Thursday, December 27, 2018

Stories of election meddling involving Jill Stein, Doug Jones, and Russia-style disinformation efforts might soon merge, leaving political ambitions on the brink


Doug Jones

Reporting on the Russia-style disinformation campaign that benefited Doug Jones in Alabama's 2017 special U.S. Senate election continues to evolve, with a billionaire financial backer issuing a public apology yesterday. Meanwhile, 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has been unmasked as the recipient of a Russia-backed social-media blitz designed to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

Those two stories likely will soon merge, putting Jones' senatorial career at risk almost before it has begun, according to one of Alabama's most knowledgeable political insiders. It probably is too early to say where the Jones story is going, but here are some of the signs that could be alarming for Alabama's junior senator -- a Democrat in a red state, who pulled off a stunning victory last November over Republican Roy Moore:

(1) Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and an early investor in Facebook, largely funded the effort (to the tune of $750,000) and now has issued an apology, acknowledging that he finds the actions taken with his money are "highly disturbing."

(2) Where did Hoffman's money go? Mostly it went to American Engagement Technologies (AET), a firm headed by former Obama administration official and Google engineer Mikey Dickerson.

(3) Hoffman's funds apparently trickled down to Jonathon Morgan, chief executive at the research firm New Knowledge, who said he "created a Facebook page under false pretenses to test his ability to appeal to conservative voters." Facebook has suspended Morgan's account, plus those of at least four unnamed individuals who worked with him on the project.

(4) Jones claims he wants a federal investigation into New Knowledge's actions on his behalf, but the senator seems slightly unhinged in his public statements on the matter. Jones cursed multiple times in his initial reaction after The New York Times broke the Morgan story? How many times have you heard a U.S. senator curse while cameras and microphones were running? I don't think I've ever seen it happen.

How could the Jill Stein and Doug Jones stories merge? Jill Simpson (retired attorney, opposition researcher, and whistle blower) provides insight in a recent post at Facebook. Writes Simpson:

Some of the Stein folks showed up in Alabama to help Doug Jones with election machinery, and they had told us it would be better if republican Trump won in Wisconsin. We knew then Russian bots were on the way to probably help Jones, and we reported this to old press friends to watch closely. We have one family in America that has been funding these folks, and we and the feds know who it is, and their ties to Mother Russia involve money being made back to the early 1990s. That said, this bunch funded Stein to beat Hillary and to beat Moore. This is not about political parties, this is about one of America's richest families being in bed with Russians and certain politicians on both sides. It is huge. Stein was owned by this bunch, and it became apparent to us when we were in Wisconsin. The greens would be well advised to cut Stein and her Russian butt-kissing ass loose from the party.

As for Hoffman's apology, The Washington Post says it left key questions unanswered:

Hoffman named a group he funded, American Engagement Technologies, or AET, as being involved in the effort to spread disinformation targeting Moore. Hoffman invested $750,000 in the organization, some of which covered its work in Alabama, according to a person close to the matter but not authorized to discuss Hoffman's spending.

But the statement left key facts unaddressed, including a full accounting of everyone who crafted and executed the campaign. The effort was the subject of a presentation in September to a group of progressive technology experts who met in downtown Washington to discuss electoral tactics, according to documents from that meeting obtained by The Washington Post and one of the attendees. This person spoke on the condition of anonymity because those at the gathering were required to sign nondisclosure agreements.

Does it sound like multiple individuals are trying to cover for actions taken under what became known as Project Birmingham? It sure sounds that way from here. The Post reports, for example, hat Mikey Dickerson has failed to respond to multiple interview requests.

Jill Stein and her campaign also have been less than forthcoming. Reports Think Progress:

Stein has long been a key figure in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation. The environmental activist and erstwhile presidential candidate was in frequent communication with individuals inside Russia, and she herself made a trip to Moscow in 2015 to attend, among other things, a dinner hosted by Russian propaganda network RT, where she sat alongside future Trump campaign aide Michael Flynn and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jill Stein
Stein and her presidential campaign have largely refused to cooperate with the Senate’s own investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election. She refused to turn over any communication between her campaign and “Russian persons, or representatives of Russian government, media, or business interests” earlier this year.

Stein long has been of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and we now know her operatives were in touch with the Doug Jones campaign? Perhaps that explains Jones' recent public statements, which might best be described as bizarre. Consider this account from Politico:

Even though the effort was minor and was not used against him, Jones said he is “outraged” and that congressional hearings wouldn’t be enough: “It needs to not just be a congressional inquiry. People get called in front of Congress all the damn time. There needs to be a look to see if there were any laws that were broke.”

“What is obvious now is that we have focused so much on Russia that we haven’t focused on the fact that people in this country could take the same playbook and do the same damn thing,” Jones said. “I’d like to see the FEC and the Justice Department look at this and see if any laws are being violated or were violated. And if there were, do it. Go after them.”

Then, we have this from Yellowhammer News:

Jones expressed that he was “outraged” and called for the Federal Elections Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate the allegations and prosecute if necessary.

Hell, I’m as outraged as everybody else about it,” Jones said. “I have railed against Russian interference in our election process ever since I started campaigning and during this first year in the Senate. I think we have all focused too much on just the Russians and not picked up on the fact that you know what? Some nefarious groups, whether they’re right or left, can take those same playbooks and interfere with the electors for their own damn benefit. I got to tell you, I’m not happy about it.”

Doug Jones can't discuss this subject without sprinkling in words like "damn" and "hell" -- for public consumption? Does he even have the class or dignity to serve in the U.S. Senate?

This kind of language from Jones was not a surprise to us. We've tried to interview him several times on serious matters and were treated to the smart-alecky, classless, dismissive, and duplicitous tone that represents the real Doug Jones. We invite you to check it out in the videos below:









Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Prosecution of crowd-funding scam near Philadelphia raises questions about dubious cash grabs involving Missouri lawyers Jason Kander and David Shuler


Jason and Diana Kander
Crowdfunding scams have become a regular topic for our reporting at Legal Schnauzer, and such a story even was in the news over the Christmas holiday. We have reported on two such incidents where we currently live (in Missouri) -- both involving lawyers, surprise, surprise -- with no signs that authorities have taken note. Recent events in the Philadelphia area, however, suggest using sites like GoFundMe (GFM) and Kickstarter to fraudulently relieve donors of their money might not be such a hot idea.

How far will crowdfunding go? Donald Trump supporters have started several sites to raise money for a border wall with Mexico, and one such site reportedly has raised more than $14 million. That's a long way from the $5 billion Trump is seeking from Congress, but where will that crowdfunding cash actually go? The possibilities for fraud seem endless.

Authorities near Philadelphia have made it clear they will go after those who perpetrate such scams. We intend to notify the appropriate Web sites and law-enforcement authorities about stories of which we are aware in Missouri. We will keep you posted about determinations law-and-order types in the Midwest make on these matters.

