The Unmasking of Sonny Reagan" in Alabama holds the potential to help clean up one of the most corrupt states in the country--and that would be historic, for sure.
But the Reagan story already has made one small slice of history. In the seven years I've been writing this blog, it's the first time I can recall a member of the legal clan being outed for alleged obstruction of justice--or its state-law equivalent.
We once wrote a post stating that lying under oath, formally known as perjury, had replaced baseball as America's pastime. My guess is that perjury is the most common crime committed in America--and it's the least likely to be prosecuted. That's probably because lawyers and judges have come to tolerate it--even expect it--in many courtroom proceedings.
If perjury is the most common American crime, obstruction of justice probably is a close No. 2. Obstruction of justice is a broad concept that covers a whole host of nasty acts--from paying a judge, to bribing a juror, to threatening a witness, to . . . well, the list goes on. True obstruction of justice, by that name, usually is a federal offense, while the state-law equivalent is called something slightly different. In Alabama, it's called "obstructing governmental services" and is covered under Code of Alabama 13A-10-2.
I suspect obstruction is even less likely than perjury to be prosecuted because . . . well, because members of the legal tribe are highly likely to be the ones committing it.
That's why the "Unmasking of Sonny Reagan" is so unusual. You have a lawyer, Acting Attorney General Van Davis, accusing a fellow member of the AG's staff of intentionally subverting the justice process. This is real man-bites-dog material.
How bad does this look? Consider the following from Van Davis' news release on the matter:
Deputy Attorney General Henry T. (“Sonny”) Reagan, for a period of months, had undisclosed communications with individuals affiliated with people indicted or under investigation by the Lee County Special Grand Jury. Reagan also took other action to impede or obstruct the investigation.”
Reagan was obstructing the investigation "for a period of months"? Yikes! If these allegations are proven, and Reagan and his cronies are brought to justice, Van Davis should receive some sort of honor--from the AG's Office, the Governor's Office, the U.S. Department of Justice, the White House, or all of the above.
If you are like me and have a history with Alabama, and care about its future, you must be getting tired of seeing the state listed among our nation's most corrupt backwaters. Here is how a recent top 10 from Fortune magazine read:
8. South Dakota
First, notice that six of the 10 most corrupt states are in the South, including the "top three." As for the non-Southern states, folks who live in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Alaska, and South Dakota must be hanging their heads in shame. And is it possible that five states actually are MORE corrupt than Alabama? I find that hard to believe.
If Van Davis is successful in unmasking Sonny Reagan and his allies, maybe such rankings will begin to change. Maybe a brighter day really is ahead for Alabama.