News Moore Calls for Constitutional Convention to Fight Gay Marriage Published 4 years ago on February 7, 2014 By Brandon Moseley Share Tweet By Brandon Moseley Alabama Political Reporter The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore (R), has never feared controversy. While most judges are quiet, bookish if opinionated, types who are careful about what they do or say outside of the court room, Chief Justice Roy Moore is much more outspoken and is easily the most famous Alabama jurist of the last 40 years. Moore catapulted into the national spot light by fighting for the right to display the Ten Commandments in his Etowah County Court room. The resulting publicity made the former Vietnam War MP Captain, prosecutor, cowboy, kick boxer into a potent political force that put him in charge of the Alabama Court System as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The Ten Commandments monument he put in Alabama’s Supreme Court Building and the resulting federal lawsuit ultimately led to his eventual removal as Chief Justice. Following a book tour and two unsuccessful runs for Governor, the people of Alabama sent ‘Judge Moore’ back to his post as Alabama’s Chief Justice. The outspoken social conservative has jumped back into the national spotlight Wednesday by sending letters to all 50 American Governors, calling for a Constitutional Convention to settle the gay marriage debate by passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Already a ‘Stand With Judge Moore’ Facebook Page and a website, have been created to further the cause of calling for an article V constitutional convention: something which has never happened in American history. Other conservative groups are urging a constitutional convention to pass a balanced budget amendment. There is legislation in the Alabama Legislature now urging support for the budget convention.Advertisement Chief Justice Moore’s proposed constitutional amendment reads: Subscribe to our daily newsletter “Nothing in this Constitution or in the constitution or laws of any state shall define or shall be construed to define marriage except as the union of one man and one woman, and no other union shall be recognized with the legal incidents thereof within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Chief Justice Moore told the Associated Press, “The moral foundation of our country is under attack. Moore said that the only way to stop liberal judges who are finding new rights for gay unions is with a state-initiated constitutional amendment. “Government has become oppressive, and judges are warping the law,” Moore told the A.P. Moore said, “I think the time is ripe for that to happen with the political atmosphere in Congress. They can’t get along or agree on anything.” Not everyone in Alabama agrees with Judge Moore. Susan Watson, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, issued a statement in response to Chief Justice Moore’s letters to U.S. governors urging them to oppose marriage equality. Watson wrote, “Chief Justice Roy Moore said that government has become oppressive and this is yet another perfect example of his contributions to the matter. His definition of marriage as one man-one woman is a religious one. We support everyone’s rights to have their own religious beliefs, but he is chronically imposing his beliefs on others. This isn’t the first time Justice Moore has been in this spotlight. You’d think he’d learn by now. Times are changing and he needs to get with it. People here think that marriage equality in Alabama will never happen. But I think it will.” On Tuesday, Republican candidate for Congress in the Seventh District challenged social conservatives when he wrote: “If the government uses any religious definition of marriage, that violates the free exercise of religion – and the establishment clause of the Constitution. The decision regarding religious marriage ceremonies, and the rules and regulations of said marriage, should be determined by an individual’s church. Under our system, government can’t establish religious doctrine. For this reason, I stand by my comments that I wrote endorsing same-sex marriage. I did not intend to tell anyone what their religious beliefs should be. But I intend for the government to stop illegal and unconstitutional discrimination against law abiding people.” The issue of gay marriage has become very contentious in Republican politics. While Democrats rapidly abandoned their defense of traditional marriage due to pressure and money from the increasingly powerful gay lobby, the issue divides the Republican base. Younger more libertarian Republicans typically take the side that government has no place telling people they can or can not marry persons of the same sex if they want to. Social conservatives on the other hand see government as the enforcer of morality and the defender of traditional Judeo-Christian values. This same divide comes up on issues like marijuana legalization. Print this