Monday, April 12, 2021

With roundabout ties to an Ohio bribery scandal (on Alabama Power's behalf) and questions about possible misuse of public resources, John Merrill faces mounting pressure in aftermath of sex scandal

John Merrill and Cesaire McPherson

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who admitted to an extramarital affair last week that caused him to step out of the 2022 race for a U.S. Senate seat, might face impeachment if an investigation shows he used taxpayer resources to facilitate the affair, one state lawmaker says. Aside from that, public documents show Merrill used financial support from one of the state's most powerful corporate entities, Alabama Power, to further his political ambitions, according to a report at -- and that relationship led Merrill to the periphery of a nasty environment-related scandal in the Midwest.. 

Alabama Power already has sketchy associations to the North Birmingham Superfund bribery scandal and a related $75-million lawsuit from a former executive at Drummond Company. Now, public documents show the company has ties to John Merrill and his fondness for the use of butt plugs in intimate moments -- even having sex with his mistress in the Merrill "marital bed"? Yikes, the public-relations woes are mounting at the Power Company. Reports Publisher K.B. Forbes at under the headline "Tied Up and Pinned: Alabama Power Stooge Tumbles in Disgraceful Sex Scandal":

On Wednesday, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill lied about engaging in a scandalous sex affair.

After raunchy texts and audio recordings were released . . ., he admitted to the “tie-her-up-and-bite-me” affair of three years and dropped out as a U.S. Senate candidate.

Merrill is a long-time Alabama Power stooge having received over $13,000 in political contributions from the Alabama Power Employees State PAC.

 Merrill has been happy to pay tribute to power-company top dogs:

In December, Merrill honored “the most powerful man in Alabama” Mark A. Crosswhite, the CEO and Chairman of Alabama Power, with an award for keeping the lights on during election night. The awards ceremony was a ridiculous celebration of what utilities are obligated to do: keep the lights on and prevent power outages to a minimum. 

 Merrill also has done some political dirty work for his benefactors at Alabama Power. Reports Forbes:

Merrill was the same fool who last April attacked Daniel Tait of the Energy and Policy Institute. The Energy and Policy Institute helped bring down the Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder last July in an alleged $60 million bribery ring involving Ohio utilities and well-connected lobbyists, one of whom appears to have committed suicide three weeks ago.

Merrill dispatched an alleged “ghost-written” letter to Tait whining about the Institute’s legal status, funding, and compensation just three months before the debacle in Ohio.

And what provoked that letter?

Scrutiny by the Institute and other environmentalists about electric utility TVA’s failure to respond to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, and opposition to power generation permits before the Alabama Public Service Commission.

And who was requesting those permits?

Alabama Power.

Merrill stepped into an apparent bribery scandal -- at least on the edges of it -- on Alabama Power's behalf? Yikes! It's not like Merrill needs to invite more scrutiny at the moment. Writes Forbes:

As painful and uncomfortable as it is to hear, Merrill allegedly liked, among other alleged deviant behavior, to have clothes pins put on his nipples, according to his mistress.

Who did Alabama Power or the utility’s goons allegedly have to pinch or tie so that Merrill, like stooge Luther Strange, would sign an alleged “ghost-written” letter that has no relevance to his statewide office or constitutional mandates?

As for scrutiny of Merrill, State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) might be willing to provide some. She compared the Merrill matter to that of disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley. Reports

An Alabama lawmaker who served with John Merrill in the House of Representatives said there should be an investigation into whether the secretary of state misused state property in carrying out an extramarital affair.

Merrill admitted to the affair Wednesday after the woman involved gave a recording of a phone call that refuted Merrill’s earlier denials.

Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, said the situation raises concerns that could be similar to what happened with former Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in 2017 after the House started impeachment proceedings and the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause against the governor. An impeachment investigation produced a report that accused Bentley of using state law enforcement to hide evidence of an extramarital affair with his top adviser.

“I do feel that with regards to anything dealing with state funds, state vehicles, state property, I think that there should be a hard look on any matters that will address whether or not the secretary of state was in violation of any state laws,” Givan said.

During an interview with an reporter Wednesday night Merrill was asked about whether he misused state property. Merrill said at that point he would have no further comment on the situation. Merrill has not returned a call about Givan’s comments today.

While Merrill has pulled the plug on a planned U.S. Senate race, he has not resigned from his current position. Givan suggested pressure could mount for him to resign:

Givan spoke to reporters in the press room on the House floor while representatives met today. There was little or no open talk about Merrill’s situation among lawmakers. But Givan said that could change. She was asked if she thinks there will be a move to impeach Merrill.

“I’m sure there will be a hard discussion, and I’m sure there will eventually be a hard discussion in the Alabama Republican Party,” she said.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon declined to comment on Merrill’s situation or speculate whether it could lead to another impeachment case like four years ago.

“It’s just a sad situation,” McCutcheon said. “I hate he’s going through that with him and his family.”

