Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lawsuit from "Luv Guv" Bentley's ex security chief might shine unwelcome light on financial shenanigans involving U of Alabama and Alabama Power

Wendell Ray Lewis
Officials from the University of Alabama and Alabama Power might be feeling a tad uncomfortable after former security chief Wendell Ray Lewis filed a lawsuit last week against Governor Robert Bentley, mistress/former adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, the ACEGOV nonprofit, Bentley for Governor Inc., and other unnamed persons and entities.

Coverage of the lawsuit, so far, has focused mainly on its content about the Bentley/Mason extramarital affair. But Lewis' complaint goes well beyond that, focusing on ACEGOV -- described in some quarters as a "slush fund" to pay Mason for her "services" -- and those who funded it. The complaint also seeks information about individuals who helped cost Lewis possible jobs at UA and Alabama Power after he had been forced out in the Bentley administration, apparently at Mason's insistence.

For example, the lawsuit names fictitious defendants "D," "E," and "F, who are described as:

"those persons, firms, corporations, universities, trade associations, think-tanks, non-profits, or other entities who or which contributed money directly or indirectly to Mason, whether by cash, check, PayPal, or other means, or provided other benefits or things of value to Defendant Mason, through RCM, or any of Defendant Mason’s businesses, any of Jon Mason’s businesses, ACEGOV, and/or Bentley for Governor, Inc."

The lawsuit clearly seeks information about "corporations," "universities," and other entities that paid Rebekah Mason and her husband, Jon Mason. It also dips into the world of journalism, seeking information about those who:

"participated in the act of feeding to certain Alabama journalists misleading information about the overtime worked, earned and/or paid to Plaintiff [Lewis] by the State of Alabama."

Speaking of the University of Alabama, the suit makes multiple references to Cooper Shattuck, UA's chief legal counsel and a former Bentley staff member. The lawsuit shines light on what led Shattuck to form ACEGOV:

On one occasion, Dr. Henry Mabry, then the Executive Secretary of the Alabama Education Association, said he could get Mason paid to the tune of $150,000. Paul Bentley told Lewis that Cooper Shattuck, the Governor’s former Legal Advisor, set up the 501(c)(4) for Mason. On information and belief, that 501(c)(4) was Defendant ACEGOV. Seth Hammett told Lewis he had a conversation with the Governor in which Hammett informed the Governor that because of the Governor’s relationship with Mrs. Mason, Mason could not be on the state payroll, therefore the need for the 501(c)(4). Bentley confirmed that conversation to Lewis,saying of Hammett, “I want his ass gone."

The lawsuit describes Lewis' relationship with Rebekah Mason as "strained at best." From the complaint:

She knew he wasn’t going to do anything to facilitate her relationship with the Governor; she wanted him gone. Plaintiff was beginning to reach an important conclusion: once you got in Rebekah’s cross hairs, that was it. She ordered the hit, and the Governor carried it out. At one point, the Governor barked to Lewis, “If anybody says another thing about Rebekah, I will fire their ass.

Rebekah Mason and Nick Saban
It seems someone close to Bentley still had Lewis in his/her cross hairs, even after he had left his state job. From the complaint:

A few months after Lewis retired earlier than he had ever intended to, he was contacted about a senior security position with The University of Alabama. He met with Cooper Shattuck, formerly Governor Bentley’s Legal Advisor and now General Counsel to the University System. Shattuck spoke to Lewis about helping with University security, perhaps having a role with Coach Saban, whom Shattuck described as “the University’s greatest asset.” Eventually, Shattuck turned the conversation to the Governor. He asked Lewis his thoughts. Lewis told Shattuck, honestly and soberly, that he thought eventually the Governor would be held accountable, and that he should be. Shattuck replied, “Well, I plan to be a friend to him when he falls.” Lewis never heard back from Shattuck about the University security job. When Lewis eventually himself got back in touch with Shattuck, he told Lewis to reach out to Ronnie Robertson. Lewis followed up with Robertson, who had nothing to do with anything Lewis and Shattuck had talked about. Needless to say, no job offer was forthcoming.

Lewis went through a similar experience with Alabama Power:

Lewis also heard about this same time from Clay Ryan, a Birmingham attorney, who asked Lewis if he would be interested in the job of head of security for Alabama Power. Lewis responded in the affirmative. By text message on July 24, 2015, Ryan informed Lewis that the “pay will be ‘what it takes’ [one can assume, to get Lewis there]” and “You would be crosswhite’s [sic] guy” meaning Mark Crosswhite, the President and CEO of Alabama Power. Lewis replied, that same day, “Thanks Clay. This is a great opportunity!” But it never materialized. Ryan asked Lewis to send him a resume, which he did. But then Ryan asked Lewis how he intended to respond if and when the questions started flowing about the Governor. Another honest answer from Lewis. Another no call back.

(Note: The UA System hired Ryan as vice president of governmental affairs in September 2015; before that, he was an attorney at Maynard Cooper and Gale in Birmingham. Ryan helped serve as PR defender for UAB President Ray Watts during the university's controversy over removal of the football program.)

Lewis winds up alleging two counts of intentional interference with business or contractual relations -- one for unlawfully pushing him out of his state job and one for costing him opportunities with at least two other employers once he left.

Gee, this story sounds familiar. Cheating someone out of his long-time position as a state employee, and then making sure that his career is ruined so that he can't find jobs with other employers -- and he can't find justice in a court of law? Where have we heard that before?

Have "Luv Guv" and "Home Wrecky Becky" been taking notes from Alabama's previous GOP regime, led by Bob and Rob "Uday" Riley? Sure sounds like it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I've let someone talk me into censoring a post only once in LS history, and it was a mistake, one I am correcting shortly, with insights about Garrison case

Davy Hay
Since this blog began in June 2007, there has been only one instance where I let someone talk me out of publishing a post. I've regretted it ever since, and I intend to correct the mistake in the next few days. But first, some background.

A hearing was held in Jefferson County Circuit Court on June 18, 2015, to consider my motion to vacate a $3.5-million default judgment for GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison in her defamation lawsuit against me. I had researched the issues enough beforehand to know there was no way, under the law, Judge Don Blankenship could allow the default judgment to stand.

Davy Hay, my attorney at the time, and Garrison lawyer Bill Baxley argued the issues, and Blankenship stated that he would issue a written order in a few days or weeks. I knew the motion had to be granted, with the default judgment vacated, and the case moving forward with discovery and possibly a trial. I wrote a post to that effect and published it the next morning, June 19, explaining the facts and law that Blankenship had to follow -- at least if he took his judicial oath seriously.

Later that day, Hay contacted me and asked that I remove the post. His thinking? He said the post made it look like he couldn't "control" his client. Reluctantly, I took the post down, and naturally, Blankenship issued an order several weeks later, ignoring the law and denying our motion to vacate.

As it turned out, my post was spot-on about most every issue. But Davy Hay apparently only cared about not being embarrassed because his client had written accurately that a judge was incompetent, crooked, or both.

Hay then bailed out of the matter, even though we had a written agreement for him to represent me in the Jessica Garrison case -- the whole case. Hay got tons of free publicity from my case, and made multiple high-minded statements on his Facebook page about the critical free-speech issues at hand. But ultimately, he had no interest in fighting for those weighty, constitutional issues.

In a Facebook post dated April 23, 2015, Hay wrote:

I am about to hit "File Motion" on the single most important document I have ever written.

