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Alabama Republican operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison claimed in an article last fall at marieclaire.com that everyone who knows her knew that reports of her extramarital affair with state Attorney General Luther Strange were false.
It turns out that claim, like quite a few others Garrison made in the Marie Claire piece, is not quite true.
Her husband at the time, Tuscaloosa insurance man and school-board president Lee Garrison, did not know whether the claims were true or false -- and he admitted to being familiar with rumors that were flying around the state, including one that had Luther Strange being the biological father of the Garrisons' child.
How do we know Lee Garrison's feelings on the subject? We asked him. And we recorded the interview for a series of brief YouTube videos. (See videos below.)
Here is how marieclaire.com described Jessica Garrison's version of events, in an as-told-to story that apparently included no questions from the magazine's writer, Liz Welch. Here are Garrison's words:
My saga started in July 2013. A friend texted me, asking, "Do you know this guy, Roger Shuler?" I didn't, but quickly learned he was the political blogger behind the website Legal Schnauzer and author of a new post that would forever change my life: "AG Luther Strange Has a Messy Extra-Marital Affair with Ex-Campaign Aide Jessica Garrison."
That was my name in a headline, alleging I had had an affair with my friend and former boss, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. (I managed his 2010 campaign.) I was shocked—it was usually the politicians whose names were dragged through the mud, not mine. Honestly, it was so ludicrous that I did something like a proverbial shoulder shrug and tried to move on. And thankfully everyone who knows me knew it wasn't true . . .
Not everyone, Jessica, including the man you were married to at the time. In our interview, Lee Garrison said he did not know if the affair story was true or not. He and his attorneys looked into a number of issues during the divorce, and asked pointed questions, but never were able to nail down the facts.
Lee Garrison did state, in heartfelt and firm tones, that the child in question -- Michael Garrison -- is his. Lee Garrison's statements convinced us, and we never reported that Luther Strange was the boy's biological father -- even though Jessica Garrison, and possibly Strange, claimed under oath that I had published such reports, and they largely formed the basis for her $3.5-million default judgment against me in a defamation lawsuit. That judgment, by the way, is void as a matter of law and can be attacked as such at any time.
What is Lee Garrison's take on all of this? Let's take a look at highlights from five videos that comprise our interview with him:
Video No. 1
At the time of his divorce from Jessica Garrison, Lee Garrison was well aware of widespread rumors that his wife had an affair with Luther Strange, for whom she served as campaign manager. Lee Garrison said he never was able to nail down facts about an alleged affair, but he felt compelled to point out that Michael Garrison is his biological child. From the interview:
"My attorneys looked into a lot of different things, but never turned up anything. I will confirm that there is no question Michael is my child. You can look at him. He's got my nose, my mouth, and he's short, so there you go. . . . There's no question he is our child. I heard rumors (about an affair) but was never able to substantiate any of that stuff. . . . No infidelity was mentioned by either one of us in our divorce. . . . It was more of a personality disagreement than anything else."
Here is the video . . .
Video No. 2
So why is the divorce file sealed? Lee Garrison said he was unaware it had been sealed. That suggests Jessica Garrison requested the case be sealed. Why would she do that? She has not responded to multiple interview requests from us. Says Lee Garrison:
"I can ask my attorneys but from all the divorce documents I've got . . . I don't know of anything that was sealed.
"I didn't know of anything being sealed. We wound up with joint physical custody and joint legal custody. I pay child support, but no alimony."
Here is the video . . .
Video No. 3
Lee Garrison touched briefly on a business relationship, formation of a property-related LLC, he and Jessica Garrison had with Erik Davis Harp, who went on to be indicted as a ringleader in an offshore sports-gambling operation. Harp since has been arrested on a firearms charge in Bay County, Florida. Here is the video . . .
Video No. 4
Garrison said he was not able to obtain hard and fast proof of an affair. The divorce, he said, came largely when he and Jessica found themselves going in different directions. Here is the video . . .
Video No. 5
Lee Garrison closed the interview by reiterating that Luther Strange did not cause the divorce and that Michael Garrison is his child. But he also added a curious statement about the nature of big-time politics in Alabama:
"The gist is that Luther had nothing to do with the divorce, and Michael is our child. When you look at pictures of me at his age, he is the spitting image, so I'm not remotely worried about that . . . . In relation to all the other stuff, people ought to be accountable for whatever they do, especially when you get into public office. Jessica and Luther are big boys and girls, just like I am. When you step into the arena, you step into the arena."
Here is the video: