Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Alabama A&M leadership, including President Daniel K. Wims, will not be upfront with supporters about the fate of a $527-million debt the university is owed

NFL Hall of Famer John Stallworth, an Alabama A&M product

Officials at Alabama A&M University continue to play coy with their constituents about the $527 million the state owes the institution. Is that any way to run a university? Donald Watkins, longtime Alabama attorney who has become a leading voice in online investigative journalism, says it is not -- and that A&M's students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters deserve better. In an article at donaldwatkins.com, Watkins writes under the headline "Is Alabama A&M Going to Collect Its $527,280,064 Debt from the State of Alabama, or Not?":

Is Alabama A&M University going to collect its $527,280,064 debt from the state of Alabama, or not? This simple, straightforward question is swirling inside of Bulldog Nation!

This is a question that neither President Daniel K. Wims, nor the Alabama A&M University board of trustees, will answer. In fact, they will NOT even acknowledge that the $527,280,064 debt is due and owed to the university.

Wims and the board of trustees have invoked a strange and eerie silence on this question.

The issue hit the public realm with the release of  a letter to governors in 16 states, all with land-grant institutions (such as Alabama A&M) within their borders. Alabama's Kay Ivey was one such governor, and it's safe to say the letter did not brighten her day

Why might Ivey find the letter distressing? For one, it presents a jaw-dropping number that the state owes. Watkins provides insights:

A September 18, 2023, letter from the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture to Gov. Kay Ivey explains the state's debt to Alabama A&M and calculates the amount owed.

Alabama A&M's faculty, staff, students, alumni, supporters, and the state's Black community want to know the answer to this question from President Wims. Thus far, the only answer Wims is providing is a very loud silence.

Weeks ago, I learned that the answer to this question is "No."

Shortly after the debt-notification letter arrived on Gov. Ivey's desk, President Wims sent word to her that Alabama A&M would take no steps to collect this debt. Gov. Ivey and her staff were elated with this news. They couldn't believe that Wims had walked away from the $527,280,064 owed to Alabama A&M without a fight.

Dr. Wims did not want to make Gov. Ivey and her MAGA colleagues in the state legislature mad at him. Wims was afraid that an angry Gov. Ivey would force his ouster as president if he took any genuine steps to collect the university's $527,280,064 debt from the state.

Instead of fighting the state to collect Alabama A&M's $527 280,064, Dr. Wims and the university's White outside law firm embarked upon a campaign to use paid hustlers to smear me. They are running the smear-campaign money through the White law firm.

The spitballs that Wims and his flunkies are throwing at me do not change two basic facts: (a) Alabama A&M is owed $527,280,064 by the state of Alabama, and (b) Wims does not have the "balls" to go and get the money.

This whole ugly episode does not speak well for Alabama A&M's "leadership," For one thing, how does A&M expect middle-class givers to pony up when the university won't even attempt to collect millions of dollars it already is owed? The next time a fundraising letter goes out, who could blame potential A&M givers if they pitched it in the trash? Writes Watkins:

Wims is nothing more than a psychologically castrated MAGA eunuch masquerading as a university president. He does not have the courage that it takes to get this $527,280,064, but he will flirt with women all day long.

What is worse, Alabama A&M's board of trustees is weaker than Wims. They have no supervisory control over Wims. They are present on the A&M scene for window-dressing purposes.

The last time Alabama A&M was owed hundreds of millions of dollars from the state of Alabama, my legal team and I went and got the money for the university (and for Alabama State University) in the Knight v. Alabama higher-education desegregation case. After long, hard, and aggressive courtroom fights, we brought Alabama A&M its first-ever Ph.D. programs, new undergraduate programs, money for new facilities, renovation of old buildings, and campus expansion, plus tens of millions of dollars in endowment money -- all from the state.

I feel sorry for the entire Alabama A&M family because President Wims will NOT tell them the truth. Wims has already sold out the university's entitlement to collect $527,280,064 from the state, just so he can keep his $400,000 per year job. Alabama A&M will never see a dime of this money.

Dr. Wims is living proof that, "A man who will not fight for himself, will not fight for you."

George Conway says Democrats need to start playing hardball with Trump and presents a plan he claims could put Trump in jail for violating court orders


Democrats long have been known as the party that plays nice. Republicans might employ all kinds of underhanded tactics against their opponents, but Democrats rarely respond in kind. Attorney George Conway, a Republican turned "Never Trumper," says it is time for Democrats to stop playing nice, especially with Donald Trump as the titular head of the GOP.

These issues remind us of Michelle Obama's declaration that "when they go low, we go high." Here at Schnauzer Central, we admire the former first lady's intellect and high-mindedness. But this thought has occurred to us: Maybe it's time we, as Democrats, try a different slogan -- "When they go low, we go lower."