Folks in and around Mount Holly, New Jersey, have reason to know crowd-funding scams are taken seriously in their neck of the woods. That's where a couple -- Johnny Bobbitt and Katelyn McClure -- allegedly schemed with a homeless veteran from Philadelphia, Mark D'Amico, to scam donors out of more than $400,000GoFundMe announced on Christmas Day that it has refunded everyone who contributed to the campaign. From a report at Associated Press:

GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said Tuesday that "all donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign have been fully refunded" and the organization is cooperating fully with law enforcement. . . .

Whithorne said campaigns involving misuse "make up less than one tenth of one percent" of all GoFundMe campaigns, but such behavior "is unacceptable" and "has consequences."

"We have a zero tolerance policy for fraudulent behavior," he said. "If fraud occurs, donors get refunded and we work with law enforcement officials to recover the money."

What about consequences in the Philadelphia case? Here is more from AP:

Burlington County prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that Johnny Bobbitt conspired with Katelyn McClure and her boyfriend at the time, Mark D'Amico, to concoct a feel-good story about Bobbitt giving McClure his last $20 when her car ran out of gas. They raised $400,000, which authorities say was spent on luxury items and casino trips.

What about apparently underhanded crowdfunding cases in Missouri? One involves former secretary of state and U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander and his wife -- New York Times best-selling author Diana Kander. From an October 2016 post about information released from a watchdog group in a 127-page, heavily research document called The Kander Memo:

Beginning in spring 2014, evidence shows the Kanders operated an Internet "crowdfunding" effort to raise online charitable donations. But the memo alleges the Kanders used the money, more than $31,000, to buy new-author Diana Kander's way onto The New York Times bestseller list. In fact, amazon.com promotes Ms. Kander's book, All In Startup: Launching a New Idea When Everything Is On the Line, as part of the prestigious New York Times lists, and the book is promoted as such at the author's Web site, dianakander.com.

How did this benefit the Kanders and Jason Kander's U.S. Senate campaign. From The Kander Memo:

The success of the Kander scheme has: (1) Provided the Kanders with a ruse to represent to the American public and Missouri voters that Diana Kander is "a New York Times Bestselling Author," when the truth is the Kanders used a deceptive scheme to raise money from the public in order to help Diana Kander buy her way onto those prestigious bestseller lists; (2) Empowered Diana Kander to break into the lucrative U.S. "Public-Speakers Circuit" so she can now pocket substantial speaker fees as a purported "New York Times Bestselling Author"; and (3) Enabled the Kanders to use the public contributions they collected from their Internet "crowdfunding" campaign in order to make the Kanders look . . . more prestigious and more accomplished, and to help Jason Kander win election to the United States Senate.

Jason Kander lost his U.S. Senate race to incumbent Roy Blunt, but questions remain about the Kanders' deceptive use of crowd-funding. From our earlier post:

According to The Kander Memo, the book effort likely violated solicitation-registration and felony anti-fraud statutes in every U.S. jurisdiction -- federal and state. It also likely violated statutes in all 50 states that make it a crime to commit, or attempt to commit, theft by deceit. From the memo:

[This] is not only an audacious and shameless scheme, it is a patently criminal scheme . . . a "50-state crime spree."

What about the second story of dubious crowdfunding in Missouri? It involves my brother, Missouri lawyer David Shuler. We first reported on it in an Oct. 3, 2017, post titled "My lawyer-brother and his wife, owners of more than $1 million in real estate, seek funds to help cover costs of therapy for their son with Hurler syndrome":

A Missouri couple who own more than $1 million in real estate have established a GoFundMe (GFM) site seeking money for their disabled son's therapy.

The couple are Gina Hayes and David Neal Shuler, my sister-in-law and lawyer/brother. Is it proper for a couple of such wealth to seek crowd-sourcing funds, especially for their own family needs -- which public records indicate they clearly can pay on their own? I'm hardly an expert on the rules, regulations, and etiquette of crowd-sourcing, so I have a few questions:

Gina and David Shuler
 * Is GFM meant to directly assist people who own more than $1 million in real estate -- and that doesn't reach their total net worth, which likely includes cash, savings, investments, personal property, real property in other counties or states (the $1 million is just in Greene County, MO), and other assets. Gina and David Shuler might be millionaires several times over. Are they supposed to be directly benefiting from GFM?

* Could this be unlawful, even fraud? I'm familiar with a site called GoFraudMe, which apparently researches possible incidents of crowd-sourcing fraud. Is this something GoFraudMe should look into?

Here is perhaps the central question in the Shuler situation:

Most of the cases of fraud that I've read about involve a precipitating event that did not really occur. For example, someone claims to need funds to recover from a house fire, but the fire did not happen. Is it fraud for a couple to seek money for an issue they clearly can cover on their own -- probably with no hardship whatsoever on the family?

The issue for Gina and David Shuler is real. Their 15-year-old son, Jack, has Hurler syndrome, a vicious metabolic disease, which can effect almost every organ system of the body. . . .

The GFM page, of course, makes no mention that Jack's parents are millionaires. Should it? Should a campaign like this even be on GoFundMe?

We will let officials with GFM and law enforcement ponder those questions. By satute, Missouri has an offense called "stealing by deceit." Facts of the Shuler case suggest it might come under that statute, with the key questions: Does this constitute deceit? Is it deceit to advertise that you need money when you really don't -- even though the cause in question (an illness) is real?

This is from a followup post, titled "David and Gina Shuler, who own more than $1.161 million in Missouri real estate, are seeking financial assistance for their son's therapy on GoFundMe": The post includes a listing of the Shulers' real-estate holdings, and the list might not be complete:

Is it OK for wealthy people to seek crowd-sourcing funds for their own family needs, which public records indicate they easily could pay for themselves . . . ?

Different people might answer the question in different ways. But the individual who tipped me off to the story -- I call that person a Source Close to the Situation (SCTS) -- had strong feelings on the matter, and they were not favorable to Gina and David. Said SCTS:

Here's my bitch of the day. Gina and David are on gofundme raising money for rehab for Jack. Now i feel sympathy for Jack, but gina and david don't need any sort of financial assistance. what does david make a year? $250,000??? or more. Gina probably made $100,000 before she retired [as an air-traffic controller]. my god they live in Millwood in a house appraised at $634,000. disgusting.

people like them don't deserve any help with medical bills when so many are suffering with no help. outrageous. arrogant. privileged.

I added my two cents on the issue:

It didn't take me long to decide I agreed with SCTS. In fact, I could even add a few descriptive terms to describe David and Gina's actions -- "shameless," "tasteless," "conniving," "self-centered," "attention-seeking."

My understanding is that David and Gina have not let much cramp their style. They have taken vacations to California, Utah, and various parts of Europe, family members have told me.

How wealthy are these folks who claim on GFM to need money? As SCTS notes, they live in Millwood, a golf-course/tennis club community southeast of Springfield, MO. Their residence, 3825 San Poppi Ct., is listed as being in Ozark, MO. Greene County property records show the residence is appraised at $621,300, so SCTS was almost right on the nose.

That figure, however, does not reflect the house's actual market value. It has 4 bedrooms. 4.5 baths, 5,557 square feet, and Zillow puts the market value at $718, 345.

