Thursday, June 29, 2017

Luther Strange appears in Birmingham's Superfund bribery scandal, raising questions about Jessica Medeiros Garrison and her ties to Balch and Bingham

Luther Strange and Jessica Garrison
U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) has been linked to Birmingham's evolving EPA-Superfund bribery scandal, according to a story this morning at Alabama Political Reporter (APR).

The scandal already has ensnared former State Rep. Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham), who agreed to plead guilty last week to bribery, conspiracy, and other federal charges. John Archibald, a columnist for, wrote yesterday that the scandal could go way beyond Robinson, perhaps unmasking the law firms/lobbyists (Balch and Bingham) and corporate entities (Drummond Coal, Alabama Power, etc.) who have been at the center of Alabama's toxic political environment for decades.

Strange's connection helps bring the story close to home for your humble blogger. For one, Strange is a defendant in a pending federal lawsuit over the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham. He likely will be added as a defendant in a second pending federal lawsuit, regarding my unlawful arrest and incarceration in Shelby County.

Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress, is lead defendant in "The House Case" -- and where did she work until recently? That would be Balch and Bingham, the downtown Birmingham law firm that seems to be up to its neck in the Superfund scandal.

How did Garrison, a relatively young attorney with thin credentials, obtain an "of counsel" position at Balch and Bingham? Why does she no longer appear on Balch's roster of attorneys? How did she come to purchase an $835,000 house last year from an Alabama Power executive? How is Garrison paying for her snazzy Mountain Brook digs, now that she is out at Balch and Bingham, the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), and the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), which once seemed to be her main sources of gainful employment?

On a personal level, did Garrison and Strange engage in criminal behavior related to the glorified theft of our house, perhaps determined to make sure I was not in Alabama to report on the superfund scandal when it bubbled to the surface? Were they also involved in criminal behavior related to my unlawful incarceration, perhaps in conjunction with their political cohorts -- Bill Pryor, Jeff Sessions, Rob Riley, and other GOP luminaries? Were they connected to our unlawful eviction, which seems driven by someone's desire to make sure we stayed in Missouri, and left my wife, Carol, with a shattered left arm -- courtesy of thuggish Greene County deputies?

We will be looking for an answer to those questions. But, for now, let's focus on Luther Strange's connections to the superfund scandal. Writes Josh Moon, of APR:

State Rep. John Rogers told federal investigators that he was approached by executives from Drummond Coal and then-Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and offered what Rogers considered a bribe if he would lead the state’s and Drummond’s efforts against the EPA’s cleanup of a superfund pollution site in north Birmingham, a source close to Rogers told APR.

Asked about the allegations, Rogers declined to confirm them, saying he didn’t want to talk about it “yet, because it’s too volatile.”

“I don’t want to get into that stuff right now,” Rogers said. “You have to be careful about that. These people are dangerous. I’ll keep that to myself until a later time.”

"These people are dangerous." What a curious thing for John Rogers to say. My response? Tell me about it. Here is more from Josh Moon:
According to the source, Rogers said he was offered control of a “super PAC or non-profit” into which Drummond Coal and other entities would contribute money in exchange for Rogers speaking out against the 35th Avenue superfund site and working to keep the EPA from assigning the area to the National Priority List.

Designating the area in north Birmingham a superfund site allowed the EPA to do testing in the area and start a process of identifying “potentially responsible parties” that caused the environmental damage. Levels of toxins in that 35th Avenue area have so far exceeded acceptable levels that the top layers of hundreds of residents’ yards have been removed.

Under EPA rules, responsible parties are on the hook for the cost of cleanup at superfund sites, meaning Drummond Coal, Alagasco, ABC Coke, U.S. Pipe and KMAC were potentially on the hook for around $20 million for the site cleanup.

As for John Archibald, he says the superfund scandal could be much bigger than most Alabamians realize. He says it could become "Alabama's Watergate":

This -- this is far bigger that Robinson. Or it could be. In his indictment, the feds point to Balch and Bingham and Drummond Co. as bribers. If proven, it'll be a body check to the very systems that run Alabama politics and fund the ugliest parts of them.