piece Related Topics:ACLUAlabamaChief Justice Roy MooreConstitutionConventiongay marriageSupreme CourtSusan WatsonTen Commandmentstraditional marriage Up Next Democrat Joe Hubbard Announces AG Race (w/video) Don't Miss Alabama Legislature Honors Military During Joint Session Brandon Moseley Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with six and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Continue Reading News Roberson and Gilbert both found guilty of federal corruption charges Published 13 hours ago on July 20, 2018 By Brandon Moseley Friday a federal jury today convicted prominent Birmingham attorney Joel Iverson Gilbert and Drummond Coal executive David Lynn Roberson in a scheme to bribe a state legislator to use his office to lead efforts opposing proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions in north Birmingham. The convictions in the federal corruption trial were announced by U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman. The jury returned its verdicts after deliberating about 12 hours following more than three weeks of testimony before U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon. The jury found that Balch & Bingham partner Gilbert, age 67, and Drummond Company Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs Roberson, age 46, guilty of bribing then Alabama state Representative Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham) to advocate for their employers’ opposition to EPA’s prioritization or expansion of the north Birmingham Superfund site. The indictment claims that the bribe came in the form of a lucrative consulting contract that paid Robinson $360,000 through his Oliver Robinson Foundation, a non-profit organization, between 2015 and 2016. Drummond Company was a client of the Birmingham-based Balch & Bingham law firm. The jury found Gilbert and Roberson guilty of bribery, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Rep. Robinson pleaded guilty in September to the conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, and tax evasion.Advertisement “This case was not about the EPA,” Town said. “This case was not about pollution. This was a case about greed at the expense of too many. The findings of guilt for these three individuals, by trial or plea, should forewarn anyone who would be corruptly motivated to act in similar unlawful interest. Voters deserve public officials who seek to represent them honestly and fairly. When elected officials, corporate executives or their lawyers violate our federal laws, they should expect to suffer the fate of these three guilty defendants. We appreciate the dedication of the federal agencies that worked tirelessly on this case.” Subscribe to our daily newsletter “Public corruption continues to be the top criminal priority for the FBI and those who violate the public’s trust must be held accountable,” Sharp said. “As long as corruption and greed exists, the FBI will work to bring them to the bar of justice.” EPA had designated an area of north Birmingham, including the neighborhoods of Harriman Park, Fairmont and Collegeville, as a Superfund site after finding elevated levels of arsenic, lead and benzo(a)pyrene during soil sampling. In September 2013, EPA notified five companies, including Drummond-owned ABC Coke, that they could potentially be responsible for the pollution. Such a finding could have cost the company tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs and fines. EPA also proposed expanding the size of the Superfund site to include Tarrant and Inglenook. In September 2014, EPA proposed adding the site, designated the 35th Avenue Superfund Site, to its National Priorities List, signaling that it required priority attention. Placement on the priorities list would have allowed EPA to use the federal Superfund Trust Fund to conduct long-term cleanup at the site, provided the State of Alabama agreed to pay 10 percent of the costs. Roberson and Gilbert found powerful allies from both political parties in opposing EPA’s plans. According to evidence at trial, Gilbert and Roberson were intent on protecting ABC Coke and Drummond from the tremendous potential costs associated with being held responsible for pollution in the 35th Avenue site. As part of their strategy to accomplish that goal, they began working to prevent expansion of the site or its placement on EPA’s priority list. The defendants hired Robinson, whose legislative district adjoined the Superfund site, to persuade north Birmingham residents and governmental agencies to oppose EPA’s actions. According to documents and testimony, Balch made the payments to Robinson’s foundation, and then invoiced Drummond or the Alliance for Jobs and Economy, a tax-exempt organization whose account the defendant controlled, for reimbursement. At Gilbert’s and Roberson’s request, the invoices Balch sent to Drummond and to AJE were scrubbed of any reference to the Oliver Robinson Foundation. One of Robinson’s first tasks was to appear