Thursday, January 31, 2019

Alabama governors have a history of throwing taxpayer dollars at Australian ship-building company that now is under federal and international investigations


Bob Riley
Alabama governors have poured more than $30 million of taxpayer funds into a Mobile ship-building company that is under federal and international investigations for possible financial wrongdoing.

The gravy train for Austal USA began in 2008 when Bob Riley gave $5 million in economic-development grants to the company. Riley repeated that gift in 2009, with Robert Bentley kicking in $5 million in 2012 and $10,255,470 in 2013. According to an Alabama Political Reporter (APR) post dated June 9, 2014, Bentley added another $4 million in the first quarter of that year.

From the APR story, titled "The High Cost of Public Corruption":

The lucrative nature of these taxpayer fund so-called “job creation projects,” has even lured former Gov. Bob Riley to become one of the State’s most visible lobbyist. Just seven months after leaving office in 2011, Riley launched Bob Riley and Associates and registered as a lobbyist, along with his daughter, Minda.

Riley has been involved with the hundred million dollar Airbus deal in Mobile as a registered lobbyist for EADS North America.

Riley is also a lobbyist for Austal USA, LLC, a company that, as governor, he gave $5 million in economic development grants, in 2008, and $5 million again in 2009.

The payments stopped in 2010 (an election year) and did not resume in 2011,(budgeted during election year session). The payments to Austal began again under Gov. Bentley’s administration with the state giving $5 million in 2012 and $10,255,470.9 in 2013. So, far in 2014, Austal has received almost 4 million in grants and benefits.

We do not have figures for the past four years, so it's likely the total figure going to Austal USA is way more than $30 million.

The Austal investigation began last week at its international headquarters in Henderson, Western Australia. The next day came press reports that officials with the Department of Defense, the NCIS and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service were spotted at the Austal USA yard in Mobile.

What could the Austal USA investigation mean for Alabama? The APR article from 2014, perhaps unknowingly, looked into the future and provided some possible insight. Warning: It's not a pretty picture:

A recent study in Public Administration Review shows the negative impact of public corruption on a state’s economic future. Alabama is listed in the top ten most corrupt states in America.

In a report entitled, “The Impact of Public Officials: Corruption on the Size and Allocation of U.S. State Spending,” authors Cheol Liu of the City University of Hong Kong and John L. Mikesell of Indiana University, Bloomington define public corruption as “misuse of public office for private gain.” In their work, they find that public and private corruption results in “lower-quality work, reduced economic productivity and higher levels of income inequality and poverty.”

This investigation also found that states with the highest levels of corruption tend to spend more taxpayer funds on construction, highways, and police protection programs. This, in turn, facilitates corrupt officials to use public money for personal gain and less money on education, healthcare and welfare.

A February article in USA Today cites a Gallup-Healthways survey, in which participants were asked a “large range of questions to determine the well-being” of a state’s citizen. In the poll, Alabama ranked fourth lowest, only ahead of West Virginia, Kentucky and Mississippi.

Our dysfunctional justice system has taken Scott J. Wells' freedom for roughly two years on child-porn charges that have no grounding in probable cause


Scott J. Wells
How has Missouri resident Scott J. Wells been detained for almost two years on child-pornography charges that, court documents show, are not supported by probable cause? It's a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and should never happen in a semi-functional democracy. But when you have a U.S. magistrate (David P. Rush) who apparently approves anything prosecutors put before him, a federal prosecutor (James J. Kelleher) who seems to have a chip on his shoulder because Wells beat him once before on flimsy state charges, and court-appointed lawyers (public defender David Mercer and private attorney Shane Cantin) who have made little or no effort to defend their client . . . rights of the accused get trampled.

How do we know probable cause is lacking in U.S. v. Wells? Well, the case file is public record, and anyone with reasonable reading ability can come away suspecting probable cause is iffy. My conclusion is that probable cause is nonexistent -- meaning Scott Wells' arrest, a search of his home, and his detention at Leavenworth, Kansas, and various Missouri county jails are unconstitutional. (The criminal complaint in U.S. v. Wells is embedded at the end of this post.)

Probable cause is one of those amorphous legal concepts where you could ask 10 knowledgeable people to define it and get 10 different answers. Here is the gist: If a law-enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed,and the accused committed it, he can go before a judge to seek a finding of probable cause. If the judge agrees that probable cause exists, the accused can be arrested, have his property searched, and (in child-porn cases) even be detained without being convicted of anything.

Federal child-pornography statutes are unusual in that they essentially hinge on one word -- "knowingly." A person's computer can be overflowing with child-porn images, but that is only a crime if he took "affirmative actions" to receive it, possess it, control it, or distribute it. Without the "knowing" element, there is no crime, no matter how many disturbing images agents might find on your computer. Let's look at the key language under 18 U.S. Code 2252(a)(2) and (b)(1):

(a) Any person who — (2) knowingly receives, or distributes, any visual depiction using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or that has been mailed, or has been shipped or transported in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or which contains materials which have been mailed or so shipped or transported, by any means including by computer, or knowingly reproduces any visual depiction for distribution using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or through the mails, if— (A) the producing of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and (B) such visual depiction is of such conduct;

You see that key word right there in the first sentence. Scott Wells is charged with receiving and distributing child pornography, but he must do it "knowingly"; otherwise, there is no crime. And there can be no probable cause without at least some evidence -- even a suggestion -- that Scott Wells acted knowingly. But the charging document in U.S. v. Wells utterly fails on that front.

U.S. Magistrate David P. Rush
James D. Holdman Jr., who describes himself as a "Special Agent (SA) with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in Springfield, Missouri," prepared the affidavit on which Scott Wells' arrest is based. Holdman says he has been employed with ICE/HSI since January 1989, including duties as a deputy sheriff in Washington County, Missouri, and a criminal investigator for the State of Missouri. As part of his duties with ICE/HSI, Holdman says, "This affiant investigates criminal violations relating to child exploitation, child pornography, human trafficking, and coercion and enticement.

Let's consider some of the relevant language from the Holdman affidavit, under the heading "Probable Cause," beginning on page 3:

7. On March 8, 2017, Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force (SMCCTF) Officer (TFO) Lee Walker reviewed two CyberTips, 16533`142 and 16099575, from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Both CyberTips were initiated by Facebook. . . .  
8. CyberTip 16533142 was initiated by Facebook, after a file . . . containing suspected child pornography had been uploaded from a Facebook account. The suspect file was uploaded from a Facebook account with a screen name of scott.wells.79 and user ID 11033732066. The account listed a verified email address of scottw3820@yahoo.com. The suspect file was uploaded on December 15, 2016, at 15:18:55 hours UTC, using IP address 173.19.198.141. This affiant reviewed the image from CyberTip 16533145. The image depicts a minor, prepubescent female lying on what appears to be a bed with her pants pulled down, her legs spread and up in the air, exposing her vaginal and anal area. The minor female's hands are on her bottom.