That seems to be what George Conway is thinking, especially considering that Donald Trump is the likely Republican presidential candidate in 2024 -- and we already have four years worth of evidence that Trump is a lousy person and an even worse president, one who had no clue how to govern. More recent evidence suggests a second Trump term would be even worse than the first, and his own words indicate he has every intention of pushing aside democratic norms and the rule of law, replacing them with a dictatorship, from which our nation likely will never recover.

How best to characterize the difference between the two parties? We will point to one man -- Roger Stone, perhaps the most well-known GOP operative of all. Stone proudly wears the title "dirty trickster," which is appropriate, given that he has served under the two most corrupt presidents in modern U.S. history -- Richard Nixon and Trump. Nixon, of course, was well-versed in governance -- a tortured, but brilliant, soul who was a highly capable president . . . if you could overlook his criminality. Trump, on the other hand, seems to have little interest in even trying to govern -- apparently seeking a second term in the White House as a way of staying out of prison and becoming "president for life." This would be fitting for an individual who apparently is a malignant narcissist, who wants to hold the nation's high office for a second term only for his own purposes, with no real interest in genuine public service; of course, it is not clear that Trump is even capable of providing public service.

As for Roger Stone, can anyone think of his equivalent -- a proud "dirty trickster" on the Democratic side? We can't even begin to think of one.

Why does George Conway's voice matter on these issues? He is the former husband of Kellyanne Conway, who served as senior counselor in the Trump administration from 2017-20. The Conways divorced in 2023, but George Conway has considerable insight into how "The Orange Man" thinks.

Conway shares his thoughts on how Democrats should deal with Trump in a piece at The New Republic (TNR) under the title" How to Make Trump 'Go Crazy,' according to George Conway." The sub-hed is "The Never Trump lawyer says the Democrats need to wage “psychological warfare” on the former president, and he has an idea how to do it."

The title and sub-hed suggest Conway is not suggesting playing nice. He isn't -- and we like that. From the TNR article:

Former Republican George Conway said Democrats need to wage a “psychological war” against Donald Trump until it makes him so “crazy” that he violates court orders.

“I think you have to wage psychological war on Donald Trump,” Conway, a lawyer and Never Trump activist, said during a panel discussion at The New Republic’s Stop Trump Summit recently (10/11/23). “I don’t think the Democrats have ever attacked Trump enough.”

In an interview afterward with TNR, Conway explained that Democrats could wage a coordinated psychological campaign against Trump through a series of advertisements. “You can just run ads on TV in the local area where he is,” said Conway, whom Trump had once considered nominating for solicitor general.

Conway said that the ads could target the things Trump feels the most insecure about. “He knows he’s not that smart, he knows he’s not that rich, he knows that he’s not that good. And so, if you go and attack him for the things he knows he is not deep down, it makes him crazy.”

“He’s not that far from his bursting point,” Conway added. And making Trump nuts could impact his ongoing legal troubles.

“The more he gets attacked the more he will talk about things he shouldn’t be talking about,” Conway said. “I think you could even get him thrown into jail, by running the right ad,” he added.

Trump was slapped with a gag order in his New York trial after he made comments attacking New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has accused him and his associates of fraudulently inflating the value of their real estate assets. In the Georgia case, the conditions of his release on bail bar him from intimidating witnesses and co-defendants.

“You run ads that make him angry at those people, like [Mark] Meadows,” said Conway, referring to the former top Trump aide and co-defendant in the Georgia trial. “You run these creepy ads that get into his head, he’ll just go out there and he’ll violate his conditions of release.”

Conway went on to say that beating Trump requires the media to show America who Trump is. “I disagree with some of the critiques that you hear, I think predominantly from the left, about ‘You don’t give him oxygen; you don’t give him air time.’ No. You give him more. Show everybody the crazy.”

Monday, October 30, 2023

Alabama A&M president gaslights his own constituents by failing to collect a $527-million debt, an act that will only benefit Alabama's MAGA Republican governor

Daniel Wims and Gov. Kay Ivey

Shortly after learning the state of Alabama owed his university $527 million, Alabama A&M President Daniel K. Wims informed Gov. Kay Ivey that he would not attempt to collect on the debt owed. Ivey, a MAGA Republican who seems to never have trouble finding money to build prisons, naturally was pleased with the news. Meanwhile, Alabama A&M supporters have been hearing that Wims has a "secret plan" to obtain the funds.

Donald Watkins, a longtime Alabama attorney and a leading voice in online investigative journalism, says Wims' constituents probably should not count on such a plan ever being implemented. Watkins says word of a secret plan is a form of "gaslighting." Under the headline "Daniel K. Wims Gaslights Weak and Compromised Alabama A&M Board of Trustees," Watkins writes:

Last Friday (10/27/30), the Alabama A&M University board of trustees met in Birmingham for the first time since the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture notified Gov. Kay Ivey that the state of Alabama owes the university $527,280,064. This debt arises from the state’s chronic underfunding of Alabama A&M over the past 30 years.