before the Alabama Environmental Management Commission (AEMC) and the director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) in February 2015 to advance the opposition to EPA’s plan. Robinson urged the AEMC to “narrow the list” of parties potentially responsible for the pollution in north Birmingham and argued that the Superfund designation or placement of the NPL could harm property values of residents in the area. Robinson went before the AEMC as a state legislator and concealed from its members that Balch & Bingham and Drummond were paying him to represent their interests, according to testimony and other evidence. Rep. Robinson also failed to inform EPA officials in an earlier meeting that he was working for Drummond and Balch & Bingham. Gilbert provided Robinson with talking points for that meeting, which Robinson secretly recorded and then provided the recording to Gilbert, according to testimony. Evidence also showed that, in June 2015, Robinson voted, as a member of the Alabama House Rules Committee, to send to the floor an anti-EPA resolution that Gilbert had drafted. Gilbert prepared the resolution for the Alabama legislature knowing that Robinson would have a vote on it, at a time when Robinson’s foundation was working on a retainer contract with Balch. The case against a fourth defendant, Balch & Bingham attorney Steve McKinney was dismissed by Judge Kallon. The jury found Roberson guilty even though Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Birmingham businessman George Barber testified as character witnesses for the Drummond executive. The decades old industrial pollution in the area was discovered by environmentalist with GASP. GASP has been advocating for the residents of the area, many who claim that their health ailments are related to the pollution in the air and the soil. GASP brought these concerns to the EPA who agreed. Their advocacy however has largely fallen on deaf ears with state of Alabama officials. GASP Executive Director Michael Hanson told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Today was a great day for the people of north Birmingham and all of Alabama. It is rare that corruption is held to account, and it’s even more rare that those who do the corrupting are held accountable. And while we are thrilled about the fact that justice was upheld for the people of north Birmingham, we are cognizant of the fact that this is not the end, but rather a beginning.” According to testimony from the trial, then Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) then Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R), Senate Rule Committee Chair Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia), other Balch & Bingham attorneys and partners, other Drummond executives, other area companies that donated to the Robinson charity, Birmingham head of the NAACP Hezekiah Jackson, and overwhelming bipartisan majorities of both Houses of the Alabama legislature were all involved with the three conspirators here in a greater effort to block EPA’s plans for the north Birmingham area, which tests high for the pollutants. The political effort to limit EPA’s actions in North Birmingham, which has been widely reported on in the media, was not on trial here. Town told APR that there was no wider criminal conspiracy and that only Roberson, Gilbert, and McKinney (who has since been dismissed from this case) had any knowledge of the actual corruption conspiracy with Rep. Robinson and that even other partners at Balch & Bingham and the other executives at Drummond had no knowledge of that criminal conspiracy. No further indictments are expected. Robinson resigned from the legislature in 2016, citing a conflict of interest created by his daughter being hired by Gov. Bentley to advance the governor’s legislative agenda. Robinson pled guilty in 2017 and agreed to work with federal prosecutors. His testimony in this trial was critical in implicating Roberson and Gilbert. Judge Kallon will set a date for Roberson and Gilbert’s sentencing. At Roberson’s advanced age, he could potentially spend the rest of his life in prison. GASP has pending civil litigation and the EPA is likely to also take administrative action based on Friday’s convictions. The 35th Avenue Superfund site still has not been prioritized. Hash Tags: Abdul Kallon, EPA, Joel Gilbert, GASP, Michael Hanson, David Roberson, Oliver Robinson, superfund site, Steve McKinney, U.S. Attorney, 35th Avenue, pollution, Drummond Coal, ABC Coke, ADEM, Jay Town, Johnnie Sharp, bribery, corruption, money laundering Print this piece Continue Reading Elections Secretary of State’s Office begins voter fraud investigation in Wilcox and Perry Counties Published 1 day ago on July 20, 2018 By Brandon Moseley Turnout in Tuesday’s primary runoff was just 12.7 percent across the state. That percentage, however, varied wildly across the state. Many Democrats did not vote as there were not any statewide Democratic runoffs. Understandably then, the counties with the worst voter participation rates were Democratic dominated Black Belt Counties. Choctaw County was the worst in the state with an incredibly low .59 percent. It was followed by Hale with 1.53 percent. Third worst was Sumter with 1.6 percent followed by Bullock with 2.8 percent. The Blackbelt had the worst voter turnout; but it also recorded by far the highest turnouts in Tuesday’s runoff election. The Wilcox County probate judge’s race was apparently so exciting that 44.1 percent of voters turned out despite the heat and no statewide Democratic races. Wilcox County has 11,058 people. 