This section raises two important issues:

(A) Holdman multiple times says Wells "uploaded" the suspect image from his own Facebook account. I don't claim to be an expert on computer terminology, but I'm pretty sure there is a difference between an "upload" and a "download." Here is how one Web site puts it:

Uploading is the process of putting web pages, images and files onto a web server. Downloading is the process of getting web pages, images and files from a web server.

To make a file visible to everyone on the internet, you will need to upload it. When users are copying this file to their computer, they are downloading it.

In other words, when an image originates with a user and is placed on the Web, it is uploaded. When an image already is on the Web and someone clicks on it, perhaps saving it, that is a download. Scott Wells has said he received a Facebook file from a woman in Tennessee and clicked on it without knowing what it was and without asking for it. When he saw the image, he thought it was the woman's daughter, that the mother essentially was enticing Facebook users with pornographic images of her own child. Wells has said he forwarded the image to the daughter in an effort to alert her about the mother's unlawful acts. Federal prosecutors now claim this act of alerting a victim amounts to distribution of child porn.

The evidence we have now suggests Scott Wells downloaded the image, and the woman in Tennessee uploaded it. We are pretty sure Special Agent Holdman, who claims to be highly trained on matters of child porn, has his terms mixed up. If that's the case, it makes you wonder what else is mixed up in his affidavit.

(B) Nothing in the section even hints that Scott Wells acted "knowingly," so based on this material, there is no crime.

What about the rest of the affidavit? We will look at that in upcoming posts.


(To be continued)






Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley is a lobbyist for Austal USA, the Mobile ship builder that is under federal investigation and has international financial woes, too


Austal USA in Mobile, AL

Former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley is the chief lobbyist for a Mobile ship-building company that federal investigators raided last week. Austal USA, with its international headquarters in Henderson, Western Australia long has been a pet project for Riley -- both while he was governor and since he left office.

Austal USA is one of Mobile's largest employers, with a workforce of about 4,000. It builds Littoral Combat Ships and Expeditionary Fast Transports for the U.S. Navy, and al.com reports it is competing in a selection process for a series of next-generation frigates.

The nature of the investigation remains unclear, but it appears to have grown from a financial probe in Australia. From a report at maritime-executive.com:

Australian ferry and defense shipbuilder Austal is cooperating with an Australian probe into market disclosures it made in 2015 regarding cost overruns on LCS-6, the Littoral Combat Ship USS Jackson. Austal builds one of the U.S. Navy's two LCS variants, the aluminum-hulled Independence-class ships.

In a filing released through the Australian Stock Exchange on Thursday, Austal confirmed that it is "assisting an investigation by ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investments Commission) into market announcements . . . with respect to earnings from its Littoral Combat Ship program." Its American division, Austal USA, confirmed Friday that it is also cooperating with the U.S. Navy in an unspecified investigation. Local media reported that officials from the Department of Defense, the NCIS and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service were spotted at the Austal USA yard in Mobile, Alabama.

A report at usni.org provides additional details about the possible focus of the investigation and the U.S. agencies involved:

Federal agents visited Littoral Combat Ship manufacturer Austal USA in its Mobile, Ala., shipyard as part of an unspecified investigation involving the U.S. Navy, according to local media.

“Department of Defense, NCIS and [the Defense Criminal Investigative Service] have been seen on site,” according to NBC 15 in Mobile, Ala. “Investigators are expected to be on site for several hours.”

In a brief Thursday statement, Austal said the company was cooperating with authorities but gave no additional details as to the nature of the inquiry.

“Austal USA is working with the U.S. Navy on an open investigation,” reads the statement. “We are unable to provide additional details due to the nature of the investigation. We are continuing business as usual, executing our existing and recently awarded contracts.”

Here is more from usni.org about Austal's operations in south Alabama and the company's unstable financial picture:

The Mobile shipyard employs 4,000 workers and builds the Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport and Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship for the Navy. Austal USA is the American branch of Australian aluminum shipbuilder Austal. Earlier Thursday, Australian media reported Austal was under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission over market updates related to losses around the Independence-class LCS.

The Australian authorities are said to be focusing on statements issued by Austal regarding the blow out, or sudden increase in costs, associated with finishing USS Jackson (LCS-6)

Bob Riley
 On December 10, 2015, Austal announced it was experiencing “schedule and margin pressure on Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 6.”

Jackson was a challenging ship in two respects. First, it was the first ship Austal USA had built as the prime contractor, whereas USS Independence (LCS-2) and USS Coronado (LCS-4) were built at the Austal yard with General Dynamics serving as the prime contractor on the project. Second, Jackson was the first LCS to be built under a block buy contract from the Navy. Austal implemented a new manufacturing process for the block buy ships meant to reduce cost and schedule down the line through serial production, but Jackson being the first serial production ship still meant there were lessons to be learned and procedural kinks to be worked out.

Austal's finances have been shaky since 2015-16, according to usni.org:

Austal officials conceded in the Dec. 2015 statement that their ability to boost LCS earnings through these new production processes did not live up to expectations. Savings on the LCS-8 and LCS-10 production were also more limited than anticipated, Austal officials said in the Dec. 2015 statement.

“Austal’s ability to apply lessons learnt and productivity enhancements from LCS 6 to vessels in advanced construction, namely LCS 8 and LCS 10, has been more limited than anticipated,” the statement said.

“The LCS program is maturing more slowly than we had expected, however we are working hard to manage the risks and expect an improvement across the program after delivery of LCS 10,” Andrew Bellamy, who then served as Austal’s chief executive, said in the December 2015 release. “Austal has a strong balance sheet and is generating good cash flow, which is enabling further investment in the business during the 2016 financial year to best position the Company to win additional contracts and service work to build our order book, revenue, and earnings into the future.”

However, according to Austal’s Fiscal Year 2016 annual report, the company reported a loss of A$84.2 million, compared to a profit of A$53.2 million in 2015.

Could this develop into a full-blown scandal, with Bob Riley at the center of it? It's too early to tell, but Riley (often in conjunction with one or both of his oily children -- Rob Riley and Minda Riley Campbell) has been tied to corruption for years. So far, the Rileys have managed to mostly dodge accountability. But if they are found to be involved in an international financial scam, involving misuse of U.S. defense funds . . . that tune could change.

Either way, Alabamians should be keeping a close eye on this story. Riley and his successor as governor, Robert Bentley, dumped millions of taxpayer dollars into Austal USA. Right now, it looks like that could have been a bad bet -- with everyday Alabamians being left holding the bag.


(To be continued)

Scott J. Wells, who had his conviction overturned due to David Shuler's woeful lawyering in a child sex abuse case, now faces federal child-pornography charges, which sound like retaliation from the legal tribe


Scott J. Wells

A Missouri man, whose conviction for child sexual abuse was overturned due to my brother's ineffective assistance of counsel, remains in legal jeopardy -- and our investigation indicates the legal tribe is retaliating against him for fighting back against bogus criminal charges and suing the lawyer (David Shuler) who almost caused him to receive five life sentences.