The document was a motion in my case. In a Facebook post dated April 28, 2015, Hay stayed with the high-minded theme:

My client and I are fighting for the most basic freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

I was that client. Hay then used my case to get the kind of publicity he probably has never gotten at any other time in his legal career. Alabama Political Reporter published an article titled "Legal Schnauzer blogger finally has a legal champion." From the article, by Bill Britt:

Since July 2013, Roger Shuler has suffered one legal defeat after another, over reports he published on Legal Schnauzer concerning Liberty Duke, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Attorney General Luther Strange and Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley.

During all of his legal troubles, Shuler refused legal council (sic), and according to a report in The New York Times, maintained “self-defeating posturing.” (Note: This is off target on a couple of fronts. I never refused legal counsel; I always was open to, and would have welcomed, tough, smart, honest, affordable legal help. But no such lawyer appeared to meet me at the Shelby County Jail. As for the "self-defeating posturing" business, that characterization came from a right-wing California lawyer/blogger named Ken White (Popehat blog) who knew nothing about me and very little about my case. The guy presented zero evidence to support his claim.)

Since our legal travails started 16 years ago, Carol and I have hired at least five lawyers. (I might be forgetting someone.) Obviously, I don't "refuse counsel." I do tend to part ways with lawyers once they've made it clear they aren't going to do what they've said they would do. That gets a bit aggravating, especially when you've paid one lawyer roughly $12,000 and another $4,500. I have this strange tendency to get peeved when I pay that kind of money and get nothing for it -- especially in cases where the facts and law clearly are on my side. That doesn't even count the dozens of lawyers we've communicated with, or met with, and decided we wanted no part of working with them. A classic line from one such lawyer: "I'm not going to look down any rabbit holes!" Translation: "I have no intention of doing serious discovery to help prove your case -- but oh, I will require $5,000 up front for you to retain my 'services.' And that's just for starters." Gee, can't imagine why we found that unappetizing.

Anyway, here is more from the Britt article:

In an up-coming May hearing, [Shuler] will be represented by Davy Mack Hay, who said he will seek the justice that Shuler has been denied under the First Amendment. . . .

Hay, who has known Shuler for a number of years, recently filed a Motion To Alter, Amend, or Vacate the recent $3.5 million default judgment received by Garrison, for what her attorney called “cyber-bullying of the worst order.” (Note: This isn't accurate either. Hay and I never really knew each other. We talked on the phone a time or two a few months before he became my lawyer. And to this day, I haven't met him in person. We certainly did not know each other for a number of years.)

While it appears that Hay will be fighting the default judgment on grounds that his client was not properly informed of the hearing, it is about a much bigger issue, he says.

At issue is " . . . core constitutional tenets of journalistic protections associated with a ‘free press,’ which allows the unmitigated flow of news and information, void of Orwellian governmental intrusion,” writes Hays, in his motion.

More high-cotton rhetoric was present in an article titled "Blogger Roger Shuler fighting $3.5 million judgment." From the article, by Kent Faulk:

Shuler, who operates the website Legal Schnauzer, on Thursday afternoon, filed a motion through his attorney asking Jefferson County Circuit Judge Donald Blankenship to vacate his April 13 default judgment against Shuler for $1.5 million in compensatory and $2 million in punitive damages.

Shuler also asks the judge to grant him leave to file an amended answer and counterclaim, and enter a new scheduling order sufficient to allow time for discovery in the case.

Notice key information in the final paragraph. Hay and I had discussed the possibility of filing a counterclaim and seeking discovery, and he agreed to take that approach. In other words, it was not just about overcoming the groundless default judgment; it was about going on the offensive, seeking discovery that would show Garrison knowingly filed a bogus lawsuit against me. I wanted Garrison held accountable for engaging in such fraudulent behavior, and Hay agreed that was the right approach. Here's more from the Faulk article:

Shuler filed an initial response denying Garrison's claims but failed or refused to sit for a scheduled deposition and did not attend a hearing that resulted in the default judgment.

Prattville attorney Davy Hay, who entered an appearance in the case on April 18 on behalf of Shuler, stated in Thursday's motion that the court had issued an order in the case May 9, 2014 changing Shuler's address from the Shelby County Jail to an address in north Shelby County.

"However, the aforementioned address was no longer the defendant's (Shuler's) residence by virtue of a recent foreclosure. Therefore, he did not receive notice of this court's scheduling order or any subsequent documents filed in the case," according to the motion.

Hay states in the motion that Garrison failed to ascertain Shuler's whereabouts and provide proper notice regarding hearings or filings in compliance with his due process rights, especially considering Shuler was representing himself at the time.

"Now that defendant (Shuler) is represented by counsel, he understands he had a duty to notify the clerk of court of any address changes, however, several circumstances prevented him from doing so," according to Hay's motion.

Hay is mostly on target here. As a procedural matter, I should have notified the court of our new address -- and I would have if our lives had not been turned upside down via the foreclosure; in fact, for quite some time, we did not know where our address was going to be. As a matter of law, however, we have shown that Garrison had an obligation to make sure I had at least three days notice of her application for default and a hearing on the issue. (See Abernathy v. Green Tree Servicing (Ala. Civ. App., 2010).

Garrison did not fulfill that obligation, meaning her $3.5-million judgment is void and can be attacked as such at any point. In short, the judgment is a nullity, having zero legal foundation. Here is more from the Faulk article, focusing on matters my wife, Carol, and I were struggling with at the time of the default judgment:

According to the motion those circumstances were:

* "Mr. Shuler and his wife lost their home and were facing the very real possibility of being homeless. This being such a pressing and immediate issue, all other concerns had to be given lower priority.

* "Mr. Shuler had just spent five (5) months in jail, which began with being beaten by law enforcement officials in his own home and wrongfully detained, in violation of his constitutional rights."

* "Mr. Shuler and his wife experienced excessive psychological trauma, resulting in the defendant spending six (6) days in a psychiatric unit, in direct relation to these events, and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

* "Mr. Shuler has a good-faith belief that his very life has been in actual peril as a result of his reporting. Accordingly, he has been and continues to be highly reluctant to submit to the authority of the state after what he perceives to be illegal attacks against his person, his family, and his rights as a citizen of the United States."

Hay states in the motion that Shuler has a meritorious defense in the case, "and by virtue of evidence currently in his possession and that which can be obtained through exhaustive discovery, shall show that the case against him is frivolous and nothing more than an attempt by the plaintiff to unconstitutionally bully the defendant (Shuler) into silence."

Hay argues in the motion that Garrison is a public figure, based on her work on Strange's campaigns, her appointment as Chief Counsel and Deputy Attorney General of the state of Alabama in 2011, and her position as director of the Republican Attorneys General Association. If Garrison was to be considered a public figure, rather than a private citizen, it would raise the burden to that of proving actual malice, the motion states.

This is good stuff from Hay. The four circumstances listed are all accurate; in fact, they pretty much are matters of public record. Garrison's lawsuit, in fact, was nothing but an effort to bully me into silence. And there is little doubt Garrison is a public figure, but that standard was not used in her default judgment. That means the splashy $3.5-million figure is based on a flawed interpretation of the law.

Where does Hay go off the tracks? Well, note his reference to "exhaustive discovery," along with his earlier reference to our intention to file a counterclaim. Was Hay serious about that? Doesn't look like it. He bailed out of the case before doing any discovery.

