Tuesday, August 2, 2016

GOP operative Jessica Garrison, best known as AG Luther Strange's mistress, buys Mountain Brook house from Alabama Power executive for $835,000

House at 212 Dexter Avenue in Mountain Brook
(From zillow.com)
Republican operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison, mistress and former campaign manager for Attorney General Luther Strange, has bought a Mountain Brook home from an Alabama Power executive for $835,000.

Is this a sign that the Garrison/Strange story is getting more and more like the scandal engulfing Gov. Robert Bentley and former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason? Does it mean that women who engage in extracurricular activities with powerful Republicans can expect to receive favors, which come in a variety of forms?

We're not sure about that, but something seems to be going right with Jessica Garrison's personal balance sheet these days. The $835,000 she paid for her new Mountain Brook home is almost twice what Garrison paid for her first Mountain Brook house, at 119 Main Street, in 2012. And it comes as Garrison appears to be pulling back from some of her professional activities.

Work less and buy a house that's worth almost twice what your old one was worth? Must be a nice trick, if you can pull it off.

Jessica Garrison, it seems, can pull off most anything when it comes to real estate in the highly desirable "tiny kingdom" of Mountain Brook. A foreclosure deed from sale of the first house showed that Garrison issued a "high bid" of $30,000--for a house appraised at almost $440,000.

Roughly a year later, after I began reporting about the curious deal and large sums of money that Strange was funneling to Garrison's political-consulting companies, a second foreclosure deed appeared. It showed Garrison making a high bid of $411,922, bringing the total to slightly more than the home's appraised value.

Did media attention, driven partly by Strange's dubious prosecution of Democrat and former Senate President Lowell Barron, cause someone to reconfigure what appeared to be a sweetheart house deal for Garrison? The answer is not clear at the moment, but we know it seems to be a sensitive subject; I was arrested one day after writing about the transaction on October 22, 2013.

Now, we have a second Mountain Brook house deal for Garrison--and it, too, emits a peculiar odor.

Garrison seems to have a knack for rubbing shoulders with corporate types and winding up with houses that keep her safely ensconced in Mountain Brook--often with a tidy profit for Garrison's nest egg.

In summer 2015, Garrison sold her first Mountain Brook home to ServisFirst Bank executive Ray B. Petty, who worked 35 years for SouthTrust/Wachovia, eventually becoming a regional president and CEO of Wachovia Mortgage. You might think a banking veteran like Petty would be a rugged negotiator on a house deal. But public records show he paid $550,000, which left Garrison with a profit of almost $140,000. Not bad for a house she owned for barely three years.

Garrison's new digs are at 212 Dexter Avenue, also in the Crestline Heights section of Mountain Brook--maybe a 9-iron or so from her previous residence. Why is it so much more expensive than the Main Street house? That's hard to figure, since it has only about 300 more square feet of living space. Property records show that the Dexter home has undergone more than $226,000 of improvements since 2011. Also, the Main Street house faces the fairly busy Euclid Avenue, so the Dexter location probably is quieter. These things matter, a lot, in the "Tiny Kingdom."

Did connections--political, corporate, or both--play a role in Garrison buying the house? Well, Garrison bought the house from Howard R. and Stacey Torch. Howard Torch is an advertising manager for Alabama Power and Southern Company in Birmingham.

Garrison is an attorney and serves in an "of counsel" role at Balch and Bingham. That outfit just happens to be known as THE Alabama Power firm in Birmingham. Hmmm . . .

Speaking of Garrison's professional life, it seems to be shrinking. The "of counsel" job at Balch and Bingham long has appeared mostly ceremonial, with Garrison landing there after she had to give up a job with Strange's office in Montgomery because a court ruling in a divorce/child custody case forced her to live within 60 miles of her ex husband's residence in Tuscaloosa.

Her primary positions seemed to be with the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and the affiliated Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF). Garrison's current LinkedIn page shows she left those positions in January 2016. She lists her main roles now with Balch and Bingham and MDM27, the political-consulting company that received mucho Luther Strange campaign dollars.

(By the way, a quick check of campaign-finance records shows U.S. Rep Gary Palmer (R-AL) has spent at least $84,000 or so with MDM27 and Jessica Garrison.)

This new chapter in the Garrison/Strange story can't help but remind an attentive observer of the Bentley/Mason scandal. How? Consider this:

* When Jessica Garrison needed a job within 60 miles of Tuscaloosa, she found one at Balch and Bingham, THE Alabama Power law firm. When Garrison was in the market for a new house, she found one that had been owned by an advertising manager at . . . Alabama Power. One of the major contributors to ACEGOV, the nonprofit that attorney Donald Watkins has called a slush fund for paying Rebekah Caldwell Mason. is Alabama Power. One of ACEGOV's board members is R.B. Walker, assistant to the executive vice president at . . . Alabama Power.