Scott J. Wells, of Springfield, faces federal charges of receiving and distributing child pornography, with a tentative trial date of Feb. 11. Our review of the public record suggests the charges are preposterously weak, with no sign of probable cause that Wells committed the offenses under 18 U.S. Code 2252(a)(2) and (b)(1). But Wells' two court-appointed lawyers -- U.S. Public Defender David Mercer (no longer on the case) and private attorney Shane Cantin (of Springfield's Carver Cantin and Mynarich) -- have done virtually nothing to defend him.

Cantin recently sent a letter to Wells stating that he had no defense and that Wells was almost certain to be convicted -- likely receiving a stiffer sentence if he goes to trial rather than pleading guilty. (More on the letter in an upcoming post.) Despite that, Cantin appeared at a recent pre-trial hearing and told U.S. Magistrate David P. Rush that he was "ready for trial." Sources tell Legal Schnauzer that Cantin has not even shown his client the government's evidence against him, which Wells is entitled to see under the Sixth Amendment, so how can Cantin be ready for trial?

Here is perhaps the most disturbing part about U.S. v. Scott James Wells (17-mj-2020-DPR). Wells has been detained for almost two years, spending all of that time at a facility in Leavenworth, Kansas, or various county jails in Missouri. Wells has been behind bars because the trial court apparently considers him a threat to society. Wells is virtually blind in one eye and has a benign brain tumor that forces him to use a walker or wheelchair to get around, but he's a threat to the public?

(Note: The criminal complaint in U.S. v. Wells is embedded at the end of this post.)

Chief prosecutor James J. Kelleher apparently pushed for detention based on the child sexual abuse case where the conviction against Wells was overturned. Let that sink in for a moment: A U.S. citizen has been behind bars for almost two years largely because of an earlier case where a conviction was overturned after a complaining witness was found to have lied under oath about Wells having scars on his penis.

Kelleher was the state prosecutor in the child sexual abuse case, so perhaps he wants to punish Wells for beating weak charges the first time around. Wells agreed to an Alford plea of child endangerment to dispense with the first case. Trial Judge Don Burrell probably could have dismissed the whole case once a complaining witness was found to have lied about penis scars. But Burrell chose to overturn the conviction and give the state a chance to re-try, meaning Wells faced the prospect of going before a pro-prosecution jury in conservative Southwest Missouri.

With an Alford plea, a criminal defendant does not admit to the unlawful act and asserts his innocence. In essence, it is a type of guilty plea that allows the prosecution to save face for bringing a weak case. Nothing in the record even hints that Scott Wells actually endangered a child. Federal prosecutors now are trying to hold that case against Wells, even though he ultimately won it.

Shane Cantin
Wells' legal-malpractice lawsuit probably cost David Shuler a substantial amount of money -- maybe six figures or more -- and the case file indicates Wells was on his way to winning it. Wells cleared the major hurdle of summary judgment, and the case was on the verge of trial -- with the sides working to formulate jury instructions -- when Wells' attorney (John J. Allan, of St. Louis) bailed out, claiming he needed more money. Wells' middle-class family already had paid more than $80,000 to beat the original charges, so they could not afford to pay more.

Allan's actions make no sense because his client was one of the few who gets almost to trial in a legal-malpractice case, and expert witness Daniel Dodson had provided devastating deposition testimony against David Shuler. The court file is voluminous, but we've found no sign that David Shuler even had an expert witness -- a lawyer who was willing to go under oath and state that Shuler handled the Wells case with the proper standard of care. 

By the way, public records show the Missouri Bar has disciplined John J. Allan at least twice. That raises this question: What kind of lawyer did Scott Wells have in his legal-malpractice case? Did someone dangle incentives that caused John J. Allan to leave his client high and dry on the verge of a major court victory?

Why is the child-porn case against Scott J. Wells so lacking? Here are just a few reasons, based on our review of the record:

* A fundamental provision of the relevant law is that the accused must "knowingly" receive or distribute child pornography. We see no probable cause that Scott Wells did either.

* A fundamental provision of the relevant law is that the alleged child victims must be minors, age 17 or younger. We see nothing in the criminal complaint that proves the alleged victims were minors -- or, more importantly, that Scott Wells knew they were minors.

* Case law holds that an accused must take "affirmative actions" to show knowing receipt, possession, or distribution. The record indicates that a woman in Tennessee was a Facebook friend of Scott Wells and sent him an explicit photo of her daughter. There is no evidence that Scott Wells asked for the photo or even knew what it was when he clicked on it. Wells sent the photo to the daughter to alert her to the mother's actions. There is no indication he did anything else with it, but federal prosecutors apparently claim warning a victim amounts to distribution of child porn.

* We see no grounds in the record for detaining Scott Wells as a threat to the community, and there is nothing on file to suggest either of his court-appointed attorneys tried to keep him out of detention or get him out of detention once he was wrongfully behind bars.

Despite the utter lack of probable cause on central elements of the offense, U.S. Magistrate David P. Rush approved Wells' arrest, a search of his home, and his detention. Is Rush little more than a rubber stamp for prosecutors? Is he part of a scheme to punish Scott Wells for standing up to the legal tribe?

We will address those questions and many more in upcoming posts.



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Carol's recovery from a broken left shoulder, caused by a fainting spell in Missouri, is going well -- and X-rays show the healing process pretty much as it happens


Carol Shuler X-ray No. 1

My wife, Carol, is recovering nicely from the broken left shoulder she sustained from a fainting spell at the Social Security Administration Building in Springfield, MO. In fact, her doctor stated on her most recent visit ( 1/9/19 ) that her range of motion in the joint is good enough that she does not need to continue with formal physical therapy. She will continue with at-home exercises, and her diligence with those probably helps explain her solid recovery.

Carol Shuler X-ray No. 2
That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that, having been cheated out of our jobs and health insurance in Alabama, we have limited ability to treat the underlying causes of Carol's fainting spell. Medical personnel from Cox South Medical Center stated that tests from her ER visit and hospital stay after the incident showed no clear medical issue that caused Carol to faint. They attributed it mainly to the financial and emotional stress we've experienced (which likely contributed to Carol's dehydration) since I was thrown in jail "for blogging" and we lost our home of almost 25 years in Alabama, only to move to Missouri and be targeted for an unlawful eviction that ended with deputies breaking Carol's arm just above the elbow -- a comminuted fracture that required roughly eight hours of trauma surgery.

Fortunately, we were covered by Medicaid to repair the thug-cops' handiwork. But the forced move, and one other move due to unhealthy living conditions at our residence, caused paperwork to not reach us in the mail -- and our Medicaid coverage lapsed. Social workers at Burrell Behavioral Health helped us get on Medicaid, but they have been unwilling or unable to help us with much of anything -- especially since we learned they were responsible for the bogus 911 call that caused cops to appear at our home in SWAT gear. Bottom line: We've been without health insurance for about 30 months.

