Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sec. of State John Merrill is the Alabama politico whose extramarital affair was covered up--until now

John Merrill (from
Secretary of State John H. Merrill (R-Tuscaloosa) is the Alabama politician whose extramarital affair was revealed in court documents but went unreported in the mainstream press.

Kyle Whitmire, a reporter for, admitted in a column on Tuesday that, prior to the 2014 general election, he had court documents that provided details about an unnamed public official's affair. The quality of the information was not in question because it involved sworn testimony in a deposition. Whitmire said it was "as close as it comes" to having a "story cold," but he "stuck it away," apparently not even consulting an editor about it. Whitmire hinted that other reporters in the mainstream press had received the information and ignored it.

Merrill, a Republican ally of former governor Bob Riley and a friend of Riley's son Rob, went on to handily win the secretary of state race over Democrat Lula Albert-Kaigler. Would Merrill have won if Whitmire had revealed the contents of court documents in his possession? That's hard to say. But multiple sources told Legal Schnauzer yesterday that the documents in question are from a divorce case in Tuscaloosa Circuit Court styled Bryan Scott Brinyark v. Mildred Murphree Brinyark.

Sources sent us copies of Millie Brinyark's deposition in the case, dated September 22, 2010, and Merrill's name is front and center. Ms. Brinyark, a former teacher, admits to allowing the married Merrill to touch her "private parts" and that she performed oral sex on him. A portion of the deposition, with key parts highlighted in yellow, is embedded at the end of this post.

Whitmire's column came in the wake of a vow from State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), Alabama's first openly gay lawmaker, to expose the affairs of her political colleagues if they continued to criticize a recent federal-court ruling in Mobile that declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Todd especially mentioned House Speaker Mike Hubbard, Attorney General Luther Strange, and unnamed others who might stand against gay marriage on "family values" grounds.

Todd appeared on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes show on Tuesday night and reportedly has heard from Jon Stewart's highly rated The Daily Show on Comedy Central. So far, Todd has not exposed any of her colleagues, but you might say that our readers helped us beat her to it.

We're not aware of any stance that Merrill has taken on gay marriage, but he has the kind of conservative "credentials" that Todd had in mind. During the 2014 campaign, Merrill was a favorite of the pro-business and religious communities, picking up endorsements from the Business Council of Alabama (led by Bill Canary), Alabama Conservative Christians, the National Rifle Association, Alabama Farmers Federation, and the Alabama Association of Realtors.

Even former Crimson Tide basketball coach Wimp Sanderson (who had extramarital issues of his own.) endorsed Merrill. "I know what he believes in, and what principles guide him," Sanderson said. That certainly appears to be true.

Merrill's official biography at the Secretary of State Web site says he is a deacon at Calvary Baptist Church and has served as a Sunday School teacher. The "pro family" bases seem to be covered:

John has been married to the former Cindy Benford of Phil Campbell for twenty-nine years. She is the principal at Westwood Elementary School in Coker. The couple has two children, Brooks (24), a graduate of The University of Alabama and graduate student at The University of South Florida, and Allie Grace (21), a senior at The University

The official bio says Merrill has been "very active in his community." Millie Brinyark's deposition shows just how active he has been.

First, Ms. Brinyark admits that she and a teacher/coach named Mike Evans, were "groping each other" behind closed doors during school hours. Then the questions turn to another married man with whom Ms. Brinyark was chummy, and to some extent, that apparently was also on school property:

Q: Have you gotten yourself involved with any other married man?

A: Yes

Q: Who?

A: John Merrill.

Then the deposition turns to specifics:

Q: Did you consider the fact that when another man touches what I will call your body, particularly your private parts, that's being unfaithful to your husband?

A: Yes.

Q: And Mike Evans did that, didn't he?

A: Yes.

Q: And John Merrill did that too, didn't he?

A: Yes.

Q: And you allowed them to do that?

A: Yes.

