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Sources Link AG’s Chief Deputy to Plot to Remove Hart from Hubbard Investigation

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY— Forces inside the State’s Attorney General’s Office are once again conspiring to derail the public corruption investigation of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and others.

Sources from both within and outside of the Attorney General’s Office have confirmed that Luther Strange’s Chief Deputy, Kevin Turner, is orchestrating a plot to remove chief prosecutor Matt Hart from the Lee Country Grand Jury investigation. In this latest effort, it is said that Turner has devised a plan whereby a “personnel compliant”  has been lodged against Hart.

“He is trying to poison Hart’s relationship with Luther,” said one individual with knowledge of the inter-working of the Attorney General’s Office.

According to two individuals closely aligned with the AG’s office—who wish to remain nameless—the complaint against Hart has been filed with Charla G. Doucet, Chief of the Attorney General’s administrative division. This bogus complaint is the first step in an administrative process to have Hart reassigned or fired from his position as Chief of the white collar crimes division.

The latest internal coup against Hart is believed to be the result of political pressure from Hubbard, along with former Gov. Bob Riley.

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It is believed that Riley is in full damage control mode over potentially damning information that has led investigators to his children, most notably his daughter Minda Riley Campbell.

According to Hubbard’s vanity tome, Storming the State House, in 2010, Gov. Riley’s daughter Minda Riley Campbell served as Governor’s Circle Coordinator and Campaign Advertisement Producer for the ALGOP.

The publication of the leaked internal investigation by the Republican State Leadership Committee, (RSLC), and the subsequent investigation, shows that $200,000 of Poarch Creek Indian, (PCI) gaming money—laundered by Hubbard and the RSLC—was funneled into Republican State Senate campaigns. It also shows that $50,000 was divided between a Hubbard business interest and SRM Media. The laundered funds received by SRM Media are believed to be payments made to Minda Riley Campbell.

“Bob Riley has brought his full power, which is considerable, to bare on the Attorney General’s Office to ruin Matt Hart, and stop this investigation,” said an individual with close ties to the AG’s office.

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Minda Riley Campbell was also instrumental in the growth and development of the Alabama 2014 PAC, which raised millions for Riley and Hubbard’s incumbent protection plan. The Alabama 2014 PAC established by Riley, Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, has received close scrutiny due to some questionable donations and expenditures.

Minda Riley Campbell’s husband, James Campbell, is a partner at Bradley Arant, which also employed Turner before he took his position with the AG’s Office.

Inside the Attorney General’s Office, the effort to sabotage the Grand Jury, by eliminating Hart, is thought to be the work of Strange’s closest ally, Turner.

The seemly unbreakable bond between Strange and Turner is rumored to be based on more scandalous motives, and not mere loyalty.  As Strange’s driver and body man during the 2010 campaign for AG, there is speculation that Turner holds a dirty secret over his boss’ head. Whatever the reason may be for Strange’s particular loyalty to Turner, there are more than a few questions raised by Turner’s recent actions against Hart.

Turner’s personal cell phone records from mid-March 2014 to mid-April 2014 —observed by the Alabama Political Reporter —show Turner made numerous private calls to Hubbard, Rep. Barry Moore and possibly former Gov. Riley.  Turner’s personal cell records show that several calls coincide with the arrest of disgraced lawmaker Rep. Greg Wren and Rep. Barry Moore. Not only does this raise serious ethical questions, it also begs the question, if there are any criminal complications for Turner and others.

Why would Luther Strange’s second-in-command be in such close personal contact with principles in a criminal investigation?

Do these phone conversations point to a coordinated scheme to thwart justice from within the Attorney General’s Office?

Is Turner leaking secret information, planning a strategy, or is there another answer as to why the second highest officer in the State’s Attorney General’s Office is communicating with those under criminal investigation?

Is Turner working in cooperation with Hubbard, Riley and others to stymie the Lee County Grand Jury investigation by removing Hart from the investigation?

One former high-ranking officer within the Attorney General’s Office says that an effort to remove Hart by Strange or his Chief Deputy, would be wholly improper.

“Strange has recused himself from the Lee Country investigation to reinsert himself…by being involved in any process to remove Hart, would be beyond just improper; it could be considered criminal obstruction of justice.”

