Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Indictment of Trey Glenn, Trump EPA administrator for the Southeast, suggests Superfund scandal might generate a reckoning for Alabama's white elites


Trey Glenn
Just when it seemed the North Birmingham Superfund scandal had ended -- and the Donald Trump administration could not get any dirtier -- along came Alabama indictments yesterday to show both of those propositions are off target.

Trey Glenn, the Southeast regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was indicted yesterday by a Jefferson County grand jury for violating state ethics laws. Among the charges: multiple violations of Alabama’s Ethics Act, including soliciting a thing of value from a principal, lobbyist or subordinate, and receiving money in addition to that received in one’s official capacity. Scott Phillips, former member of the Alabama Environmental Management Commission (EMC), was indicted on similar charges. Both have ties to the Balch Bingham law firm.

Yesterday's indictments were shockers, since a federal jury found a Balch Bingham lawyer (Joel Gilbert), and a Drummond Co. executive (David Roberston) guilty of bribery in a July trial connected to the Superfund scandal -- and former state lawmaker Oliver Robinson pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. It seemed clear at the time that U.S. Attorney Jay Town went after only a sampling of legal, corporate, and political types who could have been subject to criminal charges.

The state indictments of Glenn and Phillips suggest Town, in fact, let a number of rogues off the hook, leaving these compelling questions: How many more white-collar types might be held criminally accountable? Could Glenn and Phillips represent a new, more wide-ranging round of indictments?

Donald Trump appointed Glenn to the EPA position (covering Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi) in August 2017. Before that, Glenn was a creature of the Alabama corporate swamps, working with the Balch Bingham law firm, Drummond Co., and the Business Council of Alabama. Along the way, Glenn acquired a reputation as an operative with shaky ethics and little concern for the environment. In a column yesterday at al.com, John Archibald declared himself "toxic shocked" by the charges against Glenn and Phillips:

Can this be happening? Really? Charges against powerful Alabamians who admittedly worked to protect the interests of powerful friends while demeaning low-income residents who must live and die with their choices?

I never dreamed they’d face the music in Alabama. I thought for sure judgment would come for Phillips and Glenn only at the Pearly Gates, where St. Peter would decide whether to send them toward a brownfield down below.

When Trump named Glenn to the EPA role, Alabama conservative honchos sang hosannas. They included U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who said:

“As an accomplished environmental engineer from Alabama, Trey Glenn is well-prepared for this new role and challenge as the EPA Region 4 administrator. Having served as the director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, he understands the value and importance of state authority and control.”

Gov. Kay Ivey joined the happy chorus:

“His experience as director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management places him in a unique position to be prepared to work with these southern states. We are also especially glad to know someone with in-depth knowledge of Alabama will be overseeing our region.”

Shelby and Ivey obviously know, and like, "a shill for polluters" (John Archibald's term for Glenn) when they see one. But their judgment is not looking so good at the moment, and it's likely to look even worse over the coming months.

Where is all of this heading? We don't have a clear answer at the moment, but we sought insight from the banbalch.com Web site, which has led the way on reporting of the Superfund scandal. From the site's post yesterday on the Glenn and Phillips indictments:

As we wrote in August, Phillips was given the boot by the Birmingham-Jefferson County Port Authority after Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert was convicted on all six federal counts.

During the criminal trial, Glenn admitted handing off confidential work product of public charity and environmental group GASP to Balch-made millionaire Gilbert during day 7 of the criminal trial.

And we are told this is only the beginning!

Where should all of this be headed? Jeff Martin, of the Montgomery Independent, provided insight on that question in an article dated August 22, 2018, shortly after guilty verdicts had been reached in the federal Superfund trial:

Environmental organizations throughout Alabama have joined together in asking Governor Kay Ivey to hold the Alabama Environmental Management Commission (EMC) accountable for actions revealed during the recent bribery and corruption trial in Birmingham. That investigation resulted in one Alabama lawmaker pleading guilty to bribery and half-dozen guilty verdicts against a partner in a prestigious law firm and the Vice President of Drummond Company.

These organizations want to make it clear that ADEM Director Lance LeFleur is not the only one that needs to be held accountable for the inappropriate actions of the state agency and it’s governing commission, all of which was revealed during the trial. The EMC should be as accountable to the people of Alabama as they are to the regulated industries they oversee. . . .

North Birmingham Superfund cleanup
Members of the EMC apparently have no objective to protect the environment. The only reason most are even appointed and serve on the EMC is because they or their employer have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. . . .
While three men will likely go to prison as a result of the investigation and trial, as I’ve written before, that number should probably be closer to a dozen. Everyone from Luther Strange to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has this stench on them.

But, the man in charge of the investigation, US Attorney Jay Town serves at the pleasure of AG Sessions. (Trump, of course, fired Sessions last week, so Town might be on shaky ground.) Town was also a political advisor to Strange. So it should come as no surprise that he has announced no more charges are expected and the investigation is complete.

So with the trial concluded and most escaping retribution, it is back to business as usual in Alabama.

Jeff Martin, like many observers, expected the status quo to remain solidly in place. But yesterday's stunning news suggests an overdue shake-up among Alabama's white elites might be coming around the bend.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I sure didn't see this one coming. Not sure anybody did.

Anonymous said...

Trey Glenn =

a. Sleaze bucket

b. Phony

c. Criminal

Take your pick.

Anonymous said...

Like that photo of the wily Mr. Glenn looking over his shoulder. Get used to that view, bub.

Anonymous said...

