By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, December 11, Attorney General Luther Strange (R) announced that former Deputy Attorney General Henry “Sonny” Reagan had resigned from the Alabama Attorney General’s office on December 2. Reagan did not leave the office on very good terms. AG Strange denounced his former deputy in a department wide memo and made it clear that Reagan’s resignation happened only after Strange told Reagan that he would be terminated if he did not leave voluntarily.
Luther Strange said, “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.”
Strange continued, “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 impaneled 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.”
Strange said that. “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.”
Strange said, “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.” Reagan’s attorneys were former Democratic Lieutenant Governor Bill Baxley (who also represented Rep. Moore) and Rob Riley. The son of former Governor Bob Riley (R) has also represented Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn). Attorney – client privilege is protected by law. Allegedly Reagan potentially compromised the AG’s office and the Lee County investigation.
AG Strange wrote, “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.”
Luther asserted that Reagan also, ”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.”
On September 17, the Alabama Political Reporter reported on court documents which were unsealed revealing that Deputy Attorney General Henry T. “Sonny” Reagan, had 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.
This case was originally filed in the Supreme Court. According to court records, the Supreme Court assigned this case to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on September 4. Judge Mary Windom (R) of the Court of Criminal Appeals promptly recused by a filing on September 5.
Reagan was represented before the Lee County Circuit Court and later before an Alabama higher court by Bill Baxley and Rob Riley. The Alabama Political Reporter at that time reported that Baxley also represented indicted Republican lawmaker State Rep. Barry Moore. Baxley is on record as the attorney getting paid by Hubbard to represent Moore.
Reagan served as Governor Riley’s Chief Legal Advisor during the crusaded against electronic bingo in the State. Riley recruited Reagan to be point man on litigation against Milton McGregor and VictoryLand Casino. After Riley left office, Reagan returned to the Attorney General’s Office where he has served as the chief prosecutor in gaming cases.
In his petition, Reagan challenged the validity of a subpoena he was served as well as the Grand Jury itself. He also argued the Grand Jury was illegally convened and is being illegally operated. Reagan sided against his boss Attorney General Luther Strange and with Baxley and Moore in saying that Strange did not have the right to appoint W. Van Davis to act on the AG’s behalf in the Lee County Grand Jury (This was also the argument put forward by Baxley in the Moore case which was rejected by Lee Country Circuit Court Judge Jacob A.Walker III and an Alabama upper court).
The court also, once again found that AG Strange (R) did have the authority to appoint Davis and that that Grand Jury is legal.
Also in the petition, Reagan argued that Matt Hart was retaliating against him because he had filed a “personnel complaint” with Charla G. Doucet, Chief of the Attorney General’s administrative division.
In August, the Alabama Political Reporter revealed that sources from both within and outside of the Attorney General’s Office had confirmed that Luther Strange’s Chief Deputy, Kevin Turner, was orchestrating a plot to remove chief prosecutor Matt Hart from the Lee Country Grand Jury investigation. A plan was devised to have a “personnel complaint” lodged against Hart. Reagan it appears was the instrument used to deliver the coup de grâce, against Hart.
Lee County Circuit Court, Judge Christopher Hughes, presided over the hearing for Reagan’s first petition and denied Reagan’s motions as well as an oral motion to stay pending appeal, and Reagan was forced to testify before the Grand Jury.
Reagan through his attorneys Riley and Baxley, then asked the Court that Reagan’s testimony before the Grand Jury be stricken from consideration or, compel the trial court to disband the Lee County Grand Jury therefore nullifying Reagan’s testimony. These requests were rejected by the court.
According to the court documents presented by Riley and Baxley over the past several months, Reagan and Hart were engaged in an interoffice dispute not related to the Lee County Grand Jury.
Reagan has sent several memorandums to Attorney General Luther Strange, Chief Deputy Attorney General Kevin Turner, and/or Chief of the Attorney General’s Administrative Division Charla Doucet, listing alleged instances of misconduct by Hart.
On July 22, 2014, Reagan sent a formal complaint against Hart for misconduct and requested that Hart be transferred to another office.
The basis for the complaint was the fact that Hart had threatened to subpoena Reagan to testify in front of the Lee County Grand Jury if he failed to acquiesce to Hart in the interoffice dispute involving office space and location. However, evidence present in camera before Judge Hughes and the Court showed that the so-called “interoffice dispute” had nothing to do with Reagan’s being subpoenaed.
When Reagan finally testified before the Lee County Grand Jury, he invoked his 5th Amendment right. While recognizing that Strange had recused himself from the Lee County proceedings the court ruled that Strange was to be informed about Reagan’s actions. The court made clear that the Attorney General had a mole inside his organization.
Following these revelations Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) placed Reagan on administrative leave for the allegations that he had been leaking information to suspects under investigation.
Acting Attorney General Van Davis said in a written statement, “In January 2013, Attorney General Luther Strange directed me to act as the Attorney General in a matter involving potential public corruption in Alabama. During the investigation, we determined that a member of Attorney General Strange’s staff, Deputy Attorney General Henry T. (“Sonny”) Reagan, for a period of months, had undisclosed communications with individuals affiliated with people indicted or under investigation by the Lee County Special Grand Jury. Reagan also took other action to impede or obstruct the investigation.”
On September 26, the Alabama Political Reporter wrote that Reagan had sent a letter dated September, 22, 2014, and addressed to Attorney General Luther Strange and copied to others including, Gov. Robert Bentley, unleashing a torrent of unsubstantiated accusations against Matt Hart, the Chief Prosecutor in the Lee County Grand Jury investigation.
Reagan’s letter was leaked to certain members of the media, with a prominent 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. 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.”
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 prosecution’s evidence against Reagan, (in camera) ordered that he resume his testimony. It was at this point that Reagan took the fifth on advice of counsel.
On September 18, Reagan was placed on administrative leave by General Strange, “in the best interests of the agency,” pending a full administrative hearing.
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.
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.”
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.” Some legal sources who have reviewed this case closely speculate that Reagan could possibly face indictment for his role in undermining the AG investigation.