* Could the Garrison and Mason stories intersect via a shadowy organization known as PACE (Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy)? It seems like a strong possibility. Here's what we wrote about PACE in a post last summer, and we have more coming soon:

Speaking of Alabama Power and Balch Bingham, they are connected to a curious outfit called Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy (PACE). It sounds like PACE is concerned with keeping energy affordable for consumers. But published reports indicate PACE's primary purpose--perhaps its only purpose--is to ensure that Alabama Power's rates stay at a comfortably profitable level. What law firm helped incorporate PACE? Why, it was Balch Bingham. Who really is behind PACE, and how is it funded? That is not entirely clear, but Mobile-based investigative journalist Eddie Curran is shining considerable light on that question. . . . We think Curran's reporting on Alabama Power and PACE, at his blog mrdunngoestomontgomery.com, is worth a look. The following post (at Curran's site) describes the curious relationship between Alabama Power, PACE, and the Montgomery-based political consulting firm Matrix LLC.

Jessica Garrison works for Alabama Power's law firm and buys a house from an Alabama Power executive? Rebekah Mason apparently was paid, in part, via a slush fund connected to Alabama Power? Are more connections present via PACE, and who has benefited from them?

That's a question we will be examining in the coming weeks.


Anonymous said...

Holy crap, Batman!

Anonymous said...

That Jessica sure knows how to flip a house. Gracious!

Anonymous said...

That's interesting about Gary Palmer throwing cash at Ms. Garrison, too. Any details on that?

legalschnauzer said...

Here are a few items, but I don't think this necessarily is everything:

(1) http://realtime.influenceexplorer.com/filings/1050421/SB/

(2) https://www.opensecrets.org/expends/vendor.php?year=2016&vendor=Mdm27+Holdings%2C+Inc

(3) http://realtime.influenceexplorer.com/filings/1045396/SB/

Anonymous said...

Why did Ms. Garrison bail out at RAGA back in January?

legalschnauzer said...

Good question, @12:20, and I don't know the answer. But it seems odd to drop what appeared to be your main source of employment and buy an $800,000 house in the same general time frame. That would be a tough trick to pull off for most people.

Anonymous said...

If I had to guess the reason for Ms. Garrison's abrupt departure from RAGA, I'd say it could be the Pulitzer award winning series on RAGA by Eric Lipton of the New York Times. Might have been getting warm around RAGA for her and Luther.

Anonymous said...

How much of that $3.5 million defamation judgment she won against you do you still owe?

Anonymous said...

Any evidence that there's some under-the-table hush money/child support being paid by some unnamed individual?

Anonymous said...

Things probably haven't been the same at RAGA since badpuppy.com.

legalschnauzer said...

@1:05 -- You make an excellent point, and that very well could be the reason young Jessica bailed out. If she and Luther thought Lipton was going to start asking questions about them -- and maybe he, in fact, tried to arrange a Q&A session with them -- I could see JMG hitting the exits, in a big hurry.

Some of our readers might not be familiar with the Lipton story. Here is a link to it, and it is outstanding investigative journalist:


legalschnauzer said...

@4:43 -- what makes you think Garrison "won" a $3.5-million judgment or that I owe her a penny. I'd be glad to answer your question, but I have a question first for you: What law can you cite to support your claims that Garrison won anything against me and that I owe her even the slightest amount of money?

Anonymous said...

@4:50 -- Hush money, child support? I like the way you think.

Seriously, I think those are big-time questions. JMG seems able to pull all sorts of real-estate wizardry out of her fanny. Maybe she can arrange for other assistance to make her domestic situation cruise along smoothly.

My impression is that Luther is pathologically determined to become governor -- there is no doubt Mike Hubbard was guilty; there's also no doubt he was politically prosecuted -- and JMG could, at any time, bring those dreams crashing to earth.

BTW, it's interesting that Gary Palmer appears to have spent a bunch of cash with JMG. I've heard some rumors in recent years about Palmer's relationship with several women (4, I think) at Alabama Policy Institute. Word is that Palmer is quite the horndog.

Anonymous said...

Absurd ! She's a criminal !

Anonymous said...

Didnt Judge Blankenship order you to pay $1.5 million in compensatory and $2 million in punitive damages because of your weird fascination with Ms. Garrison and the fact this hogwash you call journalism turned out to be nothing but fiction? Really Roger, this is all so silly. I thought that after this and all the other calamitous failings in your life you would have learned a thing or two. Apparently not. You remind me of Don Quixote. I realize that there's some mental illness going on here that leads you believe you are being persecuted and that you are a journalist and that you're about to uncover a massive ring of corruption, but it's time to stop tilting at windmills. You aren't stupid, but stalking this woman and repeating the same falsehoods that got you into trouble isn't smart. And I know your response to all this is going to be a court never factually found you libelous...blah blah blah, but they did and the fact that you were too much of a coward to step up and defend these accusations in court with some actual facts only proves their point. I think it's time you stop pretending and go out and do something productive. Go out and find yourself a job, maybe even as an obituary writer. That way you could honestly start calling yourself a journalist and neither you nor your wife would have to beg people for money.

legalschnauzer said...