The residence is only the beginning of Gina and David Shuler's real-estate holdings. They own seven properties in Greene County, Missouri, totaling more than $1 million. The exact appraised total is $1,161,500. A reasonable estimate of the market value is $1.3 million.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Alabama Ethics Commission, led by Republican racist Frank "Butch" Ellis of Shelby County, gives AG Steve Marshall a free pass on unlawful campaign donation


Steve Marshall and "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley
The Alabama Ethics Commission yesterday voted to give Attorney General Steve Marshall a free pass for accepting more than $700,000 in unlawful campaign contributions from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). In what should be a surprise to no one, the vote largely was engineered by Frank C. "Butch" Ellis, a commissioner from Shelby County, which widely is considered the most Republican, crooked, and racist county in Alabama.

From a report at al.com:

The Alabama Ethics Commission voted 3-2 today that there was insufficient evidence that Attorney General Steve Marshall violated the state campaign finance law.

Former Attorney General Troy King had filed the complaint and was at today’s meeting but left before the vote was taken.

King had alleged that Marshall’s campaign contributions from the Republican Attorneys General Association violated the state campaign finance law. Marshall has said the contributions were legal. King filed the complaint in July, while he and Marshall were engaged in a runoff campaign for the Republican nomination for attorney general. Marshall won the runoff and went on to win the general election over Joe Siegelman.

USA Today brought national attention to the RAGA donation in an article published on Nov. 5, the day before the midterm elections. How outrageous is the Alabama Ethics Commission's conduct in the Marshall matter. As we showed in a Dec. 5 post, it did not just start getting nutty with yesterday's vote:

Marshall, appointed AG in February 2017 before scandal-plagued governor Robert Bentley left office, defeated Democrat Joseph Siegelman in the November midterms despite national reports that he had accepted $735,000 from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which officials from both parties said violated Alabama law.

The Alabama Ethics Commission failed to resolve the issue before the Nov. 6 election, so complaints are pending, both with the ethics commission and the Montgomery County district attorney's office. Before the election, Siegelman noted that Marshall could be forced from office if the ethics commission applied state law properly.

Was there serious doubt the donation violated Alabama ethics law? Consider these words from Bill Britt, publisher of Alabama Political Reporter (APR), written on Oct. 11 about Marshall's cozy relationship with 3M, a major polluter in Alabama:

RAGA is not registered with the state and commingles its funds with other political action committees, masking the donors contrary to Alabama law. Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton knows Marshall’s contributions were unlawful, so does Secretary of State John Merrill, but no one is willing to act. Even Marshall himself is on the record saying the type of contributions he received from RAGA are illegal and banning such contributions was, “the only legal protection standing between Alabama voters and the reality or appearance of quid pro quo corruption.”

Troy King
 Perhaps the larger question for the Commission and the Alabama Republican Party is should a candidate who willingly takes illegal campaign contributions be allowed to remain on the ballot? . . .

The right remedy in the Marshall situation lies with the Alabama Republican Party, which is responsible for pursuing such violations and taking appropriate action, but the so-called party of law and order has taken a pass on the Marshall fiasco, choosing to remain silent.

So, even Republicans know the RAGA donations are unlawful, but Marshall is a favorite of the Mike Hubbard-Robert Bentley-Bob Riley wing of the party -- as evidenced by his recent firing of special-prosecutions chief Matt Hart. Does anyone expect that crowd to take ethics violations seriously?

APR reported yesterday that Troy King received notice of the hearing less than 24 hours in advance, and he was the primary complainant. That was a sign the fix was in.

Butch Ellis proved to be the fixer, a role with which he is quite familiar from his years of turning Shelby County into a racist, ethical sewer. How racist? Butch Ellis played a central role in a U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. Butch Ellis' father, Handy Ellis, joined with notorious Birmingham Safety Commissioner Bull Connor to lead a walkout of Alabama delegates at the 1948 Democratic Convention. The issue of contention? Civil rights, primarily for black Americans:

Butch Ellis’s father was Handy Ellis, a former lieutenant governor and the chairman of the Alabama delegation at the 1948 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

With Birmingham Commissioner of Safety Bull Connor, Ellis led the Dixiecrat walkout of the convention after declaring that Alabama delegates were instructed “never to cast their vote for any candidate associated with a civil rights program such as adopted by this convention.”

Bottom line: Butch Ellis is the son of a prominent Dixiecrat, meaning he has been a thinly veiled white supremacist for much of his life. At yesterday's Ethics Commission meeting, Ellis stood up for the white elites who want a do-nothing AG like Steve Marshall, so they can keep Alabama as one of the most corrupt states in the nation. From al.com:

The commission heard a number of other cases behind closed doors today. After the commission reopened the meeting, Commissioner Butch Ellis made a motion that there was insufficient evidence that Marshall violated the state campaign finance law. Commissioner Beverlye Brady offered a substitute motion saying there were “ample facts” to show that Marshall had violated the law.

Butch Ellis
Brady’s motion was rejected on a 3-2 vote. Brady and Commissioner Charles Price voted for it. Voting no were Ellis, Commissioner John Plunk and Commission Chairman Jerry Fielding. The commission then voted to approve the Ellis motion on insufficient evidence on an identical 3-2 vote. That closed the case.

The Ethics Commission determines whether there is probable cause that the law was broken. Had Brady’s vote prevailed, the case would have been referred to a district attorney.

Brady and Fielding declined to comment on the case after the meeting ended.

Brady and Fielding probably could not comment because they were trying not to puke.

As noted above, complaints regarding the RAGA donation remain with Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey. Attorneys Julian McPhillips and Melissa Isaak apparently filed the complaint with Bailey's office because they expected a sham ruling from the Alabama Ethics Commission.

If that was the case, McPhillips and Isaak certainly proved to be on target. Is there any chance Daryl Bailey will be different, that he actually has respect for the rule of law? I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

After alleging I had committed extortion, Brandon Guttery (of U of Alabama and Keystone Financial) changes his tone from accusatory to apologetic


Brandon and David Guttery
After Day One of my conversation with University of Alabama senior Brandon Guttery -- focusing on his wealth-manager father (David Guttery, of Keystone Financial Group in Trussville, AL) and his appearance as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site -- I didn't expect our back-and-forth to continue. But it did the next morning -- and the tone immediately turned ugly.

When Day Two of our communications was complete, I did a little research on young Mr. Guttery and discovered he was not quite the innocent college student he claimed to be. For one, he's a senior, not an underclassmen. And he has worked as an intern for his father's company -- possibly for every summer of college. In an August 7 Facebook post, David Guttery had praise for his son's work at Keystone Financial:

As the summer holiday draws to a close, I would like to recognize, and thank my intern ( and son ), Brandon Guttery, for a fantastic job. Wishing all the best for a successful senior year at The University of Alabama!

That raised my hackles a bit and caused me to question Brandon Guttery's claim that he was just interested in learning the "truth." My hackles were raised even further when the younger Guttery's tone changed and suggested he had an ulterior motive all along. Here is his first Day Two email, at 11:38 a.m. on Oct. 10:

Rodger (sic):

You wrote that piece in retaliation of a business deal that did not go your way.

Then tried to smear his name and demand compensation for your silence.

My only regret is believing you had told the whole truth, which now I have learned you did not.