AG Strange turned over all authority for the investigation into possible criminal wrong doing by Hubbard and others to W. Van Davis, according the court reports. According to the former high-ranking officer, it is Davis, not Strange who has authority over the employment or discipline of Hart.

However, this is not the first time Turner has tried to hamper Hart’s efforts in the Lee County public corruption investigation.

A few months ago, on a Friday, Turner informed Hart’s staff that he was reassigning Hart to Birmingham and that he would no longer have an office within the AG’s office in Montgomery. Turner ordered the case files for the Lee County Grand Jury kept in Montgomery away from Hart’s new office location, according to sources within the AG’s office.

According to those present, Hart, upon arriving at his office, found a letter informing him of his reassignment. According to sources with immediate knowledge of the situation, Hart, along with W. Van Davis, confronted Strange and the ensuing heated discussion resulted in a reversal of Turner’s orders.

Such a toxic atmosphere surrounded Turner actions that veteran AG Official John Gibbs, resigned his office, according to those close to Gibbs.

As a result of Turner’s actions, the day-to-day workings of the white collar criminal division was transferred temporarily from Hart. He still remains head of the criminal investigation in Lee County and also the Montgomery investigation into Alabama State University, which is being overseen by Fayette County, District Attorney Chris McCool, who was appointed Special Attorney General, after AG Strange recused himself from the ASU investigations.

The latest revelations of a scheme to dismantle the Lee County investigation by Turner not only calls into question his actions, but also the leadership of Attorney General Luther Strange.

Is Strange ready to throw away his political career to protect Hubbard or Riley?

Will Turner, who has been described by co-workers as a paranoid drinker with a mean streak, derail justice in the State and summarily destroy Strange?

Is it not Strange’s responsibility as AG to remove Turner or at least put him on administrative leave before this whole house of cards burns in ruin?

Surely Gov. Robert Bentley has a responsibility to see justice served by demanding that Strange sideline Turner.

Even if the Governor fails to act, what about Chief Justice Roy Moore? Is it time for Moore to make his powerful presence known, in an effort to maintain the rule of law at the Attorney General’s Office?

While political forces are at work to distort justice in our State, it seems time that men like Bentley and Moore bring the would-be conspirators to heel.

As for now, the investigation into Hubbard and others is ongoing. What is not clear is if Hart and Davis can navigate around the lawyers from without and the political conspiracies from within, without help from men like Bentley and Moore.

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.

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Health

Vaccines should protect against mutated strains of coronavirus

Public health experts say it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Multiple vaccines for COVID-19 are in clinical trials, and one has already applied for emergency use authorization, but how good will those vaccines be against a mutating coronavirus? A UAB doctor says they’ll do just fine. 

Dr. Rachael Lee, UAB’s hospital epidemiologist, told reporters earlier this week that there have been small genetic mutations in COVID-19. What researchers are seeing in the virus here is slightly different than what’s seen in the virus in China, she said. 

“But luckily the way that these vaccines have been created, specifically the mRNA vaccines, is an area that is the same for all of these viruses,” Lee said, referring to the new type of vaccine known as mRNA, which uses genetic material, rather than a weakened or inactive germ, to trigger an immune response. 

The U.S. Food And Drug Administration is to review the drug company Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 10. Pfizer’s vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, as is a vaccine produced by the drug maker Moderna, which is expected to also soon apply for emergency use approval. 

“I think that is incredibly good news, that even though we may see some slight mutations,  we should have a vaccine that should cover all of those different mutations,” Lee said. 

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found in a recent study, published in the journal Science, that COVID-19 has mutated in ways that make it spread much more easily, but the mutation may also make it more susceptible to vaccines. 

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In a separate study, researchers with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation found that while most vaccines were modeled after an earlier strain of COVID-19, they found no evidence that the vaccines wouldn’t provide the same immunity response for the new, more dominant strain. 

“This brings the world one step closer to a safe and effective vaccine to protect people and save lives,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr. Larry Marshall, according to Science Daily

While it may not be long before vaccines begin to be shipped to states, public health experts warn it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public. Scarce supplies at first will be allocated for those at greatest risk, including health care workers who are regularly exposed to coronavirus patients, and the elderly and ill. 

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, speaking to APR last week, urged the public to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing for many more months, as the department works to make the vaccines more widely available.

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“Just because the first shots are rolling out doesn’t mean it’s time to stop doing everything we’ve been trying to get people to do for months. It’s not going to be widely available for a little while,” Harris said.

