Friday, November 30, 2018

Donald Watkins might have his shortcomings, but as he faces charges (probably shaky) from crooked federal prosecutors, I'm pulling for him to beat the bastards


Donald Watkins
Birmingham attorney and businessman Donald Watkins has a habit of claiming the work of others as his own. On a related note, Watkins and his son, Donald V. Watkins Jr., were indicted yesterday on federal fraud charges in the Northern District of Alabama.

Does that first sentence lead to the second? Not necessarily, but it does suggest Donald Watkins Sr. has a sizable ego and perhaps that contributed to the legal problems he now faces.

On the other hand, the charges against Watkins grew from the Hugo Black Courthouse in downtown Birmingham. That building houses courtrooms, federal judges' offices, the clerk's office, and the office of U.S. attorney Jay Town. I've spent more time in the Hugo Black building than I care to remember, and while it is an attractive edifice, experience has taught me that it houses some of the sleaziest, most dishonest, and contemptible people on the planet. It's a sewer of organized crime, and my guess is that 70 percent of the people in the building have committed or know about indictable offenses.

My wife, Carol, and I have been involved in at least four or five (I've lost track) cases in the Hugo Black Courthouse, and every one has been decided by crooked federal judges, issuing rulings that run wildly contrary to black-letter law. Even in the clerk's office, we've seen signs that cases routinely are doled out to specific judges -- almost certainly for corrupt reasons -- rather than assigned randomly, as required by law.

The Hugo Black crooks are so low that it would not be beneath them to bring the Watkins charges as a diversion, to deflect public attention from legal concerns that hover over Alabama's ruling white elites -- such as the evolving North Birmingham Superfund scandal, the AG Steve Marshall/RAGA scandal, the firing of state prosecutor Matt Hart, the Bellefonte nuclear plant boondoggle, possible revelations about Jeff Sessions and other Alabama dirt bags in the Trump-Russia scandal, and more.

All of this means Donald Watkins and his son are about to enter a den of "reptiles, tramps, and thieves" -- to borrow a phrase modified from Cher -- and that's not a pleasant thought for anyone. In what promises to be a nasty, legal Battle Royale, I'm pulling for the Watkinses, hands down.

That's not to say I don't have quibbles with Mr. Watkins Sr. In recent years, he has added the role of "journalist" to his professional undertakings, and he has repeatedly claimed at his Facebook and Web page that he broke the story of former Gov. Robert Bentley and his extramarital affair with senior adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason. In fact, Watkins made the claim again yesterday in his online response to the federal indictments:

Ironically, while federal prosecutors in Alabama elected to prosecute me on flimsy allegations, they forgave former Governor Robert Bentley for his many acts of public corruption in spending vast sums of tax dollars, campaign money, and dark money romancing his lover, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. As the Alabama public knows, I am the journalist who broke the “sex for power” scandal between Bentley and Ms. Mason that resulted in the governor’s resignation.

The highlighted statement above is false, and Watkins knows it is false. I have advised him of its falsity several times via response on Facebook. This blog, Legal Schnauzer, broke the Bentley-Mason story on Aug. 31, 2015 -- and that is an indisputable fact, as we spelled out in an April 2018 post:

Legal Schnauzer broke the story of Bentley's affair with "adviser" Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- and its associated financial and legal implications -- roughly seven months before the mainstream media (MSM) began to take it seriously. The first story on the Bentley scandal, anywhere in any form of media, was published here at Legal Schnauzer on Aug. 31, 2015.

We were way ahead of everybody in naming Rebekah Mason as a central figure in the scandal. Our guess is the MSM never would have touched the story if we hadn't broken it and followed up with key details. In fact, al.com (especially "reporters" John Archibald and Chuck Dean) spent months attacking my journalism on the story. They were more interested in sweeping the story under their GOP-tinted rug than actually pursuing it. . . .

Archibald, of course, was happy to go on The Rachel Maddow Show in spring 2017 and take credit for "breaking" the story, even though he was seven months late to the party.

Speaking of taking credit for the work of others, we have lawyer/businessman/Facebook "journalist" Donald Watkins, who repeatedly has taken credit for breaking the Bentley-Mason story. His most recent effort to falsely claim credit for breaking the story came three days ago. Much of Watkins' early reporting on the Bentley scandal focused on hints that the governor was having a homosexual affair with his security chief.

Watkins didn't even have the gender issue correct, and never mentioned Mason's name until well after we had broken it. Yet, just three days ago, he took credit for breaking the story. Perhaps that kind of fundamental dishonesty is the reason Watkins is up to his neck in federal investigations. (Given that many state and federal prosecutors are utterly lacking in integrity, it's also possible Watkins is being targeted because his skin is black and is seen as a threat to Alabama's conservative establishment.)

Am I displeased that Watkins has taken credit for my work? Yes. Am I so worked up about it that I've lost objectivity about his case? I hope not. Do my quibbles mean he is guilty of the charges feds now have brought against him? Of course not -- and I suspect the government's case is filled with holes.

Watkins did make important contributions on the Bentley/Mason story, and I have given him credit for that multiple times. He has broken or contributed to other important stories, such as the suicide of former University of Alabama student Megan Rondini. His journalism probably has earned him enemies in high places.

The government's efforts to charge Watkins have been percolating for years. It's a complex financial matter, and I'm still studying it to get a grip on the issues involved. But I've reached two conclusions already:

(1) I believe the charges likely were brought now to shine an ugly spotlight on a prominent black man in Alabama, diverting attention from possible criminal actions of white elites on issues noted above.

(2) Donald Watkins, without a doubt, is smarter than the prosecutors and investigators who will be trying to put him away. If he gets a reasonable judge and jury -- a big if -- I think he will kick the feds in the crotch if this thing goes to trial.

Based on what I know at the moment -- and what I've learned about the Alabama "justice system" over almost 20 years -- I hope Watkins does kick the feds in the delicates -- and may he keeps on kicking until they can squirm no more.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Shane Rogers-Mauro, a classmate of Bill Pryor's at Northeast Louisiana U, says the future judge outed him in college -- pointing to a Kavanaugh-like tendency to abuse others and act in devious ways


Bill Pryor, as a drummer at Northeast Louisiana University

After a raucous confirmation process, Brett Kavanaugh stands as Exhibit A of a federal judge who lacks the temperament, integrity, and impartiality to sit on the federal bench.

Consider Bill Pryor, who sits on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Alabama, Georgia, Florida) and has an office at his "duty station" in Birmingham's Hugo Black Courthouse, as Exhibit B. In essence, Pryor is a closeted-gay version of Brett Kavanaugh, perhaps even more far to the right politically -- and both were on Donald Trump's short list of U.S. Supreme Court nominees. Pryor apparently fell out of favor -- opening the door for Kavanaugh -- and that likely is because of our reporting about his forays into gay pornography, with nude photos appearing at badpuppy.com in the late 1990s.

Shane Rogers-Mauro, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, man who says Pryor sexually harassed him while the two were classmates at Northeast Louisiana University (NLU, now University of Louisiana Monroe), uses terms like "cruel" and "evil" to describe the Pryor he knew in college and read about since the judge's rise to political infamy as a closeted gay who is virulently anti-LGBT in his public statements. Rogers-Mauro says he has notes about others who have told him Pryor sexually harassed them at NLU.

