If you want to know why Democrats are in perhaps their weakest position in Alabama history, consider two stories that have broken in recent days.
The stories reveal that too many Alabama Democrats, particularly those of the white variety, have no principles and no spine. And one of the stories adds to the Obama administration's already horrible record on justice issues in our state.
First, comes word that Montgomery lawyer George Beck is likely to become the new U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Then we learn that Birmingham lawyer Nicole Gordon "Nikki" Still, who claims to be a Democrat, has been appointed to a Jefferson County judgeship for the second time by Republican Governor Bob Riley.
With appointments like these, things are likely to get worse before they get better for Democrats in Alabama.
The Alabama Democratic Party's Presidential Advisory Committee has endorsed Beck, even though he comes from a law firm with ties to Republican strategist Karl Rove and Business Council of Alabama (BCA) President Bill Canary. A source tells Legal Schnauzer that Beck's firm, Capell and Howard, often serves as a home base for Rove when he visits Alabama.
If Beck is nominated and confirmed, he will replace Leura Canary, the abominable George W. Bush appointee who ramrodded the Don Siegelman prosecution and, inexplicably, has served for more than two years under the Obama administration. Leura Canary, of course, is married to the BCA's Bill Canary, and given Capell and Howard's ties to Rove, we probably can look for more political prosecutions under George Beck.
Perhaps most troubling is the role Beck played in the Siegelman case. Beck represented key government witness Nick Bailey and allowed him to be bullied by federal prosecutors, who questioned Bailey some 70 times. Then there is this, which we reported in an earlier post:
Numerous reports have indicated that government prosecutors had Bailey write down portions of his statement in order to help him keep it straight. Those notes should have been turned over to defense counsel, but they were not.
Was Beck aware that this exculpatory material was withheld from the defense? If so, why did he quietly let it happen? Is this a serious breach of legal ethics? Does it approach a conspiracy to obstruct justice?
Sounds like just the kind of guy we need as a U.S. attorney, doesn't it? What are Alabama Democrats thinking? Are they thinking at all?
As for Nicole Gordon "Nikki" Still, we know what she's thinking. She's desperate to be a judge, and if she has to jump in bed with perhaps the most corrupt governor in Alabama history . . . well, so be it.
|Nicole Gordon Still|
Still's first appointment didn't end so well. When she had to run for election, she lost in the Democratic primary to Kenya Lavender Marshall. That prompted the Alabama State Bar, apparently at Riley's urging, to conduct a witch hunt against Marshall, suspending her license and causing her to be disqualified.
When the Alabama Democratic Executive Committee bypassed Still and nominated Elisabeth French, Still pitched a major snit.
Unable to win an election, Still jumped back in Riley's lap and was chosen to replace Judge G. William Noble, who retired last month. Still will serve the final two years of Noble's term before she has to face election again.
Why is Still so cozy in the Riley camp? Her father, prominent Birmingham attorney Bruce Gordon, has ties to Riley's son, Rob Riley. Here's how we explained it in an earlier post:
For several years, Bruce Gordon and the Gordon Dana law firm represented a company called Alabama Pain Consultants in a lawsuit involving Aspen Medical Products. That case is ongoing, and the Gordon firm has withdrawn from representation of Alabama Pain Consultants. But the case establishes a tie between Bruce Gordon, Nicole Gordon Still's father, and Rob Riley.
Alabama Pain Consultants is owned by Thomas Spurlock and David Marshall. Spurlock, a chiropractor, works in the UAB Department of Surgery and is a business partner with Rob Riley. Spurlock is an owner and officer in Performance Group LLC, a company whose other owners include Rob Riley.
As we have reported here at Legal Schnauzer, Performance Group and Alabama Pain Consultants are among the defendants in a federal whistleblower lawsuit, alleging they have engaged in Medicare fraud.
Bottom line? Bruce Gordon has tried to help Rob Riley and his buddies fight off charges of health-care fraud. Bob Riley probably would like to have a friendly judge on the Jefferson County bench to help limit Junior's exposure. And thus, an alliance is born between the Gordons (supposedly Democrats) and the Rileys (the sleaziest of Republicans).
As we said, so much for principles.
The problems for Alabama Democrats, however, go way beyond George Beck and Nikki Still.
Consider the Birmingham law firm of Wiggins Childs Quinn and Pantazis (WCQP). It's the largest employment law firm in the state, and in local legal circles, it's labeled a "Democrat law firm." But does WCQP exhibit solid progressive principles? Not exactly.
Bruce Gordon used to be a named partner at WCQP before leaving to start his own firm. The ties, however, between WCQP and the Gordon family appear to remain strong. Public documents show that Nicole Gordon Still has done extensive work with Dennis Pantazis, a current named partner at WCQP.
On its Web site, WCQP touts itself as "a leader and advocate for the rights of individuals." But I've seen evidence that the firm avoids cases that might shine light on Bob Riley's dark regime, probably because it wanted to help Nicole Gordon Still become a judge.
Nikki Still is hardly the only opportunist among Alabama Dems. Doug Jones, a former Clinton-era U.S. attorney, jumped in bed with Rob Riley to help earn hefty attorney fees in a federal lawsuit involving individuals and entities connected to HealthSouth Corporation.
Perhaps saddest of all is Obama's appointment of Abdul Kallon to a federal judgeship in the Northern District of Alabama. Kallon came from the conservative and pro-Riley Birmingham firm of Bradley Arant, and apparently was hoisted upon Obama by former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis.
We've had personal experience with Judge Kallon, and we will present overwhelming evidence that the man is either incompetent, corrupt--or both. And we are not talking about a Bush appointee; this is an Obama guy.
As a black lawyer who replaced a historic figure, retired U.S. Judge U.W. Clemon, Kallon is perhaps Obama's most high-profile appointment in Alabama. But we've seen from firsthand experience that Kallon is a disgrace to the bench and is little more than a corporate puppet--in other words, he's just like a Bush appointee.
Can things get worse for Alabama Democrats? At the rate the party is heading south, I would say they undoubtedly will.