Carol Shuler X-ray No. 3
Let's get back to the good news by examining the healing process revealed in recent X-rays of Carol's shoulder. X-ray No. 1 (top), taken the day of the break on 10/23/18, shows hardware in Carol's elbow was not effected by the second injury. You almost have to be a radiologist to see it, but the shoulder area includes a number of fracture lines. The injury was not nearly as obvious or severe as the elbow injury

X-ray No. 2 (left, above), taken on 11/7/18, shows fracture lines in the shoulder that are faint to the untrained eye.

X-ray No. 3 (right), dated 11/28/18, still shows faint fracture lines, but it also shows a white area on the outer shoulder, which is a sign of healing and new-bone development.

X-rays No. 4 and 5 (below), dated 1/9/18. are the most recent we have and show more signs of healing and new-bone development. Carol's doctor said she almost certainly will experience ongoing stiffness in the shoulder, so it never will be "good as new." But we are grateful for a solid recovery.


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



Carol Shuler X-ray No. 4



Carol Shuler X-ray No. 5

Monday, January 28, 2019

As Roger Stone heads down a possible path to the "Big House," we remember apparent efforts from his thugs to intimidate and harass here at Legal Schnauzer


Roger Stone, striking a Nixonian pose

Roger Stone, the latest indictee in Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation, apparently has tried some of the dirty tricks for which he is renowned here at Legal Schnauzer. Why do we say that? Well, it goes back to a post we wrote in January 2017:

Evidence in our spam folder here at Legal Schnauzer suggests a Donald Trump ally and former Richard Nixon dirty trickster somehow is involved in a series of harassing, profanity-filled e-mails we started receiving about seven weeks ago.

The ugly e-mails started around the middle of November [2016] after we wrote posts about two Alabamians -- Jeff Sessions (Trump's pick for U.S. attorney general) and Bill Pryor (a Sessions protege and likely Trump nominee for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court).

Who is the notorious Trump ally, known as "The High Priest of Political Hijinks," who appears to be involved with the dozens of nasty missives we've received -- most of which I've deleted or sent to spam because they are so utterly devoid of taste, rational thought, meaningful discourse (or all three)? We are talking about Roger Stone, who has been involved with every Republican campaign or administration since Nixon and perhaps now is best known as a regular guest on Alex Jones' conspiracy-filled InfoWars show.

Wouldn't a veteran political thug of Stone's stature have better things to do than fool around with our little Birmingham blog? A rational person might think so. But then again, Sessions was set to become Trump's AG, and Pryor (at the time) was consider a strong candidate to be a Trump nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. And we had been writing a series of highly unflattering posts on both. (See here, and here.)

What specifics point to Stone, or his surrogates, targeting Legal Schnauzer? Here you go:

Would Stone, or someone close to him, actually have time to mess around with our little blog? After all, this is the guy credited with orchestrating "The Brooks Brothers Riot," which helped give us eight years of George W. Bush in the White House. Stone even has ties to Watergate; some surely would say Stone is too much of a heavyweight to mess with Legal Schnauzer. But there is evidence to suggest it is true. How do we know? 
Quite a few of the argumentative and ugly e-mails came from someone who has gone by the name "Sarah." I tried engaging "Sarah" a few times in rational back-and-forth, but that proved to be an exercise in futility. So I started deleting or sending most of her comments to spam. Such e-mails generally have an identifier attached, such as "Anonymous" or "Sarah," if the person chooses to use a first name -- which might or might not be her actual name. 
I've received so many such e-mails in recent weeks -- maybe more than 200 -- that I occasionally scroll through the spam folder just to keep a rough track of how many have arrived. During one recent scroll, I noticed that at least one spam e-mail had more than a one-word identifier; it had two words -- "Sarah Jameson."

Sarah Jameson? Who in the heck is that? Well, she has a Facebook page that is pretty much a shrine to Roger Stone -- and it doesn't appear to have changed much since we first encountered it more than two years ago. Here are our thoughts upon finding the Jameson Facebook page in January 2017:

That was enough to make me go "hmmm." A Google search produced the Facebook page for a Sarah Jameson, who apparently lives in Plantation, Florida. That is in Broward County, close to Stone's home in Oakland Park. What does the "Sarah Jameson" Facebook page reveal? It's devoted almost entirely to videos and memes of Donald Trump and Roger Stone -- mostly Stone, also known as "The dapper don of dirty deeds."

There is a video of Stone hawking his books. Here is Stone touting the choice of Steve Bannon as Trump's chief strategist. There is Stone being touted as a "genius" in an interview after Trump's "victory."

"Sarah Jameson" sure seems to dig Roger Stone. In fact, she apparently has no time for anything else. She only has 18 Facebook friends, and I know squirrels in the forest who have bigger followings than that.

I'm still not sure what to make of Sarah Jameson and her fascination with Roger Stone. Here is a link to her Twitter account, which seems to consist mostly of more flagellation of Roger Stone. From our earlier post:

The Facebook page makes me wonder if "Sarah Jameson" is even real. Did someone pick clip art of an anonymous young blonde woman and use it to create a fake page, one that actually is run by Roger Stone or one of his surrogates?
My best guess is that Stone is concerned about our unflattering reports (both completed posts and those that are coming) about Jeff Sessions and Bill Pryor and is trying to harass me into inaction or avoidance. I would suggest that Stone come up with something better than that, because his current track is not going to work. 
Sarah Jameson
 I don't think it's so odd that Trump and his surrogates would focus on Alabama. Sessions, one of his closest advisers during the campaign, is from Alabama. One of Trump's likely high-court nominees is from Alabama. And one of Trump's top campaign stops was in Mobile, Alabama. 
As a progressive blogger from Alabama, who has been unlawfully jailed for my reporting on GOP corruption, perhaps I am a thorn -- maybe small, maybe big -- in their side. And so, Roger Stone has been assigned, or taken it upon himself, to mess with me.
:
How is this for irony? The New York Times reports that Mueller's primary interest with the Stone indictment might not be the dirty trickster himself, but rather his electronic devices:

Federal agents were “seen carting hard drives and other evidence from Mr. Stone’s apartment in Harlem, and his recording studio in South Florida was also raided.”

The F.B.I., in other words, was executing search warrants, not just arrest warrants. Even the timing and manner of Mr. Stone’s arrest — at the absolute earliest moment allowed under federal rules of criminal procedure without persuading a judge to authorize an exceptional nighttime raid — suggests a concern with preventing destruction of evidence: Otherwise it would make little sense to send a dozen agents to arrest a man in his 60s before sunrise.