The relationships, it seems, were of a reciprocal nature:

Q: And when you were touching their body, and putting your hand in their crotch, and touching their penis, did they tell you they didn't like that?

A: No.

Men often are the aggressors in these situations, and that appears to be the case with Merrill. The deposition mentions that he is a politician, running for office:

A: John came to talk to me, and he came again and talked to me, and then I met with him that Sunday afternoon, and he had--he had been very sexual in his conversations and --

Q: Toward you?

A: Yes.

Q: In an inappropriate manner?

A: Yes.

Q: In what way?

A: Just he talked about he had to have sex all the time and --

Q: He wanted to have it with you?

A: Uh-huh.

How physical did things get?

Q: Did he touch, caress, and/or kiss your breasts?
A: Yes.
Q: Did you do the same for him?
A: Yes.
Q: So you touched his unexposed penis?
A: Yes.
Q. And did either one of y'all have oral sex with the other?
A: Yes.
Q: How many times?
A: Just once.
Q: Both for each other?
A: No.
Q: Him for you--did he commit or perform oral sex on you?
A: No.
Q: You performed oral sex on him?
A: Yes.

The deposition indicates Ms. Brinyark had to resign from her teaching job, and she eventually went to work for an organization run by . . . John Merrill:

Q: So you had to actually resign?

A: Right.

Q: And then it was two or three years later that you began to work with the after school program?

A: Right.

Q: And that's the after school program that was run by John Merrill?

A: Yes.

This apparently refers to the years when Merrill worked for the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education. From his bio:

From 1994 until 2010, John was the Director of Community Relations and Community Education for the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education. In this capacity, he served as the spokesperson for the Tuscaloosa County School System and coordinated twenty after school programs.

The Merrill story involves numerous unanswered questions, but this might be the most troubling one: Did John Merrill use taxpayer dollars to hire his mistress, perhaps in hopes that she would stay quiet about their affair?

Would that question have been of interest to voters who went to the polls in November 2014 to vote for secretary of state?

I would say the answer is yes. But Kyle Whitmire, and apparently other mainstream news reporters, made sure that voters didn't know enough to ask that question.


Unknown said...

Very nice that Merrill has upheld his family values by hiding behind the church house doors.

Too many of Alabama's politicians use the title "church deacon" while attempting to cover nefarious deeds.

Voters deserved to know the real values Merrill possessed prior to the election.

Anonymous said...

This is embarrassing for the Bham News. This shows they don't even try to be objective in their reporting--just a GOP mouthpiece.

ttowntruthseeker said...

Last October Rick Santorum ( whose name has acquired a unique definition of its own ) appeared with Attorney General Luther Strange, Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John Macmillan and Republican Secretary of State nominee John Merrill for a rally before about 100 people. Merrill introduced Santorum in this way: "People in this country who opted not to vote for (Santorum) obviously made a grievous mistake,”
Montgomery Advertiser

legalschnauzer said...

An important question in this, to me, is why was the case file sealed? We've already had that issue with Republican politicians--Mark Fuller and Jessica Medeiros Garrison. Was sealing of this case lawful? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

John Merrill and Rob Riley are real tight. If I remember correctly, one of them ran for SGA president at UA, and the other ran the campaign, something like that.

Jed C. said...

Kyle Whitmire asked the other day about where to draw the line on stories like this. I think it's pretty obvious where he draws the line--between Republicans and Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Bryan Brinyark a lawyer?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, that's correct, @8:52. He and Millie Brinyark have five children. Merrill has two children.

Anonymous said...

Interesting sidelight, Schnauzer: John Merrill was University of Alabama SGA President right after none other than Rob Riley.

And guess who else was SGA President at U of A? Jessica Medeiros Garrison - who sued you over your reporting of HER extramarital affair with Luther Strange.

Anonymous said...

Pure unadulterated filth!!! Good research Roger. This is the place to find out whats really going on.

legalschnauzer said...