After the hearing with Baxley -- but several weeks before Blankenship issued his order -- Hay told me Garrison had offered to accept a $1 payment from me if I would agree to remove posts about her extramarital affair with Attorney General Luther Strange. There were a couple of problems with that: One, I never saw such an offer in writing; two, I wasn't about to accept such an offer. I told Hay from the outset that Garrison had filed a groundless defamation lawsuit, and I wanted to file a counterclaim to hold her accountable. Hay made it clear he understood that, and indicated he would conduct "exhaustive discovery" to get at the truth.

He either never had any intention of conducting such discovery -- or his mind changed the day he and Bill Baxley came together to argue the motion to vacate.

My relationship with Davy Hay did not end on a good note. I liked Davy and thought he was someone with genuine ethics, but right now, I wouldn't recommend him to work a traffic-ticket case.

With that as background, let's look at the one post that I allowed someone to talk me into censoring. It's been a little more than a year since I wrote it, but every point about the Jessica Garrison case still holds. Her $3.5-million default judgment is void, a nullity, and not worth a piece of used toilet paper:

(To be continued)

Monday, November 28, 2016

"Luv Guv" Bentley's affair with Rebekah Caldwell Mason likely became known in May 2014, coinciding with increase in the governor's use of state aircraft

Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason
Governor Robert Bentley's family members and closest associates started suspecting he was having an affair with senior adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason in early May 2014, according to a wrongful termination lawsuit filed last week by former security chief Wendell Ray Lewis. That coincides with a Decatur Daily report that shows Bentley's use of state aircraft increased dramatically in the first quarter of 2014.

Does that add to the evidence that Bentley was using state resources to facilitate an extramarital affair that ended his 50-year marriage to Dianne Bentley and launched multiple criminal investigations of his administration? That certainly appears to be the case.

This is from the Lewis civil complaint, providing insight about when those closest to Gov. Bentley began to suspect he was having an affair:

May 4, 2014, is when Lewis first learned that Governor Bentley might be having an affair with Mrs. Mason. The Governor was flying to Talladega for a race, at which he was the Grand Marshall. Lewis, Paul Bentley (the Governor’s oldest son), the Governor, Mason, and the Governor’s grandchildren were on a State plane.

Paul Bentley leaned over and said to Lewis, “I need to talk to you later in the week.” Ray replied, “Okay. What about?” “Mom says she is seeing ghosts.” “What do you mean?”, asked Lewis. Paul Bentley replied, “She thinks Dad is having a relationship with Rebekah.”

That is in the general time frame of a Decatur Daily article titled "Gov. Bentley picks up pace of in-state flights." From the article, dated July 26, 2014, and written by Mary Sell:

Gov. Robert Bentley’s use of state-owned aircraft increased in the first quarter of this year as he flew around Alabama more often than in the previous three years.

His communications officials say the travel was all related to his role as governor and not his re-election campaign. Any campaign expenses incurred by his office have been reimbursed by his campaign.

Bentley’s flight logs, but not the trips’ costs, are listed on his office’s website. The log for the second quarter — April, May and June — had not been posted as of late last week.

Most of Bentley’s flights are on an older-model Alabama Department of Transportation jet. In June, The Decatur Daily filed an open records request with ALDOT for the cost of each trip taken by Bentley from January through June 3, the GOP primary.

The department turned over records, for a $118 fee, on 35 flights totaling about $83,600. Bentley’s office occasionally uses other state agency aircraft, including that belonging to the department of public safety.

“The governor uses the plane as necessary to fulfill the duties of being governor,” Jennifer Ardis, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said Thursday in an email. “His goal is to meet with people outside of Montgomery in order to understand local issues and communicate his message of job creation, government efficiency savings, etc.

Did the governor also use the plane to help fulfill his "manly needs"? Alabama taxpayers certainly have grounds to ask that question, seeing as how they pay for these things. You will notice that Bentley's communications team tried to quell any drama that might come from questions about use of state aircraft. And a key member of that team, in various roles, was . . . Rebekah Caldwell Mason. The Decatur Daily helped put her in the spotlight:

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, Bentley’s campaign spokeswoman, said the governor has never used state aircraft for campaign purposes. The Bentley campaign has made payments to the state’s General Fund as reimbursement for campaign-related travel in state vehicles, as required by state code.

Records on the secretary of state’s website show Bentley’s camp has paid $758 to the General Fund since August of last year for transportation and administration cost reimbursements.

Mason is listed as being on at least one flight paid by taxpayers, according to the online flight logs. Before she was his campaign spokeswoman, Mason was director of communications in the governor’s office.

“When the Governor’s Communications Office is short-staffed, I volunteer at no cost to the taxpayers, and the law allows for that,” Mason said of why she was on the flight.

So the governor's mistress volunteered to board flights, at no cost to taxpayers, because . . . well, she's just a swell gal. It surely had nothing to do with allegations, as outlined in the Lewis lawsuit, that she was bonking the governor at the time.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Talk about "fearless leadership": New lawsuit reveals "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley was afraid to break up with his mistress, so he asked security chief to do it for him

Robert Bentley and Rebekah Mason
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley asked a security chief for help breaking up with "First Mistress" Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- and it looked like the plan was going to work until Bentley walked in the room and undid all the progress the security guy had made. Thus, the extramarital relationship between Bentley and Mason continued -- and it was, in fact, a physical affair, as any sentient being should have been able to tell from news reports over the past 15 months or so. At one point, Mason made a special request to have a couch placed in her office. Hmmm, wonder why she was in need of a couch?

Those are perhaps the most laughably insightful moments from a wrongful-termination lawsuit former security director Wendell Ray Lewis filed this week. The suit is filled with sordid and buffoonish moments from the Bentley/Mason soap opera, but it really is not funny. It probably leaves a reasonable reader asking, "This guy talks tough about immigration and 'bloodthirsty Mexicans,' but he doesn't have the courage to break up with his girlfriend? That's the kind of 'fearless leadership' Alabama's had for six years? This guy is like a 10-year-old boy staring in amazement at his morning erection. Good grief!"

Good grief, indeed. But when you consider how much state property and funds apparently were used to facilitate the Bentley/Mason affair . . . well, the laughter starts to die down in a hurry. From Chip Brownlee's report at Alabama Political Reporter (APR):

The lawsuit . . . lays out . . . Lewis’ final year as the Governor’s top body guard and the affair he says he witnessed. In the 50-page brief, Lewis and his attorneys summarize sordid details of Bentley’s alleged relationship with Mason.

Their affair — which the Governor now claims is over — dated back to at least spring 2014, when Lewis said he first learned of the possibility that the Governor could be involved with Mason, according to the lawsuit. Lewis said Paul Bentley, the Governor’s son, told him that they suspected an affair in May 2014.

Lewis — who headed the Governor’s security detail, traveled everywhere with him and had an office in the capitol across the hall from the Governor — said he observed Mason entering the Governor’s office for hours on end in private, alone with the Governor.

“[Lewis] could see anyone coming or going, and could take note of how long someone had been in the Governor’s office,” the lawsuit says. “There were times when [Lewis] would observe Rebekah Mason coming out of the Governor’s office, with her hair all messed up, and straightening up her skirt as she emerged from the Governor’s office, after having been in there for hours.

Bentley has tried to convince the public that his relationship with Mason went no further than "inappropriate remarks" -- "dirty talk," if you will, as caught on an audio recording that became public in March of this year. Even the press largely has fallen for it, calling it an "alleged affair" or a case of Bentley making "inappropriate statements." The press conveniently forgot that key statements involved Bentley's fond reminisces of fondling Mason's breasts and exploring her nether regions.

