Leaderboard 728 X 90

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

AG Luther Strange Directed A Steady Stream Of Cash To Company Owned By Former Campaign Manager


Luther Strange and
 Jessica Medeiros Garrison
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange spent more than $200,000 with a holding company owned by his former campaign manager over a 16-month period in 2010 and 2011.

Jessica Medeiros Garrison, who managed Strange's 2010 campaign, started MDM 27 Holdings Inc. in November 2006. Campaign-finance records from the Alabama Secretary of State show that Strange spent $207,015.26 with MDM 27 Holdings, from June 10, 2010, to November 30, 2011.

During roughly the same time period, the Strange campaign paid $33,245.07 directly to Garrison.

Is anything improper, or unlawful, about the payments to Jessica Garrison and her company? Why was the much larger amount paid to a holding company and not to Garrison directly? We still are examining those questions, but they seem particularly relevant in light of recent events.

The attorney general's office, under Strange's direction, indicted former state senator Lowell Barron on April 19 for allegedly violating the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act and the state ethics law. Barron is accused of illegally transferring $58,000, plus title to a 2007 Toyota Camry, to former campaign staffer Rhonda Jill Johnson.

Did Luther Strange make similar payments to Jessica Medeiros Garrison, his former campaign aide? Did Strange try to disguise the payments by making them to Garrison's holding company? (See first document at the end of this post.)

In general, the charges against Barron allege that he unlawfully put campaign funds to personal use. Is there anything personal about the campaign funds that Luther Strange transferred to Jessica Garrison?

We don't have an answer yet to that question, but we do see irony in the indictment Strange's office brought against Barron. According to press reports, the charges stem in part from Barron listing his payments to Johnson as "administrative" expenses. From a report at al.com:

The 2011 annual report says the campaign had an ending balance of just over $500,000 and included in the expenditures is a listing for Jill Johnson, who received $8,000 with a notation “administrative” work performed, according to the filing.

The 2012 annual report, which covers 2011 has a $50,000 expenditure listed for Johnson and the same “administrative” note in explanation. The indictment contends the check's memo line reads "severance/bonus."

Why is that ironic? Records show that Strange made 15 "administrative" expenditures to MDM 27 Holdings Inc. in roughly the same time period. And MDM 27 Holdings is owned by Strange's former campaign aide. (See second document at the end of this post.)

All but one of the administrative payments to Jessica Garrison's company was in the $10,000 to $30,000 range. The Strange campaign made three payments for "consulting" services, and those were in the  $9,000 to $12,000 range.

Records show that MDM 27 Holdings has a reporting address of 1705 Dauphine Dr., Tuscaloosa, AL. Jessica Garrison is listed as company president, with an address of 119 Main St., Mountain Brook, AL.

Garrison currently serves as director of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which is an affiliate of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). Garrison also serves in an "as counsel" capacity with the Birmingham law firm Balch & Bingham.

Strange has a history of trying to hide campaign-related financial transactions--and some of those activities have ties to RSLC, an organization that now employs Jessica Garrison. From one of our earlier posts on the subject:

We know that Strange takes hypocrisy on gambling issues to monumental dimensions. After all, this is the guy who has tried to shut down non-Indian gaming facilities, such as VictoryLand in Macon County and Center Stage Alabama in Houston County, while taking a $100,000 campaign contribution from the Poarch Creek casinos. This also is the guy who used the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) to help obscure the donation via a PAC-to-PAC transfer.

Did Luther Strange try to obscure his payments to Jessica Garrison, violating campaign-finance laws? In light of the Lowell Barron indictment, it seems reasonable for Alabamians to be asking that question.





38 comments:

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention the $17,500 paid to "Alabama Politics, Inc." - whose sole incorporator was Jessica Medeiros Garrion - AFTER the lost 2006 election. This was the first large payment by Strange to Medeiros Garrison and came 5 months before she gave birth to a child. Strange's first payment to her was made just over 9 monts before her child was born. Suppose that is a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Selective prosecution is what you have in Alabama today. If the standard applied to everyone Strange, Hubbard, and Rileey would all be going down. Would love to see Stranges work product from ASU

Anonymous said...