What if a review of Stone's electronic devices provided clues about attacks on Legal Schnauzer? What if it provided clues about the identify of Sarah Jameson? We suspect Mueller's team will have bigger issues on their plates than those, but we will have our ears in the "upright and locked position" in case tidbits that hit close to home rise to the surface.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

We are two-time voters for Barack Obama, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that "44" deserves blame for Brett Kavanaugh's appearance on U.S. Supreme Court


Barack Obama and George W. Bush

Are you looking for someone to blame for Brett Kavanaugh's ascendance to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), a position he is not remotely qualified to handle? Well, one place to start is with former President Barack Obama.

Eoin Higgins makes that suggestion in a recent piece at The Intercept, and we think he is on target -- even though I voted twice for Obama and recognize his many attributes as a leader, including his ability to save us from a likely Great Depression II.

Obama should not receive a pass for his numerous failings on justice issues because the Kavanaugh confirmation process is not just an example of gross political theater -- it represents an assault on our constitutional rights.

Higgins' ire, and ours, dates to Obama's nonsensical claim -- made on Jan. 11, 2009, less than two weeks before he took office -- that he intended to "look forward, not backwards" on the rampant corruption that plagued the George W. Bush years. This essentially was a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card for Bush criminals and we've written scathingly of it many times over the years. (See herehere, here, and here.)

One of those possible Bush-era criminals to escape justice is . . . Brett Kavanaugh. Here is how Eoin Higgins puts it in a piece titled "Obama's resistance to investigating the Bush administration allowed Brett Kavanaugh to skate onto the Supreme Court." Writes Higgins:

In January 2009, George W. Bush left office with an abysmal 22 percent approval rating, the lowest ever recorded. Almost everyone with anything to do with his administration was considered politically toxic.

With full Democratic control of the federal government, calls came for an investigation into the scandals of the Bush administration, including torture, mass surveillance, and war profiteering. While some called for criminal prosecutions, others wanted hearings or an independent investigation that would — at minimum — put into the public record the details of who did what and when. At the least, the argument went, Democrats could ensure that the GOP had to wear the Bush administration for years; that the officials involved in wrongdoing would be written out of polite society; and that future administrations would not revert to those practices.

Obama refused. “We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” he said famously on January 11, 2009, days before he took office.

Imagine how many Bush criminals might have landed in prison -- Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Dubya himself, perhaps dozens more. Among them might have been Brett Kavanaugh, who served as an attorney for the Bush-Gore campaign battle in 2000 and then was staff secretary in the Bush White House. In fact, documents are expected to be released that could point to Kavanaugh's role in decisions that were wrong-headed, contrary to established precedent, and maybe even criminal. Writes HIggins:
Three allegations of sexual assault — the first was broken by The Intercept — and FBI investigation weren’t enough to sink Kavanaugh. Nor were indications of perjurious testimony — in part because a trove of documents relating to Kavanaugh’s time with the Bush administration that is currently being analyzed by the National Archives, including emails and memos about surveillance, torture, and Kavanaugh’s involvement with a hacking scandal, won’t be released until the end of October.
Brett Kavanaugh

The Higgins piece is dated Oct. 9, 2018, so he is making a reference to the end of October 2018. What happened to those documents that were supposed to be released then? It's unclear, but here is a link to a National Archives update on Dec. 20, 2018. Senate Democrats have threatened to sue for the Kavanaugh records. Writes Higgins:





At least 100,000 documents relating to Kavanaugh’s involvement in developing policy during his time as associate counsel to the president from 2001 to 2003, and his time as staff secretary from 2003 to 2006, have been withheld by the Trump administration, citing executive privilege. But the National Archives revealed, in response to a lawsuit from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), that there are hundreds of emails in the separate, 300,000 document cache that the agency is reviewing for publication. “The communication to EPIC revealed that Kavanaugh sent 11 e-mails to John Yoo, the architect of warrantless wiretapping; 227 e-mails about ‘surveillance’ programs and the ‘Patriot Act;’ and 119 e-mails concerning ‘CAPPS II’ (passenger profiling), ‘Fusion Centers’ (government surveillance centers), and the Privacy Act,” EPIC said in a statement announcing the revelation.

With proper public understanding of Kavanaugh’s role in the unpopular policies of of the Bush White House, that role may have been disqualifying by itself.

If the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) had investigated and prosecuted Bush-era criminality, Kavanaugh's career probably would have never advanced beyond the D.C. Circuit. Many American voters might be dense, but they tend to recognize corruption and foul play when it is spelled out for them. And when Republicans create horrific messes, which they have a tendency to do, voters tend to run into the arms of Democrats to save them. Here is how we described the scenario in a November 2016 post, shortly after Donald Trump's "election":

A genuine investigation of the Bush administration probably would have led to dozens, maybe hundreds, of criminal convictions. The sight of Rove, Chaney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, and others heading off to prison in orange jumpsuits probably would have caused even the most heart-headed conservatives to say, "You know, I'm starting to get the feeling that reflexively voting straight GOP might not be such a good thing. Maybe I need to study up a bit, or just stay home on election day." Under that scenario, Democrats probably take back both chambers of Congress in 2012 or '14, and the 2016 presidential race is not even close -- regardless of who the general-election candidate turned out to be. And Obama gets much of his agenda passed, without obstruction from Republicans. Obama might have truly been a great president if he had not worked against his own interests by giving GOP crooks a free pass.

If Obama had appointed a tough, competent attorney general, instead of the woefully ineffective and compromised Eric Holder, Democrats likely would not have needed to worry about taking back both houses of Congress; they never would have lost them in the first place. And Hillary Clinton would have been set to wipe the floor with Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election -- which she probably did anyway, without the assistance Trump received from Russian interests. Bottom line: Most Americans never hear of Brett Kavanaugh if a real Obama AG cleans house on Bushes. Here is more from Eoin Higgins:

Over the past decade, the political world has done everything possible to minimize and forget the crimes of the early to mid-2000s. The effect has been felt ever since. Members of the Bush administration and their hangers-on have spent their time working diligently to return to good standing in the social and professional worlds they once dominated in Washington and New York. Allowing them to reintegrate into elite society has had almost as catastrophic an effect on American politics as Donald Trump.

It’s not just Kavanaugh. The confirmation of Gina Haspel, an admitted proponent of torture who ran a Thailand black site in 2002 — a fact that became a minor issue before the Senate sent her back to Langley to run the CIA — was a perfect example of the insufficiency of the American political system to properly deal with the Bush regime toppling established norms around war and detainees. . . .