That, folks, is a physical affair -- straight from the governor's own mouth -- by any definition I'm aware of. But if that doesn't work for some folks, we now have Lewis' word for it. And we learn that Bentley's former wife of 50 years, Dianne, and at least one of his sons, played a major role in breaking the story wide open. From Lewis' complaint:

Three days later on May 7, 2014, after Lewis first learned of the affair from Bentley’s son, Lewis was summoned to Bentley’s office on Capitol Hill, according to the suit. He went in and found the Governor, accompanied by Mason, crying:

“Lewis asked, ‘Governor, what is going on?’ Bentley replied, ‘Dianne has accused me of having an affair, and she has a recording.’ He added that his wife, Dianne, had a recording, but had given it to his son (Paul). The Governor asked Lewis to go talk to Paul. Lewis inquired, ‘What do you want me to do?’ The Governor replied, ‘Find out if he has a recording.’ He sent Mason out of the office, and she went up to the Lt. Governor’s conference room.

"Bentley then replied, ‘Ray, I am embarrassed for you to hear what’s on that recording. It’s between Rebekah and I. I am ashamed of what came out of my mouth.’ Lewis inquired, ‘Governor, are you telling me that this is true?’ ‘Yes,’ replied the Governor, ‘I am ashamed of what I have done.’"

Following is a section from the lawsuit that indicates Alabama has been led by a dysfunctional doofus:

After finding out about the relationship, Lewis says, he began pleading with the governor to end it because he was afraid Bentley could get into trouble for using state vehicles and planes to facilitate the affair. When Lewis confronted the Governor, Bentley asked Lewis to “break-up with Rebekah” for him, according to the lawsuit.

In Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey’s conference room, Lewis attempted to end the affair for Bentley for over an hour. Lewis thought he was successful ending the affair, with both Bentley and Mason agreeing it should end. Nevertheless, Bentley came in and began “rubbing and massaging Mason’s shoulders, stroking her hair and saying, “Baby, it’s gonna be alright,” the lawsuit says.

But it wasn’t over, the lawsuit alleges. For the next year, until Lewis retired in early 2015, Bentley and Mason continued their affair despite Lewis’s repeated attempts to convince them both to quit seeing each other.

Here is a key section from the Lewis complaint:

Lewis and the Governor were sitting in Lewis' truck, at the airport about to get on a plane. Lewis asked the Governor, "Governor, there's a lot of talk going on. Was it a physical relationship? After initially hemming and hawing, the Governor replied, reluctantly but clearly, "Yeah, it was physical."

To what extent did Bentley abuse the use of state funds and property to facilitate and cover up the affair? Lewis' complaint provides insight:

* Mason would visit the Governor at the Governor’s Mansion while Dianne Bentley was away. But after finding out that Ms. Bentley had knowledge of Mason’s name on visitor logs, Mason and Bentley began meeting at the Blount House, which kept no logs.

* Bentley leased planes for his campaign because private planes didn’t have to keep manifests. On the planes, “Mason would sit across from the Governor and discreetly touch his leg.”

* Bentley would regularly have Lewis pick Mason up in a state car or on the state helicopter. They would even swap Mason for Jennifer Ardis, Bentley’s former director of communications, on the manifests so that Mason would go undetected.

* The Governor met, on at least one occasion, with Mason at a private lake house with no security present.

* Bentley would routinely carry three cell phones, his State phone, his personal phone and a third phone, which Lewis says Bentley used to communicate with Mason. He also had separate email accounts. 
* Based on Lewis' complaint, Bentley might be in trouble well beyond his official capacity as governor.

The lawsuit provides evidence that Bentley abused his privileges as a licensed physician:

Bentley, a licensed physician, wrote a drug prescription for Mason. And, on at least one occasion, according to the lawsuit, Bentley ordered Viagra in Ms. Bentley’s name, and had it shipped to the Governor’s Mansion.

Writing a prescription for someone who likely is not your patient? Fraudulently writing a prescription in someone else's name? Are these the kinds of acts that can cause a doctor to lose his license? The answer likely is yes.

Below is the full Lewis lawsuit:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bama GOPers Martha Roby and Bill Armistead concoct tall tales that "liberals" blocked Jeff Sessions' judicial nomination in 1986, when it really was Republicans

Jeff Sessions
Alabama conservatives are trying to rewrite history in an effort to pave the way for U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) confirmation as attorney general under president-elect Donald Trump. The public, hopefully, will not fall for it.

At least two prominent Alabama Republicans in recent days have made statements hinting that liberals blocked Sessions ascension to a federal judgeship after he had been nominated in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. The truth, however, is that Republicans controlled the U.S. Senate at the time, and they controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee that rejected Sessions.

Heck, the committee chairman was Strom Thurmond (R-SC). If you are too racist for Strom Thurmond, that's pretty powerful stuff.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) is practicing a campaign of deceit on behalf of Sessions. Here is her comment from an article at Alabama Political Reporter (APR):

Rep. Roby said, “You know, we’ve seen these attacks before. Washington liberals kept Senator Sessions from an appointment to the federal bench during the Reagan Administration using these same tactics. . . . "

Roby, of course, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Sessions in the Senate, so it's little wonder she is willing to con the public in an effort to push his confirmation as AG. She's thinking "career move, career move!"

Bill Armistead joined Roby in piling on the barnyard feces. From APR:

Former Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said on social media, “The liberal media and Democrats don’t want you to read the Weekly Standard because people will find out that Sen. Jeff Sessions is not a racist as they are making him out to be. They KNOW he’s not but that’s the only thing they can fabricate to accuse him of since his conservative voting record can’t be attacked. So they play the race card every time a conservative is put up for something in hopes of bringing them down. This time they will not succeed! They played the race card on him in 1986 after President Reagan nominated him to a federal judgeship. This will not work again.

Well, Mr. Armistead, it worked once because members of your party, Republicans, directed a process that concluded Jeff Sessions' history of racist remarks and actions made him unsuitable for the bench. And you, a Republican, look pretty stupid accusing someone else of playing the "race card." From a report at Democracy Now!

Sessions [once] was in the seat of the nominee. President Ronald Reagan had nominated Jeff Sessions to be a US district judge in 1986. At that time, Reagan had already appointed some 200 judges throughout the federal system, and Republicans held the majority on committee.

But Sessions became only the second man in fifty years to not be recommended for confirmation. Two Republicans, including Arlen Specter, voted against him. His fellow senator from Alabama, Howell Heflin, also voted against him, citing, quote, “reasonable doubts” over Sessions’ ability to be “fair and impartial.”

The comments from Roby and Armistead tell us two things:

(1) Republicans of 2016, unlike some of their predecessors from 30 years ago, are fundamentally dishonest;

(2) When postmodern Republicans have nothing of substance to say, which is much of time, all they can do is whip out the word "liberal" as if it were a curse word.

No wonder Republicans nominated a buffoon like Donald Trump. They don't have the intellectual capacity and integrity to govern -- and Trump fits into their dysfunctional orbit perfectly.

At the link below is a transcript of the Sessions hearings from 1986. You will notice the committee contains such "liberal stalwarts" as Alan Simpson (Wyoming), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Charles Grassley (Iowa), Jeremiah Denton (Alabama), Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania), and Mitch McConnell (Kentucky). You also will notice that Republicans on the committee outnumber Democrats, 10-8. And the chairman is that paragon of liberality, Strom Thurmond (South Carolina).

