Thursday, October 18, 2018

Steve Marshall takes campaign cash from 3M, then refuses to join other states in suing the Minnesota polluter, suggesting he isn't fit to be Alabama AG


Steve Marshall and Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley,
the disgraced governor who appointed him. 
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has taken $2,500 in campaign donations from 3M Company at the same time he refuses to join other states in suing the Minnesota-based polluter. Does this point to criminal activity by Alabama's chief law-enforcement officer? The answer is "maybe." Does this point to a short-sighted, compromised, unethical attorney general? The answer is "definitely."

Alabama Political Reporter (APR) broke the story of Marshall's cozy relationship with 3M and noted that his response had been mostly to feign ignorance and attack reporters who ask pesky questions on the subject.

Records from the Alabama Secretary of State (SOS) show 3M gave Marshall $2,000 on 9/7/2018. The company gave $500 on 4/3/18. 3M is just one of several polluters to dump cash into Marshall's coffers. (Records showing the 3M donations are embedded at the end of this post.)

How could this be criminal? If it involves a "quid pro quo" (something for something) agreement -- such as, "We will contribute to your campaign if you promise not to sue us"-- that would appear to constitute federal funds bribery under 18 U.S.C. 666. That's the same statute under which former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy wrongly were convicted and sent to federal prison for roughly six years each.

It's ironic, then, that Marshall's Democratic opponent is Joseph Siegelman, Don's son. When the 3M funds are combined with $735,000 in illegal contributions Marshall took from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA, former employer of Jessica Medeiros Garrison, one-time campaign manager and mistress for former AG Luther Strange), it raises serious questions about the incumbent's fitness for office.

We have no doubt that Joseph Siegelman is the better candidate, and APR publisher Bill Britt seems to leaning in the same direction, with an editorial about Marshall's dubious donations from RAGA. Writes Britt:

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.”

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.

Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan and the Executive Committee could end the charade by immediately moving not to certify Marshall’s votes in the upcoming general election. Of course, this would mean conceding the race to Democrat Joe Siegelman. This might not be palatable, but how much more bitter is a win by cheating?

Since the party will not act on the issue, it falls to Ethics Commission Chairman Judge Jerry Fielding who can swiftly move to bring the Marshall matter before the Commission. . . .

It is now time for the commission to act because the people have a right to know if their attorney general is a cheat.

As for 3M, its donations to Marshall are about as smelly as those from RAGA. Writes APR's Josh Moon:

When the attorney general of Minnesota learned of the years of pollution dumped from a 3M plant into his state’s waterways, he filed a lawsuit demanding the company clean up its mess.

A few years later, on the eve of the trial, 3M settled, agreeing to pay $850 million to make Minnesota’s water clean again.

Michigan has followed suit, with its Republican governor asking his attorney general to also file suit against 3M.
At least three other states have also filed lawsuits against the company, with court records documenting decades of pollution and also concerted efforts by 3M and other polluters to mask the dangers of that pollution.

Alabama isn’t one of those states.

Oh, we have the pollution. Testing near a 3M plant in Decatur has shown high levels of pollutants similar to the ones in Minnesota and Michigan, and it has left residents in Lawrence and Morgan counties afraid to drink their tap water.

But Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall isn’t filing a lawsuit.

Instead, he’s busy threatening reporters and pretending like he has no clue about the three-year-long ordeal.

Does Marshall deal with such issues in a forthright manner? Nope, he draws a page from the Donald Trump playbook and blames the press for his own shortcomings. Writes Moon:

Multiple sources have confirmed to APR that a spokesperson in Marshall’s office, communications director Mike Lewis, contacted WHNT-TV station, at Marshall’s direction, to complain about reporter Chelsea Brentzel, who is the station’s lead reporter on the ongoing water issues in north Alabama.

Brentzel’s mistake: Accurate reporting.

With residents clamoring about the water situation, she and WHNT have produced multiple stories, asking for comments from multiple state officials. That included Marshall, whose office continually ignored their requests for comment.

The one time Brentzel was able to corner the AG, back in July, to ask if any legal action was planned, he said the Alabama Department of Environmental Management hadn’t told him to file a lawsuit.

But when Brentzel quoted Marshall’s opponent, Joseph Siegelman, in a recent story saying he would take action if elected and questioning Marshall’s lack of action, suddenly the station couldn’t get the AG’s office off the phone.

Sources familiar with the calls said Lewis, at Marshall’s direction, complained about Brentzel’s recent story, calling it “political.” Because making sure the people of the state can drink their damn water is political now.

And then there was the threat.

