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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Black Wednesday for "Big Lutha": Breitbart News plans to go negative on Strange Senate campaign, while finance chair Mike Thompson is linked to nonprofit at the heart of Superfund bribery scandal


Luther Strange and Roy Moore
The Luther Strange U.S. Senate campaign took two blows to the chin yesterday. If we're lucky, one or both will prove to be a knockout blow for "Big Lutha." Win or lose, Strange surely will maintain his spot among the five most vapid, craven, and morally bankrupt political candidates in Alabama history -- and you have to work to earn those spots.

Does this mean I'm pulling for Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore in the Sept. 26 Republican run-off? "Pulling" isn't exactly the right word, but if Luther Strange is the alternative, count me in for Roy Moore.

What about Democrat Doug Jones, who already has a spot in the Dec. 12 general election? Despite a recent poll showing that Jones could make it close against either Moore or Strange, my guess is that he will get swamped by either. On top of that, Jones is a one-trick pony candidate and a sorry human being. He has conned a few Alabamians into believing he stands for social justice and the rule of law because of his ties to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing case; Jones constantly brings up the case because, well, he has nothing else to stand on.

Here is the truth about Doug Jones: (1) He's a suck-up to the Riley Political Machine, thanks to his cash-grabbing alliance with Rob Riley in a HealthSouth civil case; (2) He's a cover-up for former UA trustee Paul Bryant Jr. and Bryant's ties to massive insurance fraud. I have asked Jones multiple times the following question: Did you, as U.S. attorney, call off a planned federal investigation of Bryant, based on revelations from the Allen W. Stewart case in Philadelphia, in which Bryant's company (Alabama Reassurance) was implicated? Jones has refused to answer the question -- and that's because he had become U.S. attorney in the Bill Clinton administration when the Stewart case ended, and that's when the Bryant investigation was called off. It's hard to think of anyone, besides Doug Jones, who could have made that decision.

The Stewart case meant tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of Americans were left with worthless life-insurance policies. But evidence strongly suggests Doug Jones was more interested in protecting Paul Bryant Jr. than enforcing the law. If you still think Jones is a good dude, ask Don Siegelman about the $300,000 Jones charged him for criminal defense -- and accomplished little beyond helping the prosecution (while praising the despicable Bill Pryor) with its statute of limitations problems. Within Siegelman's inner circle, it widely is thought that the former governor never would have been convicted had his original defense lawyer, David Cromwell Johnson, not died. (And that makes you wonder if Johnson died of natural causes.) Anyone who thinks highly of Don Siegelman -- and still supports Doug Jones in the Senate race -- is blindingly ignorant, easily duped, or both.

As for Luther Strange, here is how his "Black Wednesday" went: First, we learned that Breitbart News and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon have vowed to attack "Big Lutha," even though he is Donald Trump's favored candidate. News on that front can be found at a CNN report titled "Bannon orders Breitbart to step up negative coverage of Trump-backed candidate." Ouch! Then came word that Mike Thompson, Strange campaign finance chair, is listed on federal tax documents as an officer in a nonprofit agency prosecutors say was used to bribe former State Rep. Oliver Robinson. That makes the second time Strange's name publicly has been linked to the evolving Birmingham Superfund scandal -- and it probably makes sphincters tighten on the campaign team.

What is the gist of Breitbart's plans to bash "Big Lutha"? This is from CNN:

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Tuesday morning ordered top editors at Breitbart to step up its overwhelmingly negative coverage of the Alabama Senate candidate backed by President Trump, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.

Trump has endorsed Luther Strange in the race that will decide who will fill the Senate seat vacated when Jeff Sessions became attorney general. Bannon, who returned to Breitbart as executive chairman following his exit from the White House, is supporting anti-establishment candidate Judge Roy Moore.

Shortly after Bannon told top editors to increase the site's volume of reporting on the race, Matthew Boyle, Breitbart's Washington editor, told staff "the only story that matters until next week is Alabama."

"As of now, everyone is working on the Alabama race," Boyle wrote in a message obtained by CNN in the company's internal Slack channel. "If anyone has any questions please let me know."

The "only story that matters is Alabama"? Wow, the Breitbart crowd is taking this seriously. (Hmmm . . . wonder if Boyle knows about the Luther Strange/Jessica Garrison extramarital affair?) Why is Breitbart intent on going after Strange -- not that he doesn't deserve it?

Bannon and his allies are readying primary challenges against Republican senators, a person close to Bannon told CNN earlier this month. Bannon has said he does not believe the Republican establishment supports Trump and has promised to fight for the ideas that got him elected from outside the White House.

"They do not want Donald Trump's populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented," Bannon said during a recent "60 Minutes" interview. "It's very obvious."