Alabama A&M President Daniel K. Wims was meeting with business leaders when the September 18, 2023, debt-notification letter arrived in the governor’s office. The people with whom Wims was meeting knew about the letter to Gov. Ivey before he did.

Dr. Wims immediately sent word to Gov. Ivey that Alabama A&M would take no steps to collect this debt. Gov. Ivey and her staff were elated, as they were already knee-deep in a fight to keep Black Alabamians from getting a court-ordered second majority-Black Congressional district.

Why would Wims not attempt to collect on a massive debt that clearly is owed -- a sum that likely would transform A&M's fortunes for the better, well into the future? Does he not have an obligation to act in his university's best interests? Wims apparently is aware of exceptions to any such obligation. Writes Watkins:

Dr. Wims, an embedded MAGA operative, did not want to make Gov. Ivey and her MAGA colleagues in the state legislature mad at him. Wims was afraid that an angry Gov. Ivey would force his ouster as president if he took any genuine steps to collect the university's $527 million debt from the state.

In his mind, Dr. Wims believed it would be easier to gaslight Blacks in Alabama and the university's alumni than to fight the state's MAGA Republican hierarchy to collect the $527 million debt.

Instead of fighting for the $527 million, Wims began privately telling his trusted colleagues and supporters that he intends to seek and secure about $26 million in new corporate and personal donations to the university from the group assembled in his September 18th meeting. He also intends to aggressively seek new federal grants.

And that's going to amount to $527 million? Not likely. But that is where the "secret plan" enters the picture. And that is not the full picture; it also includes a plan to retaliate against Watkins for bringing news of A&M's scandal-plagued administration into the public square. Writes Watkins:

After his September 18th meeting, Dr. Wims began gaslighting Alabama A&M’s board of trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community supporters into believing that he has a secret plan to collect the university’s $527 million debt from the state when, in fact, Wims had already sold out Alabama A&M and the state's Black community on this issue.

This is why Dr. Wims did not present a resolution at the board meeting for trustees to approve, authorizing him to take all necessary and lawful steps to collect Alabama A&M’s $527 million debt from the state. Instead of forcing Wims' hand on the collection of this debt, the university's weak and compromised board of trustees busied themselves with ceremonial activities related to the Magic City Classic.

Dr. Wims, aided and abetted by Alabama A&M's White outside law firm, also launched a whisper campaign that seeks to tarnish and discredit me. Borrowing a page from Donald Trump's and Clarence Thomas’ playbook, Wims proudly points out that MAGA Republicans in Alabama love him.

It is true that MAGA Republicans dote on Wims. He is a closet MAGA operative who is firmly committed to "playing the game" with them. The "game" Wims is playing with MAGA Republicans in Alabama always shortchanges Black Alabamians and keeps them "downtrodden from the cradle to the grave."

Readers can look at my bio page and the legal cases that have advanced and protected the civil rights of Blacks and women in Alabama since 1973 and immediately understand why MAGA Republicans in Alabama dislike me. What is more, I have no interest in "playing the game" of denying Blacks and women what is rightfully theirs. This is why they imprisoned me, like they did with so many well-known freedom fighters in our history.

In the end, Watkins says, Wims is engaging in a form of "Uncle Tomism" that shortchanges his own university and threatens its future -- along with the futures of A&M's past, current, and future students:

Imprisonment never stopped me from fighting for equal opportunity, voting rights, equitable educational funding, and the fair administration of justice. I have never been afraid of fights to secure what is rightfully ours.

In any event, it has now been clearly established that Alabama A&M will not sue the state of Alabama to collect its $527 million debt. Dr. Wims prefers to get on his knees like a faithful Uncle Tom and beg strangers for money, rather than fight for the $527,280,064 that rightfully belongs to Alabama A&M.

Wims' weak and compromised board of trustees is impotent and complicit in this matter, as well. They want to be liked by Gov. Ivey, at all cost.

The cost of Daniel Wims’ Uncle Tomism to Alabama A&M has now been quantified. It is $527,280,064. There is no monetary value that Dr. Wims can bring to Alabama A&M during the life of his presidency that will offset the high cost of his failed leadership.