Kavanaugh’s career should have ended at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. His new role as Supreme Court justice is what happens when democratic societies don’t hold criminals in the government accountable for their actions. At a bare minimum, everyone involved with the Bush administration’s war in Iraq and post-9/11 torture and detainee programs should have been thoroughly discredited and rejected from polite society. That they weren’t may end up being one of the defining moments in the 21st century.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Judge Carole Smitherman proves she's a stooge for corrupt Balch Bingham law firm by issuing stunning ruling against Birmingham lawyer Burt Newsome


Burt Newsome
An Alabama judge has imposed more than $190,000 in sanctions against Birmingham attorney Burt Newsome, essentially finding that he had no right to sue the corrupt Balch Bingham law firm for trying to ruin his practice.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Carole Smitherman, a black Democrat, made the ruling while dismissing Newsome's complaint at summary judgment -- proving that white Republicans do not have the market cornered on judicial corruption in the Heart of Dixie. That is not breaking news to us, having been the victims of Judge Don Blankenship (another black Democrat) and his baseless $3.5-million defamation default judgment, benefiting Jessica Medeiros Garrison -- the one-time campaign manager and girlfriend of GOPer and former Attorney General Luther Strange.

Still, Smitherman's ruling against Newsome is a stunner for its brazenness, coming after Balch Bingham has been unmasked as the crooked firm at the heart of the North Birmingham Superfund scandal. With pending criminal charges against former Balch environmental stooge Trey Glenn, you would think Smitherman might be a little more cautious in a volatile environment. You also would think she might take note that former State Rep. Oliver Robinson (like Smitherman, a black Democrat) is the only one, so far, to land in federal prison (in Oklahoma City) for the Superfund shenanigans.

But Smitherman apparently is clueless about the harsh realities of white "big law" firms in downtown Birmingham -- or she wrongly thinks she is coated in Teflon. How brazen is Judge Smitherman? Individuals and entities connected to Balch Bingham have funneled more than $30,000 in campaign contributions to Smitherman and her husband, State Sen. Rodger Smitherman.

Was the donors' reward a monstrous cheat job against Burt Newsome? It sure looks that way. Newsome is appealing the summary judgment and award of attorney fees against him, but we still have this question: Should Carole Smitherman, who once enjoyed a stellar reputation, have the words "Property of Balch and Bingham" stamped on her forehead?

Carole Smitherman
How about this? Smitherman awarded attorney fees against Newsome based on records that were so heavily redacted as to be indecipherable -- and she still has the case file  sealed. She apparently has no shame. From a recent report at the blog banbalch.com:

The details of the invoices were mostly redacted to a degree that the description of the fees and work done were indeterminable. Some fees billed on the invoices and submitted were not even related to this case.

Although the Queen of the Star Chamber Judge Carole Smitherman has ruled against Burt Newsome by approving Balch and Bingham’s summary judgment, she refuses to unseal the court records, even though the case is over in the lower court, according to an appeal filed with the Alabama Supreme Court. . . .

Smitherman’s actions prove she’s nothing more than a stooge for Balch and Bingham and confirms what civil RICO experts have said: The manipulation of the pay-to-play judiciary branch in Alabama is real and tangible.

This should be mind-blowing to everyone who lives in Alabama -- or has any concern about justice. Here is more from banbalch.com:

We ask again, what in the hell could Smitherman be hiding? Perjury? Possible criminal conduct? Corruption? Obstruction of justice?

But now an even bigger disgrace has been exposed.

Smitherman approved over $192,000 in redacted attorney fees against Burt Newsome. In other words, Newsome and his legal team were given bills that were blacked-out, they couldn’t read, and then told to pay up. . . .

This is more than a miscarriage of justice against Newsome.

This is a horn, a loud horn exposing to the world what unconscionable and unsavory depths to which Balch and Bingham and its stooges will allegedly go to destroy the rule of law and to carry on an arrogant march of defiance with impunity.

Are the Smithermans headed down the same path to prison that ensnared Oliver Robinson? Ban Balch already has addressed that question:

Will Smitherman allow Balch and others to abuse her credibility as a respected constitutional law professor like Balch abused Robinson’s credibility and legacy as a UAB basketball star?

Will Smitherman protect her legacy as the first African-American female mayor of Birmingham, who served with distinction on the city council or toss it aside for 30 pieces of campaign silver?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

If you need another reason to despise Brett Kavanaugh and the disgusting process that put him on SCOTUS -- we have one, thanks to Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Brett Kavanaugh
Do you tend to look back at the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) as an exercise in partisan rancor? If so, we invite you to think again. That's because we have identified a constitutional right that is likely to be eroded with Kavanaugh on the nation's high court.

We are talking about the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. It generally has been held to mean that an individual cannot be subject to incarceration in a criminal trial if he has not been afforded assistance of counsel, even if he cannot afford to pay for one. SCOTUS most recently addressed this issue in a case styled Alabama v. Shelton, 535 U.S. 654 (2002)

This issue hits close to home because Missouri Judge Jerry Harmison violated Shelton when he imposed a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) on my wife, Carol in the bogus "assault" case brought against her related to our unlawful eviction, where deputies broke her arm. Carol did not have counsel in the case, and she did not waive her right to counsel. The SIS means Carol could be subject to incarceration if she violates terms of her probation -- and that is not allowed under Shelton.

Why is that not allowed? Well, we can thank the court's liberal-to-moderate bloc at the time (Stevens, Souter, Breyer, Ginsburg), who, surprisingly, were joined by Sandra Day O'Connor. The court's right-wing bloc (Scalia, Rehnquist, Thomas, Kennedy) dissented, trying their best to plunder a constitutional right. In what should be a surprise to no one, former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor argued for the state, siding with the right wingers.

Here is the primary holding in the Shelton majority opinion, written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Held: A suspended sentence that may "end up in the actual deprivation of a person's liberty" may not be imposed unless the defendant was accorded "the guiding hand of counsel" in the prosecution for the crime charged. Argersinger, 407 U. S., at 40.

(a) The controlling rule is that "absent a knowing and intelligent waiver, no person may be imprisoned for any offense ... unless he was represented by counsel at his triaL" Argersinger, 407 U. S., at 37.

Ginsburg's opinion was grounded in Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25 (1972), which held:

The right of an indigent defendant in a criminal trial to the assistance of counsel, which is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment as made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth, Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U. S. 335, is not governed by the classification of the offense or by whether or not a jury trial is required. No accused may be deprived of his liberty as the result of any criminal prosecution, whether felony or misdemeanor, in which he was denied the assistance of counsel. In this case, the Supreme Court of Florida erred in holding that petitioner, an indigent who was tried for an offense punishable by imprisonment up to six months, a $1,000 fine, or both, and given a 90-day jail sentence, had no right to court-appointed counsel, on the ground that the right extends only to trials "for non-petty offenses punishable by more than six months imprisonment."

The right of an indigent defendant to have assistance of counsel in any prosecution where his liberty might be at stake has been solidly grounded in U.S. law for more than 45 years -- but right wingers tried to chip away at it in 2002. Even Brett Kavanaugh's predecessor -- the renowned swing voter Anthony Kennedy -- sided with Scalia and Co. on the issue.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
What will happen if a right-of-counsel case comes before SCOTUS, now that it includes Kavanaugh. Donald Trump's appointee likely will side with the court's right wingers (Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch) to override Shelton -- assuming specifics in the new case are the same as those in Shelton; a variety of issues can come under the broad right-of-counsel heading..