Shane Rogers in the NLU Marching Band
In fact, Rogers-Mauro has seen Pryor's cruelty in a most personal way. Jealous over a relationship Rogers-Mauro was having in college (he was Shane Rogers then, and Rogers-Mauro is his married name), Pryor outed his classmate. Says Rogers-Mauro:
I was in a band fraternity -- Kappa Kappa Psi -- when Bill discovered I was seeing someone else, and he decided to out me to the rest of the band. Back then, outing was rotten thing to do because people were pretty much in closet. In fact, I would say that outing me, alone, was a form of sexual harassment. I was ostracized in the fraternity, and it pretty much ended my time in that organization.

Bill has a self loathing outlook, with his anti-gay opinions in court and in his public statements. That is so old school and disgusting to us all.

Rogers-Mauro said Pryor was an annoying, abrasive presence on the NLU campus, especially in the close-knit band community:

I don't have a lot of dirty stories about Bill; I never had any sexual interaction with him. He's got a wife and kids, which is pretty shocking. That is him in Bad Puppy. He was known as gay -- he was in percussion, a drummer -- and he had a mouth on him, saying things, about politics and other subjects, that he shouldn't have been saying. We worked together in work-study, so we got to know each other pretty well.

I'm surprised he's an appellate-court judge. Not only is he not the right person for the job, with all of his prejudices, but I've never seen someone so conservative and cruel. We wrote Bill off as a pure radical; he was always glorifying Reagan. His views are so far right -- he was Republican this and Republican that. 
This guy's evil. I've had no contact with him since college. From opinions and statements of last 20 years, I can see it's only gotten worse. How can he be a judge of others when he's so prejudiced in one direction. That goes beyond homosexuality or anything like that. He will try to get as high as he can. He's one of those power grabbers. You can't make judicial decisions in the right way when you are so far on the fringe.

As a federal judge, Pryor appears to be a successful individual -- on the surface -- and Rogers-Mauro did not see that one coming:

I never thought twice about him being successful in anything. People would walk the other way when he was coming toward them because they did not want to deal with that kind of aggressiveness. I'm 53 now, and I've never seen anyone so radical in entire life.

He's gotten higher than he ever should have. I find it hard to believe Bill could be impartial in anything. And others who know him can't believe he's a judge. He's just very aggressive, very evil.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tribalism prospers in the Age of Trump -- explaining Cindy Hyde-Smith's victory in Mississippi U.S. Senate race and GOP dominance in Alabama -- as U.S. democracy teeters amid a rash of horrific events


Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy

How does one explain Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith's victory in yesterday's U.S. Senate election in Mississippi, even though Hyde-Smith ran a campaign that included embarrassing evocations to the state's ugly history with racism and slavery? In essence, Mississippi elected an openly white-supremacist candidate. Was the seat decided because Hyde-Smith is white and her opponent, Democrat Mike Espy, is black?

How can one explain the dominance of the Republican Party in Alabama's November midterms, even when the party is awash in corruption and puts forth preposterously weak candidates -- such as Gov. Kay Ivey, who reportedly has had a series of strokes and struggles at times to put sentences together; and Attorney General Steve Marshall, who has taken campaign donations that clearly violate Alabama law?

Perhaps the answer can be found amidst the rubble of America's recent "News week from hell." Our theory: The four events that comprise that awful seven days can be explained with one word. We suspect the same word can be used to explain voting patterns in Mississippi, Alabama, the Deep South, and other parts of the country -- with Republicans, stunningly, actually gaining seats in the U.S. Senate.

On a personal note, the abuse that has been heaped on my wife, Carol, and me over the past 10-plus years -- both in Alabama and Missouri -- probably can be explained with the same word. What is it? We'll call it "the T word" -- tribalism -- and recent reports indicate it is burgeoning in the Age of Trump, perhaps posing  the single biggest threat to U.S. democracy.

Consider the horrific events in the "News week from hell":

(1) Eleven congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue were murdered because someone with a criminal mindset viewed them as members of the wrong tribe (Jews).

(2) Two customers at a Kentucky grocery store were murdered because someone with a criminal mindset viewed them as members of the wrong tribe (black Americans) -- and the shooter apparently arrived at the store because he failed to break into a black church, where the death toll could have been frightfully high.

(3) Various individuals and organizations received suspicious packages, which generally proved to be mail bombs, because someone with a criminal mindset -- and Cesar Sayoc, the person charged with the offense, has a criminal record -- viewed them as members of the wrong tribe (critics of Donald Trump).

(4) Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi newsman who wrote for The Washington Post, was murdered and dismembered because individuals in Saudi Arabia, with a criminal mindset, viewed him as a member of the wrong tribe (journalists.)

All of this becomes particularly disturbing when viewed through the lens of tribalism. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently took such a view on the domestic front and reached some unsettling conclusions. His piece is titled "Donald Trump's Relentless Tribe":

It’s what some political scientists call negative partisanship. Research shows that, increasingly, Americans on one side of the political divide don’t just disagree with those on the other. They see them as threats to the country’s well-being. Their anger at the opposing party and its leaders is more pervasive. Their disagreement with its prescriptions is strict. They’re not as keen to associate with its adherents. And their unbalanced information diets and narrow ideological enclaves insulate them from its reasoning.

Forget I’m O.K., you’re O.K. This is: I have problems, you’re repulsive.

The ethos extends to the assessment and defense of Trump’s behavior. He may be an odd fit for a tribe that includes usually judgmental religious conservatives and once exuberant free traders, but he’s now their chief, and whatever his flaws, his detractors’ are worse. If they’re agitated, they’re ipso facto overreacting. Regardless, show no weakness. Admit no wrong.

For details on research about the rising tide of U.S. tribalism, we invite you to click on links above from the Bruni article.

Alleged Kentucky shooter Gregory Bush
George Packer, of The New Yorker, recently focused on research that originated in Europe. Packer's article is titled "A New Report Offers Insights Into Tribalism In The Age of Trump":

More in Common, a research organization based in Europe and the United States, released a report called “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape.” It builds on the group’s prior work in France, Germany, and Italy—an effort to understand and counteract rising populism and fragmentation in the Western democracies. Throughout the past year, the report’s four authors surveyed eight thousand randomly chosen Americans, asking questions about “core beliefs”: moral values, attitudes toward parenting and personal responsibility, perceptions of threats, approaches to group identity. . . .
More in Common found that “tribal membership predicts differences in Americans’ views on various political issues better than demographic, ideological, and partisan groupings.” In other words, whether or not you think creativity is more important than good behavior in children is a better indicator of your political views than is your gender, your race, your income, or your party affiliation. “Once we have the seven segments, their views on issues are highly correlated,” Tim Dixon, an Australian political activist and a founder of More in Common, told me. He added, “We have too much opinion research and not enough value research.”

Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld examined similar issues in a piece at The Atlantic, titled "The Threat of Tribalism." It's part of a series titled "Is Democracy Dying?"

