|P. Michael Cole (left)
Many Birmingham residents probably know about photos of Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite and former U.S. Attorney Jay Town chugging cocktails at a downtown lounge before the North Birmingham Superfund bribery trial. The meeting reportedly was designed to essentially rig the trial by reaching a plan to ensure that the power company would not be mentioned and none of its executives would be prosecuted.
Less known, until now, is that a third man was present in some of the photos, and his testimony could become a central piece in the ongoing $75-million lawsuit from former Drummond Company vice president David Roberson, according to a report at banbalch.com. The third man is P. Michael Cole, an attorney with the Wilmer and Lee firm of Huntsville. He also appears on the Alabama Ethics Commission's list of registered lobbyists for Alabama Power. Yellow Hammer News lists Cole among the 50 most powerful and influential lobbyists in the state.
So, how did Cole wind up in the photo with Crosswhite and Town? K.B. Forbes, of banbalch.com, addresses that mystery in a post that ran on Thanksgiving Day:
A year ago during Thanksgiving, someone stuffed an envelope into ex-Drummond Executive David Roberson’s mailbox with the explosive photographs of ex-Balch partner and Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite having refreshing cocktails with U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town.
The photos eventually helped bring down Town, who resigned in disgrace on July 15. Now pressure is mounting for Crosswhite, who should have known better, to resign or retire.
The photographs have brought misery to Town and “the most powerful man in Alabama.”
But what about the third man in the photographs? Mike Cole is a well-respected attorney, who allegedly told his friend Roberson about the alleged “secret deal” meeting.
All of this raises a bevy of questions, Forbes notes:
Will Roberson’s legal team subpoena Cole in the $75 million civil lawsuit? What testimony will he give?
What Cole will say is a mystery but not as mysterious as who took the photographs and why.
Experts tell us the photographs appear to be from a private investigator or law enforcement.
And who were they shadowing? Town or Crosswhite? And why did they stuff them in Roberson’s mailbox?
Although we can speculate 100 different ways, the only known fact is they did meet when they should not have.
Town has since resigned.
After he eats turkey and all the trimmings, Crosswhite should begin preparing his exit plan with another refreshing cocktail.