Bill Britt Alabama Supreme Court’s Actions: Justice or Machiavellian Scheme Published 2 years ago on October 26, 2016 By Bill Britt Share Tweet By Bill Britt Alabama Political Reporter The Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) and several justices on the Alabama Supreme Court are attempting, it appears, to avoid further unwanted scrutiny of their conduct in the case against Chief Justice Roy Moore. The Commission, commonly referred to as the JIC, is hoping to steer clear of another growing controversy by dismissing the complaint against Associate Justice Tom Parker, who, like Chief Justice Moore, spoke publicly against same-sex marriage. Republican lawmakers are determined to bring legislation into the 2017 Regular Session so as to limit the JIC’s power or abolish it all together. Many legislators see their actions in the Moore case as a dangerous overreach by a secretive “Star Chamber,” in collusion with trial lawyers and activist organizations bent on destroying the elected Chief Justice of the State’s highest court. Are Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart, Mike Bolin and Jim Main are looking to salvage their reputations before the public becomes fully aware of their participation in events that led to Moore’s suspension?Advertisement The Alabama Political Reporter has filed to intervene in Moore’s case, seeking a motion to have all the records in his suspension trial unsealed. Stuart, Bolin and Main have the power to unseal these documents but have so far refused to let the people see all the facts in Moore’s case. Subscribe to our daily newsletter Reportedly, Stuart wants to remain Chief Justice and Main is eyeing a run for the Governor’s office. Stuart and main have strong alliances with the Business Council of Alabama and former Gov. Bob Riley. What Bolin has to gain if anything is unknown. The Riley machine is desperately looking for a friendly gubernatorial candidate for 2018 and Main might be just the ticket. Chief Justice Moore’s enjoys a large following of committed individuals who can swing a governor’s election or that of a chief justice. Is this why Stuart, Bolin and Main are hiding the records in his case? As for the JIC, it is a political tool which many believe, on occasion, uses its power as a weapon. J. Mark White, who famously defended felon Mike Hubbard, was a member of the commission until he became president of the Alabama Bar Association. As Bar President, he could not serve on the Commission. Perhaps coincidentally his partner Augusta Dowd was appointed to the JIC after his departure. The rule about the Bar President serving on the JIC changed under White, which by happenstance will allow Dowd to retain her position on JIC while serving as head of the bar shortly. Every judge is well aware of the attorneys who sit on the JIC, and while not to say a lawyer would ever use their position on the commission to intimidate a jurist, it is always possible that one might. In a 5-3 decision, Acting Chief Stuart accompanied by Bolin, Main, Greg Shaw and Tommy Bryan, moved to have Stuart and Gov. Robert Bentley select the judge to hear Moore’s appeal. In a press release on Tuesday, Stuart said, “the Special Supreme Court’s members would be randomly selected in the presence of the parties, interested individuals and the press on Thursday, October 27, 2016, at 3:00 p.m.” The recusal of Supreme Court justices and appointment of their replacements is a step in the right direction, but was this a decision made to appear fair or be fair? The records in Moore’s case must be unsealed, or all these actions will be seen as a Machiavellian scheme to divert attention away from the bigger question: what are they hiding? There is a smell of political intrigue in the air and it can only be removed by opening the records. Print this piece Related Topics:2017 Regular Sessionabolishactivist organizationsAlabama Political ReporterappealAssociate Justice Tom ParkerAugusta DowdBar AssociationBill BrittBob Rileybusiness councilChief Roy MoorecollusioncomplaintsdangerousdismissingGov. Robert BentleyGreg ShawhidingintrigueJ. Mark WhiteJICJim MainJudicial Inquiry CommissionjusticeslawmakerslegislationlegislatorslimitLyn StuartMachiavellian schemeMike BolinMike HubbardoverreachpoliticalpowerPresidentRepublicanreputationssalvagesame-sex marriagescrutinysecretivesmellstar chamberSupreme CourtTommy Bryantrial lawyersunseal Up Next Systematic Venality Renders State Government Suspect Don't Miss Will Chief Justice Roy Moore Be Denied Equal Justice? Bill Britt Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter. Continue Reading Bill Britt A move to reunify BCA is underway Published 6 days ago on July 16, 2018 By Bill Britt Reconciliation efforts are underway to salvage the Business Council of Alabama after a very public split with some of its most influential members. Those close to the negotiations speaking on background say recent talks have been productive, but there are still many details that must be agreed upon before a reunification occurs. The forced exit of President and CEO Billy Canary earlier this month was the first step toward restoring BCA’s reputation and mending fences. Individuals who are negotiating rapprochement are looking to restructure BCA’s governance to ensure that any future leader will not exercise the unchecked authority wielded by Canary. They also want to make BCA more equitable, fair and balanced in its representation of its members. Beyond the mechanics of structure is the need for a strong leader who can restore not only confidence in the once powerful organization but also one who can navigate the state’s political landscape while enduring the inevitable discord that comes with change.Advertisement There is a level of hope that an improved structure and new leadership might be in place by BCA’s summer conference, which begins August 10 at Point Clear. But even those involved in the process know it’s a tall order to fill given the short window of opportunity. Subscribe to our daily newsletter Perhaps the most significant challenge is identifying an individual who can articulate a vision for BCA, inspire confidence in its members and ensure elected officials that they are dealing with an honest broker. There is much at stake in the upcoming legislative session, not only because it is the first year of the quadrennium, when hard tasks are generally achieved, but the 2019 session will also welcome many new legislators not necessarily in step with BCA due to a bruising primary season. People may forgive, but they often do not forget, and there are many bridges to build. Lawmakers will be wise to remember the warning of President Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.” For a revitalizing transition to occur, a clean sweep of BCA’s leadership team is imperative, as those who served the old guard must be replaced or else it’s a false start doomed to fail. BCA would be wise to move away from the partisan approach taken over