When we think of tribalism, we tend to focus on the primal pull of race, religion, or ethnicity. But partisan political loyalties can become tribal too. When they do, they can be as destructive as any other allegiance. The Founders understood this. In 1780, John Adams wrote that the “greatest political evil” to be feared under a democratic constitution was the emergence of “two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other.” George Washington, in his farewell address, described the “spirit of party” as democracy’s “worst enemy.” It “agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one party against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. . . .”

Alleged mail bomber Cesar Sayoc
The causes of America’s resurgent tribalism are many. They include seismic demographic change, which has led to predictions that whites will lose their majority status within a few decades; declining social mobility and a growing class divide; and media that reward expressions of outrage. All of this has contributed to a climate in which every group in America—minorities and whites; conservatives and liberals; the working class and elites—feels under attack, pitted against the others not just for jobs and spoils, but for the right to define the nation’s identity. In these conditions, democracy devolves into a zero-sum competition, one in which parties succeed by stoking voters’ fears and appealing to their ugliest us-versus-them instincts:

Americans on both the left and the right now view their political opponents not as fellow Americans with differing views, but as enemies to be vanquished. And they have come to view the Constitution not as an aspirational statement of shared principles and a bulwark against tribalism, but as a cudgel with which to attack those enemies.

As for Carol ad me, our experience somewhat mirrors the Jamal Khashoggi case of being attacked as members of the journalism tribe. But our story involves some deeper undercurrents. For example, we've learned that right-wing tribalists -- especially those who wear robes and generally are found in the Deep South Midwest, and Great Plains -- tend to make up their own law, as opposed to following the codified state and federal laws they are sworn to uphold. Put another way, they have no respect for due process, equal protection, or the rule of law -- and they are traitors to the U.S. and state constitutions.

Here is how we explained it in a post about what we have come to call "The New Confederacy," focusing on the trial of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard:

The Mike Hubbard trial, on the surface, was about 23 charges of Alabama Ethics Law violations -- with a Lee County jury finding Hubbard guilty on 12 counts. But from a big-picture view, it was about the kind of mindset that has come to hold back many areas of the Deep South, not to mention other states where Southern thinking tends to hold sway. We are thinking of Great Plains or Midwest states, such as Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.

What is this mindset all about? We have broken it into two parts -- one called "The New Confederacy," and the other called "Conservative Tribalism." Both were on display in the Mike Hubbard trial.

"The New Confederacy" includes individuals who tend to self-identify as "patriots," even though they reject fundamental tenets of the U.S. Constitution. These modern-day confederates tend to especially reject the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection, which became part of America's constitutional landscape after the Civil War.

From 1866 to 1868, Southern states bitterly opposed ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Hubbard trial showed that many Southerners, especially elites, still despise the principles of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Consider Hubbard's lawyer, Bill Baxley. He described several of the counts against his client as "mumbo-jumbo" or "gobbledygook." Baxley made little or no attempt to dispute the prosecution's version of the facts. Instead, he argued there was no crime -- essentially claiming the law does not apply to Mike Hubbard.

Carol and I have not been murdered -- yet -- but we have been pushed to the edge of financial ruin by a form of legal tribalism that runs counter to everything our constitution supposedly stands for. In essence, we've been the victims of massive theft -- of our home, our personal belongings, our financial resources, our health-care and retirement funds, our reputations, you name it.

Alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers
Our lesson: Tribalism likely enhances the possibility of physical violence in a society, but it can undermine a democracy in many other ways.

Right-leaning voters around the country -- especially in places like Mississippi and Alabama -- apparently do not realize that or do not care. If our theory is on target, those voters simply sniff out candidates they believe belong to their tribe -- or will support their tribe -- and pull the lever for them, even if they are not remotely qualified to do the job.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Missouri attorney David Shuler took no action at trial to determine if witness claim that Scott J. Wells had scars on his penis was accurate -- leaving his client with a devastating conviction for child sexual abuse


Scott J Wells
(Second in a series)

The key moment in the child sexual abuse case against Missouri resident Scott J. Wells came when one of four complaining witnesses -- all of roughly adolescent age or slightly younger -- stated at trial that Wells had scars on his penis. Records indicate Wells' defense attorney, David Shuler (my brother), of Springfield, did little or nothing in reaction to the statement -- and his client wound up being convicted, facing a likely punishment of five life sentences, plus 55 years.

The dire outlook for Scott Wells only changed when David Shuler withdrew, and a second defense attorney examined the case -- noticing a potential problem with the testimony about a scar on Wells' penis.

Daniel Dodson -- the second attorney, from Jefferson City -- saw the obvious question that David Shuler apparently did not: Was the testimony about Scott Wells' penis true, was there a way to prove it was false -- and if it was false, what implications did that have for the prosecution's case against Wells?

Is it any wonder that Scott Wells, after his criminal conviction was overturned, sued David Shuler for legal malpractice -- and the case got almost to trial stage, with the two sides formulating jury instructions, when Wells' attorney mysteriously bailed out on him?

Daniel Dodson
We will look at the circumstances that caused Scott Wells' conviction to be thrown out on a Motion for a New Trial -- due to ineffective assistance of counsel -- and how Wells appeared to be on his way to winning a legal-malpractice case against David Shuler (with a likely sizable judgment) only to have it dismissed when his attorney essentially abandoned him at the last minute.

But first, let's look at how the penis-scar issue arose during a hearing on a Motion for a New Trial. Following is testimony from Dodson's examination of David Shuler at the new-trial hearing. It begins on page 86 in the third document embedded at the end of this post. (The other documents are Part 1 and Part 2 of Dodson's testimony in the legal-malpractice case.):

Dodson: Okay. Do you recall an instance during the trial when -- when Tracy Hercher [a complaining witness] indicated that Scott Wells had shown her the scars on his penis? Do you recall that?

Shuler: I do recall that. I do recall her saying that.

Dodson: I will refer now to the trial transcript, page 58, line -- can you read lines 12 and 19?

Shuler: "You were -- he was showing me scars and stuff on his thing."

Dodson: Now, you did mention -- well, at some point, you did ask her if she's ever made that allegation before, is that not correct?

Shuler: I did, yes, that's what I recall.

Dodson: Okay. Did you consider any other ways to question her truthfulness in making that statement?

Shuler: I'm not sure I understand your --

Dodson: Did any other thoughts occur to you then, or do they occur to you now, as ways to -- I mean she just made a statement that Scott Wells has scars on his penis, in this transcript, is that correct?

Shuler: Correct.

Dodson: So anything -- did anything else occur to you or did you consider any other ways of trying to establish that that was a statement that was not true?

David Shuler
Shuler: Photographic evidence, I guess, could have been taken.

Dodson: Okay. Well, did you have -- did it -- what I want to ask: Did you ever even ask Scott Wells if he has scars on his penis?

Shuler: Yes, I did.

Dodson: So, if Scott indicates otherwise -- and so what did he tell you?

Shuler: At the table, he looked at me very surprised like he'd never heard that before; I had never heard it before.

Dodson: Okay.

Shuler: And then --

Dodson: So what did you ask him?