It just depends on what Robinson will spill to keep his sentence to a minimum.

It depends on what the unnamed co-conspirators at Drummond and Balch are willing to say, and whether the actions outlined in the federal documents can be quarantined.

Because these players -- and those they associate with -- provide the grease that makes Alabama run.

That grease, of course, does not make Alabama run well. The grease just makes everything it touches slimy. This now has national and international implications. Lawyers from Balch and Bingham are closely aligned with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, now at the heart of the Trump/Russia scandal, which could bring down a presidency. Writes Archibald:

Balch and Bingham is one of Alabama's most powerful firms. You can't follow a political story -- as the recent drama at the state board of education shows -- without tripping on a Balch lawyer or lobbyist.

Gov. Kay Ivey just appointed Balch lawyer Will Sellers - a longtime confidante - to the Alabama Supreme Court. And several Balch lawyers sit in positions to advise U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Balch and Drummond both contribute heavily to political campaigns inside and out of Alabama. Each gave more than $215,000 in last year's federal election cycle, which was enough to put them in the state's top 10 donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But this is not just about those tainted by the Oliver Robinson scandal. This is about the way political money is spent.

Both Balch and Drummond have substantial ties to another Top 10 giver -- Southern Company, parent to Alabama Power.

No matter how ugly the superfund scandal gets, it could prove to be the best thing that has happened to Alabama in a long time -- especially if it pulls the mask off slime balls like Luther Strange, Jessica Garrison, Jeff Sessions, and a few of the state's many corrupt lawyers. Write Archibald:

What is clear is that money from entities supportive of coal and power - and other interests -- have flowed through Balch and into the hands of those who change opinions. Balch has employed . . . Matrix group, which worked with entities such as the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy (PACE), which lobbied hard in 2013 to prevent the Public Service Commission from holding formal utility rate hearings -- which Alabama Power opposed.

Understand, Alabama. What happened in north Birmingham is not about Birmingham. What happened to Robinson is not just about Robinson.

Alabama's political status quo is at risk. For the first time in a long time.

That's a good thing.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this could be a big, big story.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:25 --

Absolutely, and Josh Moon and APR deserve big-time props for breaking it. Bravo to them.

(Note: Unlike certain MSM reporters and a "Facebook journalist," I don't try to take credit for other people's work. Makes me wonder about a person's integrity when I see that happen.)

Anonymous said...

Message for Jessica G:

Don't worry about things. Orange is the new black.

Anonymous said...

If the feds interviewed John Rogers, I'm sure they didn't have a hard time getting him to talk. The problem would be to get him to stop talking.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Josh Moon! Great reporting!

Anonymous said...

Let's hope they have extra long bunks for Lutha at Maxwell AFB.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting that Jessica G has left Balch Bingham. That makes me wonder if she was involved in the bribery scheme and maybe needed an escape hatch.

Anonymous said...

I started reading this post and now I'm distracted with a new and novel fundraising idea for LS.

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Because today would be a most excellent time to be eating LS popcorn as I read the ongoing corruption scandals. Thinking back, I could have been eating Offical LS Popcorn on an almost daily basis ever since you started posting about Governor Bent and the Casaba melons he used to um uh well whatever he would do or talk about doing to them melons.

Shouldn't take much to get this LS popcorn rolling.

For an extra charge maybe you could offer blind drop shipping-that way blog readers could send the gift of LS popcorn to some of your least favorite people. You'd get paid (and maybe the money would help support the blog or you could donate top another charity) and folks like Governor Bent and Becky with the Casabas or whoever would know it. They'd get heartburn before they even started popping the popcorn!


legalschnauzer said...

@12:00 --

The Alabama State Bar still lists her with Balch, but she does not appear at their Web site. That makes me think her exit was very recent, that the Bar hasn't had time to update records. They usually make changes pretty quickly.

Anonymous said...