This all tells us that Roby and Armistead are stupid, lazy, or practitioners of con artistry. I would suggest they likely are all three.

Senate Judiciary Hearing on Jeff Sessions' nomination for federal judgeship, 1986:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016, the famed Web fact-checking site, weighs in on the story of U.S. Judge Bill Pryor and his connections to 1990s gay porn via

Bill Pryor, from
The Web's best-known fact-checking site has weighed in on the story of U.S. District Judge Bill Pryor and a nude photo of him that appeared at several gay-pornography media outlets in the 1980s and '90s. We broke the Pryor-porn story in September 2013, and interest in it skyrocketed recently in the wake of Donald Trump's election, with the possibility that Pryor will be nominated to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. reportedly attracted 7 to 8 million unique visits in one month during 2010, making it almost certainly the most widely read fact-checking site on the Web. With a recent post titled "Derobed: A photograph of a nude young man has been claimed to picture Judge William Pryor, a potential Supreme Court nominee," Snopes has applied its research capabilities to a story that has been big in Alabama and the Southeast for some time -- and might soon become a story of national importance.

What is Snopes conclusion about the Pryor story? It labels the story as "unproven." Does that bother me? Absolutely not. For one, I welcome the analysis of  a widely read, and generally respected, site such as Snopes. Two, despite its solid reputation, Snopes' analysis of this story has problems; the site gets key facts wrong, and it's analysis is flawed. I, however, am happy to have the attention for a story that could soon be vitally important to America's future.

From the Snopes article, by Dan Evon:

CLAIM: A photograph of a nude young man pictures Judge William Pryor, a potential Supreme Court nominee.

ORIGIN:Judge William H. Pryor of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has been in the news lately, both because his name reportedly appeared on President-Elect Donald Trump's definitive list of potential Supreme Court nominees, and because while serving as Alabama's attorney general Pryor filed an amicus brief in support of a Texas anti-sodomy law.

It was with some sense of irony, then, that in November 2016, an old image purportedly showing William Pryor posing nude for a gay porn magazine as a young man was recirculated online in November 2016:

Snopes gave us credit for breaking the story, and we appreciate that, although we object to the characterization that the "rumor" originated with our Web site. We didn't engage in rumor dissemination; we engaged in journalism:

The rumor that Pryor once posed nude for a gay porn magazine originated with a web site called "Legal Schnauzer" back in 2013. That web site claimed that the photograph "likely appeared in at least one print publication in the 1980s" and was later published by the web site in 1997. However, the former reference is too vague to verify, and we were unable to find the image on Badpuppy. (Legal Schnauzer claims the image was removed from Badpuppy, but not before the Alabama Bureau of Investigations managed to capture a screenshot of it.)

Where does Snopes go off the tracks? It starts here, with a paragraph that is below a redacted version of the nude Pryor photo we first published:

The assertion that the above-displayed photograph is a picture of Judge William Pryor is based on three factors: a supposed headshot of the model appears next to the name "Bill Pryor," colleagues of the judge reportedly saw the photograph and exclaimed that it looked like him, and that the model and Pryor both allegedly have "strabismus" (i.e., crossed-eyes). 
Whatever the evidence provided by Legal Schnauzer, the alleged opinion of two unidentified officials isn't proof of anything. Furthermore, while whoever posed for the photograph may resemble Pryor at first glance, a side-by-side comparison shows that certain features (such as the nose) seemingly don't match.

What problems are present here?

(1) Snopes ignores the fact that we interviewed two former state law-enforcement officials who were directly involving in investigating the photos out of concern that Pryor, then Alabama's freshly named attorney general, might be vulnerable to blackmail. Snopes apparently glossed over this paragraph from our original report on the Pryor photos:

Alabama law-enforcement officials became aware of the photos at in 1997, not long before Governor Fob James appointed Pryor attorney general. An investigation ensued, and multiple officials familiar with that process have told Legal Schnauzer that the photos are, in fact, of the Bill Pryor who now sits on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Sources say the photos were taken while Pryor was a student at Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana Monroe) from 1980 to 1984.

Bottom line? Our reporting was not based on just the three factors Snopes lists above. It also was based on interviews with multiple law-enforcement officials who were directly involved in the matter and said their investigation showed the nude individual was "the" Bill Pryor.

(2) Snopes claims the noses in the two photos do not match, but it does not say how. The older Pryor weighs more than the younger Pryor, and his face is more full, but I see no other difference in the noses. Snopes fails to mention that both images clearly do involve strabismus and attached earlobes.

Finally, we have this from Snopes:

But perhaps the most unbelievable aspect of this claim is simply that this photograph, which the Alabama Bureau of Investigations (ABI) and public officials have allegedly known about since the 1990s, has never been directly linked to Pryor. The judge, who was nominated to the Eleventh Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2003, told the Justice Integrity Project in 2013 that:

"I have been smeared by a widely discredited blogger with a political agenda. His allegations have now been picked up by other bloggers. The person in the unsourced, undated photographs is not me, and I deny these allegations. I have been twice vetted by the FBI, including as recently as this past year; I have won two contested statewide elections; and I have been in the public eye for almost twenty years. I will not dignify these disgraceful accusations with any further comment."

The first highlighted section simply is not true. Multiple law-enforcement officials have directly linked the photo to Pryor, based on their investigation, which took them to Monroe, Louisiana, where Pryor went to college.

The second highlighted section does not tell the whole story. Pryor did not tell the Justice Integrity Project (JIP) anything in 2013. In fact, he apparently did not speak to JIP publisher Andrew Kreig at all, and definitely did not take any questions. Instead, Pryor had a former law clerk named Jennifer Bandy issue the "official statement" Snopes cites above.

Does Snopes reveal Andrew Kreig's assessment, based on research that included an attempt to interview Pryor, which Snopes apparently made no effort to do? No, it doesn't, but here is the conclusion that Kreig reached:

My opinion is that the photo is Pryor more likely than not, despite his denial.

Perhaps Snopes and Dan Evon would be wise to provide their audience with more context to this story. They could inform their readers that I broke the Pryor story on September 17, 2013, and one week later, Alabama deputies (in groups of two and three, always with multiple vehicles) started regularly appearing at our house, with no lawful grounds for trampling all over our property. Less than one month after the show of law-enforcement thuggery began, a deputy walked into our garage (without showing a warrant, stating he had a warrant, or stating his reasons for being present), beat me up, doused me with pepper spray and hauled me to the Shelby County Jail for a five-month stay -- all with no legal grounds for doing so.

I became the only American journalist since 2006 to be incarcerated -- and apparently the only one in American history to be arrested over a preliminary injunction that is unlawful in a defamation case under 230 years of First Amendment law. Is it a coincidence that this happened just weeks after I broke the story of Bill Pryor's youthful foray into gay porn?

I don't think so, and I would invite an inquiry from Snopes into the really important, and disturbing, aspects of this story. Dan Evon likely has no idea how deep the ugliness goes -- and it even includes an effort to have a bogus "content warning" placed on my blog.

An in-depth inquiry would show that the individual in the nude photo is, in fact, "the" Bill Pryor -- and the judge and his allies, in a show of Stalinesque force, had a journalist kidnapped and thrown in jail for reporting accurately on the story.

Life in America likely will get ugly under Donald Trump, and the Pryor story provides a glimpse of how far entitled, white right-wingers will go when they feel threatened by the truth.