Let this be our final correspondence, and know this: Omission based reporting, geared to fit a desired narrative, is why journalists are not trustworthy anymore.

May your blog be the height of your reach.

Geez, does this kid have multiple personalities? If so, how many does he have? I decided, "If this sprout wants a tussle, he's come to the right place. Bring it on, dude." My response to Brandon G:

Beware of making false accusations against people. They can come back to bite you.

Sounds like you are developing into quite the con artist. Not surprised about that.

And you are an expert on trustworthiness?

BTW, what business deal are you talking about? I have no idea, and I doubt you do either.

In another curious twist, young Mr. Guttery decided -- for the first of several times -- to invoke God's name. To borrow a phrase from Tina Turner . . . "What's God got to do with it?"

I would offer the same advice to you, Rodger (sic).

I only wanted truth, and I have reason to believe you told a partial truth. One that benefits you, and you alone.

May God guide you.

That left me a few openings, so I decided to take them -- especially since it now appeared Brandon Guttery likely had ill intentions when he initiated our conversation:

So, you admit my post is accurate. You claim something is "partial," but you don't say what that is. Again, I'm not aware of a "business deal" I've ever been in that involves your father in any way. Apparently, you aren't aware of such a "deal," either.

If you only wanted the truth, why did you attempt to pull a con job on me? You weren't truthful from the outset of our communication, and I suspected that was the case.

Based on your own words, it appears your father has concocted these false accusations about me and shared them with you -- a third party. That would point to possible defamation. You and your father might want to study up on defamation law. Again, beware.

Hmmm . . . now we were talking in the legal realm, and it soon became clear that Brandon Guttery was out of his depth:

Defemation (sic) pertains to going public with falsified information with intent to cause damage to another, something I had thought you would be aware of given your past judicial involvements.

I host no blog, nor am I going public anywhere. I wanted truthful information, I did not receive what I wanted, so as far as I am concerned this matter is over.

Once again, may God guide you through life.

I started to smell a Trump supporter here. What is it with suburban white people and God anyway? They seem to know little about God and even less about the law -- just like Trump himself. Hell, the kid can't even spell "defamation":

You need to bone up on defamation law. Based on your own words, it appears your father has falsely accused me of a crime called extortion (a felony) and that points to something called "defamation per se." It's serious business. Look it up.

Young Mr. Guttery seemed to sense that the water was getting up under his neck, and he needed to swim to shore:

Roger,

You are correct, this is a very serious point. Which is precisely why I will never make public anything we have spoken of today, be it verbally or in a written format. If I ever did such an act without evidence to corroborate what I said, you would have every right to bring your case before a court of law.

You and I might disagree quite a bit, however I hold no interest in defaming the name of someone else. I have stated what I believe, and it will remain private to the day I draw my final breath.

You assume much about my words. There is a certain saying about them, as I’m sure you are aware.

So I would like to once again propose we leave this matter here. Given none of this information is public, there has been no damage to your reputation or your societal appearance (or “face” if you will).

God bless you, Roger.

There's the infernal God stuff again. Does he want God to "guide" me or to "bless" me. Maybe he wants God to guide me into the path of a blessed 18-wheeler. I was confused about the other-worldly stuff, but I was clear-headed on the law:

Your own words suggest you've discussed these false allegations against me with someone. And your reference to a "business deal" suggests that person is your father -- even though you apparently can't point to any such "business deal." That's not assuming anything; it's right there in your own words.

I'm not saying you've defamed me, but I'm saying your own words indicate someone, likely your father, has made statements to you that falsely accuse me of a crime (extortion), and that points to possible defamation per se. You and your father really need to educate yourselves about defamation law. The issue is whether a false and defamatory statement has been "published" (verbally or in writing) to a third party (you, in this case). Whether it has been "made public" is not part of the law.

As for your proposal to "leave this matter here," you should have thought of that before opening up this hornet's nest. I will deal with it as I see fit, but you and your father should know I take it seriously when someone falsely accuses me of a crime. I also take it seriously when someone contacts me under false pretenses. I responded to your queries with patience and respect, only to learn you were pulling a con game all along.

No matter how many times you say "God bless you," the truth is that you dealt with me dishonestly from the start. You might try looking in the mirror on that one.

With that, Brandon Guttery seemed to realize that it was a good time to get out of Dodge:

Roger...I’m sorry.

I’m just a college kid who thinks he knows more than he does. I know that seems like a cop out...I wish I could rewind the past 24 hours. But I can’t.

When I first emailed you, I was truly curious. My father had never discussed that matter with me. I then got angry after asking my family about it, and didn’t think.

You have every reason to not like me, and every reason to not believe what I’m saying in this writing. And you’re right. I do need a look in the mirror.

From the bottom of my heart...I’m sorry.

You’ll never have to deal with me again.

I give Brandon Guttery credit for saying he was sorry. He owed me an apology, and while a lot of people aren't big enough to do that, he stepped up to the plate and apologized. Does that mean I'm dropping the defamation matter? Not necessarily. I'm going to think about it and conduct some research on the issue. I left young Mr. Guttery with this:

I don't believe you when you say your father has never discussed this with you and falsely accused me of a crime. I take my reputation seriously, and I take legal wrongs against me seriously.

Whether I deal with you -- and your father -- again is up to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

College classmate at NE Louisiana says Bill Pryor likely posed nude for pornography photos to help fit in with gay community that largely found him repulsive


Bill Pryor in the NLU band

Why did U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor use his real name to be published with a gallery of nude photographs that appeared at the badpuppy.com gay-pornography Web site in 1997? That has been a frequently asked question since we broke the story in 2013 of Pryor's foray into gay porn while a student at Northeast Louisiana University (NLU, now University of Louisiana Monroe).

Shane Rogers-Mauro, who says Pryor sexually harassed him (and others) while the two were classmates at NLU in the early to mid 1980s, has a likely answer: It was Pryor's way of trying to fit in with a campus gay community that tended to see him as an annoying gossip because of his abrasive personality and oft-espoused right-wing views. Says Rogers-Mauro, in an interview with Legal Schnauzer:

Bill was crazy, and it was crazy to do that photo shoot. He was trying to fit in. He did that to be higher up in the gay community., he thought it might push him ahead. That is definitely his face.

That's the kind of off-centered thinking that makes Pryor a poor fit for any kind of judicial role, Rogers-Mauro says:

Bill never did have a conscience in the time I knew him. I don't know about his childhood, but it must have been a bad one. It must be horrible to have him in court because he's not impartial. and cases before him must be a sham.

A person without a conscience is, by definition, a sociopath. Rogers-Mauro does not use that term to describe Pryor, but he speaks to traits that point to sociopathy, including an incident where Pryor outed Rogers-Mauro to members of a band honor fraternity at NLU:

He toyed with closeted gay folks. Back then, it was a demon, and he was into outing certain people. That's a nasty thing. He would mess with people's lives and didn't give a second thought. It was part of his illness. . . .

This is very personal for me. It's not where our country needs to go; we deserve better. We can deal with a conservative on the court, but not like this. Bill is cruel. Smashing the head of a kitten is equal to Bill Pryor. He's that nasty.