Lewis informed the WHNT bosses that the AG’s office planned to freeze out Brentzel and would no longer respond to her requests, according to the sources.

Heck, 3M is just one of several polluters who appear to be playing footsy with Steve Marshall. Consider a few others who have dumped cash on him, per SOS records:

* International Paper PAC -- two donations totaling $5,000

* Koch Industries (Wichita, KS) -- two donations totaling $10,000

* Monsanto (St. Louis, MO) -- one donation of $1,000

* McWane Inc. -- two donations totaling $20,000

* Coalbed Methane Association of Alabama -- four donations totaling $4,000









20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, LS. Glad to see you weight in on this. Important subject.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:48 --

Over the years I lived in Birmingham, I recall reading a number of articles that the city's drinking water ranked among the best in U.S. Alabama doesn't get a lot of lofty rankings like that, so I always was kind of proud of our drinking water. Not sure if rest of the state has high-quality drinking water, but I hope it does -- and I hope it stays that way.

Anyone who has lived in Alabama, or just passed through, can tell water is a huge factor in our past, present, and future. Water is everywhere in the state, and we need an AG and governor who will take care of it like the precious resource that it is.

We can't afford do-nothings like Steve Marshall and Kay Ivey.

Anonymous said...

Steve Marshall is a nothing burger AG. We need to boot his ass out.

Anonymous said...

Marshall is a whore for polluters, corporate criminals, and the lawyer class.

Someone needs to write him a prescription for two testicles -- STAT.

Anonymous said...

Citizens need to remember that Steve Marshall is AG for one reason -- "Luv Guv" Bentley appointed him, probably in exchange for Marshall to help keep Bentley out of jail.

Anonymous said...

Has Doug Jones made an endorsement in the AG race?

legalschnauzer said...

@1:03 --

I'm not aware of an endorsement from Jones. My guess is that he is helping Marshall behind the scenes. That's what a bastard would do, and Doug Jones is a bastard.

Anonymous said...

Article today at al.com says Marshall is willing to meet privately with general manager of north Alabama water authority that is suing 3M. It sounds like somebody in Alabama has enough balls to stand up to 3M, but it likely won't be Steve Marshall:


https://www.al.com/news/2018/10/alabama-ag-offers-to-discuss-3m-lawsuit-wont-commit.html

legalschnauzer said...

@1:08 --

That is a good story from al.com. This part jumped out at me:


Marshall’s letter, which was provided to AL.com on Thursday, was sent in response to a request from the West Morgan East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority that the state join a lawsuit it filed against 3M over man-made chemicals found in its source water.

The water authority says it has spent $4 million to install a temporary filter to remove those chemicals and is still looking to pay for a permanent solution. It serves about 20,000 meters in Lawrence and Morgan Counties.

Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday that she will work with local authorities and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to address the water pollution issues in north Alabama and with Marshall to research the water authority’s request.

legalschnauzer said...

More on the water issue from WHNT in Huntsville. They've been leading the news coverage on this:


https://whnt.com/2018/10/18/alabama-ags-office-pledges-to-meet-with-west-morgan-east-lawrence-water-authority-on-drinking-water-lawsuit/?fbclid=IwAR2UaSTOkKxjC1TwJLrwZKxMwdur2byMohD3W3EReHlbLUcnUxNMW4e66BE

Anonymous said...

Let's pump drinking water for Steve Marshall and Kay Ivey directly from the body of water nearest the 3M plant. Let them see how the water tastes and looks.

Anonymous said...

There is a fish consumption advisory for Lake Weiss. That's not good:


http://www.gadsdentimes.com/news/20180610/fish-consumption-advisory-includes-weiss-lake-crappie?fbclid=IwAR1D7PGgHqO84vt_3AqEXq96FACAOCgEkpwoZ0YwIjeeIa9iGENnRFsVp8A

Anonymous said...

The GOP has run out of candidates who can governor. As Charles Barkley would say, Marshall and Ivey are turrable.

legalschnauzer said...

Good post today by Josh Moon at APR. Basically shows that Ivey's calendar is filled with lots of blank spaces. Pretty clear she is not physically able to do the job:



http://www.alreporter.com/2018/10/18/opinion-kay-iveys-official-calendar-is-surprisingly-empty/

legalschnauzer said...

Here is a highlight from Josh Moon piece on Kay Ivey's calendar. It's a recommended read:


In late-August and early-September, there was one question dominating Alabama’s governor’s race.

Where is Kay Ivey?

The governor at that point had scarcely been seen in a few days. In one 10-day stretch, she held no public events and somehow managed to avoid even local ribbon cuttings and bridge openings. And her opponent’s campaign was raising questions about her lack of activity.

