Defining a Journalist

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—According to Reporters Without Boarders, there have been 59 Journalists killed, 12 media assistants killed, 21 “Netizens” and citizen journalists killed and 176 journalists imprisoned so far this year. Reporters Without Boarders notes that, “Journalists killed” includes only cases in which the organizations clearly established that “the victim was killed because of his/her activities as a journalist. It does not include cases in which the motives were not related to the victim’s work or in which a link has not yet been confirmed.”
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Sessions Sets Priorities For New Defense Secretary

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, November 25 U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R from Alabama) said that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s departure highlights the floundering status of the U.S.’s ISIS strategy.

Sen. Sessions, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, outlined what his priorities for a new Defense Secretary will be. The Armed Services Committee will have a lead role in the confirmation hearings of President Barack Obama’s next appointee as Defense Secretary.
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Roby Preparing for the Next Congress

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R from Montgomery) announces staff changes for the incoming 114th Congress.

Representative Roby said, “Today I announced my Congressional staff for the 114th Congress. Several new staff members have been hired, and others promoted, all to enhance our legislative efforts and constituent services. Learn more about our team and their responsibilities here.”

Rep. Roby said, “I’m proud of what we have accomplished thus far, and I’m optimistic the new Republican majority will present more opportunities for legislative success under regular order. As such, I have been pleased to bring on new staff members, promote current ones and organize our team in a way that can expand our legislative capabilities.”
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Dr. Gina Coming to Birmingham Sunday

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Outspoken Conservative talk radio host, Dr. Gina Gentry Loudon, is returning to Birmingham to promote her new book: ‘What Women Really Want’.

The book was written with co-authors: Ann Marie Murrell and Morgan Brittany. This follows closely her previous book: ‘Why the Survival of our Republic Depends on the Revival of Honor’ by Dr. Gina and Dathan Paterno.

Dr. Gina will be at Hoover Tactical Firearms on Sunday for a book signing from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Highway 31.
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Report Investigates Distribution Of Tax Dollars

By Byron Shehee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY – A report from the National Priorities Project (NPP) was recently released that highlighted the findings from an extensive investigation into how our tax dollars flow from our states into the federal government’s coffers. The report, “State Smart: Federal Funding in 50 States” details how the Federal government distributed our Nation’s tax dollars in each state from 2007 through 2013.

Becky Sweger, NPP’s Director of Data and Technology said, “Our business is making the Federal Budget understandable to regular people and one of the most important ways to do that is to put some geography in the mix to show people how money from the Federal Budget is coming to their states.”
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Once Again White Spins The Press

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Opinion

On the day that W. Van Davis set the record straight on the “false allegations” coming from Speaker Mike Hubbard and his legal mouthpiece, J. Mark White — concerning Hubbard’s arrest on 23 counts of Felony ethics violations — White sought to change the subject by asking for communication between the Attorney General’s Office and the media.

In an amended discovery motion, White asked for, “…any written or recorded conversations between any members of the media and any members of the Attorney General’s office.”

In other words, Hubbard wants to know if the AG’s office has any written or recorded conversations between members of the staff and anyone in the media.

After being caught flatfooted by Davis’ statements, White desperately want to change the subject.

Several in the media, especially those in the blatantly partisan world of radio talking heads, did exactly what White wanted and flipped the narrative from the facts that Davis offered to the spin White was spooning out.

Several attorneys who spoke on background said that White was so unprepared for the prosecution’s press release that he reached for anything that might change the conversation, even a motion as meaningless as the one filed.

Some in the media went so far as changing the storyline, even further suggesting that there were recordings of members of the prosecution team “trying to influence the media.”

These and other false narratives have become Hubbard and White’s weapon of choice.

What is disturbing is that any person with remedial reading comprehension skills can properly note that White is asking for recordings that are in the possession of the AG and not the other way around. But this is not about facts; it is about controlling the message through the media.

One journalist suggested that White was trying to frighten reporters who have spoken to the prosecution in the past, or worry about communicating with them in the future.

At least two well-known reporters have been regularly summoned to sit with Hubbard and White, to serve as stenographers for the defense. But, if anyone dare write from the perspective of the State White “pitches a hissy fit,” as the reporter noted. In Hubbard and White’s world, their side of the story is the only one the media should tell.

But, perhaps the media is to blame for such expectations, because in over a year’s worth of coverage, the so-called mainstream reporters have failed to ask Hubbard or White even the most basic of questions.