I would imagine the FBI might be interested to see if Ms. Medeiros Garrison spent any of the money recived by MDM27 Holdings on advertising etc - or if she pocketed all the money. If she pocketed it - and she has a "familial" relationship with Strange - that's major indictable corruption.

Anonymous said...

There you go again Roger, uncovering hypocrisy and questionable activity by our elected "elite". How do you expect the good ole boy network to continue operate with this type of scrutiny??? Excellent work as usual.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the nearly $70,000 in salary she got paid from Luther's office for six months of "work" before she left to be the director of that other group.

jeffrey spruill said...

No irony here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection#Overview

Molli said...

Awesome reporting L.S.
You have continued to document the hypocrisy of the Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. Without thought, they (Strange and Riley-placed-staff) are deliberately trying to ruin people's lives charging them with crimes or activities which are no different, if not less severe, than those actions in which they are engaged in. Strange behaves as if he is above the law. Unfortunately the corrupt and politically connected organized crime family still seems to pull a lot of weight and their crony’s crimes and/or activities just get swept under the rug.

Another interesting story today released by Alabama Political Reporter Bill Britt:

http://www.alreporter.com/al-politics/political-news/state-news/4599-young-womans-sexual-harassment-claim-against-speaker-hubbards-high-paid-aide-cost-state-taxpayers-tens-of-thousands-of-dollars.html

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 6:58--

Excellent point. I'm not finished reporting on Luther's curious campaign finances. More to come.

Anonymous said...

A number of these administrative payments were during the 2010 campaign. Were these her payments as campaign manager, or were they on top of any salary she made as campaign manager? How are campaign managers typically paid?

legalschnauzer said...

Molli:

Thanks for your comment and for the link to Bill Britt's article. Hope folks will check that out. More excellent reporting from Mr. Britt.

Anonymous said...

@6:58,

Thanks for your note about Alabama Politics Inc. On the first document that LS published, it says the name of JMG's company was changed from Alabama Politics to MDM 27 Holdings in Nov. 2007. Wonder why the name was changed and why it was changed at that time.

Caroline said...

Luther and Jess sure look like a happy couple in that photograph.

Anonymous said...

Why the blacked out section on the summary of payments?

legalschnauzer said...

One payment--the one on 12/13/2010, for $20,712.73--accidentally was listed twice. I caught it not long before publication and marked out the one figure and adjusted the total.

Anonymous said...

I bet Lowell Barron will find this to be mighty interesting reading.

Anonymous said...

Any guesses what MDM 27 stands for?

Anonymous said...

With this kind of questionable stuff in his own background, you would think Luther Strange might be careful about bringing lawless raids and bogus indictments against other people.

Anonymous said...

Just curious how the Sec of State doesn't catch this sort of thing? Don't they have some responsibility in investigating what they put up on their site?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:09--

You make a very interesting point about the psychology involved in this. A reasonable person, in Luther's position, probably would try to keep a low profile. But the AG seems to make extra efforts to call attention to himself. Seems to be quite a disconnect going on.

Anonymous said...

Here is the most important paragraph in this story. This is where the rubber meets the road:

"In general, the charges against Barron allege that he unlawfully put campaign funds to personal use. Is there anything personal about the campaign funds that Luther Strange transferred to Jessica Garrison?"

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:10--

You raise a good point. My impression is that Sec. of State largely is an administrative position. Not sure it comes with any investigative or enforcement function. Ironically, the main enforcer probably is the AG--and perhaps the ethics commission. If it gets into federal territory, the DOJ could get involved. Welcome insight from others on this.

Anonymous said...

Was in school with JMG. She was a party hack even back then. She was dating and later married Lee Garrison, the guy that won Tuscaloosa City Council seat when he was barely out of college with Machine and campus support. Saw him blowing white stuff up his nose at least twice. Check JMG's facebook page a while back and saw NO PICTURES OF LEE. Made me think they were divorced. I wondered what happened if they were actually divorced. Wouldn't be a difficult thing to look into and see when it happened.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 12:35--

Yes, the Garrisons are divorced. That is public record, and I will be reporting soon on that case. I believe the divorce was finalized in 2011, although there have been a number of post-divorce issues raised.

