By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Rep. Jack Williams (R-Birmingham) may have more potentially troubling problems than just his involvement with the return of UAB football while operating a fan website dedicated to UAB athletics. Williams may also be on the payroll of a company run by a registered lobbyist.
Williams and Aldridge Gardens
According to the Alabama legislature’s online biography of Williams , he “currently serves as the Director of Development for Aldridge Gardens.” An October 2013 press release announced Aldridge Gardens hired Tynette Lynch as its Chief Executive Officer. Tynette Lynch is a registered lobbyist for Pat Lynch & Associates, a lobbying firm headed by her husband and veteran lobbyist, Pat Lynch.
Aldridge Gardens is a 30-acre private venue known for its patented variety of hydrangeas. According to its website, Aldridge Gardens’ “features include an event venue and gallery in the couple’s former home, an outdoor pavilion, a six-acre lake and a half-mile walking trail. The Gardens also host plant sales, art exhibits and shows, classes and seminars, bird walks, fishing days, concerts and more.”
It is unclear what the job description is for the Director of Development. Aldridge Gardens markets itself as popular venue for weddings and school field trips. Nothing in Williams ’ biography indicates he has any experience in planning weddings or field trips.
Williams’ work history includes an eight-year stint as the Jefferson County Tax Collector. Other than serving as a tax collector, there is no publicly available information on any work experience that would make Williams a good fit for Aldridge Gardens.
Aldridge Gardens’ website includes a list of its current-year “Sustaining Sponsors,” including three couples and an individual donor. Other sponsors include a Birmingham-based landscape company, which is a natural fit for a non-profit private garden, and a local travel agency.
The list of “Sustaining Sponsors” also includes Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and Renesant Bank. Renesant Bank is based in Tupelo, Miss.
Another “Sustaining Sponsor” is Energen Corporation, an oil and gas exploration company based in Birmingham.
Williams’ public disclosures with the Alabama Ethics Commissions state he did not work at Aldridge Gardens in 2010, began working there at some point during 2011 and was no longer working there in 2014.
Williams’ Ethics Filings Inconsistent
Williams listed no employment or self-employment during the year 2014, but listed consulting or professional services income from an unnamed retail company valued between $10,000 and $25,000. In addition, he listed consulting or professional services income from an unnamed company marked “miscellaneous” valued between $1,000 and $10,000.
Williams public disclosures to the ethics commission as required by law are difficult to follow and inconsistent, particularly with respect to identifying his living family members. In 2010, he lists living siblings named Kathy Williams and Rick Williams. In 2011, Kathy Adams (presumably formerly named Kathy Williams) is present, but Rick Williams is missing. In his place is Charles Williams. By 2012, Rick Williams is back, Charles Williams is missing, and Kathy Williams returns with her previous last name (assuming it is the same person as 2011’s Kathy Adams). By 2013, both Kathy Williams and Charles Williams are gone, and Rick Williams remains. By 2014, Kathy and Rick Williams are gone, but Charles Williams returns to the list of siblings.
Williams has a similarly difficult time listing his children with any degree of accuracy. In 2010, he lists no adult children. In 2011, Regan Williams is listed as an adult child. However, in 2012, Regan Williams disappears from his list of adult children and remains missing for 2013. In 2014, Regan Williams reappears on his list of adult children in 2014, this time accompanied by Jordan Williams.
Williams’ work history is equally difficult to follow. In 2010, Williams listed a salary from Shoot to Thrill Productions, an entertainment developing and marketing company based in Los Angeles. Its website claims to consult with, among other types of entities, state governments, to connect them to the entertainment industry.
Shoot to Thrill is headed by Daniel Wheatcroft, whose biography lists him as working for the University of Alabama from 2009 to 2013. The biography claims he is still employed with the University of Alabama as an adjunct professor, teaching courses remotely using Skype. Shoot to Thrill lists the University of Alabama on its client list.
In 2011, Williams reports outside income of $50,000 to $150,000 from a company called The Jefferson Group. By 2012, The Jefferson Group is no longer listed on his ethics disclosures.
The Jefferson Group, LLC, is a single-member limited liability company, wholly owned by JWA, LLC. JWA, LLC, was formed in 2005, and while its formation documents conspicuously fail to list any members of JWA, LLC, the signature at the bottom of the formation documents, while difficult to read, looks remarkably like it is signed “Jack D Williams.” The Secretary of State’s filings indicate the stated purpose of The Jefferson Group, LLC, is to “service a portfolio of tax liens / investment services.”
This entity was formed for this purpose after Jack Williams had spent the years of 1995 to 2003 as the Jefferson County Tax Collector.
In 2014, a Jefferson County Circuit Court entered a judgment against The Jefferson Group, LLC, in the amount of $4,937,990 and in favor of Cadence Bank.