Congrats, @6:43. You've proven you're a smart ass (no surprise), but you still haven't answered my question. And that's probably because you know zip about the law and can't answer it. So, I will repeat the question: What law can you cite to support your claims that Garrison won anything against me and that I owe her even the slightest amount of money?

If you can't answer that question, don't bother responding because anything else you write won't see the light of day here. You, of course, are welcome to contact me via e-mail or phone, and we can discuss. But I know it must be easier to be a smart ass than to actually discuss important issues like an adult, which you obviously are not.

Stalking, mental illness? What an arrogant POS you are. And utterly clueless.

legalschnauzer said...

God, what a dumbass, @6:43 --

* Shuler has a weird fascination with Garrison? Who filed the lawsuit in the first place? (Answer: Garrison)

* Who has always refused to take questions about her relationship with Luther Strange, either from the press or before a jury in court? (Answer: Garrison)

* Who committed perjury in court before Judge Blankenship? (Answer: Garrison)

* Who went to a women's fashion magazine and defamed Shuler, suggesting she's the one with a weird fascination? (Answer: Garrison)

* Who failed to prove that Shuler's reporting was either false or defamatory? (Answer: Garrison)

Suggestion: Get your facts straight before mouthing off and making your self look like a moron.

Anonymous said...

LS, the poster has a point. You lob these accusations against folks, but never offer much proof. And this post at 7:17 about you claiming defamation...that sir is pretty darn rich considering all the holes you've dug yourself into with the law.

Anonymous said...

Schnauzie don't let 643 get your goat. He's just a Garrison supporter or maybe even Garrison?

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks, @8:09. I agree that 6:43 likely is either Garrison or one of her buds/associates. Wouldn't be surprised if it's someone from Missouri that she has made contact with. Garrison created the whole stalking narrative. It's almost like she has a fantasy about it. Her self-worth apparently is so low that she needs this false narrative about a man who obsesses about her, etc.

Again, the house deal is extremely sensitive to somebody in the Garrison camp, and that's why you see these nutty comments.

legalschnauzer said...

Hah, you are a hoot, @8:00. By "accusations" without "much proof," do you mean the Bentley/Mason story, where the affair has been proven? Do you mean the Garrison-Strange or Riley-Duke stories, where my reporting, as a matter of law, has been proven to be neither false nor defamatory. That means as a matter of law, in cases that Garrison and Riley/Duke brought, my reporting has been proven to be true.

Are you whining about this post, which is supported 100 percent by public documents.

As for defamation, go back and read the Marie Claire story/fantasy. It claims I wrote that Big Lutha was father of Garrison's child. Check relevant posts on this blog and see if you can find where I ever wrote that. I didn't, and her claim is false and defamatory. She made the same statement in court, under oath, which is perjury, and that's a crime.

I know you are mostly a hootmeister, but please share this: How on earth have I dug myself into a hole with the "law"? Can't wait to hear the answer to that one.

e.a.f. said...

I think you rubbed A. 6:43 pm the wrong way Roger. Don't know what A. 6:43 p.m.'s problem is, but their suggestion you give up your day job for something else, tells me you might be doing something here. Obit writing, really, surely A. 6:43 p.m could have been a tad more creative than that. If its meant to be a "zaP" well, they can try again.

Garrison really knows how to make money on houses, by Alabama standards. Perhaps she ought to give real estate a try.

It is always important for citizen journalists to question those in power and those who are very "close" to that power about where their money comes from. Its the right and responsible thing to do in a free and democratic society.

In these days of tightly control corporate media about the only really good source of information is from bloggers, etc.

legalschnauzer said...

I noticed the same thing, e.a.f. Makes me think 6:43 is someone pretty close to the Garrison situation. The offense he/she takes seems quite personal.

Anonymous said...

She sued you. You lost. You are an idiot. Three irrefutable facts.

legalschnauzer said...

Your first assertion is true, the other two are not.

Here's one for you:

You know nothing about the law. You know noting about the facts. You are an idiot. Three irrefutable facts.

Robby Scott Hill said...

All the smart ass commenters ignore the fact that Roger was entitled to a jury trial & he was in jail when all that happened. Plus he was at least sleep deprived & suffering from shock and malnutrition & probably drugged. I feel bad for those judges who went along with all of it, because once they cease to be useful to "The Enterprise," they are going to get thrown under the bus like Mark Fuller did.