1,631 of those are under 18. There are only 9,423 voting age persons in the county, but an impressive 9,383 of them are registered voters. That is almost an impossible 99.59 percent voter registration rate. An incredible 4,167 of those voters made time in their day to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s runoff. 4,061 of those voted in the Wilcox County probate judge race, between Democrats Chris Stone and Britney Jones-Alexander. Alexander won the contest. The 44.41 percent voter turnout for the poor Black Belt county was three and a half times the state average.Advertisement Perry County had a 36.35 percent turnout and they were followed by Dallas at 35.43 percent and Greene at 34.08 percent. Subscribe to our daily newsletter The Secretary of State’s office has some suspicions about the success of some of these rural community organizers ability to turn out their votes. Secretary of State John Merrill has launched an investigation into Wilcox and Perry Counties because the number of absentee ballots appears to be unbelievably high. Sec. Merrill told the Alabama Media Group’s John Sharp that his office is “looking into to prospects of absentee broker operations, in which campaign workers or people with an unknown organization, exchange gifts or cash for absentee ballots.” Secretary Merrill has said that he wants to make it easy to vote; but hard to cheat. Below are voter participation rates for all 67 counties: Wilcox – 44.41% Perry – 36.35% Dallas – 35.43% Greene – 34.08% Covington – 31.32% Marion – 27.85% Fayette – 27.71% Lamar – 26.19% Lowndes – 25.47% Walker – 25.01% Clay – 24.12% Coosa – 23.8% Macon – 21.95% Crenshaw – 21.09% Blount – 20.77% Elmore – 18.92% Geneva – 18.73% Marshall – 18.72% Chilton – 18.08% Coffee – 18.07% Autauga – 17.39% Montgomery – 17.34% Bibb – 17.02% Pike – 16.61% Tallapoosa – 16.42% Henry – 16.4% Dale – 15.67% Baldwin – 15.57% Houston – 15.03% Jackson – 14.33% Limestone – 13.16% Jefferson – 12.6% Winston – 12.27% De Kalb – 11.68% Chambers – 11.23% Pickens – 11.18% Cullman – 11.03% Shelby – 10.99% Colbert – 10.79% Etowah – 10.77% Franklin – 10.73% Talladega – 10.3% Calhoun – 10.22% St. Clair – 10.08% Butler – 9.97% Cleburne – 9.72% Mobile – 9.49% Randolph – 9.44% Lee – 9.41% Morgan – 9.07% Barbour – 8.45% Cherokee – 8.45% Marengo – 8.01% Clarke – 7.79% Madison – 7.66% Lawrence – 7.43% Escambia – 7.24% Lauderdale – 6.88% Washington – 6.7% Monroe – 6.46% Tuscaloosa – 5.94% Russell – 4.95% Conecuh – 3.68% Bullock – 2.8% Sumter – 1.6% Hale – 1.53% Choctaw – 0.59% Print this piece Continue Reading Featured Columnists Opinion | What in the world happened to Robert Bentley? Published 1 day ago on July 20, 2018 By Josh Moon Being governor is hard. It’s a tough, gruelling job that requires 24-hour attention and results in long, long days for the man or woman who holds the position. Such a job can wear on a person, grinding them down physically and mentally. And if you doubt the negative effects that such a job can have on the mental stability of a person, consider former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. Because somewhere between his first inauguration in 2011 and his stunning forced resignation in 2016, Bentley lost his mind. And it’s still gone today. Advertisement In a recent deposition in a wrongful termination civil suit filed by former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier, Bentley provided some of the weirdest, most perplexing answers. Subscribe to our daily newsletter Like, for example, on the topic of his wife of 50 years, Dianne, discovering his relationship with his staffer, Rebekah Mason, Bentley was asked if Dianne found the relationship inappropriate. “I’m sure that she did,” he responded. “Do you consider the relationship inappropriate?” Bentley was asked by Collier’s attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn. “No,” the former governor said flatly. Um, say what? That also seemed to be the general reaction in the deposition room to this answer. Because Mendelsohn immediately followed up with questions about Bentley’s multiple press conferences in 2016, during which he spoke of his “inappropriate relationship” with Mason. I know this to be true because I attended all of those press conferences. I heard him say these things, express remorse for his actions, apologize to his family. As a matter of fact, that he ONLY