So, Bannon plans to bash Trump's candidate for Trump's own good? Does anybody believe that? Sounds to me like Bannon has a mad-on over being booted from his cushy White House gig -- and this is his way of getting back at, not helping, Trump. If Luther Strange gets caught in the cross fire? Well, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Steve Bannon
(From theatlantic.com)
Meanwhile, the Mike Thompson story might prove to be more troublesome for Luther Strange than anything Steve Bannon can concoct. From a report at al.com:

Neither prosecutors nor court documents have said Thompson was in any way involved in the bribery scheme, but tax records show he was one of only two officers for the Alliance for Jobs and the Economy. According to the nonprofit's tax filings, Thompson served as secretary for the AJE from its incorporation in 2015 through at least the end of 2016, the time period when, prosecutors say, every dollar raised by the nonprofit was used to buy influence from then-state Rep. Oliver Robinson.

Strange named Thompson to lead his campaign's Financial Leadership Committee in June.

"Mike not only played a crucial role in President W. Bush's re-election campaign in 2004, he also has a proven track record of helping conservative Republicans win in Alabama," Strange said in a press release announcing the appointment in June.

The Thompson story originated with the D.C.-based Project for Government Oversight (POGO). From the POGO report, which hits close to home for a number of major names in Alabama -- including Jeff Sessions, Drummond Co., and Balch Bingham:

Thompson isn’t Strange’s only link to the bribery investigation. In late 2014 and early 2015, as Alabama’s Attorney General, Strange took official acts to oppose the EPA’s proposed actions at the Superfund site around the same time he took a total of $50,000 in campaign contributions from Drummond.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s Northern District Jay Town, who was confirmed by the Senate in August, both have personal and political connections to parties that have a stake in the outcome of the investigation. POGO has called for them to recuse themselves from the investigation. The investigation is being run by the U.S. Attorney’s Office now headed by Town.

As POGO and others have previously reported, Drummond Co. and Balch were among two of Sessions’ top campaign funding sources over the course of his Senate career.

Thompson has also made campaign contributions to Sessions.

Many Balch partners have worked directly for Sessions; a top Sessions deputy runs the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and was a Balch lobbyist until Inauguration Day (that deputy has recused himself from any matter involving Balch, including the Birmingham Superfund issue).

As for Town, he has advised Strange on political campaigns, and Strange supported Town’s nomination as U.S. Attorney.

Where is the Superfund scandal headed? That's hard to say, but POGO puts matters in perspective:

The DOJ began and publicly announced its investigation prior to Town’s confirmation as U.S. Attorney.

“This case gets at the heart of public corruption in Alabama,” Acting U.S. Attorney Robert Posey, a career official, said in June.

With Robinson’s guilty plea and pledge to cooperate with federal investigators, the investigation is now more likely to threaten members of Alabama’s political establishment and its key business allies. But parties connected to the case, such as Sessions, are in positions to influence the investigation’s direction. U.S. Attorney Town, a political appointee with no civil service protections who can be fired at will by Sessions, could also simply think twice about pursuing leads that would take him higher up the food chain from Robinson and could threaten his and Sessions’ political benefactors.

The Bannon story might cause headaches for Strange between now and next Tuesday. But the Superfund story could produce headaches that last much longer than that.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Read this:

banbalch.com


Especially the part about the Burt Newsome case. And Jessica Medeiros Garrison.

Anonymous said...

Just checked Breitbart News, and they are going negative on Luther's lanky ass. What a hoot!

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be something if Lutha wound up out of office entirely == no Senate, no state AG, no governor?

legalschnauzer said...

@8:57 --

That would be an intriguing outcome. If that happens, I'm guessing Lutha will throw his hat in the governor's race -- although it seems he would be a seriously wounded candidate.

Anonymous said...

Steve Bannon has a strange way of "helping" President Trump.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a lot to digest, and oh so good!!!

legalschnauzer said...

@6:06 --

Thanks for sharing the info about banbalch.com. I encourage readers to check it out. Looks like that site might be the third piece of bad news for Luther Strange. Interesting back story on the Burt Newsome case. Haven't had a chance to thoroughly read the site yet, but I wonder if it has, or will, dive into coverage of the Strange-Garrison affair.

Anonymous said...

Surprised to see you go negative on Doug Jones. You're a lib, so I figured you would be for him.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:14 --

Perhaps you are a new reader, but I've been negative on Doug Jones for quite a while. I would invite you to key in "Doug Jones" in the search box at the top of the blog, and it will call up past posts. Anyone who would jump in bed with Rob Riley and Paul Bryant Jr., while praising Bill Pryor, has dubious character in my book.

Anonymous said...

Last campaign for Lutha! Next stop: federal prison, for him and his boosters! All aboard!

Anonymous said...

Lutha took another shot yesterday, from State Reps. Ed Henry and Mike Ball:


http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/index.ssf/2017/09/2_legislators_accuse_luther_st.html#incart_river_home?li_source=base&li_medium=default-widget

legalschnauzer said...

@9:59 --

Thanks for sharing the article about Ed Henry and Mike Ball. Here is part of the story that jumped out at me:

Henry said that he was prepared to go public with the contents of his grand jury testimony in the case, which by law is secret. And Henry said that doing so would be a violation of state law.

