When someone says "Republican," what is the first word that pops in your mind. For me, it's "hypocrite," and I suspect that comes high on your list of words to associate with the GOP.
This comes to mind after recently reviewing a document in a divorce/custody case involving Republican operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Tuscaloosa school board president Lee Garrison.
Jessica Garrison complains in the document that her ex husband and his current wife are cigarette smokers, causing allergy problems during visitations for the son she has via Lee Garrison. This might be a legitimate concern in a custody case, and as a non-smoker myself, I'm not a big fan of any human (child or otherwise) being forced to inhale second-hand smoke. But coming from Jessica Garrison, it induces guffaws.
That's because it's well documented that Ms. Garrison is philosophical "best buds" with current U.S. Circuit Judge and former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor. In fact, she stated in an interview earlier this year that Pryor is her professional mentor--even though he might accurately be described as one of the most notorious tobacco-industry whores in American history.
(We probably can safely assume that Jessica Garrison also has adopted her mentor's strident anti-gay stance. Given what we've learned in recent weeks about Bill Pryor's ties to 1990s gay porn . . . well, that makes mentor and mentee hypocrites of Bunyanesque proportions.)
Is Jessica Garrison even aware how absurd it is for her to claim Bill Pryor as a mentor while decrying the effects of cigarette smoke? I doubt it, so we will spell it out.
First, let's consider that statement from the divorce/custody document. (See full document at the end of this post.) It was part of a general attack on her ex husband that Jessica Garrison used in effort to maintain primary custody of their son. Here is the key part:
The father has repeatedly exhibited a willingness to forfeit time with his son to pursue recreational and social activities that often involve excessive drinking and late nights. He also admittedly has had a gambling problem and takes controlled medications for which he has no prescription or medical need. The father also has a bad temper and a consistent tendency to rage, often in the presence of the child. Moreover, the father and his wife are cigarette smokers and have pets, both of which contribute to the child's ongoing allergies.
Who can Jessica Garrison thank for smoking's pervasive presence in American culture, especially in Alabama? Well, in part, the thanks should go to her mentor, Bill Pryor.
First, we must apologize to whores everywhere for comparing them to Bill Pryor and tobacco. That's a true insult to all self-respecting prostitutes, who actually fill a need in society--unlike Bill Pryor and the cigarette industry.
This all dates to 1997, when Mike Moore, a progressive attorney general in Mississippi, launched litigation to force the tobacco industry to help pay for health-care costs associated with smoking. Billions of dollars were at stake, and the lawsuits would have major implications for the political prosecutions of Don Siegelman in Alabama and Paul Minor in Mississippi. We covered that in an October 2007 post titled "Siegelman, Minor, and Tobacco."
|Bill Pryor, Jessica Garrison
and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions
In 1997, after Mississippi and other states led the legal charge against the tobacco companies by filing lawsuits seeking compensation for treating tobacco-related illnesses, Alabama's refusal to join its neighbor to the west ignited a political firestorm.
Then-governor Fob James sided with Attorney General Bill Pryor, who adamantly opposed suing the industry, calling it bad law motivated by greedy trial lawyers. Siegelman did battle with James and Pryor in the media, condemning them for not joining the growing number of states suing the industry and accusing Pryor of being too close to the tobacco industry.
When it became clear that Alabama would not hop on board, Siegelman, though acting in his capacity as a private attorney, met with leaders at USA and the University of Alabama-Birmingham to urge them to sue cigarette makers. The argument was that the hospitals operated by both universities spent millions of dollars treating tobacco-related illnesses.
USA hopped aboard. UAB did too, before bowing out at Pryor's urging.
The Mobile paper did not get that last part quite right. Administrators on the UAB campus in Birmingham wanted to join the lawsuit. But Pryor persuaded members of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, based in Tuscaloosa, to vote against it. On a 10-2 vote, the UA Trustees stayed out of the lawsuit. That meant the University of South Alabama received about $20 million over 10 years, while UAB got nothing.
An Associated Press article from the time provides insight on some of the "reasoning" behind UA's no vote.
The bottom line? Bill Pryor went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that Birmingham's largest health-care provider missed out on roughly $20 million to which it was lawfully entitled. And it was all so Pryor could protect his benefactors in the tobacco industry.
Jessica Garrison clearly enjoys reaping the benefits of her association with Bill Pryor. She now works for the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which Pryor started.
So here is some Legal Schnauzer advice for you, Jessica: If you want to continue riding the Pryor gravy train, please keep your trap shut about the dangers of smoking. It makes you look like an outsized hypocrite, even among Republicans.