|Paul Bryant Jr.
(From Bloomberg Markets)
Did such an incestuous, conflict-riddled system allow Bryant Jr. to push for demolition of the UAB football program, without anyone raising an opposing view? Columnist John Archibald does not answer that question, but he suggests the university's governing board operates in "the smoke and shadows," discouraging members from conducting their business "in the light of day"--in part, because of loyalties to Bryant.
Birmingham attorney Donald Watkins, on his Facebook page, reacted to the Archibald column by calling the UA system a "modern day plantation." Watkins seemed particularly appalled that even Governor Robert Bentley is connected to the ugliness. His son, John Mark Bentley, is a vice president at Bryant Bank.
Watkins offers stinging insights on the UA board, but he's using the wrong metaphor, in my view. I would suggest Bryant has taken a public board and turned it into a private whorehouse. Why? As far as I know, the plantation system was legal in its day, but prostitution has long been the "oldest profession" that operates outside the law.
While Archibald provides important information about the UA board, he leaves out at least one major detail: Paul Bryant Jr. has documented ties to criminal activities, and our research indicates a prominent Birmingham lawyer helped him get away with it.
We've shown in a series of roughly 50 posts, beginning in October 2009, that Bryant and one of his companies (Alabama Reassurance) were implicated in a $15-million insurance fraud scheme that netted a 15-year federal prison sentence for a Philadelphia lawyer/entrepreneur named Allen W. Stewart.
Bloomberg Markets picked up on our reports and turned them into a national story for its January 2014 print issue. An early version of the story appeared at Bloomberg's Web site on November 25, 2013. Bloomberg did not credit Legal Schnauzer for providing the foundation to more than half of the story, but reporter Anthony Effinger consulted me multiple times while conducting research.
Why did Archibald not mention Bryant's connections to criminality? That's hard to figure because Bryant's shady background probably contributes to the secrecy that Archibald decries in the UA board.
Archibald notes that board members routinely refuse to give substantive answers to questions about public business, including the decision to cut UAB football. That should not be a surprise to anyone who has followed this blog.
I've tried to interview Jones twice on this issue, and he responded both times with a series of non-answers and insults. Here is an example:
Jones: I'm trying to make sure you understand that I have read your stuff, I have seen your conspiracy theories, and I am not going to answer any of your questions because I don't trust what you will write, period.
LS: I'm taking it down word for word. . . . I'm asking you, who called off the investigation of Paul Bryant?
Jones: I am not going to respond to any of your questions . . .
LS: You were a public official then, Doug . . .
Jones: I am not going to respond to any of your questions. . . . I've seen the garbage you write and the way you spin and the way you slant. It's the most disingenuous stuff I've ever seen. . . . It just doesn't matter to me. You're a nothing to me."
Notice that Jones never denies having called off the Bryant investigation. And he refuses to answer important questions about public business--from Jones' time as a public official.
John Archibald, in so many words, takes the UA board to task for acting in an arrogant and condescending fashion toward the public. But that should be expected when you know about Doug Jones' history of doing legal work for Bryant, followed by Jones' refusal to answer questions about his apparent actions to protect Bryant.
Do people affiliated with Bryant tend to become smarmy, greasy sycophants? I invite you to listen to my interviews with Doug Jones, via the two videos below, and come to your own conclusions.
I contend that this is the kind of attitude UA board members now take--and they are doing it with your tax dollars.