Evidence shows Mike Johnson was a 2020 election denier, raising concerns about the outsized role he could play as House speaker in the 2024 election

Mike Johnson: election denier

The elevation of unknown back-bencher Mike Johnson (R-LA) to speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives presents a laundry list of red flags -- he does not believe in the separation of church and state (translation: he's a theocrat, who stands in favor of HIS fundamentalist religion, but maybe not YOURS); despite his claim to be "Pro Life," he does not support restrictions on gun rights,even after the recent mass shooting in Maine. Johnson even voted against a bipartisan gun-safety law; he does not believe in climate change, largely because he is beholden to the fossil-fuel industry (this suggests he is in the anti-science wing of the Republican Party, you know, the ones who said a coronavirus outbreak in China was nothing to worry about and required no action.); and he apparently does not support minority rights, given his dismissive and disrespectful statements regarding LGBT Americans.

All of these concerns about Mike Johnson are legit, but the No. 1 reason to be troubled by  his ascendancy to power might be this: Johnson was in the middle of GOP efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and he is poised to have a role of authority over the 2004 vote count. From a Washington Post (WaPo) article titled "New speaker Mike Johnson’s 2020 election denial could have 2024 implications; Johnson worked behind the scenes to boost Donald Trump’s efforts to stay in office through a long-shot court challenge. His role could matter after the next election. Reporters Amy Gardner and Michael Kranish write:

In the weeks after the 2020 election, an obscure Republican lawmaker from Louisiana led a congressional effort to overturn the presidential results in four battleground states that had helped secure Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.

The victories were a sham, Mike Johnson argued, because state election officials had changed voting procedures, without first seeking legislative approval, to address the challenges of casting ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson recruited 125 House Republicans to join him in signing a U.S. Supreme Court brief saying as much, and on Jan. 6, 2021, an even larger group of lawmakers, including Johnson, voted against certifying the electoral college vote for Biden in two key battlegrounds.

Johnson has never repudiated his part in any of it. [Last] Wednesday, he was elected speaker of the House.

Johnson played one of the most significant roles of any member of Congress in the effort to overturn the election. But unlike some of his more bombastic colleagues, much of it was behind the scenes, through a legal filing, closed-door Republican Party strategy sessions, and private conversations with Trump.

Now that Johnson has emerged as the next speaker in a vote that was celebrated  by Trump’s MAGA movement, his role as a ringleader of efforts to overturn Biden’s victory is generating new scrutiny. It is also prompting fresh attention to how Johnson could use his new job to influence the outcome of the next presidential election, should he still be speaker in January 2025.

Evidence suggests Johnson prefers to do his dirty work behind closed doors. But he has been upfront about pulling out all the stops to help Donald Trump remain in the White House, despite Trump's clear electoral defeat. If you are an American who believes in free and fair elections, words straight from Johnson's mouth should be highly disturbing. From the WaPo report:

Johnson [last] Wednesday declined to comment when asked whether he believed the 2020 election was stolen. “We’re not talking about any issues today,” he told The Washington Post after emerging with the speaker’s gavel following weeks of dysfunction led by the most fervent Trump loyalists within the House GOP. “My position is very well-known.”

That position as an organizer of efforts to undermine the 2020 vote, in fact, is probably a key reason for his ascension. The caucus had balked the day before at elevating Tom Emmer (Minn.), who was among the minority of House Republicans that voted to certify Biden’s win. Johnson’s bid was also aided by a genial nature that contrasted sharply with pro-Trump firebrand and ally Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), whose quest for speaker sputtered after moderates refused to back him.

But experts said Johnson’s more palatable disposition shouldn’t disguise his willingness to meddle in the outcome of elections. That especially is the case given that Johnson's position on the 2020 election, in brief, is this: If the loser happens to be a MAGA Republican and Johnson ally, then said loser (of both the popular vote and electoral-college vote) should be elevated to the winner, over the person who actually won the popular vote and the electoral vote.

“Johnson looks a lot like Jim Jordan’s revenge,” said Austin Sarat, a professor of law and political science at Amherst College. “He is someone who is up to his neck in election denialism, and that does not bode well for what is likely to happen in the House.”

How bad could it be? Sarat is not the only knowledgeable insider who sees danger ahead:

Democracy advocates and constitutional scholars are particularly concerned about what [Johnson] could do in 2024, when Trump may once again be the Republican nominee for president and there’s the possibility of yet another close election.

“Having somebody who took those steps in such a position of leadership going into yet another presidential election with quite likely the same people on the ballot is actually very troubling,” said Genevieve Nadeau, a lawyer with Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan advocacy group for fair elections.

Johnson’s role in seeking to overturn the 2020 vote was directly solicited by Trump, who tapped the lawmaker — first elected the same year that Trump was, in 2016 — to help spearhead efforts on Capitol Hill in support of a court challenge.

“President Trump called me last night and I was encouraged to hear his continued resolve to ensure that every LEGAL vote gets properly counted and that all instances of fraud and illegality are investigated and prosecuted,” Johnson tweeted on Nov. 9, 2020.

Weeks later, after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed suit seeking to challenge the voting practices in a number of swing states that Biden had won, Johnson was tasked with whipping House support as the case made its way to the Supreme Court.

