By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
If Alabama is looking for an Attorney General who is tough on crime, smart as a whip, and fair, then the search is over. Former US Attorney Alice Martin, who announced this week, her intention to seek the office, is one to watch.
Recently, The Alabama Political Reporter spoke with Martin and asked about her history, ethics, and priorities if she becomes Attorney General.
“I want to fight corruption, and I think Alabamians are really disillusioned and disgusted by corruption at all levels, their local town hall, their local mayor’s office, all the way to Legislative and Executive Branches of our State government,” said Martin. “So, I want to fight corruption, that is my number one objective.”
Former deputies at the State’s Attorney General’s office often refer to Martin as “The Iron Lady,” not simply because she stands up to the power-elite, but because she stays focused on the mission, and will join her team in the trenches.
Martin has an unmatched resume of doggedly pursuing public corruption, white-collar crime, and defending the State in Civil Litigation.
From former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford to the two-college scandal, Martin has fought public corruption as a US Attorney. And just ask former Speaker Mike Hubbard, or former Governor Robert Bentley, how, as Chief Deputy, Martin held the “powerful” to the same standards as a drug dealer or a thug.
While public corruption is not her only focus, it is a top priority should she become the State’s first female Attorney General. “This is more than holding the political elite accountable, it is about restoring public trust,” said Martin.
According to the FBI, public corruption is its “top criminal investigative priority; it poses a fundamental threat to our national security and way of life.” It affects everything, including economic development, according to the Bureau, and Martin knows it first hand.
Martin has met with economic development leaders who say recruiting new business to the State is difficult because the number one thing people are talking about is the public corruption.
“Public corruption does more than just line one man’s pocket, it takes the money out of somebody else’s pocket, out of a program where it could have benefited people, and it causes economic developers to have to work doubly and triply hard to attract businesses to the State,” Martin said. She also knows that fighting corruption is not a one-time job, but a continuing effort. “Public corruption has a serious impact. So, I think of it as ‘cleaning house.’ You have got to keep cleaning it, you can’t just do it once, and you’re done.”
Martin was involved in the investigation into then Gov. Bentley but was asked to leave her post by Bentley’s appointee, Steve Marshall, who recused himself from the case appointing a former Montgomery County District Attorney to handle the investigation. Martin says she was disappointed with the outcome of the Bentley case. “I thought it was a slap on the wrist and disappointing, and that does not restore trust,” Martin said. “When people in high places get treated differently, everyday citizens are disgusted and have every right to be. Powerful people in powerful positions should be held to a higher standard of accountability, not less.”
Martin said, “I can imagine a number of people who I prosecuted would have loved to have felony offenses reduced down to misdemeanor and me say, ‘And why don’t you just resign from office and we will call it a day.’ I suspect Mayor Langford would have liked that. Maybe Roy Johnson would have liked that too.”
Martin says she has the highest regard for the hard work of the State’s DA’s office and counts them as the frontline warriors to keep the public safe. “The DAs are the top Law Enforcement officials of their county. That doesn’t change no matter who the AG is,” said Martin. “DAs don’t report to or answer to the AG. They are going to react to things in their county with their law enforcement like dealing with opioid problems, and the like.” But she says typically, public corruption in the purview of the Attorney General’s Office. “So that is why it is my number one priority. It doesn’t mean you don’t do the other things to support Law Enforcement, but my number one will be corruption.”
She says if elected, the Attorney General’s office rooting out public corruption, white-collar crime, and other criminal activities will not be her only priority, as the office serves as the ‘chief civil litigation firm’ for the State. There is a lot of civil litigation that is done in defending the State when it gets sued and also in defending other entities,” said Martin. She also stated it is vital that the State has an Attorney General who will fight when Federal courts attack issues of States’ rights. Our State is constantly challenged in Federal court. So, the Constitutional Defense section and the Solicitor General’s section of the AG’s office is very important.”
25 years prosecuting public corruption, white-collar, and violent crime.
Serving as a Federal prosecutor for President Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
After 9/11 as US Attorney for President George W. Bush.
Martin has prosecuted over 4,600 Federal firearms, narcotic, child pornography and violent crimes.
Resolved over 8,200 civil cases.
Recovered $750 million in Healthcare fraud.
Formed the North Alabama Public Corruption Task Force.
Obtained 140 federal corruption convictions.