I seem to get along well with former SGA presidents, @12:42. Don't think I wouldl want to be the spouse of a former SGA president. The position must give one a certain form of arrogance and entitlement. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

And Jesus said:

Ye either be hot or cold, for should thee be lukewarm then I spew thee from thy mouth.

Hypocrisy. Jesus wasn't tolerant of the HYPOCRITE,

and therefore, every Alabama "Christian GOP Family Values" that are lukewarm - Jessica Garrison, Luther Strange, et al,

are not going to where Jesus can stand to look at the hypocrisy that has destroyed so many of the children's innocence.

A few lifetimes in their own hell absent any and all other people to punish, maybe Jesus can forgive the HYPOCRITES ... time is to be the taskmaster.

Anonymous said...

The case above represents one incident in when the Secretary of Fake just happened to get caught. More exist. Merrill is an embarassment and continues to engage in deceit and hypocrisy because in his own warped mind, he thinks he is invincible.

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. Luke 12:2

e.a.f. said...

Family values seems to be a big thing in the U.S.A. but then so is cheating on ones spouse. So is this a new family value?

up here in Canada, its still not considered a family value, cheating on your spouse, that is, but most of our politicians don't campaign on "family values" either.

If a person cheats on their spouse, you always have to think: what else will the cheat about.

if you're unhappy with your spouse and want another or want to "play the field", do the honourable thing, get a divorce and move on. Having sex with some one other than your spouse when you are married isn't very nice and in some cases very unhealthy. The other spouse may not like what you bring home, i.e all sorts of entertaining diseases.

Robby Scott Hill said...


Anonymous said...

According to his mistress, John Merrill "has to have sex all the time." Someone who is so weak that they are controlled at all times by their own penis can't really be trusted with any constitutional office or taxpayer funds. Alabamans definitely deserve a better SoS than a horny middle aged frat bro having a midlife crisis.

Anonymous said...

Bama is a cesspool of corruption. Where are the feds? What about this guy Matt Hart?

Anonymous said...

I bet Merrill doesn't like the way this is going down.

Anonymous said...

Merrill is said to be looking for some young attractive go-getters to be on his staff.

Anonymous said...

Mention the name Nicole Jones of Huntsville.

Anonymous said...

Merrill's office is busy getting rid of his most recent indiscretion, a known power whore, Nicole Jones.

legalschnauzer said...

Do you have details about Ms. Jones? Who is she, and what has she allegedly done? You can contact me at

Anonymous said...

At the recent Huntsville Republican Men's breakfast where Secof State Merrilland wife attended, Ms. Jones put pressure on Merrill about their relationship by sitting him and his wife.

Anonymous said...

Just google Nicole jones development. Check out the complaints against her business.

Anonymous said...

I can't comment on Nicole Jones and John Merrill out of first-hand knowledge, but she definitely has a very "knowing" look out of her eyes in her pictures. And her development company sounds like one of these companies that one is never quite sure what they do.

Anonymous said...

Good work LS. Would be nice if you posted a picture of Millie Brinyark. It's always nice to have a visual of the cast. I can certainly understand John not performing oral on her. It appears that her "Y" was pretty active. John didn't want some other studs DNA in his mouth !

legalschnauzer said...

@4:26 -- I found a picture of Millie Brinyark and included it in our post from yesterday (Fri., 11/4). I'm sure I'll take heat because it includes kids in the pic, but what can I say, the woman has a bunch of kids. A lot of folks on Facebook appear to have found this old post about the Merrill story, but we have a new one up from yesterday, and since you asked for it, it includes a Millie Brinyark photo. Guess we're sort of playing the "Request Line" gig today.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for honoring my request for the pic. She's hotter than a $2.00 pistol in that farm attire and just too much temptation for an oversexed deacon. I think Jimmy Swaggert offers counseling for those "deacs" that need a helping hand ! Love donations accepted.