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Objectionable content" warning appears at LS after our recent reports about explosion in interest re: U.S. Judge Bill Pryor and his ties to 1990s gay pornography

A redacted version of the nude Bill Pryor photo,
which apparently caused some readers to
become verklempt and complain to Google.
Legal Schnauzer readers are getting a preview of what life might be like under a President Donald Trump. It comes in the form of a warning about "objectionable content" on our blog, which began to appear last Thursday after a post about an explosion in reader traffic related to our reporting on U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor and his nude appearances in 1980s and '90s gay pornography.

On the surface, it appears a "groundswell" of disturbed readers (maybe as few as 1) complained to Google (owner of the platform we use for Legal Schnauzer) about a nude photo we included of Pryor at the bottom of the Thursday post -- after not one, but two, warnings (one at the top of the post in bold letters) that advised readers who did not wish to view a naked judge to not scroll past the end of the post.

So what does it appear that somebody did? Naturally, they ignored both warnings, scrolled past the final words in the post, and became verklempt at the sight of Bill Pryor and his erect penis -- an image we ran twice back in September 2013, apparently without causing fainting or other symptoms. The only reason we ran the full-frontal version of the image this time -- we generally had been running a redacted version, with a black box placed strategically over Pryor's genitals -- was that we had found a higher-resolution version of the earlier photo and figured readers might as well see the whole thing.

After all, the story is about a prominent legal figure who posed nude while he was in college, so inclusion of a nude photo should not be a shock to anyone. As I read the Google content policy, it is not a violation to include nudity that has news, educational, or artistic value. (Note: Google's content policy seems to change regularly, so I'm not sure if I'm looking at the current one or not.)

Here is what readers have begun to see when they call up Legal Schnauzer. In the Web biz, it's called an "interstitial warning":

Content Warning

Some readers of this blog have contacted Google because they believe this blog's content is objectionable. In general, Google does not review nor do we endorse the content of this or any blog. For more information about our content policies, please visit the Blogger Terms of Service.

I do not wish to continue

The reader only has to click on "I understand and I wish to continue" to reach Legal Schnauzer, so it's not as if a major hurdle has been placed in our path. But there is a larger issue at play.

Donald Trump has listed Pryor as one of 21 individuals he would consider prime candidates to be nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court -- and thanks to the death of Antonin Scalia, and Republican efforts to block Obama nominee Merrick Garland, we will have an opening at the outset of the Trump era. Thanks to his close ties to U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Trump's nominee as attorney general, Pryor probably is at, or near, the top of Trump's list.

That makes Pryor's background in gay porn a potentially national news story come early 2017. With our discovery of a second Pryor nude photo, which we will be publishing soon (multiple knowledgeable individuals connected to Louisiana have confirmed it is him), that story could become super-sized big.

We are in the process of getting the interstitial warning removed. It is not justified under Google policy, and it almost certainly is based on bogus "concerns." Readers who complained likely don't care one iota about nudity, but they do care about accurate reporting on Bill Pryor, the kind that yanks his gay-porn past into public view. This provides insight, we think, into the Trump mindset. In a battle between the First Amendment and censorship, the president-elect and his followers are likely to side with "the c word" every time.

In fact, the "objectionable content" warning is a form of light, or threatened, censorship. We are in the process of getting the warning removed. If Google is hard-headed about it, I always have the option of moving to another platform.

Were the complaints that landed at Google -- again, it could be as few as one -- really about nudity? Of course not. They were about politics, about protecting Bill Pryor so that Team Trump still will think highly of him, even though he has dabbled in gay porn and probably lied about it once already to the FBI and Congress, during his original confirmation to the federal bench.

Lying to Congress and the FBI, by the way, is a crime. If proven, it could not only keep Pryor off the Supreme Court, it could get him booted from the bench altogether and land him in a federal prison. This is from a recent report about retired U.S. General James Cartwright, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI:

Cartwright's guilty plea was for his false statements to FBI agents, not for speaking to the reporters, said Cartwright's attorney Gregory Craig, of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom, in a separate statement: "His effort to prevent publication of information that might harm American lives of national security does not constitute a violation of any law."

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the hearing. A false statements conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, but prosecutors and Cartwright's attorneys agreed his offense merited a sentence ranging from zero to six months.

We explained in a previous post how a future confirmation hearing could prove hazardous for Pryor:

What is the public to make of revelations that Pryor once was featured on a gay porn Web site? It clearly raises questions about rank hypocrisy, dating to the beginnings of Pryor's political career. It also raises the specter of Pryor being ethically compromised to the point that he is the victim of not-so-subtle blackmail, forced to participate in rulings that he knows are unlawful, at risk of his secrets being revealed. Most importantly, federal nominees typically are asked during the confirmation process about potentially embarrassing or compromising information in their backgrounds. If Pryor failed to disclose the gay-porn photographs, or did not answer a specific question truthfully under oath, it could be grounds for a Senate investigation.

Is Pryor narcissistic and vainglorious enough to risk five years in the federal slammer by letting Donald Trump nominate him to the nation's highest court? Does Pryor think he can shoot for SCOTUS because Jeff Sessions will protect him from possible criminal charges? I would say the answer to those questions is yes -- in fact, even asking them makes me chuckle. Pryor long ago proved that he has an estimation of his abilities, and characteristics, that is far beyond reality.

That trait, which might have driven Pryor to appear in gay porn to begin with, could make for some very interesting news in the coming year.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Donald Trump's nomination of Alabama U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general is an abomination, like picking Tiny Tim to lead the New York Philharmonic

Jeff Sessions
Donald Trump's announcement today that he would nominate U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as attorney general met with widespread praise from Alabama's conservative community. Meanwhile, I was among a number of progressives from around the country who took a highly critical view of the nomination.

Appearing on the San Francisco-based Peter B. Collins Show, I said Sessions was an awful choice to lead the nation's justice department. "It's like (picking) Tiny Tim to conduct the New York Philharmonic," I said. Collins said Trump was putting together a "cabinet of deplorables."

Here are more of my thoughts on Jeff Sessions, from today's interview with Peter B. Collins:

"It's hard to imagine a worse pick, a worse nomination. (Sessions) is a dreadful human being, he's a racist, and that's well on the record. He's been rejected already for a federal judgeship because of his racist comments. He's called a prominent black attorney in Alabama "boy." He's spoken disparagingly of civil-rights organizations. He's intentionally tried to gloss over civil-rights cases, not prosecute them. He's very much against immigration and for extremist approaches to that.

I don't think the rule of law means anything to him, I don't think he has any integrity. Alabama has maybe the worst so-called justice system in the United States and probably would fall well below the justice systems of many third-world countries.

Collins noted that the Riley political machine has helped create an environment of corruption in Alabama since at least 2002. Where does Sessions fit in what Collins characterized as a "cesspool"?

He has been U.S. Senator for that whole time. He's tied to Bob Riley. He helped put Mark Fuller on the federal bench, who is largely responsible for Don Siegelman being in prison. . . . And the Rileys, I know this personally . . . this is a preview for people. For people who think we need to give Donald Trump a chance, that he's not that bad . . . no, he's worse than bad if he's picking people like Jeff Sessions.

I pointed out to Collins that this is not just wild-eyed opinion, or guesswork, for me. I've seen firsthand the ugly environment corrupt Republicans have created in Alabama:

I've lived through it. I had Alabama cops come in my garage, inside my house, with no warrant, and beat me up, drag me off, and spray with mace.  My wife, they tried to get her . . . and had they gotten both of us, we probably would have been murdered. I've written that, so its not like you just happened to catch me at an emotional moment.