(NoteLegal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now that my wife, Carol, is recovering from a fainting spell, which led to a recent broken arm. The healing process has started for Carol, but statements from her doctors indicate this likely was fallout from political thugs cheating both of us out of our jobs [and health insurance] in Birmingham -- and the stress of dealing with financial wreckage that comes from being targeted for right-wing attacks.  If you are able to help along our journalism journey, please click on the yellow donate button in the upper right corner of the blog, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. We are deeply grateful for your support through the years.)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Brandon Guttery, the son of a Birmingham wealth manager -- David Guttery, of Keystone Financial -- initiates an odd conversation about his father's status as a paying customer at notorious Ashley Madison site


Brandon and David Guttery
The college-aged son of a senior account manager at a Birmingham wealth-management company -- the father has been included in our coverage of paying customers at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site -- recently contacted me, and what seemed to be a benign communication veered into an accusation that I had engaged in criminal activity.

When I pointed out the possible repercussions of the son's false accusation, he ultimately expressed sorrow about what he had said -- but I was left with the impression that I had been the target of defamation, and I'm considering appropriate legal action.

Brandon Guttery is a senior at the University of Alabama and has worked as an intern for his father, David Guttery, at Keystone Financial Group in the Birmingham suburb of Trussville. David Guttery was the subject of a December 2016 post about his activities at Ashley Madison. Before publishing that post, I contacted David Guttery seeking comment, but he never responded -- never denied that he was a married suburban father who participated in the unsavory milieu at Ashley Madison.

Brandon Guttery contacted me on Oct. 9, 2018, for . . . well, I have no idea about the real reason he contacted me. But things started innocently enough before turning a bit ugly. Here's the beginning:

Dear Rodger (sic),

My name is Brandon Guttery, and I am writing you this evening under sad pretenses. I partook in a university fraternal event where I googled my own name, in an effort to see what company recruiters see when they research job applicants. When searching however, I came across an image of my father, David, with the infamous "Ashley Madison" website attached to his name.

On December 20th 2016, you wrote an article on your Legal Schnauzer blog about him, which I assume corresponds to the data breach the website underwent about that time. In reading through your article, I noticed you italicized "Ashley Madison" however there are no hyperlinks to evidence or information regarding David's usage. I write to ask: Do you still have that information available, and if so could you forward it to me?

I apologize [that] our first encounter is under such a circumstance. In writing this email I mean no disrespect or offense, as I only seek the truth.

Here is my initial response:

Brandon: 
Yes, I have the data, and I'm still using it for future articles, so I don't want to forward it -- plus, it's in an extremely large file, and I'm not aware of any way to provide a hyperlink to that. I sought comment from your dad before running the post, but never heard back from him.

At that point, we had been polite and respectful toward each other, but the whole thing gave off a slightly funny smell, so I was braced for the tone to change at some point, if the interaction continued -- and it did. From Brandon Guttery:

Rodger (sic):

I can understand your hesitation of forwarding the information, however I am the last person you need fear of jeopardizing your future articles by doing something with the information.

I am only after the truth. Two years later and I only discover this by accident, so other data subsets included in the file are of no interest to me. But, if that does not dissuade your skepticism of my motives, would you be willing to direct me to the source where you first obtained the document?

Hmmm . . . this young fellow wanted my sources and research materials? He obviously did not have much experience at dealing with the press. And the "trust me" tone of that first paragraph made me less likely to trust him. Still, things moved along OK -- for a while:

Brandon:

It's not a matter of skepticism; I'm just not going to share my research materials with anyone. If you ask any journalist a similar question, I think you will get the same response. I would suggest you discuss this with your father. My invitation for him to contact me is still out there.

That seemed to satiate young Mr. Guttery, and he responded with this:

Rodger:

So be it.

If I know my father, he never will.

Thank you for your time.

My response?

You're welcome.

I thought that was the end of it. But the next morning, it became clear I was wrong about that. And it did not take long for the conversation to veer in a wildly different direction.


(To be continued)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

JPMorgan Chase and RAGA, who combined to steal our home of 25 years in Alabama, help dish out the cash that threatens democratic norms in Wisconsin


Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Luther Strange
What happens when JPMorgan Chase and the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) join forces? Recent events in Wisconsin indicate it could produce signs that your democracy is on its last gasps.

The issue has particular resonance here at Legal Schnauzer because we were the targets of a wrongful foreclosure -- launched by Chase Mortgage, likely in retaliation for my reporting on GOP corruption -- that cost us our home of 25 years in Birmingham, Alabama, and forced us to live like refugees in Missouri. Jessica Medeiros Garrison, a Republican operative and glorified thief/street tart in Alabama, clearly was involved via a defamation lawsuit where my reporting never was proven to be false, as a matter of law.

We recently presented evidence that Garrison, one-time campaign manager and paramour for former Alabama AG Luther Strange, had financial ties to JPMorgan Chase during her time as executive director at RAGA -- and those ties likely made it easy for her to help launch an attack on our mortgage. Garrison, it turns out, has a habit of bouncing from place to place when the heat starts turning up under her chair, as we reported:

Until January 2016, Garrison was senior advisor to RAGA and the affiliated Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF). Before that, she was executive director of RAGA and president of RLDF. Garrison started shifting away from those positions when The New York Times exposed RAGA as a glorified shakedown outfit.

Garrison also started lowering her profile when her extramarital affair with Strange -- which former Alabama Senate President Lowell Barron, among other sources, has confirmed -- became so widely known that it made her more of a liability than an asset.

As for Wisconsin, residents have seen the democracy-crushing influence of JPMorgan Chase and RAGA, both of which seem to operate without the slightest sign of a moral compass. Lame-duck Republicans have passed a series of measures designed to weaken Wisconsin's incoming Democratic governor (Tony Evers) and attorney general (Josh Kaul).

Vox.com, noting that Wisconsin-like chicanery also is under way in Michigan and North Carolina,  reports that "The Wisconsin power grab is part of a bigger Republican attack on democracy":

Michigan Republicans are currently weighing similar plans, and both are following in the footsteps of North Carolina Republicans, who passed a power-stripping bill after a Democratic victory in the 2016 governor’s race. State Republicans in three of the country’s most vital swing states are displaying open contempt for the most basic principle of democracy: that when you lose an election, you have to hand over power to your opponents. The national party hasn’t condemned these power grabs, giving the state legislatures tacit permission to rewrite the rules.

These power grabs highlight one of the most disturbing facts about American politics today: The Republican Party has become institutionally indifferent to the health of democracy. It prioritizes power over principle to such an extreme degree that it undermines the most basic functioning of democracy.

In the long run, the GOP’s turn against democracy could well be a greater threat to the American experiment than anything President Donald Trump has done.

Who is driving this train of GOP dysfunction? According to a report at The New York Times, that would be JPMorgan Chase and other corporations:

Walgreens portrays itself as the friendly neighborhood drugstore. It gives flu shots to children, helps communities after storms, donates to charity — and makes feel-good advertisements trumpeting its various good deeds. . . .

