Friday, April 12, 2013

Alabama State University Gave Luther Strange Contracts For Studying "Education In India"

Attorney General Luther Strange received a contract from Alabama State University to study "education in India," according to a new report from the Inside Alabama Politics newsletter (IAP).

The Strange contract was revealed in IAP's report about an ongoing investigation into the awarding of service contracts at ASU and whether the university received a fair value for the services provided under the contracts. Also at issue are allegations of kickbacks involving fees paid for legal services by the university.

State Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery) either has been or is about to be indicted by a federal grand jury in Birmingham, and House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) is under investigation by the FBI, IAP reports.

Perhaps the most intriguing portion of the IAP report involves Luther Strange. From the newsletter's April 8 issue:

Interestingly, Republican Attorney General Luther Strange convened a grand jury in Montgomery several months ago to look at consulting contracts. It has since been revealed that Strange himself received thousands of dollars in contracts from ASU to study education in India. As a result, Strange may be in the unique position of investigating his own contracts with Alabama State.

All of this is reminiscent of the federal prosecution against former State Rep. Sue Schmitz (D-Toney) under the George W. Bush administration. Schmitz was employed in a state-funded job and allegedly did little or no work in return. Alabama Republicans hailed the effort to root out "corruption" at the time, especially after Schmitz was convicted and sent to prison. The GOP might start to rethink the Schmitz charges if some of their own, including Luther Strange, wind up in federal cross hairs.

The revelations about Strange raise a number of obvious questions:

* What did Strange do in return for his contract to study education in India?

* What does a lawyer, who was running for office as the state's chief law-enforcement officer, know about education in India?

* Why would ASU, a historically black university with a support base that certainly leans strongly Democratic, offer a contract to a Republican such as Strange?

* Perhaps most interesting of all, why would Strange seek a contract from ASU?

How did apparent corruption find fertile soil at Alabama State University? IAP provides the background:

The allegations involving questionable contracts issued by ASU first arose last December when then-ASU President Joseph Silver reported to the board of trustees: “In reviewing the financials, contracts and other pertinent information of Alabama State, I discovered some items I considered questionable and troubling, at best, and a conflict of interest at the least.” Within days of making the allegations, Silver was terminated as president after only three months on the job.

In the aftermath of the Silver scandal, two audits of ASU contracts were ordered, one by Gov. Robert Bentley and the other by the ASU board. The results of those two audits are still pending.

As for the Hubbard investigation, federal law enforcement seems to be taking the matter seriously. Reports IAP:

A former newspaper reporter who covered the State House and Alabama politics and who requested his name be withheld, confirmed to IAP that he has spoken with special agent William Kinnaird about Hubbard both in person and in a number of telephone conversations. When contacted, Kinnaird denied he was “investigating” Hubbard, but walked that back slightly when he pointed out that what the FBI considers an “investigation” and what may be an investigation in lay terms are two different things.

A spokesman for the FBI in Mobile told IAP that as a matter of policy, the FBI neither confirms nor denies that it is engaged in an active investigation. IAP sources say at least two others have been interviewed by the FBI, including an out-of-state political consultant and a Montgomery political blogger.

Meanwhile, citizens should be on the lookout for results of the audits at Alabama State. Those reports might reveal uncomfortable truths about the way politics, business, and education are intertwined in our state.


Anonymous said...

The FBI investigated Hubbbard's partner in crime at Majority Strategies - Brett Buerck - for 3 yars along with the GOP speaker of ther Ohio House of Representatives in a scheme in which the speaker would insist that house candidates use Buerck's firm, then would get a kickback from Buerck.

Sound familiar?

The FBI's familiarity with Buerck (they wouldn't have to dig the file out) should make Mike Hubbard a very nervous man.

Word is that Hubbard is in real trouble here - from several sources friendly to Hubbard.

Anonymous said...

I tried to access "Inside Alabama Politics". Unable to do so. Google search indicated site shut down in 2010. Can you provide link or is there one?

Anonymous said...

The PCI have given Big Luther a number of Indian names, including:

Luther Two Squaws

jeffrey spruill said...

What the FBI considers an “investigation” and what may be an investigation in lay terms are two different things.


Is that the problem with investigating Director Robert S. Mueller III & his ties to the US Attorneys firings Thursday-Dec.7,2006:

Anonymous said...

Hubbard is having a difficult time controlling the House these days. The rumor mill is churning! I expect a full blown mutiny!

Anonymous said...

It just keeps getting better. Can I get a grant to study education Gibraltar or Tonga?
D.M. Phenix City

Anonymous said...

Starting to look like Big Luther really is as dumb as he looks and acts! He's like a child who wets his pants and then says, "look at me".

Anonymous said...

Is "India" a nickname for that section of Crestline where JMG lives?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 7:25--

I don't believe IAP newsletter is available on the Web. I gathered my info from a hard-copy version of the current issue.

Anonymous said...

When this story first broke, didn't someone report that Jeff Sessions received contracts from ASU?

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing Big Luther needs a refresher course in sex education, especially the part about what causes unintended pregnancy.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:13--

Yes, Bob Martin reported on Jeff Sessions' involvement at the Montgomery Independent. Here is URL to a post I wrote on the subject:

Anonymous said...

Hindus are big on electronic bingo, so Luther sends his staff members to India, with orders to figure out ways to stamp out such illegal activity.

legalschnauzer said...

From Bob Martin's reporting on Jeff Sessions and ASU:

It has been revealed to me that U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions has also been the recipient of substantial contributions or payments from ASU. If so, could these also be among the bones that are suggested to have been buried on the campus in Montgomery? No other political names have been mentioned at this point, but I would wager there are plenty of others who should be curious about what may be protruding from the burial site of those bones.

Anonymous said...

There is plenty Hubbard should be worried about because of his association with Buerck. And, as I understand it, Buerck has been interviewed by the feds.

Here's more background on Buerck's origins and how he ended up getting run out of Ohio politics.

Anonymous said...

This story clearly has a typo. Luther actually is studying indians in the U.S. and figuring out how to steal their wampum. He's getting very good at it.

Anonymous said...

Electronic bingo is so big in India that Milton McGregor is hugely popular there. If you go to Bombay or Calcutta, you will see McGregor's image everywhere. He's a sacred figure, much like the cow. This drives Luther crazy, so he got a grant from ASU to figure out how to stop it.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Alabama Supreme Court rule that electronic bingo is illegal in India?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Alabama Supreme Court declared electronic bingo illegal in India and even issued a six-point test to determine when a bingo machine constitutes an illegal slot machine. They appointed Bob Riley to monitor the situation, and he is planning a motorcycle trip to India any day now. Riley is flying in a squadron of Alabama state troopers to conduct raids, but the Hindus are not afraid. They play bingo like mad anyway. It's driving Luther over the edge.

Anonymous said...

Luther did not file on this income from ASU until he was forced to after being exposed. I guess he has gotten a free ride from the ethics committee. It just infuriates me that all of these crooks continue to get away with their corrupt dealings. Seems as though the main stream media does all they can to protect them also. Thanks to you Roger and Bob Martin for not being afraid to print the truth in your blogs and articles so hopefully one day these scum bags will be prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

Electronic bingo is so big in India that it's become a tradition for families to name their first-born sons "Milton." Luther might wind up in a psych ward over it.

David in S. Alabama said...

I wonder if they would hire me to study the sex life of doorknobs in the Alabama Attorney Generals Office?

David in S. Alabama said...

for those of you who haven't heard the Ethics Commission passed a rule that says all complaints filed against Republicans shall be destoyed immediately.