According to some reports Balch and Bingham could be involved in some way with the Craig Pouncey for State Superintendent of the Department of Education ambush too:

The scheme, according to the report, was hatched and executed by Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) board member, Mary Scott Hunter, then-Interim Superintendent Philip Cleveland, and ALSDE attorneys Juliana Teixeira Dean, James R Ward III, and Susan Tudor Crowther. The internal investigation also found unnamed individuals who may have participated in the plot.

“Most regrettably, these five participants have caused grave and serious harm,” the report states, “and cast a major shadow on the veracity and credibility of the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education (through no fault of the majority) that still lingers to the present day.”

It was widely believed that the findings of the internal probe would be released today at the board meeting. However, frantic meetings held with Balch and Bingham attorneys, including partner Dorman Walker, on the eve of the report’s scheduled release, led to State Superintendent Michael Sentance shifting course to protect Hunter and the others, according to those with knowledge of the meetings.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:07 --

Thanks for sharing. And here I've been thinking Bradley Arant was the sleaziest law firm in the state. Balch and Bingham is about to pass them. Maynard Cooper Gale is way up there, too.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:02 --

Hah, I like the way you think. Maybe we could do Legal Schnauzer T-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars, lunch boxes, action figures . . .

I'm seeing dollar signs here. We need someone with business sense to get the ball rolling on this.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Schnauzer --

Who is the "Facebook journalist" to whom you refer at @11:28? I presume the "MSM reporter" is John Archibald?

Anonymous said...


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legalschnauzer said...

@12:17 --

The Facebooker is Donald Watkins. He's taken credit for breaking the Luv Guv/Rebekah Mason story probably a dozen times, and he knows it's not true. I've corrected him 2-3 times, and he acknowledged in writing on his page that I broke it. But he still pulls out the same lie, over and over -- does it so often that I can't correct him every time. In fact, he repeats the lie in a post today. I once had a lot of respect for him, but not anymore. Not sure he even knows what it means to break a story. But to take credit for someone else's work -- then, to be corrected and still falsely take credit -- that's low in my book.

Makes me wonder what really went on in the Bryan Thomas lawsuit, plus SEC, IRS, and FDIC cases against Watkins -- and supposed sale of Masada to an outfit in Great Britain. I've more or less stood up for Watkins, but not anymore. In fact, I'm planning to investigate these business cases to see if his account squares with the facts.

Yes, the MSMer is Archibald. To his credit, I don't know that he's ever taken credit for breaking the Luv Guv story, as Watkins has. But he's wrongly been given credit and failed to correct the record.

Anonymous said...

I think I saw a tweet recently- maybe it was from someone at anyway they couldn't find the "Alliance for Jobs".

That's because it is a Delaware registration.

Note the date the non profit was filed-it appears to be consistent with allegations in the indictments.

So- seen first here on LS.


Delaware Corporation · Updated 3/7/2015

Alliance For Jobs And The Economy, Inc. is a Delaware Corporation filed on March 3, 2015 . The company's File Number is listed as 5702770.

The Registered Agent on file for this company is The Corporation Trust Company and is located at Corporation Trust Center 1209 Orange St, Wilmington, DE 19801.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:31 --

Thanks for sharing. What do you think this means? Have you been able to piece it together in your mind.

Anonymous said...

This is a classic case of white privilege. These guys at Drummond, Balch, Alabama Power, etc., think they should be able to poison a neighborhood and not be held accountable. Guys like Luther Strange and Jeff Sessions think the same way. Hey, this was good for bidness, so there was no real harm done. If a few black people die or get sick, so what?

legalschnauzer said...

@3:49 --

Your comment is packed with truth. It reminds me of what Carol and I have seen in court, over and over. For example, a guy like Rob Riley thinks he should be able to cheat you out of your job (at UAB, or elsewhere) and get away with it. If you sue him, or his cohorts, in federal court, they make sure the judge (say William Acker) is bought off or influenced to rule unlawfully against you. Presto, they avoid accountability. When you report accurately about Rob Riley's affair with Liberty Duke, he has you kidnapped and thrown in jail. He tries to avoid accountability for that, too, and I'm seeing that right now in a federal court case.