So you might think that an organization that claims to care about community values would speak up. But Walgreens has not. Neither have other corporate supporters of Wisconsin Republicans, like Microsoft, Dr Pepper Snapple, J.P. Morgan Chase or Humana. It’s yet another example — alongside soaring C.E.O. pay and stagnant worker wages — of corporations abdicating the leadership role they once played in America.

What about RAGA's role in the Wisconsin mess? It's been right there, with wallet wide open, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Train:

This Washington, D.C.-based group, which raises unlimited amounts from special interests to help elect state GOP attorneys general throughout the country, has been the biggest spender in the 2018 Wisconsin attorney general’s race.

The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) made reported independent expenditures through the Wisconsin Freedom Political Action Committee (PAC), which doled out more than $2.8 million to support GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel’s reelection bid.

Most of RAGA’s spending was for three television ads which attacked Schimel’s Democratic opponent, Josh Kaul. The ads claimed Kaul had not prosecuted serious crimes in Wisconsin and had plea bargained for light sentences for drug dealers as a federal prosecutor in Maryland.

When RAGA's guy (Schimel) lost, JPMorgan Chase helped fund an effort to undermine democracy in Wisconsin. Can we say "sore losers"?

None of this surprises my wife, Carol, and me -- given our experiences with the same forces in the theft of our home. Is it a big step from stealing a mortgage to cheating he voters of Wisconsin?

For JPMorgan Chase and RAGA (with affiliated scum suckers like Jessica Garrison) the answer apparently is no.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Time honors "guardian" journalists as Person of the Year, but the recognition comes five years late and largely ignores abuses right here on our home turf


A group of journalists it calls "The Guardians" are Time magazine's 2018 Person of the Year, according to an announcement yesterday. The award, specifically, honors those who, via hard-nosed, challenging reporting, "have taken great risks in pursuit of greater truths."

Leading the list is slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and he is joined, among others, by five staffers who were killed in a newsroom shooting at Annapolis, Maryland. We certainly view the award as appropriate, but based on our personal experiences in Alabama, it's a case of "better late than never" -- and it largely ignores the risks taken by those who dare report uncomfortable truths about the powerful via non-traditional media, such as blogs, here in the United States.

From the Time article, titled "The Guardians and the War on Truth":

The stout man with the gray goatee and the gentle demeanor dared to disagree with his country’s government. He told the world the truth about its brutality toward those who would speak out. And he was murdered for it.

Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him.

But the crime would not have remained atop the world news for two months if not for the epic themes that Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story?

Those are powerful words, straight from today's headlines. But how late are they? Well, sheriff's deputies beat and doused me with pepper spray inside my own home outside Birmingham, Alabama, on the evening of Oct. 23, 2013, and abducted me for a five-month stay in jail -- all with no warrant or any other form of legal process. I became the only journalist in the western hemisphere to be imprisoned that year. In other words, an attack on a free press happened in Alabama, while nothing of the sort happened in places like Venezuela, Paraguay, Honduras, and Mexico.

Time's Person of the Year article is important reading, but it's about five years late -- long after abuse of a journalist appeared right on our doorstep. Like Jamal Khashoggi, I faced retaliation for reporting on matters of critical importance -- rampant corruption in state and federal courthouses throughout Alabama, Mississippi, and the Deep South.

How is this for irony? The Time article comes eight days after a Legal Schnauzer post that asked, "Could something like the Jamal Khashoggi murder happen here?" The answer is, without a doubt, yes. From that post:

The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi --which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered, according to the CIA --might be the most barbaric act against an individual in most of our lifetimes. But if you compare events leading to the murder with events surrounding my kidnapping and five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama, you see enough similarities to think maybe the Khashoggi murder wasn't so "out there," after all.

In one respect, the Khashoggi incident was less radical than what happened to a U.S. journalist (me) in the Deep South: At least the Saudi criminals had the decency to abduct Khashoggi in a public place; Shelby County deputy Chris Blevins broke into our house, in broad daylight, to nab me -- an act unlawful on so many levels that it's hard to list all the state and federal laws it violates. And yet, U.S. Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins (Northern District of Alabama) has found sheriff's deputies under the state constitution, have immunity to commit such acts, as being within "the line and scope of their employment." (No kidding.)

On top of that, we've pointed to evidence that suggests Republican thugs who orchestrated my abduction included my wife, Carol, in the Rob Riley-Liberty Duke lawsuit because the plan was to kidnap and murder both of us. If so, Carol's ability to remain free and get word out to the press -- plus the thugs' apparent reluctance to break into our house a second time -- probably is all that saved us.

Were we slated to be beheaded and dismembered, as Khashoggi reportedly was? Likely not, but who knows, maybe the Saudis have given Alabama thugs ideas to implement in their future endeavors.

American politicians are seeking some kind of sanctions for Saudi Arabia's crown prince over the Khashoggi murder , but what about American criminals like Rob Riley and Liberty Duke who sought arrests for Carol and me without the slightest legal grounds for doing soTime's report gives the false impression that journalists face dangers mostly overseas:

And in prison in Myanmar, two young Reuters reporters remain separated from their wives and children, serving a sentence for defying the ethnic divisions that rend that country. For documenting the deaths of 10 minority Rohingya Muslims, Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone got seven years. The killers they exposed were sentenced to 10.

This year brought no shortage of other examples. Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam was jailed for more than 100 days for making “false” and “provocative” statements after criticizing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an interview about mass protests in Dhaka. In Sudan, freelance journalist Amal Habani was arrested while covering economic protests, detained for 34 days and beaten with electric rods. In Brazil, reporter Patricia Campos Mello was targeted with threats after reporting that supporters of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro had funded a campaign to spread false news stories on WhatsApp. And Victor Mallet, Asia news editor for the Financial Times, was forced out of Hong Kong after inviting an activist to speak at a press club event against the wishes of the Chinese government. Worldwide, a record number of journalists—262 in total—were imprisoned in 2017, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which expects the total to be high again this year.

It's important for Time's readership to know about these abuses. The reference to a journalist in Sudan being detained for 34 days and beaten with metal rods sounds familiar -- except I was detained for 154 days and beaten (inside my home) with fists and covered in pepper spray. I still suffer serious health fallout from that assault, and that likely will not change in my lifetime. The same applies for Carol.

Why is it news when a journalist is beaten and jailed in Sudan, but not when something much worse happens in Alabama? Is Time afraid of upsetting the conservative political criminals -- including former Trump AG Jeff Sessions and current federal judge Bill Pryor -- who are behind the attacks on Carol and me?

Is it only an atrocity when it happens under a black regime in a "third world country," but it's not worth reporting when thugs who reek of white privilege carry it out in Alabama?