the last eight years and look to establish relationships that favor business-friendly legislation without bright lines of division. In business as in life, sharp breaks are sometimes required and often are inevitable, but this doesn’t have to be one of those times. Now is an hour for wise deliberation, difficult choices and bold resolve to strengthen the entire business community and not merely to fortify the narrow interests of a few. Over the last year, good and honest leaders called for BCA to do what was right. That fight hopefully can be put aside to now do what is best. Print this piece Continue Reading Bill Britt The fix was in Published 1 week ago on July 13, 2018 By Bill Britt Montgomery Circuit Judge James Anderson’s ruling to allow out-of-state political action committees to donate to in-state campaigns without disclosing its donors through PAC-to-PAC transfers may be the legal fulcrum Democrats need to target key Republican officeholders in the state. On Wednesday, attorney general candidate Troy King filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court seeking a restraining order to prevent his opponent, appointed Attorney General Steve Marshall, and his campaign from using donations it received from the Republican Attorney Generals Association (RAGA) which doesn’t disclose some of its mega-donors by using PAC-to-PAC transfers. Judge Anderson ruled against King and dismissed the lawsuit in Marshall’s favor. Marshall, unlike an ordinary plaintiff, wasn’t present at the hearing before Judge Anderson, which should have alerted the public that the fix was already in. The State’s Ethics Commission will likely weigh-in on King’s question soon— finding that RAGA’s actions were unlawful—but Thursday’s judgment holds for now, with no consequences for Marshall, win or lose.Advertisement In 2010, the state’s newly minted Republican supermajority outlawed PAC-to-PAC transfers as part of its effort to show voters that there was a new day in Montgomery politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter Since 2010, both Republicans and Democrats have found ways to circumvent FPCA restrictions, but until Thursday, there wasn’t a court ruling that opened a flooded-gate to renew PAC-to-PAC campaigns using outside interest groups. Republican conservatives who believe that undisclosed donors shouldn’t control the state’s election process through hidden contributions should worry. Is it now legal for pro-abortion groups to finance judicial races with stealth campaign donations to defeat pro-life candidates like Supreme Court Justices like Tom Parker? What about Gov. Kay Ivey? Is it now legal for The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to upend her campaign with hidden contributions to her rival, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox? Ethic Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton has all but definitively stated that RAGA’s contributions are illegal, but it’s too little too late for this election. Perhaps none of this matters because it seems that many of the Republicans who passed these bans in 2010, don’t seem to honestly believe in them or any of the ethics reforms that they once championed. So once again, it’s winning, not the law, that matters, or as a prominent Montgomery attorney said, “When you have a Democrat judge, a Democrat lawyer and a Democrat attorney general what else did you expect?” More, I guess. Print this piece Continue Reading Bill Britt Opinion | BCA takes out the trash, finally Published 2 weeks ago on July 9, 2018 By Bill Britt In a last-ditch effort to save the Business Council of Alabama from the dung heap of political obscurity, President and CEO Billy Canary was pushed out of the business association late last Friday after he waged an ugly and protracted battle to remain in power. Canary’s fight to keep his job has left the once powerful business interests a hollow and factored alliance with an uncertain future. He didn’t care if he destroyed BCA; it was all about his ambitions. For years, Canary, along with now-convicted felon former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and former Gov. Bob Riley, reigned over an unparalleled orgy of greed and corruption. Canary, Hubbard and Riley’s perverse domination of the state’s political landscape was supreme, and even now, the tentacles of their profiteering are evident from the Capitol to the State House and beyond. Even during this election cycle, Canary has used BCA’s political arm, Progress PAC, to back disreputable candidates who seek to overturn the state ethics laws that convicted Hubbard, advocate for so-called education reform that profits Riley’s business interests and to stall efforts to create a statewide lottery in favor of gambling concessions for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.Advertisement During Hubbard’s last years in office, PCI Vice Chair Robbie McGhee joined forces with Hubbard, in hopes of exercising more sway over Republican legislators. Over the previous year, he coupled the tribe to Canary with the same end in mind. McGhee, who faces a reelection challenge in August, casts himself as a Hubbard-Canary protege. Even now, he tells candidates who come calling for campaign contributions, “We are BCA,” meaning the tribe, under Canary, is controlling many decisions being made at the business association. Subscribe to our daily newsletter McGee, like Hubbard and Canary, is viewed by many as a pariah in the state capital where he still hopes to further the Tribe’s gambling operations by lavishing money and entertainment on Republican lawmakers. Twice now, McGhee has chosen poorly and tarnished the Tribe’s reputation in the bargain. With McGhee’s backing, Canary gave at least $250,000.00 to appointed Attorney General Steve Marshall so that he will continue Riley’s bingo wars. Hubbard stands convicted on 12 felony counts of using his office for personal gain and other criminal violations of the state’s Ethics Act, yet he remains free because of the corrupting influence of Canary and others of his ilk. During Hubbard’s trial, Canary said, “I love Mike Hubbard like a brother.” He even waxed poetic, saying his friendship with Hubbard, “Blossomed like any blessing in life.” So infectious are the remnants of their power that even after two years Hubbard remains free because Court of Criminal Appeals Justices Samuel Henry Welch, J. Elizabeth Kellum, Liles C. Burke and J. Michael Joiner will not rule on his conviction. Canary, in a face-saving announcement, says he is taking a position as a, “senior fellow at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” which is a nothing job. Canary, like Hubbard and Riley, pimped the state like a cheap whore, and now he’s busted for the user he is. He left BCA in shambles, and don’t think for a minute that the coalition that left BCA isn’t coming back just because the executive committee finally took out the trash. 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