Shuler: I asked Scott: Do you have scars?

Dodson: And what did he say?

Shuler: He said, "No."

Dodson: And so why did you not ask him that when he was on the stand?

Shuler: I believe we did.

Dodson: The transcript will reflect --

Shuler: If we didn't, we didn't, but I thought we did.

Dodson: So if that -- if you didn't ask that question, that wouldn't have been due to trial strategy, that would have been an oversight on your part --

Shuler: Correct.

Dodson: -- is that correct?

Shuler: Correct.

Dodson: Okay. And you seem to recall that you did ask, but if the transcript reflects that you didn't ask Scott on the stand, might that be an indicator that you intended to ask Scott that question, but perhaps didn't ask him that?

Shuler: That's possible, yes.

Dodson: Okay. So it's possible you didn't even ask Scott whether he had scars on his penis --

Shuler: Sure.

Dodson: -- at trial?

Shuler: I thought that we did, perhaps we did not, perhaps I did not.


(To be continued)


Previously in the series:

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















Monday, November 26, 2018

Report shows social-media giant has strengthened ties to right-wing goons, including Jeff Sessions, meaning our time in "Facebook Jail" might go beyond trolls





Legal Schnauzer is an unapologetically liberal blog, and we have been in "Facebook Jail" for more than a month, dating back to the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections. This marks roughly a dozen times in 2018 that the world's foremost social network has placed us in jail. We have tended to attribute our ongoing problems with Facebook to right-wing trolls -- pro-Trump, pro-law enforcement types --who file baseless complaints about our content. But a recent New York Times investigation suggests our problems -- and those of other progressive voices -- rest not with trolls, but with Facebook officials themselves.

The Times' report, published Nov. 14 (with a followup on Nov. 17), shows that -- even though tech companies have tended to align with Democrats -- Facebook is much more closely tied to right-wing forces than the public generally knows. That could explain our experiences with "Facebook Jail," along with those of other liberals on the social-media behemoth.

What exactly is "Facebook Jail"? In our case, it takes the form of notices that tell us posts from legalschnauzer.blogspot.com are "spam" and "violate community standards." That means any link from our blog will be blocked for an indefinite period of time. We can place an item on Facebook, letting followers know that the LS post exists, but we cannot provide a link that allows followers to easily click and go directly to the blog post. They have to do a Google search for "Legal Schnauzer" and take a roundabout trip to the post.

Our assignments to "Facebook Jail" have lasted from a few hours to a month or more. Messages to Facebook, informing them that our blog posts are not spam and do not violate community standards, tend to go unheard. Why is that? Well, let's consider what The New York Times teaches us about the company Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg made famous:


(1) Facebook hires right-wing attack dog to seek dirt on progressives, especially George Soros

Facebook used a Washington-based consulting firm called Definers Public Affairs to attack its perceived enemies. That includes George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist and Democratic Party patron, who has called Facebook a "menace to society." Definers, it turns out, has close ties to conservative entities, including the George W. Bush administration and Breitbart News. From The Times' followup:

Facebook initially hired Definers to monitor news about the social network. It expanded its relationship with the firm in October 2017 when scrutiny of Facebook was increasing over how Russian agents had used the site to sow discord before the 2016 United States election.

Definers began doing some general communications work, such as running conference calls for Facebook. It also undertook more covert efforts to spread the blame for the rise of the Russian disinformation, pointing fingers at other companies like Google.

A key part of Definers’ strategy was NTK Network, a website that appeared to be a run-of-the-mill news aggregator with a right-wing slant. In fact, many of NTK Network’s stories were written by employees at Definers and America Rising, a sister firm, to criticize rivals of their clients, according to one former employee not allowed to speak about it publicly. The three outfits share some staff and offices in Arlington, Va.

(2) Facebook knew about Russia's use of the site to meddle in the 2016 presidential election much longer than it let on

Facebook officials largely have downplayed their knowledge of Russian meddling, but The Times' Nov. 14 report shows company insiders -- such as former security chief Alex Stamos -- were aware of suspicious activity on the platform roughly a year longer than the public generally understood:

In the final months of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, Russian agents escalated a yearlong effort to hack and harass his Democratic opponents, culminating in the release of thousands of emails stolen from prominent Democrats and party officials.

Facebook had said nothing publicly about any problems on its own platform. But in the spring of 2016, a company expert on Russian cyberwarfare spotted something worrisome. He reached out to his boss, Mr. Stamos.

Mr. Stamos’s team discovered that Russian hackers appeared to be probing Facebook accounts for people connected to the presidential campaigns, said two employees. Months later, as Mr. Trump battled Hillary Clinton in the general election, the team also found Facebook accounts linked to Russian hackers who were messaging journalists to share information from the stolen emails.

Could Facebook face legal liability for failing to contain the Russian disinformation campaign? The answer appears to be "maybe." Does Facebook have motivation to stifle voices -- such as ours -- that speak out in support of the Robert Mueller investigation? The answer appears to be "yes."


(3) The Social Network, Jeff Sessions, and "Sweet Home Alabama"

Are we stretching to suggest Facebook might have motivations to stifle a blog with roots in Birmingham, AL? The New York Times investigation suggests the answer is "no."

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg
The Times makes clear that Facebook has worked to forge connections with former Trump attorney general and U.S.  Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) -- and evidence strongly suggests the abuse directed at Mrs. Schnauzer and me (in Alabama and Missouri) has its foundation with Mr. Sessions and his allies. Reports The Times:

Then Donald J. Trump ran for president. He described Muslim immigrants and refugees as a danger to America, and in December 2015 posted a statement on Facebook calling for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States. Mr. Trump’s call to arms — widely condemned by Democrats and some prominent Republicans — was shared more than 15,000 times on Facebook, an illustration of the site’s power to spread racist sentiment. . . .

In the end, Mr. Trump’s statement and account remained on the site. When Mr. Trump won election the next fall, giving Republicans control of the White House as well as Congress, Mr. [Joel] Kaplan was empowered to plan accordingly. The company hired a former aide to Mr. Trump’s new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, along with lobbying firms linked to Republican lawmakers who had jurisdiction over internet companies.

Who was the former Sessions aide that Facebook went out of its way to hire? It was Sandra Luff, as reported at al.com in May 2017:

A former aide to Alabama Senator turned U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been hired by Facebook.

Axios reported Sandra Luff, who served as Sessions' Legislative Director while he was in the Senate, will be Director of Executive Branch Public Policy at the social media company. She also worked with Trump's transition team.

"Sandy's experience and understanding of the political landscape will make her an invaluable asset to our team. We are excited to have her aboard," Facebook's vice president of U.S. public policy Greg Maurer said in a statement.

The move appears to be the latest efforts by Facebook to reach out to the Trump administration.

So, Facebook has been reaching out to Trump and Sessions flunkies, covering up its knowledge of Russian meddling, and hiring right-wing firms that deal in opposition research?

