Thursday, March 30, 2017

Effort to shine spotlight on public corruption in Alabama must include the judiciary and Riley Inc. if it truly is to help drain our state's toxic swamp

Dr. Randy Brinson
A charitable organization tied to the Christian Coalition plans to shine a spotlight on public corruption in Alabama. That's a good thing. Based on initial reports, it's not clear the group's "drain the swamp" efforts will focus on perhaps the two nastiest elements in Alabama's toxic swamp. That's a bad thing.

The organization, called Redeem the Vote and led by Dr. Randy Brinson of Montgomery, seems to have its heart in the right place. And Lord knows, it has taken on a task of broad scope and monumental importance to quality of life in our state. If Redeem the Vote targets the right rocks to look under, and uses effective tactics to unmask snakes hiding under those rocks, it could do a world of good.

We applaud the group's efforts, especially since it specifically mentions Gov. Robert Bentley, U.S. Senator Luther Strange, and former House Speaker Mike Hubbard as politicians deserving of scrutiny. Those all are Republicans, the type who typically claim the "family values" mantle to attract faith-based voters -- while acting contrary to all notions of honesty and integrity that can be found in the New Testament.

If Redeem the Vote is to maximize its potential, what two sources of corruption must not be ignored? They are:

(1) The judiciary; and

(2) The Bob Riley political machine. including "First Children" Rob Riley and Minda Riley Campbell, plus long-time associates, such as Alabama Supreme Court Justice Jim Main, and organizations (Bradley Arant law firm, etc.) that have benefited from Riley's tendency, while governor, to shower taxpayer dollars onto favored organizations. (Son-in-law Rob Campbell is a partner at Bradley Arant.)

Redeem the Vote is not a new organization. Modeled roughly after MTV's Rock the Vote, the group was founded during the 2004 presidential campaign to register people of faith regardless of party affiliation, or personal political beliefs, but as a matter of Christian principle, "that people of faith must be engaged in the political debate and vote as a matter of moral imperative."

The focus on public corruption is new, and Brinson said it will cut across party lines. From a report at WSFA in Montgomery:

“We are going to target our anti-corruption message against The Governor, Senator Luther Strange, the remnants of Speaker Hubbard’s Machine and any other politician who thinks they are above the law,” Brinson said. “We have a message, it is this: we are not going to take it anymore.”

The organization says it has an over one-million-person email list in the state alone, with over 300,000 engaged members. This is the reason the organization believes it is built for this type of voter education program.

“We were founded in 2003 to help engage the evangelical community and register them to vote, and we did so in unprecedented numbers,” Brinson said. “Many of these same voters who rejected the corruption of Hillary Clinton and propelled President Donald Trump into office are unaware of the rank corruption polluting Alabama’s highest offices. We intend to make them aware.”

As a journalist/blogger who has reported on Alabama corruption for almost 10 years -- and been thrown in jail and had our home stolen out from underneath us, as a result -- I like the sound of that. I also like the sound of this:

Redeem the Vote plans to initiate modern public awareness through advertising and outreach campaigns based on targeted digital communications on TV, radio, mail, and phone calls. They will also couple this with person-to-person outreach in the faith community.

“We are going after people of faith who feel like they are being disenfranchised because of the dishonest, double-dealing and backroom decisions being made by our public officials.”

"Disenfranchised" is one term that could be used to describe what happens from public corruption. "Taxpayer-supported abuse upon taxpayers" is another term that fits. My wife, Carol, and I know because almost everything we owned has been stolen from us because of corrupt judges, lawyers, and law enforcement -- many (maybe all) connected to the Riley Machine.

I've written about many other victims -- especially women and children in divorce/family courts (see the cases of Sherry Carroll Rollins, Linda Upton, and Bonnie Cahalane). The judiciary probably cheats the public in more direct and ruinous ways than any other area of government. Judges tend to get away with it because they wear robes, are called "Your Honor," and give the general impression of being above it all. But corrupt judges -- Sibley Reynolds in Chilton County, Ron Jackson in Shelby County, Robert Vance and Don Blankenship in Jefferson County, and J. Michael Joiner (formerly of Shelby County, now on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals) -- trample constitutional rights in ways that few other public officials can muster.

Why are we concerned that Redeem the Vote might not be targeting the judiciary? An article by Josh Moon, of Alabama Political Reporter, makes no mention of plans the group might have to go after corrupt judges. Neither does a March 14 report from the Inside Alabama Politics (IAP) newsletter, which gave a sneak peek under the headline, "Plans to spotlight past state corruption being organized." From the IAP article:

March 14, 2017

Plans to spotlight past state corruption being organized

Sources close to IAP tell us that a ‘large scale citizen powered organization’ is launching an Independent Expenditure campaign in the very near future aimed at highlighting corruption at all levels of government in Alabama.