It should be no surprise that Rob Riley is aligned with Luther Strange, Jeff Sessions, and others you mention above.

This is, as you say, white privilege and elitism. But it's even more than that. To use a blunt term, Rob Riley (and people like him) are pussies. The people with Drummond, Balch, etc. are pussies. They want to screw people over, but when it's time to make amends, they would rather pay bribes than make the victims whole. They don't have the guts to actually pay the piper.

Anonymous said...

LS: Ineresting piece in Politico today -- maybe somebody on Trump's team is not as dumb as everyone thinks. He is apparently not backing Lutha in the fall election, yet. Perhaps someone a little less poisonous can be elected.

legalschnauzer said...

@4:12 --

Thanks for sharing. You mean Trump himself does not support Lutha? Hmmm . . .

Maybe someone on the staff knows about the stink emitted from the Strange/Bentley deal and has advised the prez to stay away from that one.

If that is the case, someone in the admin actually does have good sense.

legalschnauzer said...

Here is the part of the Politico article about Strange. It made me LOL, and I almost liked Trump for a second. Would love it if WH stuck it up McConnell's ass.

McConnell has also been stewing about another race: the Alabama Senate primary, which has turned into a personal priority for the majority leader. For weeks, McConnell and top political aides had been asking the Republican National Committee to release coordinated funding to help newly appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who is trying to fend off a large field of GOP primary opponents in a late summer special election. The NRSC and another McConnell-allied group, Senate Leadership Fund, are already aggressively boosting the Alabama senator.

Yet after weeks of requests, no RNC expenditures have been granted, and Senate Republican strategists began to wonder whether the requests had simply been lost in a bureaucratic logjam — or worse, whether the anti-establishment president was reluctant to have the national party wade into a contested primary.

The lack of commitment caused so much consternation that McConnell and Strange brought the matter directly to the White House, asking for the administration to approve of the funding. Strange has talked directly to Trump about it, according to two sources briefed on the matter. McConnell personally lobbied chief of staff Reince Priebus, a former RNC chief of staff who remains plugged into the committee’s operations.

As of Tuesday morning, however, according to a RNC official, the national party still hadn’t given final approval.

Anonymous said...

Rob Riley is a pussy? No truer words ever have been written. His one talent: Riding on daddy's coat tails.

And yes, he did nail Liberty Duke on multiple occasions (especially at Dauphin Island), and that is one of the most poorly kept secrets in the history of Alabama politics.

If you are a public figure, don't cheat on your spouse. If you get caught, cowboy up and admit it. "Yes, I've been a poor, untrustworthy husband, and I apologize for that. I will do better."

It's not that hard. But Rob is too big a pussy to do that. Cheating and conning run in his blood. He can't help himself.

S C said...

AL Power, Southern Company & Drummond have been bribing politicians since (at least) the 1970's. Look it up! (Prostitutes, anyone?) I'm not fan of the bribee getting time and the briber jackasses going free again.

legalschnauzer said...

SC --

I've heard stories about prostitutes, too. Would be interesting if some of the ladies came forward -- or if a leg. or 2 spilled the beans to satisfy the feds.

Anonymous said...

This denial from Big Lutha's camp is almost enough to make me think someone's worried that their dick might be about to be stuck in the wringer!

Strange's campaign said the senator has been the victim of "fake news" reports that they said have also plagued President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Strange is running on the premise that he is the candidate best aligned with Trump's values.

"As Alabama's attorney general, Sen. Strange led the national fight against the over-reaching Obama EPA in order to protect jobs in Alabama and across the country," his campaign said. "The allegations in Josh Moon's article are simply not true and smack of the same fake news that President Trump and Jeff Sessions are dealing with. As shown by the recent Veritas videos exposing CNN, too many in the media are unaccountable and have dropped all pretense of having standards, abusing and using the First Amendment as a cover for lying about their political enemies and boosting their ratings. "

If the best you can do is point to the frequently criticized James O'Keefe* as a source...


Anonymous said...

