What happens when a politician thinks a scandal has blown over, and he more or less has gotten away with certain unsavory acts? If Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is an indicator, he becomes an insufferable, arrogant prick. Given Merrill's close ties to former Governor Bob Riley and his son, Rob "Uday" Riley, it's quite possible that Merrill was an insufferable, arrogant prick all along.
Merrill removed all doubt this week when his comments in a documentary about American barriers to ballot access came to light. Numerous states have approved, or are considering, plans to allow all eligible citizens to automatically be registered to vote. But Merrill snorts and ruffles his feathers when presented with such ideas, calling them the “sorry and lazy way out.” (See video above.)
Speaking of "sorry," Merrill seems to have forgotten the ugly extramarital affair in his not-too-distant past. We, however, have not forgotten reports from multiple sources that Merrill has "issues" in Huntsville. We have the name of a person and a business in Huntsville with interesting "ties" to Merrill, and we are very close to having that story nailed down for publication.
Merrill is not in a great position to play the "holier than thou" card on ballot access -- or any other issue -- but he did it anyway in the documentary interview. From an article at Think Progress by Kira Lerner:
Five states have approved plans to allow all eligible citizens to automatically be registered to vote, unless they opt-out, and dozens more are considering following suit.
But Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) opposes such a practice, calling it the “sorry and lazy way out.”
“I don’t think that just because your birthday comes around, you should be registered to vote,” he said in an interview with Brian Jenkins, the director of a documentary about America’s various barriers to ballot access.
Merrill, a Republican, then starts harrumphing and claiming such plans cheapen the work of civil-rights icons like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks:
“These people fought — some of them were beaten, some of them were killed — because of their desire to ensure that everybody that wanted to had the right to register to vote and participate in the process,” he said.
“I’m not going to cheapen the work they did, I’m not going to embarrass them by allowing somebody that’s too sorry to get up off their rear end to go register to vote… because they think they deserve the right because they’ve turned 18,” he continued, growing angry.
It's nice to see that Merrill can make value judgments about others, given revelations in early 2015 about his own extramarital affair. The right-wing mainstream press did its best to keep the story under wraps, but we broke it here on January 29, 2015. Merrill ultimately went to al.com to shoo the problem away by offering some of the most preposterous excuses in the history of straying spouses.
|Millie Brinyark, with ex husband and kids
(From Tuscaloosa News)
Keep in mind that Merrill is not just any old Alabama politico. He's made it clear that he considers himself to be gubernatorial timber, and with his ties to the Riley Machine, he likely has the backing to make a serious run for it. In fact, Merrill probably was posturing for an upcoming governor's race -- playing to his right-wing base and their race-based fears -- when he became indignant during the interview about voting access. From Think Progress:
In the interview, Merrill also compared automatic registration to giving everyone on a sports team a trophy for participation. “You only get a trophy if you win,” he said emphatically.
“Just because you turned 18 doesn’t give you the right to do anything,” he continued. “I think it’s the sorry, lazy way out, and it shows no initiative.”
When the interviewer points out that voters still have to take the initiative to go to a polling place to cast a ballot, Merrill adds that he’s not “attracted to lazy people, or sorry people, or people that don’t want to get involved.”
“If you’re too sorry and lazy to get up off of your rear and to go register to vote, or to register electronically, and then to go vote, then you don’t deserve that privilege,” he said.
Court documents show that Merrill certainly was willing to "get off his rear" and "take the initiative" when it came to Millie Brinyark. In fact, it's clear he was "attracted" to her and found her to be quite the "trophy." Consider these statements from Ms. Brinyark's deposition regarding one interaction with Merrill: (A section of the deposition is embedded at the end of this post.)
A: John came to talk to me, and he came again and talked to me, and then I met with him that Sunday afternoon, and he had--he had been very sexual in his conversations and --
Q: Toward you?
Q: In an inappropriate manner?
Q: In what way?
A: Just he talked about he had to have sex all the time and --
Q: He wanted to have it with you?
Ms. Brinyark then provides plenty of details on how physical things became:
Q: Did he touch, caress, and/or kiss your breasts?
Q: Did you do the same for him?
Q: So you touched his unexposed penis?
Q. And did either one of y'all have oral sex with the other?
Q: How many times?
A: Just once.
Q: Both for each other?
Q: Him for you--did he commit or perform oral sex on you?
Q: You performed oral sex on him?
This is not the kind of information that appears at Merrill's bio on the Secretary of State Web site. Instead, you get this kind of thing, from one of our posts on the scandal:
During the 2014 campaign, Merrill was a favorite of the pro-business and religious communities, picking up endorsements from the Business Council of Alabama (led by Bill Canary), Alabama Conservative Christians, the National Rifle Association, Alabama Farmers Federation, and the Alabama Association of Realtors. . . .
Merrill's official biography at the Secretary of State Web site says he is a deacon at Calvary Baptist Church and has served as a Sunday School teacher.
How did Merrill sweep the Brinyark scandal under the rug? He went to his pals at the al.com, met with four "journalists" and fessed up -- sort of. He admitted to having an extramarital "sexual encounter," but denied receiving oral sex. (Try not to laugh when you read that last sentence -- or the following, from Legal Schnauzer.)
In a sworn deposition, defendant Millie Brinyark provided graphic details about a sexually charged relationship with the married Merrill. In an interview with four al.com journalists on Tuesday (Feb. 3), Merrill supported much of Brinyark's testimony, primarily denying that he received oral sex and that he was the sexual aggressor.
According to al.com, Merrill claims to be the victim of a "smear campaign" by unnamed individuals who widely circulated portions of the deposition to the press, politicians, members of his church, and others. How can it be a smear campaign when it involves public documents, about testimony that Merrill largely admits is true? The al.com journalists apparently did not ask Merrill that question.
John Merrill apparently thinks Alabamians are stupid enough to believe a woman would admit, under oath, to providing him with oral sex when she really hadn't.
Merrill also seems to think the Brinyark scandal is neatly tucked away. It isn't -- and neither are his "issues" in Huntsville, which could break at any moment.