The focus will be educating voters about the numerous scandals that has rocked the pillars of government from Speaker of The House, to Governor, US Senator, Chief Justice and Attorney General.

“I think many of those associated with Alabama politics will know the names associated with this project,” the source told IAP. “This project will spotlight how corrupt state government has been the last few years. We expect to see this rolled-out in the very near future.”

They plan to identify, organize and turn out anti-corruption voters focusing on current and future elected officials and holding them accountable for their actions.

Stay tuned . . .

The term "Chief Justice" likely refers to Roy Moore, and that could include the entire judicial system, which the chief justice oversees. The term " the remnants of Speaker Hubbard’s Machine" might refer to Riley Inc. While Hubbard probably thinks he has a political machine, he actually is a subset of, and a throw-off from, the Riley corruption racket.

It's possible Redeem the Vote intends to spotlight rogue judges (hopefully, at both state and federal levels), along with Riley-backed cheaters across the spectrum. It's possible the group didn't announce its targets with the completeness and clarity I would have preferred.

But if Redeem the Vote helps force some of our most malevolent snakes out from under rocks, this could be one of the most hopeful news stories to come out of Alabama in a long while. My sense is that Dr. Randy Brinson is a smart guy, who genuinely cares about the public good. I wish him and Redeem the Vote well -- and if they want my help in tackling a cleansing job that desperately needs to be completed -- I would be glad to help.


Anonymous said...

I believe Brinson is serious about this. Will be interesting to see if his followers are serious.

Anonymous said...

This is encouraging. Christian Coalition has clout.

Anonymous said...

This can only work if these folks realize that a lot of corruption begins with their own -- white conservatives.

Anonymous said...

This needs to become a national focus for CC.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that they mention Mike Hubbard. He already was under indictment and still easily won his district in Auburn area. In other words, there was lots of evidence that Hubbard was a slime ball, but "values" voters still supported him. That kind of thinking will have to change if this group is to have any impact.

Anonymous said...

Enough of the culture wars. We need to bind ourselves together to fight dirty pols. Two thumbs up for this group.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how many members of this group voted for Trump, who, less than 100 days in, already is the most corrupt president in U.S. history.

legalschnauzer said...

Here is an example of the challenges Redeem the Vote faces:

Steve Marshall, Alabama's new AG, hires a former Jeff Sessions aide as his chief counsel. Does Marshall read the news, is he completely tone deaf? Katherine Robertson helped Sessions prepare for his confirmation hearings, which led to a criminal complaint of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice.

Robertson was directly involved in a hearing where Sessions lied under oath. But Marshall thinks that is OK, she should be hired anyway?

Redeem the Vote, if it's serious, needs to shine light on this brain-dead appointment. It also needs to take a stand on Jeff Sessions, period.

Anonymous said...

Warning for Redeem the Vote folks:

Conservatism and integrity do not go hand in hand. In fact, I'd say they are polar opposites in today's world. To be effective, the RTV folks will have to make a choice: Are they conservative or do they have integrity?

I think they'll find it's hard to be both.

Anonymous said...

Did you see yesterday where Donald Watkins claimed he broke the "Luv Guv" story?

legalschnauzer said...

@4:22 --

No, I didn't see that. I don't read Watkins' stuff much these days. Since he started praising Jeff Sessions, Watkins' credibility has pretty much gone out the window for me. This would be at least twice he has falsely claimed to have broken the "Luv Guv" story. I corrected him once on it, so he knows it isn't true. Makes me wonder about his credibility, to take credit for someone else's work.

Anonymous said...

Has RTV reached out to you, Mr. Schnauzer? I mean, how can you be serious about fighting corruption if don't engage Legal Schnauzer?

legalschnauzer said...

I reached out by following them on Twitter earlier today, and they have reached back by returning the favor. I guess you would say we've reached out to each other.

Someone doesn't have to agree with me on every issue for me to join them in an important fight. I care about Alabama; it's much more my home than Missouri ever will be. It's where Carol and I belong, and it's where we hope to return, sooner rather than later. Anyone who says, "I genuinely want to improve the quality of life in Alabama," I'm ready to grab their hand and say, "Let's do it."

Missouri was my home by accident of birth. Alabama was my home by choice -- I came across a lot of good people there, and I'm not ready or willing to give up on them. As I've written several times, Alabama probably has more untapped potential than any state in the country. It could be one of the 10 best places in the U.S. to live, and it would be, if Alabamians would stop holding themselves back. I think Redeem the Vote could be a step in the right direction.