|From Bill Baxley's campaign, managed
by Paul Bryant Jr.
But our inquiry does not end there. We also know that Baxley has strong ties to University of Alabama trustee Paul Bryant Jr. Baxley, a rising political star in the 1970s, was friends with the late Crimson Tide football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, and that apparently helped make him close to Bryant's son, who has built a business empire while mostly dodging a federal investigation of insurance fraud in the late 1990s.
How close are Baxley and Bryant Jr.? Bryant once served as Baxley's campaign manager in a run for governor. (See campaign document at upper right.)
Is it possible that Neilson, via his pal Baxley, also is close to Bryant Jr.? Is it possible the three of them participated in a conspiracy to have me thrown in jail because of my reporting on certain subjects at this blog?
We don't have a definitive answer to those questions. But we do know that I am the reporter who broke the story about Bryant's ties to an insurance-fraud scam that resulted in a 15-year federal prison sentence for a Pennsylvania lawyer/entrepreneur named Allen W. Stewart. We also know that I was the primary source for an article at Bloomberg Markets that brought Bryant's connections to insurance fraud to a national and international audience. (See the print version of the article at the end of this post.)
Perhaps most importantly, at the time of my arrest I was researching an article about Jessica Garrison's ties to an individual who allegedly was involved in an activity that is extremely sensitive in college-athletics circles. As the No. 1 financial supporter of Crimson Tide athletics, and one of the most powerful boosters in college athletics, Bryant likely was concerned about my reporting efforts (which are ongoing, by the way).
How close does the trail of this unsavory activity get to Bryant? We aren't sure--yet--but the trail clearly leads through Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which is Bryant's home base.
Why was I unlawfully thrown in jail, losing my freedom for five months, and who was responsible for it? I suspect there were multiple reasons I was targeted--multiple stories I was working on that made powerful figures nervous and angry.
But Claud Neilson and Bill Baxley clearly were central players in the scheme, and they have connections that span more than four decades. Baxley and Bryant Jr. have connections that span at least that long, maybe longer.
As a side note, a source close to the Baxley family tells us the one-time gubernatorial candidate and legal maverick has been seriously compromised by photographic evidence of certain activities that took place during a Las Vegas trip that involved heavy drinking and gambling. In essence, our source says, powerful interests have kept copies of said photographic evidence for several years as a way of keeping "Dollar Bill" in line.
That might explain why Baxley, a Democrat in theory, now is quick to jump in the legal bed with such corporate, right-wing types as Rob Riley, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Sonny Reagan, and Luther Strange. (That, too, is a story where our research is ongoing and might soon yield explosive results.)
As for Bryant Jr., evidence suggests his already privileged life might have been a bit more comfortable with the demise of Legal Schnauzer. Is that why the blog's publisher wound up in jail--and did Bryant Jr. enlist the help of Baxley and Neilson to make sure it happened?
We are continuing to examine that question--and it appears we are getting closer and closer to an answer.