Walt Maddox, at that point, had already challenged Ivey to a series of debates. She declined, offering a number of excuses, including that she was “busy governing the state.” She had also told her Republican primary challengers that she was “too busy” to debate them.

So, I wanted to know: Who was telling the truth? Was it a big deal? Was Ivey too busy?

There was only one way to find out: I filed an Alabama Open Records Act request for Ivey’s official calendar for a three-week span (Aug. 24 through Sept. 14).


In late-August and early-September, there was one question dominating Alabama’s governor’s race.

Where is Kay Ivey?

The governor at that point had scarcely been seen in a few days. In one 10-day stretch, she held no public events and somehow managed to avoid even local ribbon cuttings and bridge openings. And her opponent’s campaign was raising questions about her lack of activity.

Walt Maddox, at that point, had already challenged Ivey to a series of debates. She declined, offering a number of excuses, including that she was “busy governing the state.” She had also told her Republican primary challengers that she was “too busy” to debate them.

So, I wanted to know: Who was telling the truth? Was it a big deal? Was Ivey too busy?

There was only one way to find out: I filed an Alabama Open Records Act request for Ivey’s official calendar for a three-week span (Aug. 24 through Sept. 14).

That span, I figured, would provide a solid look into Ivey’s days and would cover all of the days that the Maddox campaign had questioned her whereabouts.

On Wednesday, after paying $17 and some change to a public entity to produce public records that the public had already paid to be produced once, APR was provided with copies of Ivey’s official calendar.

Counting every entry on the calendar for 21 days — including travel time to and from the governor’s mansion (which apparently takes 30 minutes) and air travel to a variety of meetings and ribbon cuttings — there are less than 60 hours accounted for.

That’s less than three hours per day.

Anonymous said...

I still want to know what really happened with Marshall's wife.

Anonymous said...

The Koch boys support Steve Marshall? That right there tells you he's a corporate shill.

Anonymous said...

What kind of man would let his wife, who has a major pill problem and was openly talking of ending her life, move to another state? All by herself and with a hand gun? How did she get a gun? What husband thinks it's ok for his suicidal wife to have a hand gun, then move to another state? I think of that women all the time. To be in a lonely apt unit, in some strange town with no support and be in a level of pain that is so great, ending her life was her only answer. This is the story nobody is asking about. That poor lady is dead. We owe it to her and others to find answers. Put the spot light on it so that others will never have to die all alone. People with drug problems have a medical illness. They need love and support like any other sick person!!!!

legalschnauzer said...

@9:21 --

Thanks for n excellent comment. That whole scenario makes you wonder if Marshall had a little something on the side.

e.a.f. said...

$2,300? Please tell me it ain't so. $2,300. I thought only politicians in British Columbia would "sell out" for that small an amount. thought American politicians held out for "big money". he might as well have done it for free. $2,300. OMG, what the hell can you even buy with $2,300. If you had written $23K or $230,000 I might have gotten my head wrapped around it, but "selling out" for $2,300 I just don't understand. If a politician can't even "sell" their "vote" for more than that, who would want them? Really, how small time is that

$2,300 doesn't even buy a sufficient bottled water supply to get you through a year.

Water is everything. You can live without oil, but no one can live without water for more than 3 days. If people are drinking polluted water their life expectancy is reduced, more children are born with birth defects--I know its funny, those compulsory pregnancy people don't care about the quality of water pregnant women drink or once the person is born.

With the impending water shortage in North America, we need to ensure every well, every river, lake, etc. remains clean and drinkable for everyone. If people remember the line ups and some of the fights when Americans thought they had a gasoline shortage back in the 1970s, they haven't seen anything yet. Wait until there is a water shortage. And just so we're clear, that NAFTA 2, doesn't have a clause giving Americans access to Canadian water. The old NAFTA, NAFTA 1 contained a clause which stipulated once Canada began exporting water to the U.S.A. it had to continue, even if we had a shortage, clause is now gone. You can tell dtrump is an idiot, all he wanted was to ensure American agri business had access to our milk distribution. So they got 3% of the market share? Most Canadians won't want to buy it and now we have another reason, the cows are drinking polluted water.

Yes, its just not humans who will drink the polluted water, so will animals, animals which we in turn eat. With a nation which doesn't have much of a medical system, unless you're rich, you'd think people would want to ensure they had clean drinking waters, so they didn't develop cancer and other diseases.

Any politicians who contributes to the pollution of water ought to be put on trial for attempted murder or manslaughter as a min. Dirty water kills. Polluted water kills.