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Monday, December 8, 2008

Still Sniffing the Trail of a GOP Money Man

We have focused recently on the legal, financial, and political connections of Birmingham businessman William Cobb "Chip" Hazelrig, looking for clues about the real cause of my termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Our examination would not be complete without a reference to Dax Swatek.

Regular readers will recognize Swatek as our "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" character here at Legal Schnauzer. His father, William E. Swatek, is the Pelham, Alabama, attorney who filed a fraudulent lawsuit that started my legal "adventures." For good measure, Bill Swatek has a 30-year history of ethical sanctions from the Alabama State Bar, including a suspension of his license for acts of "dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, and deceit."

Dax Swatek has worked for a number of Republican luminaries, including Business Council of Alabama chairman Bill Canary, Governor Bob Riley, and U.S. Attorney Alice Martin. Through Canary, Swatek has connections to former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove.

Swatek also appears to have connections to Chip Hazelrig, whom we have identified as a "person of interest" in my termination for a couple of reasons:

* He has significant clout at UAB because of a $5 million donation, the largest individual gift in university history;

* He has political and financial connections to Bob and Rob Riley and Tuscaloosa businessman Robert Sigler, who is heavily involved in gaming enterprises.

So how is Hazelrig tied to Dax Swatek? Well, Swatek served as a consultant for the 2000 campaign of Republican Glenn Murdock for a seat on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. Hazelrig gave $10,000 to that campaign, which was the second largest donation given. (Murdock now is a member of the Alabama Supreme Court.)

Hazelrig later gave $10,000 to Bob Riley's 2002 campaign for governor and shared an interest with Riley's son, Rob Riley, in Sigler's firm Crimsonica.

Swatek has been a prominent member of Camp Riley throughout Bob Riley's governorship and served as manager of the Riley re-election campaign in 2006.

Chip Hazelrig has given at least $20,000 to a pair of campaigns that Dax Swatek was involved with.

Is Dax Swatek familiar with Chip Hazelrig? I would say there are at least 20,000 reasons to say the answer is yes.

And did Dax Swatek want to shut down this blog, which was writing unkind (and undeniably true) things about his daddy?

Well, let's consider the evidence.

On February 18, 2008, I wrote a post about the connections between Alice Martin and Dax Swatek, with a special emphasis on the sleazy way he had run her campaign. That post drew an anonymous comment that said: "Nut case yours is comong (sic)."

Gee, I wonder who sent that? And I wonder what he meant by "yours is coming?"

And a post dated April 14, 2008, drew an anonymous comment from someone claiming I was blogging at work, and that my employer (UAB) needed to know about it.

Gee, I wonder who sent that? Sounds like "yours is coming" was a reference to my job.

Never mind that on the date in question, a Monday, I was on vacation, nowhere near work. Pam Powell, my UAB supervisor, wrote me up on false charges of policy violations the very next day. And roughly a month later, I was fired, even though UAB's own internal investigation showed I had never blogged at work.

Sure sounds like someone contacted UAB doesn't it?

Who was that person? Well, our investigation is ongoing. But we are getting closer to the truth.

We also are learning a great deal about this Tuscaloosa-based company called Crimsonica, which has extensive ties to gaming, both domestically and abroad.

Crimsonica's tentacles go directly to the Bob Riley administration, and in a less direct way, they go toward UAB. Much more coming on that.

As for Chip Hazelrig, we will continue to examine his political and financial activities, including a most interesting lawsuit filed against Hazelrig's company, W&H Investments, by the heirs of Birmingham businessman Sloan Bashinsky.

We noted in a previous post that the Bashinsky estate is seeking a proper accounting of investments Bashinsky made in some 280 oil wells. Those investments apparently were made through Hazelrig's firm. Until his death in 2005, Bashinsky was best known as the man behind Golden Flake Potato Chips and other snacks. Now, some of his heirs are wondering where his money went.

Also, I should note that Chip Hazelrig is hardly the only person of interest we are following. In a recent post, we noted that we will examine at least three lines of inquiry regarding my unlawful termination at UAB--the Alice Martin line, the University of Alabama System line, and the UAB donor line.

The Alice Martin line, of course, deals with folks connected to the Bush Department of Justice. And the University of Alabama System line encompasses members of the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor's Office, who oversee UAB.

Interesting names and connections will continue to surface. Some of them might be of considerable interest to the Obama Justice Department come 2009.

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