TO: All Employees
FROM:Luther Strange, Attorney General
DATE: December 11,2014
RE: Sonny Reagan
The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify the circumstances regarding my removal of Henry T. (“Sonny”) Reagan from his appointed position, my decision to seek the termination of his employment with the Office of Attorney General, and Mr. Reagan’s ultimate resignation.
Shortly after this Office opened an investigation into Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, I recused myself and appointed Supernumerary District Attorney W. Van Davis to handle the case. A special grand jury was ultimately empanelled in Lee County to conduct an investigation. To date, that investigation has resulted in the conviction of former State Representative Greg Wren and the indictment of two other legislators, Rep. Barry Moore and Speaker Hubbard.
During his employment with this Office, Mr. Reagan forged relationships with persons, outside the Office of Attorney General, who had an interest in undermining the Lee County Special Grand Jury’s investigation. In October, it was alleged that Mr. Reagan had engaged in misconduct related to the Special Grand Jury, and I removed him from his appointed position as a Deputy Attorney General, pending investigation into those matters. In November, after considering all the evidence, including Mr. Regan’s response, I notified Mr. Reagan that I intended to terminate him from his Merit System position with the Office. On December 2, 2014, I accepted Mr. Reagan’s resignation in lieu of termination.
While working as a prosecutor in this Office, Mr. Reagan shared legal counsel with the indicted criminal defendant, Rep. Moore. Moreover, the representations of Mr. Reagan and Rep. Moore were both related to the Lee County Special Grand Jury . By sharing legal counsel with Moore on the subject of the Grand Jury’s investigation, Mr. Reagan created an irreconcilable conflict of interests. Mr. Reagan’s duties of loyalty and confidentiality to the State of Alabama and to the Office were compromised by his own personal interest in undermining the grand jury’s investigation – an interest he shared with the defendant Moore and his defense team.
Additionally, Mr. Reagan shared legal counsel with Speaker Hubbard, who was the subject of the grand jury’s investigation. The representation of Mr. Reagan by Speaker Hubbard’s attorney was, likewise, related to the Lee County Special Grand Jury. By sharing legal counsel with the subject of the grand jury’s investigation, Mr. Reagan again created a situation in which his duties of loyalty and confidentiality to the State of Alabama and to the Office with respect to the Hubbard investigation, conflicted with and were compromised by his own personal interests.
While he was sharing legal counsel with the indicted defendant Moore and Speaker Hubbard, Mr. Reagan was privy to confidential inter-office communications involving fellow prosecutors, investigators and staff members relating to the Lee County Special Grand Jury. For months, Mr. Reagan took part in inter-office conversations related to the Special Grand Jury, all the while concealing his simultaneous representation by the criminal defense team. By doing so, Mr. Reagan not only breached his duty of loyalty to the State of Alabama, but he also violated the trust of you, his colleagues.
Moreover, while he was secretly sharing legal counsel with the indicted defendant Moore, Mr. Reagan took action in his official capacity as a prosecutor that related to the Moore case, writing memos to staff and conducting business that related to the Moore prosecution. Mr. Reagan’s failure to recognize his own conflict of interests in that situation and to police his own actions was a betrayal of the duty of loyalty that he owed the State of Alabama and this Office. Mr. Reagan’s lack of candor with his colleagues and his attempt to undermine their prosecutorial efforts was, likewise, a betrayal of their trust, and yours.
To be clear, my decision to terminate Mr. Reagan’s employment was based solely upon the fact that Mr. Reagan breached his duty of loyalty to the State of Alabama and this Office, failed to safeguard the confidences of the Office, and violated the trust of his colleagues, all in violation of the policies of this Office and the Rules of the State Personnel Board. Mr. Reagan’s conduct fell far short of the high standard of honesty, integrity, and professionalism that the people of the State of Alabama have a right to expect of employees of this Office, and that you have come to expect from your coworkers.
As disappointing as this incident has been, I know our Office will continue to serve with the competence and dedication that the people of Alabama expect and deserve. I have every confidence in the integrity and professionalism of Acting Attorney General Davis. I am also absolutely certain that the members of the Special Prosecutions Division have conducted themselves with a high level of professionalism and will continue to do so. Any employee of this Office that has any questions or issues relating to the Lee County Special Grand Jury should contact Acting Attorney General Davis.
USDA is seeking rural energy grant applications
The deadlines to apply for grants is Feb. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand on Wednesday invited applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems, and to make energy efficiency improvements, conduct energy audits and provide development assistance.
The funding is being provided through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, which was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized under the 2018 Farm Bill. This notice seeks applications for Fiscal Year 2021 funding.