Do you like the idea of Brett Kavanaugh, famed for his buddies "Squee" and "Moose",  being involved in such profound decisions? I sure don't. Do you believe a "president," who apparently has acted as a Russian asset, should have two nominees (Kavanaugh and Gorsuch) help take away rights that long have been grounded in the U.S. constitution? I don't.

But that is what we could be facing. And it's because the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were more than a grotesque example of political theater. They were, in essence, an attack on our constitution.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Question about the jailing of journalists catches Donald Trump AG nominee William Barr off guard, but here is the harsh reality of current U.S. law





Trump attorney-general nominee William Barr said at his confirmation hearing this week that he "can conceive" of jailing journalists "as a last resort." I am the most recent U.S. journalist to be incarcerated -- from Oct. 23, 2013 to March 26, 2014 -- and my five-month stay behind bars was the third longest in American history. It was, by far, the longest for a journalist in a purely civil matter, and it apparently was the only one involving an alleged violation of a preliminary injunction that was unlawful on its face--running contrary to more than 200 years of legal precedent.

In short, Judge Claud Neilson's arrest order in my case likely was the most unlawful First Amendment ruling in U.S. history.

The issue of jailing journalists hits close to home, and I've written extensively on the topic. Since Barr did a poor job of explaining U.S. law on the matter -- in fact, he seemed flummoxed by the question from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) -- I decided, in the interest of clarity, to help him out. (And yes, it's scary that an incoming chief law officer in the United States knows so little about a profound constitutional issue that he needs my help.) From a report at Yahoo News:

During his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, attorney general nominee William Barr was asked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., whether his Justice Department would “jail journalists for doing their jobs.”

Barr, President Trump’s pick for the nation’s top law enforcement officer, said he could envision a situation where a news organization or individual journalist could be held in contempt of court.

“I think that, uh, you know I know there are guidelines in place,” Barr said after a seven-second pause. “And I can conceive of situations where, uh, you know, as a last resort, and where a news organization has run through a red flag or something like that, knows that they’re putting out stuff that will hurt the country. There might — there could be a situation where somebody could be held in contempt.”

Barr is correct that contempt of court often is an issue that leads to the incarceration of a journalist. A judge might order a reporter to produce documents related to a criminal matter, or to avoid publishing an article that could affect national security -- and if the reporter refuses, he can lawfully wind up behind bars. Do I agree with that? No. Is it the law of the land? Yes.

And it is not just a matter of "guidelines." It is based on a U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling -- Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972) -- in a case that is getting close to 50 years old. Here is how we explained it -- and compared jailings related to criminal matters and my incarceration on a 100-percent civil matter -- in a March 2015 post:

Five of the six American journalists who have been jailed in the 2000s, had their freedom taken away based largely on a U.S. Supreme Court case styled Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972).

The sixth journalist is me, and my freedom was taken away for five months based on . . . nothing. No U.S. law supports it. In fact, a long line of U.S. Supreme Court and state high-court cases specifically state that a preliminary injunction in a defamation case is an unlawful prior restraint under the First Amendment--and yet, I spent five months in the Shelby County, Alabama, jail after Republican political figure Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke sought my arrest because I allegedly had violated a preliminary injunction in their defamation case, a civil matter that involved no criminal allegations of any kind.

Never mind that the material in question was not found to be defamatory at trial. That's because, under specially appointed judge Claud Neilson, there was no trial--only a hearing, with no discovery, no cross-examination, almost no evidence, no jury . . . well, you get the idea. It was, in fact, a joke--as I stated to the court that day.

The other five U.S. journalists to be arrested in this millennium, whether I like it or not, were lawfully arrested under Branzburg:

What separates my case from the other five that involve incarceration of journalists? Numerous differences come to mind, but the main one is this: Branzburg was the primary governing law in the other cases, and while I don't agree with the finding in Branzburg, it means that the other incarcerations probably were legal. Mine clearly was not legal, and even knowledgeable legal analysts who differ with me politically, agree on that.

The key issue in the other five cases involved efforts by journalists to protect confidential sources in criminal matters. Here is the core finding from Branzburg:

The First Amendment does not relieve a newspaper reporter of the obligation that all citizens have to respond to a grand jury subpoena and answer questions relevant to a criminal investigation, and therefore the Amendment does not afford him a constitutional testimonial privilege for an agreement he makes to conceal facts relevant to a grand jury's investigation of a crime or to conceal the criminal conduct of his source or evidence thereof.

Bottom line: If a U.S. reporter fails to appear and answer questions, per a court order in a criminal investigation, he can lawfully wind up behind bars. I suspect many Americans have no idea the First Amendment can become so squishy under certain circumstances --and William Barr did a poor job of explaining it.

The lawful incarceration of an American journalist almost always involves criminal investigation -- and the reporter's effort to protect a confidential source. My unlawful incarceration, on the other hand, involved a prior restraint -- and except for matters of national security -- those almost always fall outside the law. That Alabama lawyer Rob Riley and Liberty Duke did not appreciate my accurate reporting (it's never been proven false or defamatory, as a matter of law) hardly is a matter of national security.

In CBS, Inc. v. Davis, 510 U.S. 1315 (1994), SCOTUS addressed the "exceptional cases" where a prior restraint might be proper. The opinion is from Harry Blackmun:

Although the prohibition against prior restraints is by no means absolute, the gagging of publication has been considered acceptable only in “exceptional cases.” Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 716, 51 S.Ct. 625, 631, 75 L.Ed. 1357 (1931). Even where questions of allegedly urgent national security, see New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 91 S.Ct. 2140, 29 L.Ed.2d 822 (1971), or competing constitutional interests, Nebraska Press Assn., 427 U.S., at 559, 96 S.Ct., at 2802, are concerned, we have imposed this “most extraordinary remed[y]” only where the evil that would result from the reportage is both great and certain and cannot be mitigated by less intrusive measures. Id., at 562, 96 S.Ct., at 2804.

William Barr probably was interested mainly in obtaining a fancy title and more or less phoned it in for his confirmation hearing. He certainly did a poor job of educating the public. Hopefully, we have helped fill in some gaps.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Donald Trump has paid about $30 million to settle child-sex complaints, including a 2012 incident at Albemarle Estate in Charlottesville, Virginia


Albemarle Estate at Trump Winery

Donald Trump has paid roughly $30 million to settle child-sex complaints brought against him since 1989, according to a D.C.-based investigative journalist.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), which is a subscription site, describes the settlements in a Jan. 14-15 post titled "Why is Trump so afraid of Cohen's testimony?" From the article:

Donald Trump continues to lash out at his former lawyer and "fixer," Michael Cohen, as the February 7 public testimony by Cohen before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), draws nearer. Cohen said he wants to "give a full and credible account of the events that have transpired."