To do this, Johnson, who had sway as head of the Republican Study Group — a conservative policy group in the House — assiduously allied himself with Trump. He used that connection in writing a Dec. 9, 2020, email with the subject line: “Time-sensitive request from President Trump.”

Johnson wrote that Trump had called him and “asked me to contact all Republican Members of the House and Senate today and request that all join on to our brief.”

The brief said it represented the concerns of members of Congress, “shared by untold millions of their constituents, that the unconstitutional irregularities involved in the 2020 presidential election cast doubt upon its outcome and the integrity of the American system of elections.” Trump had boosted the case, tweeting that it was “very strong.”

Did Trump and Johnson engage in a conspiracy -- perhaps with other Congressional Republicans -- to overturn the election? That is one of several alarming questions this scenario raises.Reports WaPo:

Johnson’s role was so central that the brief’s cover page reads: “U.S. Representative Mike Johnson and 125 Other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

The Supreme Court quickly threw out the case, saying on Dec. 11, 2020, that Texas did not have standing. Trump tweeted that the court had “really let us down. No Wisdom, No Courage.”

In the wake of the brief’s failure, some Republicans complained to Johnson that they felt he had unfairly pressured them to sign on to the filing by invoking Trump’s name, according to a former House Republican senior aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Johnson told his colleagues that he was sorry if they felt pressured, according to the aide, who was on the call in which Johnson made the comment.

Johnson had every opportunity to say he respected the court's ruling, and the election was correctly decided, but he failed to do so:

After the case was tossed out, Johnson was asked by the New Yorker why he thought Trump’s legal team had failed in an array of legal challenges. He stood by the legal claims and asserted that the problem was that Trump didn’t have enough good lawyers.

Does Johnson truly believe Trump lost the election because he "didn't have enough good lawyers."? Is this garbage, nonsense, or both? Does this indicate America's new speaker is not serious on matters of great importance to the country? Do Johnson's bizarre words even suggest he might have some of the same mental-health issues that clearly plague Trump? Johnson actually doubled down on his nonsensical statements, reports WaPo:

“It appears that some of the larger law firms that might have been lined up early on, for whatever reason backed out, and Rudy Giuliani was in charge,” Johnson said, referring to the former New York City mayor. “And I don’t think their army of lawyers was large enough.”

Constitutional scholars disagreed, saying that in addition to the lack of standing, the lawsuit was attempting to challenge voting rules after the election had passed rather than in advance, when the procedures had been adopted.

“It was an effort to confer some patina of legitimacy on what was essentially an illegitimate and dangerous move to overthrow an election,” said Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), who was a member of the House’s Jan. 6 committee.

Following the lawsuit’s failure, Johnson began trying to gather support to prevent the certification of the electoral college vote for Biden. On Jan. 5, 2021, one day before Congress was slated to vote on certification, Johnson met with other members of the Republican caucus to discuss how to overturn the election results. Johnson argued that some states had changed their voting rules as a result of the pandemic — which he said was unconstitutional and validated his effort not to certify Biden’s election, according to a recording of the session reported by The New York Times.

So, Johnson wound up blaming Trump's loss on the COVID-19 pandemic? That's odd, given that the election was on Nov. 3, 2020, and the pandemic did not begin in the United States until Jan. 20, 2020. Is Johnson deceitful, delusional, or both? Could he be more off the rails, and even less trustworthy, than Trump? Reports WaPo:

Johnson later told The Times that he “never” believed claims that Trump lost due to massive fraud, but instead said he told colleagues, “Guys, you don’t have to worry about any of that. They violated the Constitution.”

(Johnson did, in fact, share fantastical claims of fraud, including one that Dominion Voting Systems’s election equipment originated under the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Ch├ívez’s communist regime.)

As Johnson met with Republican colleagues in the House’s Visitor Center auditorium Jan. 5, he laid out his case. While there were a number of members in the meeting who objected to his argument, many of those listening had been among those who signed Johnson’s amicus brief, held him in high regard and applauded his effort, according to a former Republican staffer familiar with the session.

Johnson claims he did not make fantastical claims about election fraud, when in fact, he did? Is that evidence that Mike Johnson is a liar? Is he a loon? The answer to the first question is "yes." The answer to the second question is "sure looks like a loon from here." WaPo reports:

“Johnson was leading the debate, and members used his case to rationalize why they objected to the certification,” the staffer said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private session.

In the aftermath of the attack by pro-Trump rioters on the Capitol, Johnson contacted Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to inquire about whether there was an effort under way to try to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment, according to Hutchinson’s testimony to the Jan. 6 committee.

“Has Mark heard about the 25th Amendment? Does he think it’s going to happen?” Johnson asked, according to Hutchinson. She said she took his query as a “conversational” effort to pick up on what was being said at the White House.