The deadlines to apply for grants is Feb. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
REAP helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations.
Eligible systems may derive energy from wind, solar, hydroelectric, ocean, hydrogen, geothermal or renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters).
USDA encourages applications that will support recommendations made in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to help improve life in rural America.
Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments.
Key strategies include achieving e-Connectivity for rural America, developing the rural economy, harnessing technological innovation, supporting a rural workforce and improving quality of life. For additional information, see the notice in the Federal Register.
Trump says that coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin within two weeks
Trump said that front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens would be the vaccine’s first recipients.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin as early as next week.
“The whole world is suffering, and we are rounding the curve,” Trump said. “And the vaccines are being delivered next week or the week after.”
Trump made the announcement during a special Thanksgiving holiday message to U.S. troops overseas via teleconference. Trump said that front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens would be the vaccine’s first recipients. He also argued that his election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, should not be given credit for the vaccines, which were developed during the Trump administration.
Trump referred to the vaccines, which were developed and tested in less than ten months as a “medical miracle.”
Regulators at the FDA will review Pfizer’s request for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine developed with BioNTech during a meeting on Dec. 10. The director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research says a decision is expected within weeks, possibly days after that key meeting.
The latest trial data for Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine showed that it was 90 percent effective.
The CDC plans to vote next week on where the distribution of approved vaccines will begin and who will be allowed to get the first vaccines when they become available.
Dr. Celene Gounder, a member of Biden’s COVID Advisory Board, warned against rushing a vaccine to market.
“The single biggest risk of rushing an approval would be Americans’ distrust the vaccine,” Grounder said. “It’s essential people feel confident this is a safe and effective vaccine.”
Moderna said that its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.
AstraZeneca says its preliminary results showed its vaccine ranged from 62 percent to 90 percent effective depending on the dosage amount given to participants. AstraZeneca is having to launch a second round of global trials to clear up the discrepancies.
Many Americans appear to have ignored CDC warnings to scale back Thanksgiving holiday plans. More than six million Americans flew over the holiday week, raising fears by public health officials that the surge in coronavirus cases we are experiencing now will be followed by a bigger surge in the next three weeks.
As of press time, there have been 62 million diagnosed cases of coronavirus cases in the world, including nearly 13.5 million in the United States, but many cases are mild and go undiagnosed.
A CDC researcher estimates that the real number of infections in the U.S. has topped 53 million since February. More than 1.4 million people have died around the world since the virus first appeared in China late last year. The death toll includes 271,029 Americans and 3,572 Alabamians.
The Iron Bowl is Saturday
Alabama will have to play without head football coach Nick Saban who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Auburn University college football team will play the University of Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday with the game kicking off at 2:30 p.m. Attendance is strictly limited because of COVID-19 restrictions. The game will be televised on CBS stations.
Alabama will have to play without head football coach Nick Saban who has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will coach the Crimson Tide in Saban’s absence. He has a 46-35 record as a head coach at USC and Washington.
Auburn will be coached by Gus Malzahn, who has a 67-33 record as a head coach. He is the fifth winningest coach in Auburn history, trailing only Shug Jordan, Mike Donahue, Pat Dye and now-Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville.
Alabama has a 7-0 record and is currently the No. 1 team in the country in the college football rankings. Auburn is 5-2 but with a win could still win the SEC West with wins in its remaining two games, and if Alabama were to lose another game down the stretch. Alabama is just one game ahead of Texas A&M for first place in the SEC West, but the Tide has the tiebreaker by virtue of having defeated the Aggies in head-to-head competition.
In addition to team honors, there is a lot riding for individual players in today’s game. Alabama redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones has thrown for 2,426 yards and 18 touchdowns in Alabama’s first seven games. Jones’s strong performance has made him a Heisman contender and has earned him consideration as a possible first-round or high second-round draft pick by the NFL if he were to leave Alabama early.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has thrown for 1,627 yards and ten touchdowns over seven games.
Alabama and Auburn played their first football game against each other in Lakeview Park in Birmingham on Feb. 22, 1893. The game is called the Iron Bowl because historically the game was played on a neutral site: Birmingham’s historic Legion Field. Birmingham at the time was best known for the iron that was mined there and then made into steel and other metal products.
The game is now played as a home and home series, but the Iron Bowl name has stuck with the rivalry.
Alabama leads the series with 46 wins to Auburn’s 37. There has been one tie. Auburn defeated Alabama 48 to 45 in last year’s high scoring contest.
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.
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.
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.
“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.