Peter B. Collins
These people are as bad as it can get, they are organized crime, worse than the mafia. The notion of Jeff Sessions being attorney general of the United States . . . it's like Tiny Tim conducting the New York Philharmonic.

What's next? Collins and I touched on that:

We are heading for dark, dark days if we don't get to the bottom of how Donald Trump got elected, if Russian hackers were involved.

Pryor is listed among 21 people Trump would consider as Supreme Court nominees. In my judgment, Bill Pryor is at the top of that list, he's No. 1. It has nothing to do with qualifications; it's his ties to Jeff Sessions.

And Bill Pryor is the height of hypocrisy. He has absolute ties to 1990s gay pornography.

The full interview can be heard at the following link. Just scroll to the bottom and click on the audio file.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Craig O'Dear, "Super Lawyer" at Kansas City's Bryan Cave, appears as paying customer at site for extramarital affairs

Craig O'Dear
A Missouri "Super Lawyer" who has been listed among the top 500 litigators in the United States and is known for representing clients in high-stakes business and class-action cases throughout the U.S. and abroad, appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site.

Craig S. O'Dear is a partner in the Kansas City office of Bryan Cave. He earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri Science and Technology) and went on to Vanderbilt University for a law degree. He now handles a range of cases, including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, antitrust law violations, negligence, federal and state wage and hour law violations, and alleged violations of consumer protection.

With headquarters in St. Louis, Bryan Cave has 27 offices worldwide and generated about $617 million in revenue for 2015.

According to his Twitter page, O'Dear is the father of three children -- Sydney, Cullen, and Cormac -- and is an avid photographer, pilot, and motorcyclist. O'Dear's children, one of whom appears to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, are prominently featured on his Facebook page.

Public records indicate O'Dear was divorced in 1992 and married Stephanie Doolin O'Dear in 1995. She is head of marketing at EMPOWER Retirement and also has worked at J.P. Morgan, Martech, and SPACES magazine.

Stephanie O'Dear has a blog called ChicMatters, and she is considered one of the Kansas City areas top "fashionistas," with extensive experience in beauty and style. Her sense of fashion is on display at her Facebook page, which says she earned an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Stephanie O'Dear
(From Facebook)
Public records show that Craig and Stephanie O'Dear divorced in 2011. We sought comment from Craig O'Dear for this post, and his only words initially were: "Mr. Shuler: I just received your email. What information do you have supporting the allegations in your email?"

My response?

Mr. O'Dear:

I have a copy of the Missouri list of paying Ashley Madison customers. A number of IT professionals helped me obtain and decipher the list. This isn't the free list, where people can make fake accounts for Barack Obama, etc. It's the list of paying customers, and it includes your name, plus supporting data. I haven't seen the supporting data for your entry, but I have run similar data on a number of posts and plan to get that for others soon. I contacted you because I wanted to give you an opportunity to comment.

Not long after that, both Mr. and Mrs. O'Dear became quite talkative about the subject. In fact, they said they have reconciled and now are living together again as a family; they do not say specifically that they have remarried. We will provide their full responses in upcoming posts.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

President Obama chose to ignore Bush-era lawlessness, and that decision now stands to stain his legacy and wipe out progress of the past eight years

Barack Obama helped lay the groundwork for
Donald Trump's ascension to the White House
What is the most important lesson Americans should take from the election debacle that now is one week old? I submit it is this: If you choose to turn a blind eye to injustice, it almost certainly will come back to bite you in the ass.

Who taught us that lesson? Why, it was President Barack Obama himself. Democrats have spent the past seven days pointing fingers in all directions -- at Hillary Clinton, as a candidate who was too flawed to win; at moderates, who failed to get behind Bernie Sanders, a candidate who could have beaten Donald Trump; at the DNC and former chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who tried to stick a fork in Sanders' momentum.

Lost in all the self-flagellation is much attention for the man who probably deserves the bulk of the blame, and that would be Obama.

Why? Well, the Obama presidency probably was destined to end badly before it even started. That's because in January 2009, just days before his inauguration, Obama said he was going to "look forward, not backwards" regarding issues of flaming criminality during the George W. Bush administration.

How numb-headed was that statement? New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, in a piece titled "Forgive and forget?" and dated Jan. 15, 2009, provided powerful insight. Wrote Krugman:

During the Reagan years, the Iran-contra conspirators violated the Constitution in the name of national security. But the first President Bush pardoned the major malefactors, and when the White House finally changed hands the political and media establishment gave Bill Clinton the same advice it’s giving Mr. Obama: let sleeping scandals lie. Sure enough, the second Bush administration picked up right where the Iran-contra conspirators left off — which isn’t too surprising when you bear in mind that Mr. Bush actually hired some of those conspirators.

Now, it’s true that a serious investigation of Bush-era abuses would make Washington an uncomfortable place, both for those who abused power and those who acted as their enablers or apologists. And these people have a lot of friends. But the price of protecting their comfort would be high: If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we’ll guarantee that they will happen again.

Meanwhile, about Mr. Obama: while it’s probably in his short-term political interests to forgive and forget, next week he’s going to swear to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That’s not a conditional oath to be honored only when it’s convenient.

And to protect and defend the Constitution, a president must do more than obey the Constitution himself; he must hold those who violate the Constitution accountable. So Mr. Obama should reconsider his apparent decision to let the previous administration get away with crime. Consequences aside, that’s not a decision he has the right to make.

How did Obama's nonsensical stance -- if it was our nation's stance to never look backwards, no crime ever would be investigated or prosecuted -- come back to bite him in the fanny? How has it led to a scenario, under an unqualified president who appears to have despotic tendencies, that could become more nightmarish than many of us can imagine? Let's spell it out in five simple steps:

(1) A discredited GOP brand remains afloat

A genuine investigation of the Bush administration probably would have led to dozens, maybe hundreds, of criminal convictions. The sight of Rove, Chaney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, and others heading off to prison in orange jumpsuits probably would have caused even the most heart-headed conservatives to say, "You know, I'm starting to get the feeling that reflexively voting straight GOP might not be such a good thing. Maybe I need to study up a bit, or just stay home on election day." Under that scenario, Democrats probably take back both chambers of Congress in 2012 or '14, and the 2016 presidential race is not even close -- regardless of who the general-election candidate turned out to be. And Obama gets much of his agenda passed, without obstruction from Republicans. Obama might have truly been a great president if he had not worked against his own interests by giving GOP crooks a free pass.

(2) Inattention to justice emboldens Russian hackers

One day after the election, Wired published a story titled "Trump's win signals open season for Russia's political hackers." It shows Russian hacks go way beyond the U.S., with at least a dozen European organizations targeted by a state-linked hacking group called Fancy Bear, or APT28, since summer 2016. From the Wired article:

Following Donald Trump’s presidential win, and even in the weeks leading up to it, cybersecurity and foreign-policy watchers have warned that Russia’s government-sponsored hackers would be emboldened by the success of the recent string of intrusions and data dumps, including the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Security firms that analyzed the breaches, and US intelligence agencies, have both linked those attacks to the Kremlin. That Russia perceives those operations as successful, experts say, will only encourage similar hacks aimed at shifting elections and sowing distrust of political processes in Western democracies, particularly those in Europe. “What they’ll learn from this is, ‘We did it, we got away with it, we got the outcome we wanted,'” says James Lewis, a cybersecurity-focused fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “This will only increase their desire to intervene.”