Is it any wonder Legal Schnauzer has spent much of 2018 in Facebook Jail -- and maybe it has nothing to do with trolls?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Steve Marshall picks a political hack from the Leura Canary era to replace Matt Hart -- another sign heads must be exploding among Marshall's white supporters


Steve Marshall and Anna Clark Morris

Steve Marshall's pick to replace Matt Hart as special prosecutions chief in the Alabama attorney general's office is a political hack from the Leura Canary era. The choice of Anna Clark Morris, who had been an assistant U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Alabama, provides more evidence that the white elites who bankrolled Marshall's campaign are in a panic -- likely over the indictment of Trey Glenn, the fear that former House Speaker Mike Hubbard will go to prison and sing for prosecutors, the firing of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, and related issues.

Legal Schnauzer reported on Anna Clark Morris in a post from January 2009, shortly after Barack Obama became president. Titled "Are Democrats playing politics with prosecutors?" the post was based largely on analysis from a U.S. Department of Justice source who had seen Clark's work up close and was deeply unimpressed. Here is some background on Morris from the 2009 post:

At least one Alabama Democratic Party nominee for U.S. attorney would be no better than her Republican predecessor, according to a source inside the Department of Justice.

A state Democratic Party advisory council this week recommended Anna Clark Morris as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. The Middle District, under the George W. Bush administration, was headed by Leura Canary, and her office handled the prosecution of former Democratic governor Don Siegelman.

Morris is an assistant U.S. attorney in the Montgomery-based office, with almost 11 years of experience as a federal prosecutor. She is the daughter of Alexander City trial attorney Larry Morris, a major Democratic Party contributor.

Morris might have Democratic roots, but she has worked under multiple Republican administrations, and our source says she fit right in with the dysfunctional, corrupt, and unprofessional atmosphere Leura Canary created:
The appointment of Anna Clark Morris would be "disastrous," a Department of Justice source told Legal Schnauzer.

"She currently works in the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's Office, where she is heavily invested in the culture of gossip, support-staff abuses, and maintaining the status quo," the source said. "An appointment of Clark Morris as U.S. attorney would be disastrous -- four more years of the same."

Our earlier post suggests Morris now is likely to enhance the brazen partisanship that already plagues Alabama's "justice apparatus":
An appointment of Clark Morris would smack of the kind of partisan politics that resulted in Leura Canary's appointment, our source said. Canary was appointed after she and her husband, Business Council of Alabama head Bill Canary, made substantial contributions to the Bush campaign and the Republican Party.

Our source also noted the irony of Democrats pushing Clark Morris to lead an office that prosecuted Siegelman for an alleged "pay to play" scheme involving a political appointment in exchange for campaign support.

A Clark Morris appointment would look like a "classic quid pro quo," the source said, "what federal prosecutors call 'white-collar crime' or 'corruption,' yet when it involves a DOJ insider, it is perfectly fine. Am I missing something here?"

Meanwhile, Alabama Political Reporter (APR) publisher Bill Britt blasted Marshall in an opinion piece, saying he has neither the integrity, emotional heft, or intellectual capacity to handle his job. From Britt:

Marshall did not terminate Hart because he was an ineffective leader or an unsuccessful prosecutor, but because Hart is both those things and more.

Marshall is evil, but he’s also weak, which makes him a dangerous man.

With Hart’s forced resignation, Marshall kept his private campaign promises to his big donors that Hart would be gone after the general election. So, just 13 days after his election as attorney general and four years until the next election, Marshall moved on Hart like a coward who shoots a lawman in the back in a Hollywood Western movie.

Marshall is a spineless little man who withers in the presence of a man like Hart. It’s not just his lack of character and willingness to cut deals to achieve power, but his utter disregard for the justice system he oversees.

Hart is not likely to stroll away into the good night, Britt writes:

While Marshall may have silenced Hart’s voice in the grand jury and at criminal trials, it is doubtful that Hart as a private citizen will remain quiet.

Hart knows what Marshall is up to, as well as the intrigue of the elites who paid for his office.

When disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Marshall, he intended for the men to clash. It was part of the plan. Bentley did not select Marshall because he was the best candidate to take on the attorney general’s position, but because he had a history of compromised investigations and virtually no record of prosecuting public corruption as a district attorney. But, it was Marshall’s willingness to investigate Hart and Van Davis, who successfully prosecuted former Speaker and convicted felon Mike Hubbard, that caused Bentley and his paramour, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, to green-light his appointment.

When Hart confronted Marshall over his compromise with Bentley, there was little hope that a working relationship would be in the making between the two men.

Marshall is afraid of Hart, but he is also jealous of him. After only a few weeks at the attorney general’s office, staffers noticed how jealous he was of Hart’s success, not only as a winning prosecutor but because of the admiration he enjoyed in the press. Staffers laughed at Marshall’s man-crush on Hart behind his back, saying he should grow a beard and maybe the press would like him, too.

It was Marshall’s jealously and unwillingness to ruffle feathers that separated the men; one wanting to be admired and the other wants to fight crime.

Over the last year, the relationship continued to strain as Hart set his sights on some of Marshall’s influential donors or those close to them.

Finally, Britt has ominous words that might give Marshall and his supporters pause -- hinting that the AG has secrets that could wind up biting him in the hindquarters:

Marshall can now say to those who put him in power, “Promises made, promises kept.”

But Marshall will do well to remember that actions have consequences, and there is a cost to corrupt acts, even if they are legal. More than one unscrupulous politico has met his fate at the end of a keyboard.

Marshall is saying he will take a hit from the media for firing Hart, but not a single elected official will say a word against him, according to those in the attorney general’s office.

Marshall believes that four years is long enough for people to forget he axed one of the state’s most successful prosecutors in the middle of multiple investigations to benefit his political donors.

But not everyone forgets, and there is a lot more to know about Marshall and what he has to hide.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Trey Glenn indictment -- plus reports about his use of "N word" and other racist acts -- might bring national attention to the toxic culture that plagues Alabama


Trey Glenn mugshot
Trey Glenn resigned yesterday as the Trump administration's Southeast EPA director amid reports that his indictment on state ethics charges -- plus his alleged use of the "N word" and other racist actions -- might shine a national spotlight on Alabama's toxic political culture.

BanBalch.com, which has led reporting on the North Birmingham Superfund scandal, showed in a pair of recent posts (see here and here) that the Glenn indictment might help draw attention from Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to the ugly scene in the "Heart of Dixie" -- perhaps with special attention for the Birmingham law firm Balch Bingham and its many creepy-crawler associates. With Democrats now the majority in the House of Representatives, the charges against Glenn might join  the scrutiny expected for myriad Trump-related scandals, banbalch.com reports:

The mugshots of Balch stooges Scott Phillips and Trey Glenn . . . are more symbolic than that of two paid consultants.

They symbolize that the fight for justice and inherent goodness are not over.

Actually, this is the start of the next, new beginning. As the Associated Press reported yesterday:

“Trey Glenn should have never made it through any serious vetting process,” said Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “Scott Pruitt may be gone, but it’s clear the culture of corruption remains.” Pallone pledged his committee would conduct “vigorous oversight” of EPA once Democrats take control of the House in January.

Pallone could not only drag Glenn before his committee, but Balch Bingham leaders and their lackeys involved in the North Birmingham scandal.

