Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Luther Strange declares himself a corruption fighter as rising billboards and rampant investigations show the soon-to-be-former senator is a corruption creator

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) is the political equivalent of a canker sore. Just when you think you are rid of him, he pops back up -- usually in a painful and annoying way. With a special election just one week away -- Roy Moore or Doug Jones will be elected to Jeff Sessions' old seat, which Strange has been keeping warm on an interim basis -- "Big Lutha's" days as a political force appear to be numbered.

But darned, if he didn't crawl out from under his rock the other day with a guest column at al.com, containing a headline that seemed right out of The Onion. The title of Lutha's screed: "The importance of taking on corruption."

Readers all over Alabama must have spit up when they read that. The Strange column came as VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor has erected billboards around the state that shout "Exposed!," followed by photos of Strange, former governor Bob Riley, and former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary. Reports Josh Moon, of Alabama Political Reporter (APR):

The billboards, McGregor said on Monday, were a reminder to the people of the state about the corruption he feels was exposed by the documentary “Atticus v. Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman.”

“I think that film peeled back the layers of corruption in this state and exposed these people for the crooks they are,” McGregor said. “They have gone unpunished and been allowed to stay in power far too long. I hope to, at the very least, let every person in this state know what they did.”

McGregor has received an up-close view of Strange/Riley/Canary corruption. Writes Moon:

The film also details the attempted prosecution of McGregor, which the VictoryLand owner has long maintained was motivated by politics and lacking evidence of criminal activity on his part. A federal jury agreed, acquitting him and his co-defendants of all charges.

But the trial was not McGregor’s only run-in with Riley and Strange. After operating a legal electronic bingo casino operation in Macon County for more than five years — a business that was inspected and deemed legal by then-state Attorney General Troy King — Riley decided the business was illegal and formed a task force to shut it and other casinos down. McGregor’s casino was raided numerous times — both by Riley’s task force and by Strange’s office — and to add insult to injury, machines confiscated from VictoryLand were allowed to be transferred — with VictoryLand stickers still attached — to the casino floor at the Poarch Creek Indians’ Wind Creek Casino.

Strange's corruption-fighting column came roughly six weeks after APR reported there are so many complaints against Strange the Alabama Ethics Commission can't keep up with them all:

A formal complaint was filed by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill last spring regarding transfers of campaign funds that Strange made between his various campaign accounts. The issues were similar to the charges filed against former Gov. Robert Bentley, leading to his conviction and resignation.

The Ethics Commission was expected to take up the matter by late summer but it still hasn’t found its way onto an agenda. There was plenty of speculation about the cause – with most guessing the Commission was bending to political pressure, since Strange was facing a Republican primary in a special election this fall. That speculation grew when the Ethics Commission mysteriously delayed its July meeting until a day after the primary.

But multiple sources familiar with the Ethics Commission’s investigation say it was additional allegations that led to the long delay. Those allegations run the gamut, including that Strange violated ethics laws by accepting the appointment to the U.S. Senate from Bentley, that he broke multiple campaign finance laws and that he used his office for personal gain in several instances.

The allegations also have tied Strange to the ongoing bribery scandal surrounding the north Birmingham superfund site. However, U.S. Attorney Jay Town, earlier this month, stated that no elected officials other than Oliver Robinson were being investigated in that matter.

For those keeping score, let's count the Strange-related scandals mentioned in the above passage:

(1) Improper shifting of funds from one campaign account to another;

(2) Accepting a U.S. Senate appointment from former "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley, who was the subject of an investigation by Strange's attorney general's office;

(3) Violations of multiple campaign-finance law;

(4) Using his office for personal gain;

(5) Connections to the North Birmingham Superfund scandal.

On top of that, Strange and his former campaign manager/mistress Jessica Medeiros Garrison are defendants in two pending federal lawsuits that my wife Carol and I have filed -- "The Jail Case," regarding my unlawful arrest and incarceration in Shelby County; and "The House Case," regarding the theft of our Birmingham home of 25 years, via a wrongful foreclosure.

Luther Strange and Jessica Garrison
Legitimate discovery in those cases likely will reveal astonishing corruption involving Strange and his associates.

Speaking of Strange, Garrison, and the use of public office for personal gain, we can't forget a story with this unforgettable headline: "How Did Jessica Garrison Have A Mt. Brook House in 2011, When Foreclosure, Public Auction Didn't Come Until 2012?" From the story:

Court documents show that a Republican political operative with close ties to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange was set to live in a Mountain Brook home in 2011, even though the property in question was not sold at public auction until summer 2012. . . .

Did Garrison's ties to GOP heavyweights help her obtain a home in Birmingham's most exclusive suburb when the house apparently was not even on the market yet? Did powerful figures pull strings to help keep Jessica Garrison quiet about certain party secrets, and in the process, commit mortgage fraud, foreclosure fraud or other wrongdoing . . . ?

[A court document in her child-custody case] establishes that Jessica Garrison had the Crestline home lined up on July 26, 2011, but that is at odds with a Foreclosure Deed on the property that is dated July 20, 2012. . . .

How did Jessica Garrison know she had a house in 2011 when it wasn't sold at foreclosure until 2012? We don't know--but we do know that Ms. Garrison isn't anxious to answer questions about it.

Yep, I tried to interview Ms. Garrison about her curious home acquisition, but she wanted none of that. Two days after the interview request, however, I received a letter from her lawyer, Bill Baxley, threatening a lawsuit. Two weeks after my post on the subject, Shelby County cop/thugs broke into our house, kidnapped me (no warrant), and threw me in jail for five months.

In fact, I wrote a followup post (dated Oct. 22, 2013) on the cushy nature of the Garrison house deal and was arrested the very next day.

Gee, that doesn't sound the least bit dirty, does it? But hey, Luther Strange is one fine corruption fighter . . . Cough! Hack! Snort!

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