had an inappropriate relationship — and not a sexual relationship — with Mason was his entire defense at those press conferences. By the way, he’s held on to that “we didn’t have sexual intercourse” claim, too. Doubled and tripled down on it during this deposition, claiming there was a lot of touching and kissing but no sex. No intercourse. No oral sex. But really, I’m just not sure how much faith we can put in the former governor’s statements about his relationship with Mason. And I say that because of one specific exchange between Bentley and Mendelsohn. One exchange that is so unbelievable, so off-the-wall bonkers that you have to wonder if Bentley has wandered into space cadet territory. That exchange comes after his astounding assertion that the relationship with Mason — who now works for him, making $5,000 per month at his dermatology practice — wasn’t inappropriate. Mendelsohn asks Bentley why — if the relationship with Mason wasn’t inappropriate — did Bentley hold multiple press conferences to apologize. Bentley says he doesn’t know. No. Not that he doesn’t recall why he did it. But he literally doesn’t know why he was apologizing. “At that time, I didn’t know what I was apologizing for, because I didn’t even know what I was talking about,” Bentley insists. “You know, I apologized for inappropriate things that I may have said, but at that time I didn’t know what those things were. If I had to do over again, I probably wouldn’t have had a press conference that day.” Bentley insists repeatedly that when he apologized during a press conference — a press conference specifically called to refute claims made by Collier, who had held his own press conference a few hours earlier — he had no idea why he was talking. He had never heard the tapes, Bentley says, of him describing how he loves to walk up behind Mason and put his hands on her breasts. According Bentley, he didn’t watch Collier’s press conference. No one told him what was said. He just grabbed a prepared statement and started talking. Ohhhhh, and if you think that’s some insanity, try this on: Bentley claims he wasn’t sure it was Mason who was on the other end of those calls Diane Bentley secretly recorded. “I’m not denying it was her, I’m just saying there’s no concrete evidence that it was her,” Bentley said. “But most likely it was.” Mendelsohn, obviously flabbergasted by this, asks the obvious: “As we sit here today, I’m asking you, was it her?” Bentley: “I don’t remember doing that. I don’t remember the tapes.” Mendelsohn: “Is there anybody else that you would have been talking to about holding their breasts and pulling them up close to you, like what’s in the tapes?” Bentley: “I don’t remember the tapes. I don’t remember doing what it says on the tapes.” Honestly, I don’t even know what to say about that. But I can say this. When he was the upset winner in 2010 and became governor, Robert Bentley had a lot of people who believed in him, a lot of people who thought he was a good and decent guy who would try to do a good job. Those same people have no idea what happened to that man. And judging by this deposition, he’s still lost. Print this piece Continue Reading Authors Bill Britt Brandon Moseley Chip Brownlee Joey Kennedy Josh Moon Sam Mattison Steve Flowers Susan Britt Advertisement Latest Popular News13 hours ago Roberson and Gilbert both found guilty of federal corruption charges Elections1 day ago Secretary of State’s Office begins voter fraud investigation in Wilcox and Perry Counties Featured Columnists1 day ago Opinion | What in the world happened to Robert Bentley? Elections1 day ago Walt Maddox, statewide candidates host forum in Gardendale News1 day ago Shelby announces $25.5 million for statewide airport infrastructure News1 day ago Faith leaders screen documentary film on the cash bail system News2 days ago Hubbard lawyer says Gov. Ivey has a job for him News2 days ago Ivey announces Carpenter Technology Corporation plans for Alabama Emerging Technology Center Bill Britt3 weeks ago Opinion | No, Mr. Marshall, it’s you News3 weeks ago Murfreesboro PD: Bridgette Marshall’s death still an active investigation News2 weeks ago Neighbors and officials warned to not talk Featured Columnists2 weeks ago Opinion | Birmingham superfund scam extends well beyond federal courtroom News5 days ago Deposition: Bentley was pressured by lawmakers, attorneys, major donors to upend Hubbard trial News1 week ago Alabama Finance Director Clinton Carter hired as chief financial officer of the UNC system Elections5 days ago Twinkle Cavanaugh criticizes Will Ainsworth’s “Truth Tellin’ Tour” News2 days ago Hubbard lawyer says Gov. Ivey has a job for him Facebook Advertisement Trending News2 days ago Hubbard lawyer says Gov. Ivey has a job for him Featured Columnists4 days ago Opinion | The anti-American American president Elections3 days ago Knight, Holmes are defeated in Montgomery Featured Columnists1 day ago Opinion | What in the world happened to Robert Bentley?