Pallone could also subpoena Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning whose subsidiary Alabama Power donated $30,0000 to the Oliver Robinson Foundation and whose then-Balch lobbyist, Jeffrey H. Wood, was on Capitol Hill inquiring about the North Birmingham matter as the bribery scandal was at full-throttle in 2016.

Another House Democrat might be interested in the Glenn revelations, reports banbalch.com:

And just wait until Congressman Jerry Nadler as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee comes along to closely examine aspects of the last minute appointment of that ex-Balch lobbyist Jeffrey H. Wood as Principal Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General for ENRD just days before Jeff Sessions was fired.

Congressmen Nadler and Pallone simply won’t tolerate lies, fluff, or sugar-coated testimony.

With U.S. Congressional hearings, the trials of Phillips and Glenn, and possibly one or two civil RICO suits coming in 2019, Balch Bingham is facing even darker days . . .

In a post yesterday, banbalch.com publisher K.B. Forbes said the Glenn case likely will increase pressure on the DOJ to investigate widespread corruption in Alabama:

We returned late Friday from a very insightful and productive trip to New York City and Washington, D.C.

Our high-level sources tell us that with the local Jefferson County indictment of Balch  Bingham stooges Scott Phillips and Trey Glenn, pressure on the U.S. Department of Justice to take a deeper look at the corrupt state of affairs in Alabama has escalated—especially now that Jeff Sessions was ousted.

The reporting to prison of bought-and-paid-for politician and former Alabama State Representative Oliver Robinson is scheduled for next week and shows how a Balch Bingham partner corrupted the legislative branch in Alabama.

Glenn and Phillips show how consultants for Balch Bingham appear to have corrupted and compromised the executive branch and its oversight agencies in Alabama. (And let us not forget the Balch ghost-written letters blindly signed by the Governor, State Attorney General, and others in power at the time.)

Finally, with the creation of a secretive Star Chamber and over $30,000 in campaign contributions funneled to Judge Carole Smitherman and her husband State Senator Rodger Smitherman [in the Burt Newsome conspiracy case], Balch Bingham appears to have allegedly manipulated the judicial branch in Alabama.

Could the Smithermans be indicted next or are they cooperating with investigators as witnesses?

All three branches of government appear to have been manipulated by Balch Bingham,  and no one we met with on the East Coast has overlooked the fact that Balch and Southern Company are sister-wives, joined at the hip.

As for the racism angle to the Trey Glenn story, Alabama political insider Jill Simpson provides insight on that in a post at Facebook:

Yeah, Trey Glenn just resigned. Now it is time for him to plead guilty and start cooperating and telling his whole story on the Alabama Gang. 
I will never forget the piece of shit Glenn telling me he did not give a damn about the St Clair Prison "N words" (which he said, but I won't say it) when I was warning him that Luther Strange and Rob Riley's bunch were planning on using black prisoners getting in the tire swamp to get the tires out without safety gear. That is when he admitted it was his idea and he had offered it to them.

Bob Riley
When I raised the issue with Bob Riley -- that those young black men could get encephalitis -- is when he said to be quiet about it, and if I was quiet and set up Lowell Barron on a false murder claim -- they would give me the next three or four tire deals.  My bunch said fuck no and we decided to report him and Glenn's bunch to the FBI. . . .

Trey is a racist of the worst kind and was willing to put young black male prisoners from St. Clair County in a mosquito-filled swamp to get tires out without protective suits -- and that is the first thing I came forward on, but also their dealings with Saudis and [Mark] Fuller and their dealings with Russians and Oleg Deripaska.
Oh well, I got rid of Fuller being over Saudi flight stuff, now on to Trey Glenn, and next Jeff Sessions, and Oleg Deripaska on the EADS deal, and then the Rileys, who stole over $30 million from Milton McGregor and his friends. 
Getting rid of the Alabama Crime Family Political Gang is what I have to do to stop this mess we have seen in this country. I might add they were right in the middle of the Mercer Bannon Sessions Cambridge Analytica deal, as well. 
Baron Coleman's deal to punish me for taking out Hubbard, with the stories told of his printing stuff, was a really bad idea as it gave me full time to work on seeing all their crime-family stories were told. Just call me Jill the Alabama Gang Mafia Buster. That is who I really am.

Alabama AG Steve Marshall fires prosecutor Matt Hart, suggesting white elites who bankrolled Mike Hubbard's crime spree as House Speaker are in a panic


Matt Hart
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall yesterday fired special-prosecutions chief Matt Hart, a move that might signal the white elites who funded Marshall's campaign are in a panic because of recent events that threaten to unmask them. Those events include the indictment of Trump EPA regional director Trey Glenn, the firing of Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions, the evolving North Birmingham Superfund scandal, and perhaps more.

Hart, who has served as a prosecutor at both the state and federal levels, perhaps is best known for leading the case against former House Speaker Mike Hubbard -- who was convicted in June 2016 on 12 counts of ethics violations, but has not spent one second in prison because of a curiously prolonged appeals process.

Knowledgeable observers say Hart's firing probably was in the works for several months -- likely delayed only by the need for Marshall to win election in the Nov. 6 midterms -- driven by corporate and political interests who want to make sure Hubbard stays out of prison and isn't tempted to open up to prosecutors about his moneyed and power-hungry cohorts. Writes Josh Moon, of Alabama Political Reporter (APR):

The most feared man in Alabama politics has been fired.

Alabama prosecutor Matt Hart, who until Monday headed up the special prosecutions unit at the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, was unceremoniously fired by AG Steve Marshall. A brief statement from Marshall’s office said Hart resigned and refused to comment otherwise.

However, a source told APR on Monday that Hart was informed of the decision on Monday morning and given the option of resigning instead of being fired. He was then escorted out of the building by security.

The firing of Hart was not necessarily surprising to anyone who paid attention to the recent election and Marshall’s run for AG. As APR reported in numerous stories, Marshall accepted campaign donations from several sources with interests in weakening ethics laws and seeing Hart removed.

Moon noted some of the high-profile cases where Hart has been involved:

Hart’s career spans decades in the state and includes high-profile prosecutions of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

He was a particular thorn in the side of politicians who skirted the ethics laws. He prosecuted and earned a 12-count conviction of former GOP Speaker Mike Hubbard. He negotiated a guilty plea and resignation from former Gov. Robert Bentley. And his special grand jury in Jefferson County was digging through the scheme to undermine an EPA superfund site.

That last item (highlighted in yellow) caught the eye of Alabama political insider Jill Simpson. From a post at her Facebook page:

Notice a couple of things from Josh Moon article on Matt Hart. Matt was digging into the Superfund matter, which leads directly to the folks who helped Marshall get those $735,000 in illegal funds from RAGA [Republican Attorneys General Association] to win the attorney general race. Also notice Mike Hubbard's appeal is still up, and with Hart removed, Marshall and Rob [Riley] can let Hubbard go.

Al.com's John Archibald, who long has had a man crush on Hart, called the firing "the end of an era":

Anyone who watched Alabama government in recent years saw this coming.