Instead of revealing that testimony, Henry called on Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall - appointed to replace Strange when Strange was appointed to the Senate - to release Henry's grand jury testimony.

Henry said his grand jury testimony, if made public, would "blow the top off everything."

Anonymous said...

http://banbalch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/AL.ag_.Brief-of-Appellee.pdf

According to court filings, Newsome, a small-town attorney in Alabama, was falsely arrested and defamed by the alleged co-conspirators including Balch & Bingham which allegedly had a financial objective: to obtain Newsome’s lucrative banking collections business.

In April of 2014, the criminal case against Newsome collapsed and was eventually expunged from court records. But almost a year later after the expungement, in June of 2016, another judge, with allegedly no knowledge of the details of the case, reversed the expungement and opened the contents of a case that no longer existed, declaring that the previous judge (since retired) had erred.

Incredibly, Newsome was allegedly barred by court officials from filing a brief or petitioning the court at that time.

Raising eyebrows and expanding the web of possible collusion, two months later, in August of 2016, then-Attorney General Luther Strange filed a brief in support of the resurrected expungement, citing and regurgitating the order signed by the new judge.

Observers could not understand why his office would ever get involved in a matter like this, especially since the brief looked like a simple “cut and paste job.” The reason was Balch & Bingham and other co-conspirators wanted to use the false criminal accusations in a civil case that the co-conspirators looked like they were losing against Newsome.

The fix was in.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:17 --

Thanks for the background. A troubling case, for sure. It reminds me of the way Rob Riley had Shelby County Court seal the file in the defamation case that led to me being incarcerated for five months. Maybe Luther learned that trick from the Riley clan.

I wonder if the Newsome case could be incorporated into a federal investigation on Balch, Drummond, Strange, Superfund, etc.?

e.a.f. said...

omg I'm going to need a wall chart to keep track of all of this. Looking forward to the non election of strange. Just have to wonder why no independants are running for that Senate seat.

Bannon was Trump's strategist and may consider he knows what is best for Trump and Strange isn't it. We do know Trump isn't 'the smartest card in the deck. Kim 3 certainly has a good description of Trump in his tweet about Trump. couldn't stop laughing.

e.a.f. said...

Had a read of Breitbart. Palin is supporting Moore which maybe why Bannon is supporting Moore over Strange. (Bannon had seen Palin as a way to implement his drain the swamp strategy before he hit found Trump. Moore is considered more grass roots and this may be a divide between the "tea baggers" and the rest of the Republicans. electing Strange would be another establishment politician. if they consider Moore not part of that establishment, then he would get their support. It would be setting things up for 2018 when they want to replace any number of established Republicans in Congress with more "grass root" types. In other words they may consider Strange a swamp animal which they want to have out, you know draining the swamp.

In some legislation which has failed the far right Republicans voted against legislation because it was too left. It could be that Strange is seen as a moderate Republican so he has to go.

legalschnauzer said...

e.a.f. --

Yes, it helps to have a wall chart and s scorecard to keep track of all this. And checking in on Breitbart, it's obvious they are going after Strange. I think your point about Palin is a good one. Perhaps Bannon's loyalty always was more toward her than Trump?

Anonymous said...

Vapid? Craven? Looks like somebody got a Thesaurus for Christmas.

legalschnauzer said...

I sure did, and it's the best gratuity I've ever received.

Phil Fleming said...

Let's be real-the only reason that "Big Lutha" got that job is Robert Bentley, "Governor Pussyhound" wanted "Big Lutha" off his ass!

George Fleming said...

Jones, Strange and Moore. All lawyers. This is the most outrageous fact here. Lawyers are members of the judiciary branch of government. When they hold office in another branch, as Strange does and the other two intend, they are in violation of the fundamental principle of our constitutions, the separation of powers.

Who must we rely on to prosecute them? The lawyers. This demonstrates another violation of our constitutions, the requirement for impartial tribunals.

There is no problem in our society which does not begin with the lawyers.

legalschnauzer said...

George:

I love you, man! What an awesome comment. Insightful, concise, just outstanding. The system you describe promotes favoritism toward lawyers and largely removes accountability from lawyers. Hope all LS readers check out your comment because it promotes genuine thought -- and that's the best kind of comment to have.

One thought your comment inspired in me is this: I've often called lawyers a "tribe" or "fraternity," meaning they tend to act outside the rule of law to benefit themselves and harm the public at large. With their bar associations -- and courtrooms ruled by other lawyers, who happen to wear robes -- they dump on non-lawyers, especially those who dare to represent themselves. And they won't allow non-lawyers to represent others -- even family members -- which means business has to go to the tribe, and you often get lies and lousy representation in return for your hard-earned dollars.

This sounds like restraint of trade, something a cabal would do. In short, it seems lawyers have created a non-competitive environment that too often harms those they "represent." Makes me wonder if citizens could file an antitrust suit against the legal professions and the bar associations that control it.