Swatek is a lead character in our Legal Schnauzer story and certainly is a "person of interest" in my unlawful termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
What does the King investigation mean for Republican politics in Alabama? The answer is unclear, but it could get real juicy. And it could be more signs of a major rift in the GOP ranks.
The Birmingham News reports today that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records about King's travel, purchases, and any gifts he might have received while in office.
The News reports:
Sources familiar with the investigation said prosecutors are looking into a number of areas, including whether King used his office to investigate opponents of political allies and whether he violated the state's ethics law.
The report goes on to state that prosecutors are seeking all correspondence and communication related to certain lobbyists and companies. That's where Swatek's name--and a number of other interesting names--comes in:
The subpoena sought all documents related to communication with Alabama Power Co., the Atlanta Braves, the Montgomery Biscuits minor league baseball club, Auburn University, ALFA Insurance, the Alabama Nursing Home Association, the Business Council of Alabama, Republican political consultant Dax Swatek, AU lobbyist Sherry Fulford, gambling magnate Milton McGregor and others.
Whew, that's quite a crowd. While they apparently have ties to Troy King, many of them also have ties to Governor Bob Riley and his son, wheeling and dealing Rob Riley.
So who is really the target here--Troy King, Bob Riley, Rob Riley, or some unfathomed combo platter of GOP sleaze?
The King investigation has been curious from the outset. It originates in the Middle of District of Alabama, but it is being run by Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
On the surface, King appears to have gotten crossways with Bob Riley on gambling issues. Martin, a long-time Riley ally, might be going after King for those reasons.
But we have reported about a possible rift between the Riley and Martin camps, apparently over Martin's deep desire to receive an appointment to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.
As we learned earlier this week, that appointment went to state finance director Jim Main. Riley probably went with Main because Martin, the subject of multiple federal investigations, would be a controversial pick, possibly drawing unwanted scrutiny toward Riley.
Could Alice Martin be highly ticked that she was left out in the cold on the court appointment, considering that the Obama administration is likely to pull the plug on her U.S. attorney gig pretty soon?
Could Alice Martin be going after Troy King on the surface, with an eye toward information that could be damaging for Bob Riley?
Is it a mere coincidence that news of the King subpoena comes only days after news that Martin did not get the judgeship she wanted?
Some have speculated that Martin is going after King so that the attorney general position will open up and she can receive an appointment there. But if Riley passed her over for a court appointment, why would he go with her for attorney general?
How strange is this whole situation? Consider that Dax Swatek has been campaign manager for both Riley (2006 governor's race) and Martin (2000 race for Court of Criminal Appeals).
Here are a couple of things to always keep in mind regarding Alice Martin:
* When she opens an investigation, the law and facts probably have nothing to do with it. Politics almost always is front and center.
* The Birmingham News is almost certainly going to be in Alice's corner, cheering her on. The relationship between the newspaper and the Birmingham prosecutor is strange, unprofessional, and borderline creepy. If Alice Martin feels wronged about something, you can bet the Birmingham newspaper probably feels wronged, too.
The News' account says that "others" were named on the subpoena. But it chose to name a number of Riley allies, including Dax Swatek, Auburn University, and the Business Council of Alabama. I suspect there is a reason for that.
Is it possible that Alice Martin, getting the cold shoulder after years of carrying water for the Alabama GOP, is now determined to shine light on some Republican dirt? If so, she surely knows where to look.
Is it possible that hell hath no fury like a prosecutor scorned?
How will this investigation play out? Hard to say. But I suspect it's about more than any wrongs that Troy King may or may not have committed.