--Oliver Diaz--did not come remotely close to committing a federal crime. But he was tried for it anyway, mainly because he had the support of prominent Democrats.
And in Alabama? The evidence is piling up that eight Republicans on the high court did indeed commit a federal crime. What will the Bushies do about it? Almost certainly nothing.
But we at Legal Schnauzer will be dishing the real dirt on the Supreme Court that flat out stole from the citizens who support them. Another Alabama blogger, Robby Scott Hill at Novationeering, is on top of this story. I highly recommend his site.
Much more coming on the ExxonMobil decision.