The Jan. 6 committee did not subpoena Johnson about his involvement, although lawyers for the committee did question some witnesses about his actions, according to its records. But one email released by the committee underscored how controversial some of those actions were perceived to be.

The email from then-Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), saying it was “pursuant to a request from Matt Gaetz” — the Florida Republican who later engineered the ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — recommended that Trump pardon “Every Republican who signed the Amicus brief in the Texas lawsuit,” referring to the filing led by Johnson.

Most experts say the Trump-led pressure campaign following the 2020 election aimed at Vice President Mike Pence would be much harder to execute now because of changes to the Electoral Count Act limiting the ability of Congress to object to results submitted by the states.

But there is still cause for concern, several scholars said. Richard H. Pildes, a New York University law professor, said the speaker would have significant power to shape the rules if neither candidate wins an outright majority of electoral-college votes — a possibility if a third-party candidate manages to win one or more states.

In that scenario, a “contingent election” would occur in the House, where each state’s delegation is given one vote.

A more alarming concern is whether Johnson would, assuming he’s still speaker after the next election, attempt to disrupt the proceedings in a more dramatic way — for instance, by preventing the session from happening altogether. Although the vice president presides over the occasion, it occurs in the House chamber — the domain of the speaker.

“What if the House refuses to participate?” speculated Edward B. Foley, a law professor and election-law expert at Ohio State University, referring to the hypothetical possibility that the House might disregard its statutory obligations under the new Electoral Count Reform Act.

And what if, Foley added, Congress failed to finalize the results by Jan. 20, Inauguration Day? Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris would no longer be president and vice president. A constitutional crisis over their succession could ensue. Johnson, as speaker, would be next in line.

Foley quickly noted that he believes it’s a far-fetched scenario. But the events of Jan. 6, 2021, would have seemed far-fetched before they actually occurred, too, he said.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Less than a week into his tenure, documents show Alabama A&M's new VP, Shannon Reeves, has financial difficulties that could lead to the IRS' door

Shannon F. Reeves

Less than a week ago, Alabama A&M University (AAMU) announced the promotion of Shannon F. Reeves to vice president of government affairs and external relations. In making the announcement, AAMU President Daniel K. Wims touted Reeves as the "consummate professional," who would oversee all of the university's lobbying efforts, while serving as its lead advocate in Washington, D.C. Wims praised Reeves for developing a professional network on both sides of the political aisle and noted that Reeves had a wealth of political knowledge and strategy that would help move A&M forward.

Today we learn that Reeves has overwhelming financial troubles of a personal nature that could lead to issues with the IRS.

In introducing his new VP, President Wims hinted that Reeves would have rock-solid credibility with power players at the state and national levels. But that appears to be in doubt, just six days into Reeves' tenure. Donald Watkins, longtime Alabama attorney and leading voice in online investigative journalism at donaldwatkins.com, has uncovered documents that suggest Reeves' status as a respected and effective voice for Alabama A&M might have sprung a few leaks. Under the headline "Shannon F. Reeves, Alabama A&M’s New VP for Government Affairs, is Dripping with Tax Liens and Debts," Watkins writes in an article today:

On October 23, 2023, Alabama A&M University announced the promotion of Shannon Frank Reeves, Sr., from Associate Vice President for Government Affairs to Vice President of Government Affairs and External Relations.

"Reeves will oversee all federal, state, and local lobbying efforts for AAMU government affairs, military affairs, civic engagement, and community affairs," according to the university's press release. As the lead advocate for AAMU in Washington, D.C., Reeves is "charged with the successful management of active engagement with legislative bodies and regulatory agencies in pursuit of support for the university’s research agenda and infrastructure needs."

We introduced our readers to Shannon Reeves in an October 12, 2023, article titled, “Louisiana GOP Central Committee Member Leads Alabama A&M’s Foray into MAGA Politics.

In his announcement, Alabama A&M President Daniel K. Wims issued these accolades about his new vice president:

Mr. Reeves’ appointment to Vice President, secures our voice and placement in federal, state, and local communities. His professional network on both sides of the political aisle has proven to position us for coalition building as we plan for continued growth to secure our path in the development and implementation of advocacy and legislative priorities. He is the consummate professional and poised to manage our first-ever Division of Government Affairs and External Relations. His wealth of political knowledge and strategy will be beneficial to the success of our institution.

Dr. Wims also claimed that Reeves, a MAGA Republican and elected member of the Louisiana GOP Central Committee, has secured historic increases in Alabama state appropriations in addition to increased federal support for university research and infrastructure. Wims bragged that Reeves has a “unique ability to collaborate with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to support the legislative priorities of the university.