Why shouldn't Russian hackers feel free to act brazenly? The U.S. did nothing about apparent domestic election theft in 2000 (Florida) and 2004 (Ohio) at the presidential level -- not to mention the likely stolen Alabama governor's race in 2002 between Republican Bob Riley and Democrat Don Siegelman. A reasonable Russian hacker must be saying to himself, perhaps at this very moment, "I have nothing to fear. Obama is a proven wuss, and his Justice Department doesn't scare me in the least." From Wired:

Russia’s shift to bold, barely covert hacking operations has also no doubt stemmed partly from a sense of impunity. American intelligence agencies took months to publicly name the Russian government as the source of the DNC hack that came to light in July. Even then, the response has been murky: Despite Vice President Joe Biden’s assurances that the US would be “sending a message” to Putin intended to have “maximum impact,” it’s not clear if or how that counterattack happened.

Trump’s win may now delay America’s response or reduce its efficacy. . . . Even if the Obama administration carries out its response before Trump’s inauguration, Putin may doubt that any policy of deterrence would carry over to Trump’s administration -- particularly given the fondness for Putin that Trump expressed on the campaign trail, his weak support for NATO, and the doubts Trump has publicly cast on attributing the DNC hack to Russia. After January, America’s account of grievances against Russia’s hackers could be wiped clean.

(3) Obama appoints a partisan hack to head the FBI

While James Comey enjoys a reputation for integrity among many politicos, an October 13, 2016, article at Salon shows many knew he was a "preening, partisan hack" from the outset. Comey's outlandish, wildly improper statements regarding the Clinton "e-mail scandal" might have alone turned the election toward Trump: From Salon:

Liberals who lived through the ’90s and the endless Whitewater probe that went nowhere met President Barack Obama’s appointment of James Comey as director of the FBI with a primal scream of “Are you kidding me?” It was inconceivable that, just as former president Bill Clinton had foolishly appointed a Republican FBI director, Louis Freeh, who saw it as his primary duty to investigate a president he did not respect, a Democratic president was appointing a GOP lawyer to the same job 20 years later in an even more toxic political environment. . . .

It’s not as if the Democrats were unaware that Comey’s reputation for being nonpartisan was bunk before the White House inexplicably tapped him for FBI director. He first came to public attention as the deputy special counsel for the Senate committee investigating Whitewater. In a foreshadowing of his testimony last summer, he and his committee were unable to find any criminal wrongdoing by Bill and Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater matter but nonetheless decided to issue a public report filled with aspersions and innuendo accusing the Clintons of hiding secrets and engaging in misconduct. That’s par for the GOP course with its congressional witch hunts, but beyond the pale for an FBI director.

(4) Obama's legacy sinks in the sunset

In the days and weeks leading to Election Day 2016, much was written about Obama's legacy. And, in fact, he had built a substantial record of achievement. As a white male (living in Alabama at the time), I'm the rare bird in my species who voted for Obama twice. And I would not take back either vote. In my view, Obama saved us from a Great Depression II -- and for that alone, he deserves our everlasting thanks. That makes his dismal record on justice issues even more difficult to swallow. And it brings sadness to think that by the end of Trump's first term, we probably will be back on the edge of another recession or depression. After all, Trumps's economic policies are nothing but refried Reaganism and George W. Bushism, and both of those led to recessions. As a number of commentators already have stated, Obama's legacy is toast, with many of his achievements set to vanish. Obama did this to himself.

(5) Governance by organized crime

Perhaps worst of all, Obama has left all of us vulnerable to governance by organized crime. That hits close to home because Carol and I have experienced 16 years' worth of legal miseries driven by glorified organized crime. It's become clear to us that America's court houses, law firms, and law-enforcement agencies are riddled with organized crime.

If hackers did act on behalf of Trump, at Vladimir Putin's insistence . . . well, Putin's ties to organized crime are well known. Consider this July 2016 article from Newsweek, titled "Putin welcomes return of the Russian Mafia." From the article:

At home and abroad, Russia’s gangsters and spooks are often closely connected. Criminals are suspected in assassinations of Chechen rebels in Turkey; Russian cybercriminals have been used to fight the Kremlin’s virtual wars in Georgia and Ukraine and to crack into German and Polish government systems; and cigarette smugglers in the Baltics appear to have been used to raise funds for Russian political influence operations.

The traffic goes both ways too, with Russian intelligence and security officers often corrupted into working for the criminals.

The reason for the crossover is clear: Russia is engaged in a geopolitical struggle with the West but lacks the economic and soft power of its adversary. As such, it must take advantage of covert and unconventional tactics to make up for this deficit. From this perspective, criminal networks are an obvious asset.

Even if you take Putin out of the equation, consider Donald Trump's own ties to the mob, as portrayed in an article at

Last December, a Good Morning America piece by the network’s investigative master Brian Ross touched on one tendril [of Trump's mob ties]: Trump’s relationship with a twice-convicted felon, the Russian √©migr√© Felix Sater, who (along with several other felons) occupied office space in Trump Tower. On air, Ross reported that Donald Trump had testified under oath in a civil lawsuit that Sater “helped develop the Trump SoHo hotel and condominium in New York City.” Online, in a simultaneous piece co-written with Matthew Mosk, Ross noted that in 1991, Sater got into an argument with a commodities broker at the bar of a New York restaurant, smashed a margarita glass and with the broken-off stem, slashed the man in the cheek and neck, breaking his cheek and jaw, severing nerves and lacerating his face and jaw. The victim required 110 stitches. Sater was convicted of first-degree assault and sent to prison in 1993. Then, in 2000, he pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges for running a $40 million “pump and dump” stock scam and for, as Mosk and Ross wrote, “collaborating with members of four New York mob families.” Sater served no time, however, because the FBI testified at his sentencing hearing that he was “an important witness on both mob-related and national security matters.”

Boy, sounds like "President Trump" has associated with some sweet fellows.

Roughly two months ago, The Wall Street Journal published a piece titled "Donald Trump and the Mob." Here is a "highlight," from a summary at People magazine:

As a young real estate developer in Atlantic City, Donald Trump dealt with people who had ties to organized crime, according to a new Wall Street Journal examination of his career.

The Journal reports that although Trump knew a business partner in Atlantic City had connections to “unsavory” people and although an FBI agent advised him in a sit-down that there were easier ways to invest, Trump nevertheless went ahead with plans to break ground in Atlantic City. He would ultimately go on to own four casinos there.

People Trump dealt with as a real estate developer in New York also had ties to the mob, according to the Journal.

Among these people were Kenneth Shapiro, who was identified by law enforcement as an agent of Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo; Robert LiButti, a gambler convicted of tax fraud who was banned from New York racetracks; and John A. Cody, a union leader found guilty of racketeering, the Journal reports.

Meanwhile, we've discovered a piece at, which shows that exit polls conducted by Edison Research have Hillary Clinton winning four battleground states -- North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. From the post:

With these states Clinton wins the Electoral College with a count of 302 versus 205 for Trump. Clinton also won the national exit poll by 3.2% and holds a narrow lead in the national vote count still in progress.

Exit polls were conducted in 28 states. In 23 states the discrepancies between the exit polls and the vote count favored Trump. In 13 of these states the discrepancies favoring Trump exceeded the margin of error of the state.

Translation: It's possible Hillary Clinton actually won the race in a landslide. Gee, can't imagine why anyone would question the computerized vote counts in this election -- or the legitimacy of the Trump presidency.