(NoteLegal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now that my wife, Carol, is recovering from a fainting spell, which led to a recent broken arm. The healing process has started for Carol, but statements from her doctors indicate this likely was fallout from political thugs cheating both of us out of our jobs [and health insurance] in Birmingham -- and the stress of dealing with financial wreckage that comes from being targeted for right-wing attacks.  If you are able to help along our journalism journey, please click on the yellow donate button in the upper right corner of the blog, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. We are deeply grateful for your support through the years.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Michael Flynn memo from Mueller investigators suggests Jeff Sessions and other members of Trump Transition Team could be in "deep trouble"


Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions
Recent soul-rattling developments in the Robert Mueller investigation produced headlines over the weekend such as "Trump implicated in two felonies." That is big news, of course, and it came from Mueller's court filing last Friday on former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen. If you have strong ties to Alabama, as we do, the most intriguing news might have come three days earlier when Mueller released filings about former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The Flynn sentencing memo suggests the Mueller probe could be taking a south-bound turn, in the direction of former Trump attorney general and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

An article at lawandcrime.com -- titled "Here is what could be under some of those redactions in the Flynn memo" -- points a finger heavily in Sessions' direction. According to reporter Ronn Blitzer, much of the hidden material clearly refers to members of the Trump Transition Team, and that gets into Sessions territory. Prominent members of the Transition Team included Sessions and his former chief of staff, Rick Dearborn, along with Michael Flynn. Blitzer writes:

The release of the heavily redacted sentencing memo that Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s office filed in the case of Michael Flynn has had the political world abuzz, not just over what was revealed in the memo, but what was not. Pages worth of text were blacked out, leaving people to guess what they’re about, but a look at context—and not-too-distant history—may shed some light on the mystery.

Page 3 of the memo’s addendum includes the following sentence: “The Defendant assisted the SCO’s investigation on a range of issues, including interactions between officials in the Presidential Transition Team and Russia, [REDACTED].”

The next paragraph is under the subheading Interactions Between the Transition Team and Russia. The last three lines or so of that paragraph are blacked out with redactions.

Clearly, some of this hidden information has to do with members of the Trump transition team. Now, as Law and Crime Network legal analyst Linda Kenney Baden said in a segment Wednesday afternoon, “When you give substantial cooperation or substantial assistance, you’re not giving it to get the person that’s underneath you, you’re getting the person that’s above you.”

Who on the Transition Team was most likely to have had interactions with Russian officials -- and was high-level enough that Flynn would have known about them? Blitzer provides insight:

In that same segment, former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi named one person who was on that transition team who fits the bill.

“That filing is incredibly telling. There are a lot of red flags and loud gongs that suggest that the president of the United States and other senior officials are in deep trouble, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

In a separate statement to Law and Crime, Rossi specified that he was referring to the question of, “Did Sessions lie and omit contacts with the Russians that Flynn knows about[?]”

The now-former Attorney General had recused himself from the Russia investigation due to his connection with the Trump campaign, but recall that he was also accused of covering up his own contacts with Russia. During his Attorney General confirmation hearing, Sessions said he did not have any contacts with Russian officials. It later came out that he had meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. Sessions later said that the meetings were in the context of his role as a Senator, and had nothing to do with the Trump campaign. Former officials said otherwise, telling the Washington Post that intelligence revealed that Sessions and Kislyak discussed Trump’s policies on Russia and U.S.-Russia relationships under a Trump administration.

If Flynn told Mueller’s office about other communications that Sessions may have had during the transition period, that would certainly fit the bill for a higher-level official’s conduct that Mueller would not want public at this time.

USA Today, in a piece titled "Michael Flynn re-emerges as a major witness in Robert Mueller inquiry -- and at least two others," also says the Flynn documents have ominous tones for members of the Transition Team. Write Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen:

Mueller's conclusions, legal analysts said, probably served as a blunt warning to members of the administration who worked closely with the national security adviser and were consulted on his Russian contacts, specifically involving Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 
Flynn's cooperation was secured last year as part of his guilty plea to lying to the FBI in part about his pre-inaugural contacts with Kislyak related to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign. 
"The message that this sends, given Flynn's central role in the transition (to the Trump administration), is that if transition members are not fully lawyered-up yet, they should do so now," said Ilene Jaroslaw, a former federal prosecutor who once worked closely with Mueller's top aides in the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's Office. "This document, even though it is heavily redacted, speaks louder than any public statement or press conference could ever accomplish."

Monday, December 10, 2018

Expert testifies that Missouri lawyer David Shuler did not believe in his own client, leaving Scott Wells with a bogus guilty verdict and possible five life sentences


Scott J. Wells
(Fourth in a series)

Missouri resident Scott J. Wells was found guilty of child sexual abuse in 2004 -- facing a likely punishment of five life sentences, plus 55 years -- and public records indicate his attorney (my brother, David Shuler) exhibited dubious judgment and committed a litany of technical errors that left his client in a dire position. Perhaps David Shuler's most grave error was failing to react to testimony from one of four complaining witnesses that Wells had scars on his penis. A second attorney, Daniel Dodson of Jefferson City, took over the case and easily was able to prove the penis testimony was false -- leading Judge Don Burrell to overturn his own guilty verdict at a new-trial hearing.

Dodson, acting as an expert witness in Scott Wells' subsequent legal-malpractice lawsuit, said David Shuler failed to meet the standard of care required of a criminal-defense lawyer in ways that go well beyond legal and strategic blunders. In fact, Dodson said, David Shuler did not believe in his client, and that led to a bogus conviction, damaging Wells in myriad ways.

State of Missouri v. Scott J. Wells (No. 31302CF5509) shows that a prosecution's case can implode in a hurry when a defense attorney is alert enough to show that at least one key witness has produced unreliable testimony. It also shows the peril a criminal defendant can face when his own attorney -- in this case, David Shuler -- is not fighting for him.

Dodson's deposition testimony in Wells' legal-malpractie claim against David Shuler illuminates both of those issues. At one point, Dodson describes Shuler's level of malpractice in the underlying criminal case as "staggering." Below is testimony from Dodson's deposition, and it provides a rare look at one attorney's unvarnished opinions about the performance of another attorney. The testimony begins on page 91 of the first document embedded at the end of this post. The questioner is Scott E. Bellm, from the Turner Reid Duncan firm of Springfield, representing David Shuler:


Bellm: Of course, your goal at the [new trial] hearing that day was to convince the Court that -- not necessarily of Mr. Wells' innocence, but to convince the Court that there was evidence, testimony, witnesses out there that should have been used at trial, and those witnesses may very well have made a difference in the outcome. That's the standard you were operating that day, true?

Dodson: Well, that. Again, the scars on the penis evidence was the thing that could have been done right there that had to have been done. And it's hard to describe, but your focus in this case -- first of all, you have to go in with -- to present yourself, even if you don't believe it, as if I'm here to tell you, the trier of fact, that this man didn't do what he's accused of. And when something like that comes up, the penis evidence, it's obvious to me that David Shuler thought Scott Wells did it, and that, well, if she says there were scars on his penis, obviously there were scars on his penis. It didn't even occur to him to ask that question.

Bellm: Well, let's -- let me ask you this: There was just one witness who said that he had scars on his penis, right?

Dodson: That's correct.

Bellm: Which one was it?

Dodson: Off the top of my head -- it was not one -- I think it was the cousin of the stepdaughter.

Bellm: Okay.

Dodson: I don't think it was either of the natural daughters or the stepdaughter.

Bellm: So there was a total of four victims?

Dodson: Four complaining witnesses. I have a problem with the term victim, of course.