They saw it when Marshall took tens of thousands in contributions from the company owned by Alabama’s richest man Jimmy Rane – who invested in a Hubbard business. They saw it when Rane, who made no bones about his contempt for Hart, gave hundreds of thousands to Gov. Kay Ivey and was appointed to lead her inaugural committee. He even lent his Great Southern Wood airplane for her campaign use.

They saw it when Marshall took campaign contributions from Hubbard investors, witnesses and supporters, and they saw it when Marshall looked down as Alabama politicians tried to chip away at the very ethics law that put people like Hubbard in court.

I don’t know exactly what happened this week to force Matt Hart out of his job as head of the special prosecutions unit. Hart declined to comment, and Marshall did not respond personally to the question. . . .

But it was no shock.

I predicted in April Marshall would show Hart the door as soon as he was re-elected. He was re-elected less than two weeks ago.

It doesn’t take an investigation to figure it out. The time was right. Marshall has four years to live it down before he comes back up for election.

He’s banking that Alabama will forget.

Unlike Archibald and Moon, I have reservations about Hart, particularly from his days as a federal prosecutor under the abominably corrupt U.S. attorney Alice Martin. I applaud Hart's work on the Hubbard case, but I'm not sure he deserves the "above-reproach, good-guy" label some have placed on him.

Like a lot of folks, Hart has a history of going along to get along in the workplace. Under the right leadership -- or given a free rein -- he can be effective. Under poor leadership, not so much.

Some already are speculating that Hart might return to his previous role as a federal prosecutor. If that happens -- and with Jeff Sessions ousted from the Department of Justice -- Hart might have a chance to help clean up a state that desperately needs it.

We saw signs during the Hubbard case that Hart might be interested in dismantling the Riley Political Machine, which forms the nexus for much of Alabama's corruption. In fact, that might be the No. 1 reason Marshall fired him. If Hart is, in fact, determined to take down the Rileys -- and lands in a position to do something about it -- the days of Alabama being a justice backwater might be over.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Overt racism, and Bob Riley's use of state contracts in an effort to frame a political opponent for murder, lurk beneath surface of Trey Glenn indictment in Alabama


Trey Glenn mugshot
Whenever you come across a story of right-wing corruption, it's a safe bet that racism is part of the narrative. If the corruption is based in Alabama, the Riley crime family likely is involved.

Last week's indictment in Jefferson County, Alabama, of Trey Glenn, Trump Southeast director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), provides prime examples. An Alabama political insider says Glenn views black males as little more than disposable waste and used blatantly racist language in discussions about environmental matters. As for former Gov. Bob Riley, the insider says he used government contracts as a pawn in an effort to frame a former Alabama lawmaker for murder -- all because the then-state senator, a Democrat, refused to go along with Riley's political agenda.

Jill Simpson -- whistle blower, opposition researcher, and retired attorney -- saw Glenn's racist and corrupt tendencies while both were seeking an environmental contract about 12 years ago. Who was involved in Glenn's underhanded tactics? Why, our old "friend" Luther Strange, of course. From a Simpson Facebook post after the Glenn indictment was announced last week:

In 2006, I did a $16-million bid, for myself and four partners, to clean up a tire dump and caught Trey Glenn who then was head of ADEM [Alabama Department of Environmental Management] doing a bunch of corrupt things. It started with him trying to do a no-bid contract on a multi-million dollar deal. Next, I caught him offering one bidder the opportunity to use prisoners as basically free labor, without caring if they had proper clothing, training, and safety gear to take tires out of a lake, which gave the other bidder an unfair financial advantage. 
Trey said, "Jill, it is black guys at St Clair prison mostly," and he did not give a shit what happened to them. Then I found out he had been working with Luther [Strange], a private attorney to give people on a state tire clean-up committee an unfair advantage in the bidding process.

As for Bob Riley (and his son, the oily Rob "Uday" Riley), he tried to have former State Sen. Lowell Barron (D-Fyffe) framed for murder. Writes Simpson:

Bob Riley, after I did not get the tire deal, said I could have the next three or four tire deals if I would agree to set Lowell Barron up on opposition research on the death of Judge Paul Thomas, by getting recorded statements from clerks at the courthouse saying Lowell -- Senate pro tem at the time -- called Paul and asked him to meet him at his house the day of Paul's death, which came after he fell off a mountain. 
I told Bob I would not help him, as I knew Lowell's brother, who had been a client, and I was not getting involved in his and Rob's bullshit about Lowell. Bob said that my partners and I would not get any tire contracts if I did not start helping him get Lowell Barron, who was causing him trouble with his agenda. He then asked if I would at least help find a plaintiff for a lawsuit, in front of a judge named Bush, that they were going to bring against Lowell, supposedly for not filing some election papers right, and I said no which really pissed him off, and he said some ugly things.

Simpson says she reported the actions of Trey Glenn and the Rileys to law enforcement and civil-rights groups:

I went back to my partners, and we agreed I should report it to an FBI agent I had helped some time back solve a murder case involving a member of a Mexican Gang called La Familia .I called Danny Garnet, an FBI agent in Gadsden, and he came to my office in September of 2006, and I told him what had happened with Bob and Rob at the time Mueller was the head of the FBI -- and the FBI started investigating Trey and Bob. 

Bob Riley
I also notified the SPLC and Rev. Lowery with the Southern Christian Leadership organization to notify folks of what Bob Riley and Trey Glenn said when I advised them that they should not put young black men in a lake filled with mosquitoes without proper safety gear or training, as it could cause life-time health problems and put them at serious risk of dangerous infections.
Someone leaked to Bob that I had spoken to the FBI, and he sent thugs to my office to take me to a meeting with him, and I pulled away from one of those thugs and locked myself in a bathroom. I also notified Doc Barron that Bob Riley was trying to get me to help with putting Lowell in jail . . . and that I had said no, as Bob's actions were criminal. I further said, "I am afraid I am going to get hurt."

Until last week, Trey Glenn had proven slippery for law enforcement. But now that Glenn is facing criminal charges, will he help take down others -- especially those linked to the North Birmingham Superfund scandal? Writes Simpson:

Due to my meeting with the FBI, from my understanding, that is what kicked off an investigation in 2007 of the very corrupt Trey Glenn, who escaped being indicted then --  and I heard at the time Jeff Sessions intervened for him, to protect Bob Riley and Luther Strange and their corrupt Alabama Gang. 
Many years later, we at the Alabama Resistance heard that Trey was involved in new corrupt deal in Birmingham -- the Superfund scandal -- and once again, Luther's name came up using his public AG office to try to stop a cleanup site in a black district, and we heard Trey was writing the letters and that Sessions was involved as well. These are some deeply corrupt folks, so I am glad to see Trey Glenn is now indicted. I know back then the FBI folks hoped to get Trey and encourage him to tell on Sessions, Strange, and Bob and Rob Riley, and it appears once again this little bunch is in the mix on a clean-up site on which they were trying to stop EPA from doing anything.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Luther Strange tweet shows he knew in advance about Jeff Sessions' firing as U.S. attorney general, casting curious light on corruption in our federal "House Case"


Luther Strange
Former U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) knew last week that Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-AL) had been fired, roughly two hours before the news had been released in the press, according to a report at the Washington Examiner. Is this an oddity, of little or no import? We think it is much more than that, adding to the mountain of evidence that federal courts in Alabama are a nauseating sewer.