Over the last month, Hubbard and company have engaged in an all-out media blitz and very few have challenged their story line.

Why won’t members of the press ask Hubbard about the specific crimes with which he is charged by the State? When he makes fantastical statements about “Political Prosecution,” why do they not ask for specifics? Why not ask, “who are the rogue prosecutors and exactly what are they doing that is outside the law?”

But, no. These question are not asked by those whom Hubbard allows access, and it is access that these reporters want, more than facts.

White accused Davis of unethical behavior.

That, as my Pappy used to say, is like the pot calling the kettle black.

 

Protecting Our American Birthright

By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford

There are many things about this country that make us great: our economy, our military and our people, to name a few. But perhaps our greatest accomplishment has been democracy. Democracy is our most precious and cherished blessing, and it is the foundation of our freedom.

Before America, kings who had absolute power ruled nations. While there are still some nations that suffer under dictators and other oppressive regimes, democracy has taken over most of the world. And in this country, it has allowed our nation to thrive and grow to become the world’s only super power. 
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It’s Time for Americans to Embrace the Spirit of Thanksgiving

By Rep. Darrio Melton

This week, families across the country will come together to give thanks around the dinner table. Thanksgiving has come to be opening day of the holiday season, marking the start of shopping and decorating. However, Thanksgiving should mean so much more than a quick dinner before the Black Friday sales.

Not only is it a time for all of us to take a step back and appreciate the blessings in our lives, it’s also a time to remember how we came to be a nation, a melting pot of cultures and nationalities looking for a home.
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Palmer Names William Smith as Chief of Staff

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, November 20 Congressman-elect Gary Palmer (R) announced that he has named William David Smith Jr. as his Chief of Staff.

The Ozark Native is presently U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions’ (R) Chief Counsel.

Congressman-elect Palmer said in a statement, “William is a man of utmost integrity and high intellect.  I am honored to have him serve alongside me.  He is an Alabama native and his vast experience will be an asset as we work hard to accomplish great things for our state and nation.”
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APR Speaks with Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Last week, the Acting Attorney in the investigation and prosecution of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, broke his silence and addressed what he called “false accusations” being made by Hubbard and his criminal defense attorney, J. Mark White.

In an interview with the Alabama Political Reporter, Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis explained why the prosecution felt the need to publicly address the accusations being made by Hubbard and his defense team, and also reiterated the need for public clarity on certain elements of the Hubbard case.

“We have tried to do everything to stay on the high road on everything, strictly by the book with conventional methods to do everything within our power to make sure everything is done properly,” said Davis. “That is why it is concerning to us when they refer to myself and the guys that are working on the case as rogue prosecutors.”

Hubbard, who is charged with 23 Felony counts of public corruption, has repeatedly claimed that he was being hounded by “rogue prosecutors.”

Davis says his team has worked “strictly by the book… to make sure everything is done properly,” but Hubbard’s spin machines has worked tirelessly to paint the State’s team as political, and as being part of a “political witch hunt.”

Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney White took exception to Davis speaking with the media, calling it unethical and perhaps illegal. But a change in the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct Advocate, Rule 3.6. concerning Trial Publicity in 2008, made it both ethical and legal for the prosecution to respond in-kind to allegations made by defense attorneys and their client(s).

Davis says that he didn’t quite follow White’s logic saying, “I don’t know what he was referring to there because the Code of Professional Conduct absolutely allows it, unless he is unfamiliar with the amendment. We have a right to reply in-kind to anything that the defense is saying.”

He continued by saying, “They said in 2008, that prosecutors, on behalf of the State of Alabama, could reply in kind…that they had a right to do that to protect the interest of the State,” said Davis.  “That is something that I looked up and wanted to make sure before I made any comment about what was being said about this being a political witch hunt and referring to us as rogue prosecutors and that type stuff.”

Davis, who served as a district attorney for 18 years, takes grave exception to Hubbard’s characterization. “That is first time in my entire career that anybody has ever made a comment like that directed toward me,” said Davis.

In his career, Davis has overseen thousands of criminal cases even involving political figures, but this one has been particular nasty because Hubbard and his attorneys have used the media to attack the Attorney General’ s Office on every turn.

Hubbard’s public relations team mailed thousands of cards to residents of Lee County accusing the Attorney General’s Office of a political witch hunt conducted by rogue prosecutors.

This is believed to be a part of a larger scheme to poison the jury pool that will hear the Hubbard trial in Lee County.