Bellm: I understand. One of them testified that he had a scar on his penis. So if what you are telling me is right, if he were able to prove, unconditionally, at trial, that that isn't true, then that would obviously impeach the credibility of one of the three complaining witnesses, true?

Dodson: One of the four, yes.

Bellm: One of the four, I'm sorry. Would not necessarily have affected the other three complaining witnesses and the felony counts relating to what he allegedly did to those three girls?

Dodson: It would not necessarily have directly affected them. But keep in mind here that there was evidence, most of it not pointed out by Shuler. First of all [complaining witness] Brittany Wells had told the same story, like, two years before or a year before and nobody believed her because she was all over the map with the allegations, her demeanor and everything said there's something wrong here and there's no great reason to believe this.

Daniel Dodson
It was after contamination by her that little sister made allegations. This was all -- there was plenty of evidence of contamination and reasons for the other ones to have come up with it. And the most attenuated one, the cousin who made the scars allegation, probably going in, was the most credible.

And once that little smoking gun comes up that says this one's up a tree too, the rest fall, and they did fall. And that's -- again that's what Judge Burrell said in chambers. I don't think he made it clear in the record, but that was the reason. Once he saw the penis evidence, he's like, I can't stand behind these findings of guilt.

And there would be some argument -- the only argument against considering that an acquittal is that, well, the prosecutor might have been able to refute that, but not in this case, because that was evidence where the smoking gun was there. I mean, the way to prove that Scott Wells didn't have scars on his penis was there in the courtroom.

(Note: We ran this post for several hours last Thursday, but it never went out via social media because I wound up wrestling with a stomach virus and had several legal documents to prepare, so it became a day of distractions. I decided to take the post down and save it for today. Sorry for the confusion.)


(To be continued)


Previously in the series:


* Court finds Missouri lawyer David Shuler provided ineffective assistance of counsel (11/13/18)

* Missouri attorney David Shuler took no action at trial . . . (11/27/18)

* David Shuler, unable to react to false testimony that Scott J. Wells had scars on his penis . . . (12/4/18)















Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Reporting on Steve Marshall's acceptance of illegal campaign funds in Alabama AG race shines light on the theft of our home via a wrongful foreclosure


Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Luther Strange
Reports on the funneling of illegal campaign cash to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has unearthed evidence that might shine light on the theft of our house in Birmingham via a wrongful foreclosure.

Marshall, appointed AG in February 2017 before scandal-plagued governor Robert Bentley left office, defeated Democrat Joseph Siegelman in the November midterms despite national reports that he had accepted $735,000 from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which officials from both parties said violated Alabama law.

The Alabama Ethics Commission failed to resolve the issue before the Nov. 6 election, so complaints are pending, both with the ethics commission and the Montgomery County district attorney's office. Before the election, Siegelman noted that Marshall could be forced from office if the ethics commission applied state law properly.

How might this connect to the theft of our home? It comes around to Jessica Medeiros Garrison, an Alabama GOP operative and former executive director of RAGA. Garrison perhaps is best known for serving as campaign manager and mistress for Marshall's AG predecessor (and former U.S. Senator) Luther Strange. She used my accurate reporting on her extramarital affair with Strange to file a baseless lawsuit against me and to write a preposterously defamatory article about me at the women's fashion magazine, Marie Claire.

It all could spell trouble for JPMorgan Chase, which is the largest bank in the United States and the sixth largest in the world.

As for Garrison's lawsuit, it produced a $3.5-million default judgment from Jefferson County Circuit Judge Don Blankenship -- a black man who apparently has  no problem ignoring the rule of law to serve the interests of white elites. Blankeship's ruling has no basis in fact or law, and under the Alabama Constitution and relevant case law, is void because I never received notice of Garrison's application for default judgment or the hearing on said issue. The docket in the Garrison case shows I never was notified of her efforts to get a default judgment, which she applied for three times, and her "gift" from the court is a nullity that can be attacked as void at any time.

Until January 2016, Garrison was senior advisor to RAGA and the affiliated Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF). Before that, she was executive director of RAGA and president of RLDF. Garrison started shifting away from those positions when The New York Times exposed RAGA as a glorified shakedown outfit.

USA Today, in its Nov. 3 article that touched on the illegal contribution to Steve Marshall's campaign, shined light on corporate entities that have succumbed to RAGA shakedowns:

[Marshall's] GOP primary challenger, [Troy] King, raised $2.2 million, while Marshall’s Democratic opponent in the general election, Siegelman, has raised more than $606,000, much of it via small donations. About 83 percent of Siegelman’s campaign funds come from within the state, compared with 74 percent for Marshall’s, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of state campaign finance data. . . .

RAGA’s contribution represents about 20 percent of Marshall’s total fundraising. King sought a temporary restraining order barring the Marshall campaign from spending the RAGA money, arguing Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practices Act of 2010 banned political action committees active in the state’s elections from taking contributions from other PACs. Filings with the IRS show RAGA accepts contributions from super PACs such as the General Electric PAC and JP Morgan PAC.

This is where the mess hits close to (our) home. How? Our mortgage was held by Chase Mortgage, an affiliate of JPMorgan Chase,, which has dumped cash on the RAGA of Jessica Medeiros Garrison (former executive director) and Luther Strange (former member of the executive committee).

How is JP Morgan PAC tied to RAGA in the 2018 election cycle? From Troy King's letter to the Alabama Ethics Commission:

Now, during the 2018 election cycle, according to RAGA’s public filings with the Internal Revenue Service, RAGA’s PAC has again accepted a number of contributions from other PACs, including, earlier this year, nearly $16,000 from the J.P. Morgan PAC plus another $50,000 in PAC contributions in the last quarter of 2017. RAGA’s PAC has now, during this election cycle, made hundreds of thousands of dollars of contributions to Steve Marshall for Alabama, Inc.

Public documents show that in March 2014, when both Garrison and Strange were directly involved with RAGA, JP Morgan PAC gave $50,000 to the association. (See page 15 of the document embedded at the end of this post.) That was roughly one month before RAGA made a donation to the Luther Strange campaign, in the amount . . . of $50,000. It also just happened to be the same time frame in which our house went into foreclosure.

Did JP Morgan PAC make a direct contribution to Luther Strange, after it was more or less laundered through RAGA? The public does not know because the whole purpose of PAC-to-PAC transfers is to disguise the original source of funds -- and that's why they are illegal under Alabama law.

The Strange re-election campaign eventually returned the $50,000 to RAGA in 2014, so even "Big Lutha" seemed to acknowledge the donation likely was illegal. Steve Marshall has shown no signs of taking such a step, suggesting he is more corrupt than Luther Strange -- and that is quite an achievement.

Here on (our) home front, the question is this: Was Jessica Garrison in a position with RAGA to pick up the phone, contact someone at Chase Mortgage, and have a wrongful foreclosure launched on our home -- perhaps with Luther Strange's assistance? Did she, in fact, do that, causing us to lose not only our home, but just about all of our possessions due to brazen theft during an unlawful eviction after we were forced to move to Missouri?

If the answer to those questions is yes -- to borrow a phrase from Lindsey Graham -- there will be "holy hell to pay."


RAGA 1st Quarter 2014 by on Scribd