Friday, January 5, 2018

Doug Jones hires a black chief of staff, but it's an Artur Davis retread, which suggests Jones is about political recycling that will not lead Alabama forward

Doug Jones and Dana Gresham
Newly installed U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) made a splash earlier this week when he named Dana Gresham, a black man, as his chief of staff. At first glance, the move looks like a step forward because blacks are wildly under-represented on Senate staffs -- in fact, Gresham becomes the only black chief of staff for a Democratic senator.

Beneath the surface, the move doesn't look so progressive; in fact, it looks downright stupid.

Gresham's primary experience as a Congressional staffer came when he served as chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), from 2003-08. Davis has proven to be one of the biggest political flops of the modern era. Once considered the "Barack Obama of the South," Davis' career went up in flames when he chose to ignore his liberal base and side with white, elite business interests during his run for governor in 2010.

That didn't work out so well. The voters who had put Davis in Congress, abandoned him in droves, giving Ron Sparks an overwhelming victory in the Democratic primary. Sparks then lost to Republican Robert Bentley in the general election, and Bentley ushered in an era of extraordinary corruption -- even by Alabama standards.

When citizens ask, "Why has Alabama become such a political sewer?" two words have to be part of the equation -- "Artur" and "Davis." But Doug Jones thinks it wise to name a Davis retread as his chief of staff? This adds to the mountain of evidence that supports what Alabama whistle blower and opposition researcher Jill Simpson has been saying for months -- that Jones is a DINO (Democrat In Name Only), who is beholden to his right-wing allies, such as Rob Riley, Bill Canary, Karl Rove, and Jeff Sessions.

As for Artur Davis, he not only bailed out on his political base, he also back-stabbed former Democratic governor Don Siegelman. In a 2012 post titled "Artur Davis must be the sorest loser in the history of American politics," we showed that Davis had come to regret stepping forward on Siegelman's behalf while serving on the House Judiciary Committee in 2007. From the post:

Davis says standing up for Siegelman made him appear soft on crime, and by questioning the actions of the Bush Justice Department, Davis called his own integrity into question.

If you are a coherent, rational human being, that paragraph will leave you scratching your head. Davis, in so many words, is saying that he now regrets appearing to have principles--he now regrets suggesting that federal prosecutions should focus only on actual crimes, not the political affiliation of the accused. Artur Davis is saying that he regrets standing up for due process and equal protection under the law--that if a man has to choose between fundamental constitutional rights and his own political career, he should choose the career stuff every time.

Artur Davis probably wonders why some people in his home state view him as the Incredible Shrinking Politician.

Progressive voters took this to mean Davis essentially was a whore for white corporate interests, who are mostly (but not all) Republicans. Those voters made him pay, big time, at the polls. And our post explained how Davis wound up in such a pile of excrement:

How did Artur Davis land in such a pathetic place? Our source says it's partly because of Davis' alliance with Jere Beasley. Davis' hopes for the governorship rested largely with Beasley's money bags. But Davis made the mistake of standing up for Siegelman-case whistleblower Jill Simpson at a 2007 Congressional hearing on political prosecutions. Davis appeared determined to get at the truth in the Siegelman case, perhaps shining unflattering light on GOP Governor Bob Riley and his ugly ties to Karl Rove, Michael Scanlon, and Jack Abramoff.

That greatly displeased Jere Beasley, who has made it a practice to partner with Rob Riley on legal cases involving nursing homes, vehicle rollovers, and the like. Our source says that Davis was instructed to can the righteous crap and side with the corporate, Riley-loving, white elites. Davis did as he was told and wound up getting pummeled in the Democratic primary by a 24-point margin.

Not only that, Davis jumped in bed with Dax Swatek, one of the sleaziest GOP operatives in Alabama. Swatek has documented ties to Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, Alice Martin, Michael Scanlon, and a cornucopia of Republican sleazebags. Swatek also has ties to Bill Canary, Leura Canary, and the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), and Davis jumped in bed with that seedy group. From our post on the subject:

Why would Davis want to protect Bill and Leura Canary? We can think of 4,450 reasons. According to, that's the number of dollars Davis has received from the Business Council of Alabama and The Capitol Group, both headed by Bill Canary.

Here is a breakdown of the campaign contributions from Bill Canary, in chronological order by name of the donor organization:

* Capitol Group--$1,000 (6/23/03)

* Business Council of Alabama--$750 (3/15/04)

* Business Council of Alabama--$1,000 (8/8/05)

* Business Council of Alabama--$1,000 (6/1/06)

* Business Council of Alabama--$500 (3/30/07)

We then turned to the Inside Alabama Politics newsletter for insight:

Davis' leaving the House Judiciary Committee is widely viewed as an effort on his part to put distance between him and former Gov. Don Siegelman and Siegelman's legal problems. . . .

With the Judiciary Committee trying to force former presidential adviser Karl Rove to testify, Davis' presence on the committee could have been harmful to his hope of securing some business backing for his gov. run. He is known to be cultivating some big B'ham business interests in that regard, and getting caught up in a tug-of-war with Siegelman folks could nullify his courting of business that listens to Bill Canary.

So, Davis' strategy was to kiss the white butts of Alabama business elites. How did that turn out? Well, Davis is about as close to being a political nobody as you can get. Former State Rep. Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham) made the same decision to bed down with "white devils" in the Birmingham corporate and legal community -- and he soon will be heading to federal prison. When will black politicians learn that sucking up to Alabama's "white devils" is likely the surest way to bring your career to a collapse?

Every time I think of Artur Davis I'm reminded of the old Steve Martin routine where he claimed to have written a business book titled "How I turned $1 million in real estate into $25 in cash."

But Doug Jones thinks it's a good idea to have an Artur Davis retread lead his staff? This suggests Jones isn't serious about doing anything to benefit the liberals -- especially black women -- who put him in office.

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