Aboard the Eliza Battle Admiral Tyron was giving a briefing on the mission to find the truth about the disappearance of Lt McDonald. He distributed to the crew a copy of a document on micro film at the Library of Congress containing the US Navy's findings on the disappearance of Captains Wilson and Angus. The document read; Circumstances of Loss 1 Nov 1975 A-6 154145 BENGAL 522 attacked power plant and as the pilot pulled out of the attack Left wing broke off.and the aircraft crashed in a lake. The aircraft overhead did not see any parachutes. Due to location and anti aircraft artillery, no search effort was made. W K Angus has no memory of incident until shortly after capture. Major Coordinate Change 4 June 1975 Incident location changed from Xh 226583 to Xh233592 based on letter from VMA AW 224. Repatriation Action on July 13 1988 Soviet Republic of Vietnam repatriated remains they identified as Roger E Wilson USMC. Joint Task Force Full Accounting. 15 Feb 1994 Case Type: Discrepancy Probably out of the aircraft at the time of crash .
Captain Marshall added that it was his belief that Captain Wilson was alive when captured. The Captain continued that before us ,we have the US Navy's version of events and the Eliza Battle's version of events. Bob Yancey said that the Eliza Battle had proved that the Marines were abducted. Captain Marshall reminded Bob that the Eliza Battle's mission was not to prove anything, but to collect facts that would allow future historians to record the TRUTH about the disappearance of Lt McDonald.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:37 --

Thanks for sharing. I agree that Lutha's response is weak, tepid. Let's hope he is worried and has reason to be worried.

Anonymous said...

Undeniable truth: 'Conception' of Sen. Strange smells of corruption

"Also an undeniable truth: The former Alabama Attorney General's tainted appointment to the U.S. Senate by the guy he was apparently investigating - Gov. Robert Bentley - still smells of corruption. "

But...I his defense...


In Bentley's defense? He copped a plea instead of more feels or a stay at Parchmann!

Anonymous said...

Does Balch Bingham partner with Spain Gillon?

legalschnauzer said...

@8:04 --

You've stumped me with that one. Anybody know about connections between Balch Bingham and Spain Gillon?

Anonymous said...

Aboard the Eliza Battle Captain Marshall was briefing the Crew on the disappearance of Lt McDonald. Sheldon asked how Captain Angus became the only POW if they were abducted at the same time. Captain Marshall explained that books written about VMA AW 224 leave us clues. Captain Angus spent part of his childhood in Venezuela. He spoke fluent Spanish.and was a world traveler. Captain Angus Left us clues in the narrative he wrote that is located on the Patriot Files Website. He wrote that he did not remember departing the Coral Sea. His memory of the fateful day begins near the Hanoi Hilton. He remembers that at his first interrogation, he was wearing white boxer shorts and a golf shirt.This is strange attire to wear under a flight suit in a survival situation. He writes that his biggest fear was to find out that he might have ejected from a perfectly good aircraft. He writes that he was the navigator of Bengal 502. Bengal 502 was sent to the A-6 boneyard . It did not crash. From this information we conclude that Captain Angus was wearing the same shorts and golf shirt he wore during his stop-overs to the US to retrieve A-6 155708-NL500. Speaking Spanish, he convinced his captors that he was not a Marine pilot. His captors never knew his true identity because the Navy reported they never knew he was a POW until he stepped off the Homecoming Aircraft.
Mary Mac asked if there were any clues to why the Soviet Republic of Vietnam repatriated Captain Williams remains and not Lt McDonalds. Captain Marshall replied," Did They?" Then he added that documents on micro film at the Library of Congress show that the Soviet Republic of Vietnam repeated a partial skull and 4 toe bones which the US Govt identified using Radiology.

Anonymous said...

So why did John Rogers wait 3 years to say anything?

Anonymous said...

"Maybe someone on the staff knows about the stink emitted from the Strange/Bentley deal and has advised the prez to stay away from that one."

Remember Cliff Sims--the guy from Yellowhammer News who is now on Trump's social media staff? Sims has a hard-on for D. Watkins and J. Sessions but not Robert Bentley.