Documents related to the North Birmingham Superfund scandal suggest former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange accepted a bribe to send a letter opposing the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) clean-up efforts.
Strange might not be the only Alabama politico to dip his toe into criminal waters, and a Birmingham-based blog's reporting on the matter has set off hysteria among the state's officialdom and legal elites, especially in Washington, D.C. and likely Montgomery and Birmingham, too. Former Drummond executive David Roberson, and attorney Burt Newsome reportedly are working the ropes to spill all of the ugly details to the U.S. Department of Justice.
As for Strange, let's consider the timeline of his dubious actions, as reflected in documents embedded at the top of this post:
(1) An email that Balch and Bingham lawyer Joel Gilbert sent to the Alabama AG's Office, requesting Strange's opposition to the EPA -- Oct. 13, 2014;
(2) A draft of the letter, written by Gilbert, opposing EPA action -- dated Oct. 8, 2014;
(3) Contribution detail, in the amount of $25,000, from Drummond Co. to Luther Strange Campaign Committee -- Oct. 17, 2014;
(4) A copy of the letter, on official letterhead of Alabama AG's Office (and signed by Strange), sent to EPA administrator Heather McTeer Toney -- dated Oct. 23, 2014.
What does all of this mean? Let's turn to K.B. Forbes, editor of banbalch.com, for analysis. From a post titled "Scary Canary! Panic as Roberson–the Missing Link– Considers Singing to Feds":
Our sources in Washington, D.C. tell us there has been panic since our post a week ago about ex-Drummond executive Dave Roberson who is now considering singing like a canary to federal investigators.
Venable, the prestigious law firm out of Baltimore, that tried unsuccessfully to prevent the indictments of Balch and Bingham partners Steven McKinney and Joel I.Gilbert, is now out and about, hot on the trail. Our sources could not tell us who has contracted them (Balch? Drummond?).
Our website traffic confirms the sheer depth of the panic: we had record traffic on Monday and Tuesday of last week, quadruple the typical traffic and extremely unusual just days before a national holiday.
Why the panic? Forbes provides insights:
And what so upsets Drummond, Alabama Power and Balch and Bingham if Roberson were to squeal?
Could it be payments for official acts? The signing of ghost-written letters in exchange for campaign cash? The confirmation of alleged corruption and an alleged bribery ring?
Ex-U.S. Senator Luther Strange, Balch and Bingham’s biggest stooge, appears to face a real criminal problem of his own. Allegedly provoked by Balch, he involved himself in the North Birmingham EPA matter even though Strange had no authority to do so. At the time, the Governor had delegated the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to handle all issues related to the North Birmingham EPA matter.
* On October 13, 2014, convicted felon and Balch-made millionaire Joel I. Gilbert sent Luther Strange, then the Alabama Attorney General, a draft letter about the North Birmingham EPA matter.
* Four days later, on October 17, Strange accepted a $25,000 contribution from Drummond Company.
* Six days later after the money was deposited, Strange signed the ghost-written letter and dispatched it on his official letterhead to the EPA on October 23, 2014.
What about other Alabama politicos -- generally of the GOP variety -- who might be hearing a freight train comin' around the bend? We will address their issues in an upcoming post.