Anonymous said...

From Jessica G's address in Mountain Brook, it sounds like she lives in a quaint, highly fashionable area of Crestline. My understanding is that even old, relatively small houses can run around $300,000 or more in that area. Wonder how a single mom affords that.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, they are divorced. NASTY ONE TOO. She broke the agreement by moving with their kid to Montgomery and then moved again to Mountain Brook. I seem to remember that Strange played some golf at the Mountain Brook Club according to Folsom's commercial from back in the day. Lee has also sued Jessica over their condo because she apparently doesn't pay her bills according to the complaint. You might want to try talking to Lee. You are on to something here Schnauzer.

-Shallow Tonsil

Coyote Lane said...

How dare you Legal Schnauzer!

The Corporation has no real law!!

Going from kings, queens, lords, ladies, churches, popes, rabbis, ministers, officers, multinational corporations.

What an elite pile of BS from the beginning of when the predatory morons believe stupid is smart.

But, we the real smart get to be treated as though we're the too dumb to succeed in USA.

The corporate digital dust ROACHES IN ROBES, god love this image .. AND all the tribe of digital corporate culture of corruption get to circle our country down the sewer.

Anonymous said...

LS, ever wonder about your blog, it appears there has been a serious redirect attached.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 2:17--

What do you mean? Not sure I follow . . .

Anonymous said...

Hi LS,

Here's the deal, the redirect is a spin and your site, often, does NOT STOP, just spins and spins and then REDIRECT.

I looked on my blog, same deal basically as you know, as your blog, AND yes indeed I see this REDIRECT of lots and lots of readers and I wonder, hmmmm, that often happens to me at the LS site!

I can't get on, can't post, and then redirected in pop up hell.

Maybe we need to ask 'Blogger'?

Anonymous said...

Roaches are so ugly and when Xrated,

as you report Legal Schnauzer, the big ass bugs are definitely a drawing to be born.

soon, you are going to enjoy how your roaches in robes look in the graphic art of a fine cartoonist, may be a little time, however, as Picasso said it does take time to be a child in the power of 'art'

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know when they are going to round up these crooks and send them all to jail.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 4:33--

Thanks for sharing. I wasn't familiar with the term "redirect" in this context. Will keep an eye out for this, or other readers who mention it. Feel free to keep me posted if you learn more about this issue.

Anonymous said...

lets put them in jail. and stop talking about it.

Anonymous said...

Why do you not post everything that is posted? Just the sensational items that are posted?

legalschnauzer said...

Are you referring to comments? I post pretty much all comments that are reasonably fair, coherent, and in good taste. Did something get missed? It's possible that valid comments get filtered out because of spam, but hopefully, that doesn't happen often. Feel free to resend.

Anonymous said...

I sent you a post that I knew the Garrison's both real well. I went on to explain that Michael Lee Garrison (6) IS Jessica;s and Lee's son and no one elses. Just look at them and him and you can figure that out. They did have a tough custody battle because they love him both so much. They now co-parent very well and he spends half his time with Jessica and half his time with Lee. You do such fine legal research you should look up the final judgement on the custody. As a matter of fact this past Saturday Lee was coaching Michael's coach pitch game as Jessica and Lee's wife sat together in the stands and cheered them on. Bottom line is leave Michael out of all this. He looks to be projected to be 5 foot 10 and NOT 6 foot 10!

legalschnauzer said...

Glad this comment got through. I probably deleted it while trying to deal with spam. I apologize for that mistake, and I'm glad you brought it to my attention. Unfortunately, I get a lot of spam comments, and wheat can get lost with chaff during the separation process. On the subject of legal research, I'm told portions of the Garrison divorce case have been sealed and are not public. Are you familiar with that?

Anonymous said...

I do not know if it is sealed or not