It did not take long for information about "the real Shannon Reeves" to surface, Watkins reports:

Within days after Dr. Wims announced Reeves’ promotion in such glowing terms, Democratic and Republican political players in Washington and Montgomery expressed disbelief that Wims had elevated Reeves to the Vice Presidency for Government Affairs. They shared with me documentation that showed a struggling Shannon Reeves dripping with tax liens, personal debts, and financial credibility issues. My independent review of this documentation established that it was true and correct.

What about details regarding Reeves financial troubles? Watkins provides them, and they are grim:

Here is a sprinkling of the financial information that is available in the public domain on Shannon Reeves:

1. Reeves Strategies LLC, Shannon Reeves’ defunct lobbying firm, lost its corporate existence in June 2018 due to a "tax forfeiture" on February 10, 2012.

2. Court records show tax liens recorded against Shannon F. Reeves in the following amounts:

a. $1,061.52 -- state tax lien that was filed against him on February 24, 2021, for unpaid individual income taxes;

b. $2,193.49 -- state tax lien that was filed against him on February 17, 2021, for unpaid individual income taxes;

c. $317.00 -- state tax lien that was filed against him on February 3, 2021, for unpaid individual income taxes;

d. $535.08 -- state tax lien that was filed against him on July 6, 2018, for unpaid individual income taxes; and

e. $2,034.00 -- state tax lien that was filed against him on March 16, 2010, for unpaid business franchise taxes.

3. Shannon Reeves was evicted from his home in Southlake, Texas after he stopped making his mortgage payments to Aurora Loan Services, LLC, and he failed to answer Aurora's lawsuit for eviction on November 8, 2010.

4. Shannon Reeves also had a $9,620.00 state court judgment issued against him by a Texas judge on November 10, 2009.

Shannon Reeves' list of documented financial difficulties seems endless.

So why did Alabama A&M officially hire Reeves from Grambling State University, in July 2022, as associate vice president of governmental affairs? Why did A&M promote Reeves six days ago? 

Watkins, so far, cannot provide a clear-cut, rational answer to those questions -- and that, he says, suggests something peculiar is going on behind the scenes:

Most major public universities in America would never knowingly hire or promote an employee with Shannon Reeves' checkered financial background to the position of Vice President for Government Affairs. For all practical purposes, Reeves was "broker than the Ten Commandments" when Wims rescued him from the brink of financial despair in 2022.

Obviously, some other, undisclosed agenda was behind Wims' decision to hire and promote Shannon Reeves. According to our sources in Washington and Montgomery, Shannon Reeves has zero credibility in the world of government and external affairs in either political party.

University financial records show that Alabama A&M began paying Shannon Reeves on January 20, 2022, exactly 20 days after Dr. Daniel K. Wims became president. Reeves received $10,265 on January 20, 2022, for “contract services.” Between February 2022 and June 2022, Reeves received “payroll” payments of $11,541 per month. Starting in July 2022, Reeves “payroll” payments increased to $12,916 per month.

In addition to his cash payment for “contract services” on January 20, 2022, and his monthly “payroll “money (which began on February 28, 2022), Shannon Reeves received rent-free housing at Alabama A&M's Normal Hills Student Apartments for about nine months. We have confirmed that Dr. Wims personally authorized Shannon Reeves' free housing arrangement at Normal Hills Student Apartments.

Reportedly, Alabama A&M did not issue Shannon Reeves an IRS Form 1099 for the economic value of his free housing during this nine-month period. We have also confirmed that at least two other top administrative employees hired by Wims -- A. Jackie Robinson, III, and Jamal Ali -- may be in the same legal jeopardy as Reeves regarding the university's failure to (a) report the free housing arrangement to the IRS and (b) issue the beneficiaries of this free housing arrangement a Form 1099 for tax purposes.

Finally, Dr. Wims hired Reeves’ wife as an events coordinator for the university and paid her $3,993 per month, commencing in September 2022.

The Shannon Reeves situation is a mess and it will likely get messier! We understand from reliable sources that Reeves' sticky situation may spark an IRS civil and criminal investigation.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Investigative journalism by longtime attorney Donald Watkins has exposed sexual misconduct at Alabama A&M and should help future victims achieve justice


Several friends have asked longtime Alabama attorney Donald Watkins why he felt it necessary to publish investigative reports about sexual misconduct among high-ranking officials at Alabama A&M University (AAMU). Watkins cites a number of answers to that question, but No. 1 on the list seems to be this: Reporting on such issues puts them in the public realm and should enhance the chances that future victims will achieve justice, perhaps by holding members of the school's board of trustees individually accountable for failing to prevent wrongs and limit damages that they had every reason to know were taking place on their watch.