Givan said her purpose was not to sit in judgment on Merrill’s personal behavior but noted that he holds one of the most important elected offices in the state. The Secretary of State is Alabama’s top election official, among other responsibilities.

“I think it would just be in John’s best interest, if he truly loves the state of Alabama, that he would step down,” Givan said.

“Every year I get a Christmas card from John Merrill and it has his family on it. And it breaks my heart. … We all have fallen short,” Givan said. “I’m not here to judge him in that regard. But in this instance, he is a public official. Had that been me, I would have been asked to step down yesterday."


legalschnauzer said...

Alabama politicians seem to haul off and write a letter on almost anything, especially involving the environment, if someone like Alabama Power or Drummond asks them to. Maybe they should pause before they write.

legalschnauzer said...

It seems to be almost a reflexive action in Alabama to attack anyone who voices concern about the environment.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Merrill was an Alabama Power man. They support notoriously corrupt politicians.

Anonymous said...

I bet Merrill already has a political rehab plan in place.

legalschnauzer said...

I don't think there is any doubt. It's why he's not s5epping down as SOS. He 5hinks he can weather the storm. And Alabama voters probably will fall for the rehab scheme if he invokes the Almighty, "family values," and the Second Amendmen5 enough.

Anonymous said...

It should be obvious by now tha5 John Merrill can't handle the responsibili5ies that come with holding public office. The man needs help, not more power.

legalschnauzer said... has an interesting article on Me44ill's moral failings:

The John Merrill problem

By Dana Hall McCain

This is an opinion column.

I take no pleasure in adding to the volume of words written about the implosion of John Merrill’s political career this week. The details of his personal failings are distasteful, and my heart breaks for his wife and children.

But we can’t pretend that this cringe-inducing episode just snuck up on us out of nowhere, either. For years now, Alabama voters have elected Merrill to office despite the rumors of his recurrent moral failings. To win the votes, all he had to do was toss out a few biblical platitudes and drop phrases like “families first,” all while putting his family last.

All he had to do was rail against the sexual sins of others while personally indulging in a circus of licentiousness.

Here’s the thing, friends: unvirtuous people can’t lead the charge for a more virtuous society. But we keep pretending at the ballot box that as long as they espouse the correct policy positions, they can.

It’s pure foolishness.

Leadership requires so much more than keeping to a set of talking points, or even crafting policy in a way that keeps your scorecard intact with the partisan watchdogs. A lack of personal morality will eventually corrupt how you do your job--or compromise your ability to do your job at all--whether you’re a ditch-digger or the Secretary of State.

A man who will lie to his wife will lie to me. He’ll lie to the IRS. He’ll lie to his boss. He’ll lie to his constituents. He’ll lie to the press. He’ll cheat at cards and golf.

Liars lie. They lie because they lack the personal courage to do the right things. They lie to cover for their lack of self-discipline. I am sick to death of people who lack the guts to properly govern themselves, having the nerve to ask to govern me.

But my party--the party of family values?--has gotten increasingly comfortable with electing standard-bearers who fail the virtue test—cheaters like Donald Trump and hedonistic clowns like Matt Gaetz. I harbor no naive delusions that the left has any fewer moral zeros. But at least they’re not wrapping their losers in biblical rhetoric and selling them to America as if they are the answer to our cultural ills.

We act as if people who have no experience with virtue can understand it well enough to guard and promote it. We act as if people who don’t practice personal virtue can be trusted to interpret these ideas in the public square for the greater good.

legalschnauzer said...

The John Merrill Problem (cont.)

They can’t.

So if we conservatives are serious about creating a more virtuous society, I’m here to tell you that the first order of business is taking out our own trash.

And let us not feign ignorance. Alabama is a small state, and Montgomery is a fishbowl. The power-brokers who open and close the gates for candidates know them--warts and all--even better than you and I. They bear significant responsibility for lending support and legitimacy to those who lack the moral fiber to lead.

On a spiritual level, John Merrill can receive forgiveness for his sins just like you and me. He can repent and turn from this lifestyle of dishonesty and adultery. We serve a merciful God who forgives when we repent. He can experience restoration in his relationship with God and maybe even with his family.

But Alabamians don’t owe him the honor of our trust again.

In this world, trust--once broken--is often impossible to regain. Even when we forgive, we don’t automatically resume trust. That would be unwise, both for the person who stumbled and for us. (The Bible doesn’t tell us to “forgive and forget.” It just tells us to forgive.)

We are living through a moment of extreme skittishness about election integrity. Who in the world has time for a Secretary of State with a whopping integrity problem?

Better men and women are willing to serve. Don’t believe for a second that this is the best we can do. There are still folks out there who are faithful, who tell the truth, and who would lead with integrity. Most of them are too dang busy working and serving their families to have time for this level of extracurricular stupidity.

But the burden lies with us, ultimately. We must become an electorate that desires leaders of integrity more than spin. When we demand better, we’ll get better. And not a minute sooner.

Dana Hall McCain writes about faith, culture, and politics for Follow her on Twitter @dhmccain.