Friday, December 21, 2007

A Reporter Sighting in Alabama?

This might come as a shock, but there are signs that an Alabama-based journalist (aside from bloggers) is actually doing some reporting.

Reporters at small papers in south Alabama have done some good work in the past year on the rampant Republican sleaze in our state. But I can't think of a non-blogging journalist in the northern half of the state who has done squat.

That might be changing, thanks to Bob Gambacurta, who is turning out some serious stuff on the John W. Goff case in Montgomery. Gambacurta is a veteran of the Alabama journalism and political scene, and he reports for the Montgomery Independent on the nastiness between Goff and Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

Goff filed a lawsuit, claiming that Riley and others had conspired to ruin one of Goff's insurance company. In apparent retaliation pushed by Riley, the GOP-led U.S. attorney's office in Montgomery initiated what appears to be a flimsy criminal investigation of Goff.

Gambacurta reports that U.S. Justice Department officials have informed Goff's attorneys that Main Justice in Washington will oversee the federal grand-jury investigation into insurance fraud allegations against Goff.

David Margolis, an associate deputy attorney general in Washington, does not remove assistants in the Montgomery office from the case. He says supervision of the case will remain with Montgomery prosecutor Louis Franklin, but oversight will come from Washington.

Sounds like that's only so-so news for Goff.

In a column earlier this week, Gambacurta lays out a series of questions raised by the Goff case. A sampler:

* Why did federal prosecutors launch a grand jury investigation of Goff just months after Goff filed suit against Gov. Riley?

* Why are federal prosecutors using a 3-4 year old complaint which deals with litigation that has long since been resolved, as the basis for the Goff investigation?

* Why did U.S. Attorney Leura Canary recuse herself from the Goff investigation and not recuse the assistant U.S. attorneys who work for her?

* Why does Mrs. Canary refuse to make public her recusal documents?

And here's an interesting one:

* Why, after interviewing Goff's CPA, who staunchly defended Goff and refuted all the charges against him, are federal prosecutors not bringing the accountant before the grand jury to testify?

"These and many other questions will be answered when and if Goff's suit comes to trial," Gambacurta reports.

It seems clear that Riley and his GOP henchpeople are doing everything they can to ensure that does not happen.

But I get the sense that Gambacurta smells the stench of Alabama Republicans. Let's hope he continues to follow the smelly trail.

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