By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—A letter from Deputy Attorney General Henry T. “Sonny” Reagan is just the latest in a series of coordinated attacks, to sow discord and confusion over the Lee County investigation into possible criminal activities by Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and others.
Reagan’s letter dated September, 22, 2014, and addressed to Attorney General Luther Strange and copied to others including, Gov. Robert Bentley, unleashes a torrent of unsubstantiated accusations against Matt Hart, the Chief Prosecutor in the Lee County Grand Jury investigation.
The existence of Reagan’s letter was immediately leaked to certain members of the media, with a female reporter for the Associated Press reportedly calling the Governor’s Office within a half-hour of the Governor’s office’s receiving the letter.
The contents of the letter were reported by the Opelika-Auburn News, at 7:41 pm Tuesday, September 23. The Opelika-Auburn News is the paper of record for the House District represented by Speaker Hubbard, the very man whose court records show is the principle target of the Lee County Grand Jury investigation.
Other news outlets received the leaked letter, including al.com, which allowed Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney J. Mark White to call Reagan’s letter “courageous.”
This news organization did not receive a copy of the letter even when requested. The governor’s office denied all requests for the letter saying it was addressed to General Strange and therefore should be released though his office.
A political insider, who asked not to be identified, said, “This is classic defense propaganda: throw a grenade over here while the bank is being robbed over there.”
But he, like many others, felt the leaked letter was orchestrated to damage Hart’s credibility, paint the media as patsies and draw suspicion around the proceedings.
Reagan is represented by attorneys Bill Baxley and Rob Riley, the son of former Gov. Riley. Riley and White represent Speaker Hubbard. Baxley also represents indicted Republican lawmaker, Rep. Barry Moore, who is accused of perjury and making false statements before the same Grand Jury. Many defense attorneys in Montgomery have expressed alarm by the potential conflicts in this ménage of attorneys and clients.
Several legal professionals speaking on background have said, it is possible that Rob Riley, White and others, may be using attorney/client privilege to understand the many avenues of the investigation, and to shape their clients defense both in the media and before the court.
W. Van Davis, who is Acting Attorney General in the Lee County investigation, has publicly accused Reagan of having “undisclosed communications with individuals affiliated with people indicted or under investigation by the Lee County Special Grand Jury. Davis also says that Reagan took other action to impede or obstruct the investigation.”
The efforts to obstruct the investigation in Lee County are so widespread, that attempts were made by members of the Hubbard/Riley inner circle to convince Gov. Bentley to stop the investigation…..an offer that Bentley soundly refused to even contemplate, according to sources close to the governor.
Reagan testified before the Lee County Grand Jury on August 27, 2014. He testified for almost an hour before asking to speak with his attorney, Bill Baxley (defense attorneys are not allowed in grand jury hearings). After meeting with Baxley, an emergency appeal was made to Lee County Circuit Court Judge Hughes to have Reagan’s Grand Jury testimony quashed. However, Judge Hughes, after being made aware of the prosecutions evidence against Reagan, (in camera) ordered that he resume his testimony. It was at this point that Reagan took the fifth on advice of council.
On Wednesday, September 17, the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals unsealed documents that revealed that Deputy Attorney General Reagan unsuccessfully tried to quash his subpoena to testify before the Lee County Grand Jury. After being served a subpoena to appear before the Lee County Grand Jury on August 27, 2014, Reagan filed a sealed writ of mandamus to quash the Lee County subpoena.
In their denial, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals also ordered that secret Grand Jury testimony be reveled to General Strange, in order that he might see for himself the evidence against Reagan. Even though Strange had recused himself from the Lee County investigation, the court took these extraordinary measures because they believed the Attorney General must be made aware of the seriousness of Reagan’s actions.
On September 18, Reagan was placed on administrative leave by General Strange, “in the best interests of the agency,” pending a full administrative hearing.
Two days later, Reagan sent a letter to Strange asking for an investigation into the internal dispute between him and Hart over office space, that occurred last year. Reagan also says that the Hart made inappropriate comments about the Grand Jury investigations.
Many believe that if Hart did make any comments to Reagan, it was part of a plan designed to ferret out “moles” who were leaking information to potential suspects or targets.
The letter, rather than being about an internal dispute as Reagan has claimed, is actually filled with many self-serving prose, whereby Reagan portrays himself as “a lifelong public servant,” and one who has, “spent my entire adult life serving either as a soldier in the United States military or as an attorney for the State of Alabama.” Reagan says he has been, “tested in combat and… tested in the courtroom, but I have always done what I believed was right.” Yet during his testimony before the Lee County Grand Jury Reagan, evoked his Fifth Amendment Right, to avoid self incrimination.
Cornell University Law explains the Self-Incrimination portion of the amendment as follows: “The Fifth Amendment protects criminal defendants from having to testify if they may incriminate themselves through the testimony. A witness may “plead the Fifth” and not answer if the witness believes answering the question may be self-incriminatory.
Reagan wrote in his letter to Strange that, “I have always done what I believed was right” yet none inside the AG’s Office or anyone that was contacted for this report could remember a time when a Deputy Attorney General had ever taken the fifth in a criminal court proceeding.
In his letter Reagan states, “My complaint into Mr. Hart’s office misconduct has no bearing on the work of the Lee County Grand Jury. Even if my complaint culminated in Mr. Hart’s internal discipline, the Grand Jury’s work would continue.”
This is the same man who refused to answer questions before an Attorney General’s Grand Jury.
The evidence presented to Judge Hughes, the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals, and to General Strange was enough for them to conclude that Reagan had serious problems.
Those inside and outside of the Attorney General’s Office believe that Reagan’s letter—which was leaked to the press— and his personnel complaint, are all part of the larger plan to discredit Hart and to impede the investigation against Speaker Hubbard and others, so the investigation is slowed before the election or killed outright.
In his letter, Reagan repeatedly accuses Hart of [Working] “in concert with reporters to reveal information regarding the grand jury to the press to help his cases.” Hart has never revealed any Grand Jury information to this publication or this reporter. The Attorney General’s Office has steadfastly refused to answer questions about the Lee County investigation asked by this publication or this reporter.
In his letter, Reagan appears to be fighting for his job. But, if the statements made by Davis are found true in a court of law, Reagan could be facing not only disbarment but also jail time.
One prominent republican lawmaker, commenting on the Reagan scandal said, “His actions and those of his associates undermine the very foundations of our justice system. this cover-up has brought shame and dishonor on our State. We will not come out from under this dark cloud until those responsible stand before a court of law.”