Watkins addresses his friends' concerns in a post today at donaldwatkins.com, under the headline "The Importance of Exposing Alleged Sexual Predators Who Roam the Campus of Alabama A&M University":

After I exposed the nest of alleged sexual predators in the top ranks of Alabama A&M University's administration (past and present) in a series of recent investigative articles, several male friends of mine in the world of historically black colleges and universities asked me privately why was it necessary to do so. These friends are very familiar with the personal histories of Trustee Kevin Ball, President Daniel K. Wims, Provost John D. Jones, and former Alabama A&M Assistant Vice President for Finance Norman E. Jones. They also know them as longtime “womanizers.”

As detailed in the articles I published about these men, their personal histories and allegations of their unwanted sexual advances against women subordinates (and one male) were fairly easy for me to discover and document. In two instances, there are written findings of actual sexual misconduct. Out of respect for the victims' privacy, I only published the least graphic written report.

What is more, the job applications and resumes of Daniel Wims, John Jones, and Norman Jones were scrubbed and sanitized in a way that was intended to prevent background checkers from discovering their alleged propensities to prey upon female members of the university community. Fortunately, I am specially trained to look for evidence of sexual misconduct and other improprieties, even when it is obscured by incomplete, sanitized, and grossly misleading resumes.

Watkins then provides an in-depth explanation for his reporting:

First, I wanted to alert women faculty, staff, and students on campus about who these men really are. I have looked beyond their fancy titles and exposed what, in my view, is the documented dark side of their male being.

Second, I wanted to make it easy for the next victim of their alleged sexual aggression to be able to hold Alabama A&M trustees personally liable in a court of law for any future act of sexual harassment that may be committed by these men on the university's campus. By outing them now, the next alleged sexual abuse victim of these men may be able to make a sustainable legal claim against each university trustee in his/her individual capacity.

The future victim(s) will be able to readily establish that Alabama A&M's trustees had actual knowledge about the alleged propensity of these men to engage in unwanted sexual advances, or they reasonably should have known this information (based upon my articles and other published reports).

Any experienced trial lawyer with “walking around sense” could have found the information I published in my articles and should have reported this information to university trustees. For whatever reason, this did not happen before I published my articles about these men.

What I also learned about Alabama A&M is this truism: The board of trustees, as a whole, is so weak and compromised that most of the trustees did not want to know the truth about these men or their personal histories.

What is worse, it is an open secret in Huntsville that President Daniel Wims is engaged in an ongoing "special personal relationship" with one of the university's trustees. The board of trustees has turned a blind eye to this inappropriate relationship.

Now that my articles are in the public domain, the next alleged victim of these men has a realistic chance to get true justice in the court system.

In short, AAMU trustees might face serious financial exposure if instances of sexual misconduct continue, producing more victims. Writes Watkins:

Additionally, by exposing the alleged acts of fraud that were committed in scrubbing and sanitizing the resumes of Daniel Wims, John Jones, and Norman Jones in order for them to get appointments to their current jobs, this may prevent the ability of trustees to access insurance proceeds and/or taxpayer funds to pay (a) potential sexual-abuse court judgments against them, in their individual capacity; and (b) any attorney's fees awarded to the victim.

What is more, the next sexual-abuse victim could reasonably argue in court that each man procured his university job under false pretenses, which is now a situation that is actually known to the university.

It appears that nothing will change on Alabama A&M’s campus in the zone of sexual harassment until the next sexual-abuse victim wins her/his case against university trustees, when they are sued in their individual capacity. That’s when the situation will get real for them. Until then, the board of trustees, led by board chairman Roderick D. Watts, will simply look the other way.

Watkins has written previously about cases of apparent sexual predation, especially in the workplace, and has found the behavior so disturbing that it merits little in the way of tolerance:

I have NEVER cared to develop, nurture, or coddle a personal or professional relationship with a known sexual predator. That’s not my cup of tea. I have zero tolerance for them.

Wherever I find a nest of sexual predators who are feasting off taxpayer dollars, I try to remove the predators from the government payroll. When I exposed Gov. Robert Bentley (Alabama), U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller (Montgomery), U.S. District Judge Jack Camp (Atlanta), and U.S. District Judge Dean Bertram (Birmingham) for their sexual misdeeds, not one person in the state's Black community asked me a single question about why I exposed these men.

Of course, all of the men in this group are white. All of them lost their jobs. Two of them were subsequently charged with and convicted of crimes that arose from their sexual escapades.

I do not have a double standard for sexual predators -- a strict one for White predators and a non-existent one for Black predators. I have one standard and it is applied uniformly – I hold all sexual predators fully accountable for their misconduct, without hesitation or reservation. I do not care what color they are, or what job title they hold.

Finally, no one has disputed the factual information or documents presented in the articles I published on Kevin Ball, Norman E. Jones, John D. Jones, and Daniel Wims. They simply cannot do so.

Stay tuned! Much more is coming your way.