Hubbard and US Congressman Mike Rogers have even attacked Attorney General Luther Strange, suggesting that he sought indictments against Hubbard to cripple Hubbard’s political career and leave a clear field for Strange to run for governor in 2018.

Davis said he has heard those allegation, “Attorney General Strange recused himself personally from this case and I was contacted to handle the case and that is what I have done.” Davis says he has “no political agenda,” and that the work he is conducting in Lee County is part of his responsibility as a supernumerary district attorney.

“I know they make those allegations but I know of nothing that they could produce to substantiate that kind of political prosecution.”

Davis made it clear that he was asked by Strange to oversee the investigation into Hubbard, and that he accepted the job as part of his supernumerary responsibilities.

“The nature of the DA’s retirement is that we are classified as supernumerary and in that capacity we are called upon from time-to-time if someone has a conflict… it goes along with our retirement. Obviously, I take that pretty seriously,” said Davis.

Davis said he, like other retired district attorneys, handles cases as the need arises. “I have handled many, many cases since I retired in several counties in the State for district attorneys…as part of a supernumerary’s responsibility to the State.”

This is not his first case involving an Attorney General and a high profile political figure. Years ago he was called upon by then Attorney General Bill Pryor to oversee an ethics complaint against Judge Roy Moore.

Hubbard has claimed that his indictments, being made so close to an election, was proof of political motivation. However, Davis was quick to point out that the timing of the indictments were due to the statute of limitations on some of the charges against Hubbard.

“Some of the counts in this indictment relate back to his service as chairman of the Republican Party. On those particular counts there was a four-year statute and it was about to run out, so we had to take action,” said Davis.

Hubbard, White and others have also exaggerated the length of the Special Grand Jury’s service, to make it appear that the Attorney General’s Office was abusing the Grand Jury members.

“To say that we drug this out…when you deal with a case of this magnitude, it takes a while. We heard a lot of witnesses. Some of them were short witnesses, some of them were long witnesses. It is just the nature of the case anytime you are doing this type of investigation.”

Davis says that they wanted to address these accusations saying, “They also made reference to a case that has been under investigation for two years. I was appointed in January 2013, the Grand Jury wasn’t convened until some time in August, and we didn’t start taking testimony until the first of October. So, we spent twelve months and we didn’t meet every day of the month. We would meet three to four days a month…whenever we had access to the grand jury room.”

In fact, the Grand Jury only met a total of 46 days over a 12-month period, not an unusual amount of time for a case involving over 150 witnesses and hundreds of thousands of pages of testimony.

Davis also addressed the defense’s claim that there had been leaks from inside the Grand Jury proceedings.

“We actually took time away from presenting our case to investigate the allegations of leaks,” Davis said. Some of the allegations of leaks were made by the defense team but Davis says, “To this day, nothing has been presented to us of any credible evidence of any leak involving grand jury testimony or anything that has gone on in the Grand Jury.”

Davis took the opportunity to responded to allegations by Hubbard and his team that they State’s prosecutors had “smeared” the good name of some business leaders.

“One of the things that they alleged that we had demeaned the good name of high profile people and business people. I think I answered that in the statement that they are named in those indictments because they are material witnesses to those counts. Nobody in the Grand Jury was trying to harm anybody, it is just the nature of the charges that you have to specify with particularity to the charge and that is just part of it.”

The prosecution has kept a low profile during their investigation into actions taken by Hubbard, only speaking to the press after the indictments were carried out and now when the defense allegations are reaching a critical mass in the media.

“As you well know, I have not talked to the press during the duration of this case until after these indictments came out and they start making allegations against me and my team about this being political, I felt like I had to. I had to respond. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are out here just trying to do a job. All of this will be decided by a Lee County jury at some point,” Davis stated.

Davis says the case should be tried in a court of law and not in the media, but “they have certainly been very vocal in the media…unfortunately when you are dealing with a public officials it is hard to keep it out of the press.”

Davis says he deeply respects the role of the press because “people out there have a right to know.” But he also wanted to take the opportunity to set the record straight, given the fact that so much misinformation was being reported as a result of Hubbard’s many unexamined statements.

Davis says he and his team are still hard at work and that the Grand Jury is still empaneled, but on recess for now.

Hubbard stands accused by the State of four counts of using of his office as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party for personal gain. One count of voting for legislation with a conflict of interest. Eleven counts of soliciting or receiving a thing of value from a lobbyist or principal. Two counts of using his office as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for personal gain. Four Counts of lobbying an executive department or agency for a fee, and one count of using state equipment, materials, etc., for private gain.

 

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