While Cohen will avoid certain subjects still under investigation by Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller, he may provide some insight into the types of embarrassing things he "fixed" for Trump, before they ended up in scandalous court trials. This may include Cohen assisting Trump in paying off victims of Trump's sexual assaults over the years.

The cases go way beyond those widely reported in the mainstream press, WMR reports. They also go beyond cases that involve women and adults. They indicate Trump has a disturbing taste for children:

In addition to Stephanie Clifford, aka porn actress "Stormy Daniels," and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, Cohen reportedly helped settle a number of rape cases involving Trump. WMR received a list from a reputable Republican source of these settlement claims, all of which involve male and female minors:

(1) Michael Parker, 10-years old, oral rape, Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, FL, 1992. Trump paid his parents a $3 million settlement.

(2) Kelly Feuer, 12-years old, $1 million settlement paid in 1989, allegations of forced intercourse, Trump Tower, NY, NY.

(3) Charles Bacon, 11-years old, $3 million, allegations of oral and anal intercourse, 1994, Trump Tower, NY, NY.

(4) Rebecca Conway, 13-years old, intercourse and oral sex. Trump Vineyard Estates, Charlottesville, VA, 2012, $5 million settlement.

(5) Maria Olivera, 12-years old. Her family was paid $16 million to settle allegations of forcible intercourse occurring in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, FL, 1993.

(6) Kevin Noll, 11-years old, anal rape, Trump Tower, NY, NY. 1998. Settlement details unknown.

Five of the six alleged incidents took place at two of Trump's best-known properties -- Trump Tower in New York City and Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, FL. The exception is incident No. 4, which is the most recent (2012) and took place at Albemarle Estate at Trump Winery. Donald and Eric Trump opened the facility as a bed-and-breakfast in May 2015.

Donald Trump
Trump started negotiating to acquire the property after it went into foreclosure in 2011. Trump formally purchased the entire estate in October 2012.

The child-sex settlements might explain Trump's reluctance to disclose his tax returns, WMR reports, and documents indicate our "president" is a deeply disturbed individual:

WMR's GOP source indicated that Trump has refused to release his tax returns because they will reveal the many out-of-court settlements he has paid to silence his assault victims and their families. The list of Trump's child victims came with an interesting reference point that was apparently part of the documentation in the settlement cases. Trump was designated with a psychiatric disorder referenced in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). The referenced disorder is "Pedophilic Disorder (F65.4)."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ali (Akbar) Alexander, who co-founded American Priority Conference in D.C., distances himself from event after it attracts a vast sea of empty chairs


Laura Loomer speaks to mostly empty chairs at
the American Priority Conference in Washington, D.C.

Is the mask of legitimacy starting to fall from right-wing provocateur Ali (Akbar) Alexander? Are young conservatives, who seem to comprise most of Akbar's followers, tuning out to his nonsensical babblings -- not to mention his history as a felon and Grindr gay-sex troller?

If last month's American Priority Conference in Washington, D.C., is an indicator, the answer appears to be yes. Akbar co-founded the event, which featured such conservative luminaries as Roger Stone, Mike Cernovich, Corey Lewandowski, Katrina Pierson, Laura Loomer, Stefan Molyneaux, and Anthony Scaramucci -- and Breitbart Unmasked (BU) deemed it a "howling failure." The report, dated Dec. 8, 2018, is titled "American Priority Conference Headed By Convicted Felon Runs Off The Rails":

Hundreds of empty chairs along with a couple dozen Q-deluded fools showed up this weekend to witness convicted felon Ali Akbar’s latest self-embarrassment.

According to Politico, Akbar (calling himself “Ali Alexander” in a vain attempt to hide from his criminal past and deserved opprobrium) co-founded something called The American Priority Conference. It was a howling failure.

From the Politico report, titled "Wild theories and empty seats at CPAC-style conference for the MAGA set," which was written as the event unfolded:

American Priority, which brings together an impressive roster of right-wing social media agitators and Trump-world notables at a Washington, D.C., hotel, was envisioned as a Trumpist answer to CPAC. In reality, the three-day conference, which convened on Thursday, has been rife with conspiracy theorists, logistical snafus and empty seats.

It may also be the future of Republican politics.

“The right’s turning into a coalition and less of an ideological movement,” said conference co-founder Ali Alexander, a Republican operative and Twitter influencer who co-founded the conference but did not take an active role in organizing it.

The event apparently was such a flop that Akbar tried to distance himself from it in midstream -- using the "I co-founded this thing, but I didn't have anything to do with organizing it" approach. Way to man up and take accountability, Ali.

Ali Akbar, at Grindr gay-sex app
Of course, honesty and transparency are the last traits we expect to find from Ali (Akbar) Alexander. Considerable evidence suggests Akbar has connections to the Alabama State Bar, via his relationship with seedy Montgomery attorney Baron Coleman, and has used those ties to launch attacks on state progressives, such as whistle blower/retired attorney Jill Simpson and yours truly. In fact, it appears Akbar and the Alabama State Bar were central players in my "arrest for blogging."

As for the American Priority Conference, Akbar apparently laid quite an egg with that one. From Politico:

Despite the convergence of several figures with large, devoted social media followings — including Molyneux, Loomer, right-wing agitator Mike Cernovich and dirty trickster Roger Stone — attendance at this weekend’s conference was sparse.

On Thursday, speakers mostly addressed two- to three-dozen attendees amid a sea of hundreds of empty chairs in a ballroom.

When Stone spoke on Thursday afternoon — condemning [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller and defending his “iconic” 2016 tweet predicting imminent catastrophe for John Podesta — actual conference attendees were nearly outnumbered by members of the media hungry for any morsel of Mueller news, most of whom dispersed after Stone left, having offered none.

Just days after Loomer attracted worldwide attention by handcuffing herself to Twitter’s headquarters in protest of her banishment from the platform — a setback she has compared to the Holocaust — she spoke to a nearly empty room. After a reporter for The Daily Beast tweeted a photo highlighting the low attendance, Loomer commiserated in the hallway with a conference attendee about “retarded” left-wing reporters and also complained about “self-loathing Jew” George Soros.

BU noted the irony of the dark-skinned Akbar founding an event largely based on white nationalism:

If anything run by Ali Akbar is truly the future of Republican politics, that can only be good news for Democrats.

Ali Akbar mugshots
Politico refers to “Alexander” as “a Republican operative and Twitter influencer.” They should add the words “discredited, convicted felon” to that description.
Politico says the conference Akbar co-founded was created to foster American Nationalism. One wonders when Akbar will come to realize that this brand of “Nationalism” doesn’t bode well for people of his skin tone.

Or, more likely, perhaps he already realizes it but is only too happy to tap-dance to please White Supremacists in the hopes that they will need a few race traitors to at least attempt to appear “inclusive”?