Specifically, the new evidence suggests our "House Case" was decided by a trial "judge" -- R. David Proctor, in the Northern District of Alabama -- who issued an unlawful dismissal against us, even though he was disqualified from hearing the case. On top of that, we recently have uncovered evidence of a massive cheat job on the "House Case" in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, driven by a Gerald Ford-appointed fossil named Gerald Bard Tjoflat and a fellow named David J. Smith, who serves as clerk of the 11th Circuit.

We will have much more on the crooked actions of Tjoflat and Smith in upcoming posts. In short, their misconduct at the appellate level -- along with Proctor's "handiwork" at the trial-court level -- likely amounts to"fraud on the court," requiring that all orders be declared void, and the case reopened.

How does Luther Strange's head start on Jeff Sessions' forced resignation play into this? First, let's look at the Washington Examiner's Nov. 7 report:

Former Sen. Luther Strange, the Alabama Republican who filled Jeff Sessions' seat when he became U.S. attorney general, suggested Alabamians elect Sessions back to the Senate just before news broke Wednesday afternoon that Sessions had resigned from the Trump administration.

“Jeff Sessions for Senate in 2020!” Strange tweeted, about two hours before Sessions resigned as attorney general at the request of President Trump.

It had been rumored for some time that Trump would push for Sessions' ouster from his position leading the Department of Justice. Trump often vented about his frustrations with Sessions after the attorney general recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.

Strange was defeated in the Republican primary by Roy Moore, who lost in a special election last year to Democrat Doug Jones. The Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2020.

Sessions made no mention of what his future holds in his resignation to the president.

Sessions served as a senator from 1997 to 2017, resigning from that position to be attorney general.

We've already shown that Sessions and Proctor have been scratching each other's backs in unscrupulous ways for more than 20 years. Now, we learn the Sessions and Strange camps are so close that one knows what's happening with the other before everyone else does.

How does all of this connect and lead to unlawful rulings in our "House Case"? One of the primary connectors is Jake Proctor, the judge's son who seems to bounce from one U.S. Senate job to another -- which is pretty tall cotton for a guy who only completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Alabama in 2016. Here is what we know about Jake Proctor's work history, before he scrubbed most of it from his Facebook page after we challenged his father's bogus rulings in the "House Case."

(1) Jake Proctor went to work for Jeff Sessions in summer 2015.

(2) Jake Proctor, while completing his degree, worked off and on for Sessions, apparently until the latter was nominated as Trump's attorney general on Nov. 18, 2016.

Jeff Sessions and Jae Proctor
(3) Pre-scrubbing, Jake Proctor stated on Facebook that he went to work as a staffer in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 3, 2017.

(4) Jake Proctor's Facebook post did not say who he would be working for in the Senate, but why would he take a job with Jeff Sessions, who already was in line to give up his seat for the AG job?

(5) Alabama Gov. Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley did not formally appoint Strange to fill Sessions' Senate seat until Feb. 9, 2017 -- roughly five weeks after the date Jake Proctor said he went to work in the Senate.

(6) We now know the Strange and Sessions camps have inside dope on each other, raising this question: Did Luther Strange know roughly five weeks in advance that he was going to be Bentley's choice for the Senate seat, and one of his first acts -- likely at Jeff Sessions' urging -- was to hire Judge R. David Proctor's son? The evidence strongly suggests the scenario, in fact, played out this way -- and Judge Proctor knew all about it.

(7) Judge Proctor dismissed our "House Case" on Jan. 13, 2017, and he followed it with an order dated Feb. 23, 2017, acknowledging that he was due to recuse due to a conflict of interest of which he had just become aware. (The order is embedded at the end of this post, along with our Motion to Recuse.) From Proctor's order, explaining his recusal:

On February 10, 2017, approximately four weeks after the court’s dismissal order was entered, Luther Strange, a party-defendant in this action before its dismissal, was sworn in as Alabama’s newest United States Senator. One of Senator Strange’s initial hires is a young staffer who worked on Senator Jeff Sessions’ staff (until then Senator Sessions’ appointment as the 84th Attorney General of the United States) and who is related to the undersigned. Based upon these events, which occurred after the court’s dismissal of this action, it is appropriate for the undersigned to RECUSE.

What are the chances that Judge Proctor is lying here? I would put them at 99 percent, given that his own son stated on Facebook that he was working in the Senate as of Jan. 3, 10 days BEFORE the "judge" dismissed our case -- and that raises the serious issue of "fraud on the court." How would Judge Proctor react to a motion for an evidentiary hearing on his son's Senate employment? Probably not very well.

Note the curious wording Judge Proctor uses in his order:

* Proctor says Strange hired "a young staffer" who is "related to the undersigned," but he does not state the staffer's name (Jake Proctor), and he does not state the nature of the relationship (father-son).

* Proctor states twice that events involving his son's hiring came after he had dismissed our case. But that runs counter to Jake Proctor's own words on Facebook, which now have been well scrubbed. It also implies that he could not know in advance about machinations involving Sessions and Strange, when Strange's tweet last week shows that is not the case. Again, how about an evidentiary hearing on this issue?

* Even if Judge Proctor's version of events is accurate, that does not preclude a conflict of interest involving Luther Strange -- one the "judge" knew about long before our case ever landed on his desk. For example, has Jake Proctor used Luther Strange as an employment reference, and has the former senator helped him get various jobs? That would mean Judge Proctor was disqualified from our case and ruled unlawfully on it, anyway.

Here's how we sized things up in a March 2017 post:

What about the curious timing of Jake Proctor's employment? Consider this:

* Jake Proctor says he went to work as a Senate staffer on Jan. 3, 2017, but Luther Strange was not appointed to the Senate until more than one month later. Was Jake Proctor working for Sessions, even though the latter already had been nominated as Trump's attorney general, and then switched to Strange? Did someone know, well in advance, that Bentley was going to appoint Strange to fill Sessions' seat, and that made Jake Proctor comfortable about getting an early start on the job?

* Judge Proctor claimed in his recusal order that he dismissed "The House Case" before the issue of his son's employment with Strange came up. But if Jake Proctor was working in the Senate on Jan. 3, and his boss was Luther Strange, that isn't true. To be precise, Judge Proctor dismissed our case on Jan. 13, 10 days after his son went to work for somebody in the Senate. The latest version we can find of Sessions' Senate staff directory does not list Jake Proctor -- and one wonders why Sessions would make a new Senate hire when he knew he had been nominated as attorney general. All of that suggests Jake Proctor went to work for Luther Strange on Jan. 3 -- before Strange formally had been announced as Sessions' successor -- and Judge Proctor flat-out lied in a court order.

Either way, a disqualified judge decided our case -- and that isn't a matter of discretion for Proctor; a disqualified judge must step down, and he didn't do it.

This much is clear: Sessions, Strange, and the Proctors swim in a world of white entitlement. And thanks to Luther Strange's recent tweet, we know that's a world where the entitled learn about events before the rest of us.


(Hat tip to Morgan County WhistleBlower)