Who is behind this indictment? Did the AG's office set up this grand jury? If so, I can't believe they went after Trey Glenn.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:39 --

I've been trying to figure that out myself. It almost has to be the AG's office. Maybe the minions pulled this off while Steve Marshall was distracted taking RAGA cash.

Anonymous said...

Could equal justice actually be coming to Alabama?

Anonymous said...

These indictments must have been held until after the midterms.

Anonymous said...

Memo to Alabama voters:

You just elected a governor who thinks Trey Glenn is a noble public servant.

Hah!

legalschnauzer said...

Bill Britt, of Alabama Political Reporter, says the indictments might have violated state law:


http://www.alreporter.com/2018/11/14/jefferson-county-indictments-raise-serious-questions-about-ethics-commissions-actions/


When indictments were reported by Al.com against Scott Phillips and Onis “Trey” Glenn III for multiple violations of the Alabama Ethics Act, the pair had not been arrested or served with the indictments.

However, Alabama Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton spoke in glowing terms about the hard work his office and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office had done to bring a felony case against the men.

Albritton’s disclosure of the indictments before Phillips and Glenn were arrested and indicted may be a severe breach of state law.

legalschnauzer said...

Here is more from the Bill Britt piece:


According to multiple sources, Albritton’s people gave Al.com’s Kyle Whitmire the story over the weekend so the news would break after Veterans Day. Al.com reported the men were indicted on Friday, Nov. 9.

Attorneys for Phillips and Glenn learned about the indictments early Tuesday morning. They asked for copies of the charges before noon on Tuesday but were informed that they could not receive the indictments until the pair turned themselves in to authorities. Their attorneys were then notified that the men could not turn themselves in until Friday.

But this is just part of the story which, according to an APR source, “looks more like a grab for relevance by an irrelevant ethics commission using a DA who’s on the way out the door.” Anderton, a Republican political appointee, is leaving the DA’s office having lost his bid for election to Democrat Danny Carr.

In Al.com’s report, Albritton says Jefferson County District Attorney Mike Anderton had requested the Ethics Commission help in indicting the two men. But it was the Ethics Commission who approached Anderton, sources within his office have confirmed.

legalschnauzer said...

Britt says the Ethics Commission "went behind the back" of the attorney general's office in bringing the indictments. This goes to the question raised by @11:39:


Albritton’s move was prompted at least in part by a letter reportedly sent from the environmental group GASP allegedly detailing Phillips and Glenn’s questionable activities.

Founded in 2009, as a 501(c)(3) health advocacy organization called “Alabama First,” the group changed its name to GASP in 2010, according to its website.

GASP attorney David A. Ludder told APR that he felt it best not to comment on the matter. Gasp’s Executive Director Michael Hansen agreed with Ludder that it was best not to comment on a pending case.

The GASP letter also is believed to have shown that the statute of limitations for an indictment was drawing near. Albritton told APR that timing is what prompted his office to move quickly without consulting Special Prosecution Division Chief Matt Hart. However, the statute doesn’t seem to expire until around December 21.

Another significant question is why Albritton’s office went behind the attorney general’s back to present the case to a Jefferson County Grand Jury when the Special Prosecution Division already has a Special Grand Jury impaneled in Jefferson County.

legalschnauzer said...

Here is one helluva piece by Josh Moon at APR:


http://www.alreporter.com/2018/11/14/opinion-sellouts-are-running-alabamas-environmental-agencies-why-dont-you-care/


In a state where at least 90 percent of the males hunt or fish with some regularity, and state law requires at least every third car have a “Salt Life” back window sticker, we don’t seem to give two good damns about the actual environment that make those things possible.

And we sure don’t seem to care much about the people who are supposed to be in charge of protecting those things.

If you did, you would know that two of those people were indicted this week on ethics charges. There are serious — and widely known and widely believed and widely supported with a mountain of evidence — allegations that Trey Glenn, the current head of the EPA’s southeastern region, and Scott Phillips, a former commissioner with the Alabama Environmental Management Commission, accepted bribes from polluters to actively work against cleaning up pollution and holding those polluters responsible.

Or to put that more simply: They sold out.

legalschnauzer said...

More strong stuff from Josh Moon:


A few weeks after the trial, 12 environmental groups sent a letter to AEMC demanding that LeFleur be removed and cited examples of his department’s failures and compromises. LeFleur denied the allegations, calling them “mean-spirited” and “untrue.”

But the problems don’t even end there.

Former Gov. Robert Bentley was actively writing — or signing his name to letters pre-written by Drummond’s attorneys — to stop the superfund site and cleanup.

Former attorney general Luther Strange signed off on pre-written letters from his office to the EPA demanding that the site not be listed on the superfund registry and proclaiming that the state would provide no funds for cleanup.

Think about that.

That’s the guy whose main job is consumer protection.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this means Alabama Ethics Commission has the balls to go after Steve Marshall? Maybe that's why they didn't want AG's office involved in this.

Anonymous said...

Semi-off-topic--but since all roads lead to Rome, I thought I would post it here!
https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/nick-ayers-mike-pence/?fbclid=IwAR28gZXVEBbWQqFFqUJssQsP-GdQPFODbl1WESlrzsc-x_mjundOPAD-zB8

legalschnauzer said...

@4:01 --

Excellent article, thanks for sharing. Interesting to see Ayers' ties to Eric Greitens, who might be one of dirtiest politicos to come along in ages.

That campaign was trying to get money from Russian interests and went through Dana Rohrabacher in an effort to get it. We've reported on that here.