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News

Tuberville looks forward to public service “probably for the rest of my life”

Tuberville’s term as senator will begin on Jan. 3 when the 117th Congress is sworn in.

Brandon Moseley

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Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville during an interview with Sean Spicer on Newsmax.

U.S. Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, told Newsmax’s Sean Spicer that he looks forward to the opportunity to give back to this country.

“After winning this and after being up here a couple of weeks and seeing how much of a difference we have made just to this point in the Senate has been gratifying,” Tuberville said. “I look forward to doing public service probably for the rest of my life.”

Tuberville said that he was 18 years old when the Vietnam War was coming to a close and then got into coaching so never served in the military and looks forward to the opportunity to give back to the country.

“As I went around the state of Alabama for those two years though I learned the respect of the people and how much that they want this country to remain the United States of America that we know and grew up in to go by the Constitution and those things. As I went through the campaign I got more and more fond of that I want to give back,” Tuberville said.

“I never served, I never gave back, but God was so good to me and my wife my family,” Tuberville said. “Giving back means so much to me after I was given so much for many, many years.”

Tuberville said that education will be a priority for him, getting education back to fundamentals like reading, writing, history and math. Tuberville said that unless the country gets back to fundamentals in education, “This country is not going to make it. We have got to get back to fundamentals and we are getting farther and farther every day.”

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Tuberville was the only Republican on Nov. 3 to defeat an incumbent Senate Democrat when he unseated Sen. Doug Jones.

“I want to be the voice for the people of Alabama,” Tuberville explained. “The previous Senator was a voice for his party, the Democratic party.”

Tuberville, a career college football coach, reiterated his position that we should play sports and send kids back to school despite the coronavirus global pandemic.

“I think we are doing a lot better in sports than we are doing in a lot of other areas,” Tuberville said. “I was keeping my fingers crossed back in August that we would let our young kids go play high school sports, number one, and then we get into college sports. There are so many people throwing negatives on why we should not do that. But I can tell you, you can see many more positives if we go back to school and we play sports. It’s important that we attack this virus as it has been attacking us. If it gives us an inch, we gotta take it.”

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Tuberville reiterated his opposition to shutting down restaurants, schools and businesses to fight the virus.

“We have to get back to everyday life,” Tuberville said. “You can’t keep shutting people down. Freedom is a power that we have. A power that we have earned because of our forefathers. We can’t give that up.”

Tuberville is an Arkansas native. He was the head football coach at Auburn University where he won an SEC championship, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, and Cincinnati. Prior to that, he was a national championship defensive coordinator at the University of Miami. He was also the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M.

Tuberville’s term as senator will begin on Jan. 3 when the 117th Congress is sworn in.

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National

UAB cancels third game

The only remaining game on UAB’s schedule is a game at Rice on Dec. 12.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The UAB Department of Athletics on Thursday announced that it is canceling its final home game of the season. UAB was scheduled to play Southern Mississippi on Friday at Legion Field, but the game was canceled due to continuing problems with COVID-19.

UAB has said that it will “continue to work with Conference USA on the remaining regular-season schedule.”

The only remaining game on UAB’s schedule is a game at Rice on Dec. 12.

UAB currently has a record of just four wins and three losses.

A win at Rice would guarantee the Blazers a winning season, but in this COVID altered season, a four and three or four and four record is probably good enough to be bowl eligible.

Southern Miss has had a dreadful season. They are two and seven and have two remaining games, against UTEP and Florida Atlantic. Both of those games were postponed from earlier in the season.

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Unless the season is extended a week to the 19th, there is no way for UAB and Southern Miss to make up the canceled game.

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News

Official state Christmas tree was delivered

The approximately 35-foot tree will be displayed on the front steps of the state Capitol building.

Brandon Moseley

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The 2016 state Christmas tree in front of the state Capitol.

Alabama’s official Christmas Tree was delivered to the state Capitol this week.

This year’s tree was donated by Robbins Taylor Sr. It is an Eastern Red Cedar that was grown in Letohatchee, Alabama.

The approximately 35-foot tree will be displayed on the front steps of the state Capitol building.

The tree will be adorned with lights and decorations ahead of the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Friday, Dec. 4. Gov. Ivey’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Capitol in Montgomery.

Alabama became the first state in the nation to make Christmas an official government holiday in 1836. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.

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