By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not Guilty’.”
Corruption is a pervasive reality in all branches of our State government, and our lawmakers and media selectively look away far too often.
In the Executive Branch, Governor Robert Bentley is under investigation by both Federal and State law enforcement.
The Judicial Branch is refusing to unseal court records in the case against Chief Justice Roy Moore.
And over in the Legislative Branch, there remain loyalists to convicted felon Mike Hubbard, who still hold power to make mischief.
For over two years, Governor Bentley and his alleged paramour, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, used any means available to hide their relationship.
Bentley, it is said, ordered the use of the State and Federal criminal database to inflict wounds on his enemies, as well as tapping into medical records in an attempt to destroy the former chief law enforcement leader, Spencer Collier.
A Montgomery Special Grand Jury cleared Collier of the wrongdoing Bentley repeatedly accused him of, but the damage is done. Now, only a large civil settlement can offer Collier and his family any real relief.
Over at the Supreme Court, Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart has made a mockery of the justice system by refusing to release all the records that led to the removal of Chief Justice Moore. Once The Alabama Political Reporter filed to intervene to have the documents unsealed, Stuart and other justices recused themselves from his appeal. In a disturbing display of misplaced regal pomp, Stuart, along with Bentley, presided over selecting a poll of retired judges, from which seven will be chosen to hear Moore’s appeal.
Moore was charged by the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC), prosecuted by their own hand-picked attorney and found guilty by the Court of the Judiciary, using a loophole that heretofore has never been used. Moore will now have to stand before unaccountable judges, on a date, yet unknown, to hear his appeal. This entire judicial process, like the legendary British Star Chamber, seems to be more about removing an enemy than seeking justice. Alabama’s Judicial system tainted by it alliance to the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), has all the markings of a court under the thumb of a third world junta.
Columnist John Archibald wrote a brilliant opinion on how the process in the Moore case needs closer examination to ensure that he’s received a fair hearing.
However, APR is the only news outlet that has sued to have Moore’s records unsealed. Where is the powerful Alabama Media Group? Where is Gannett’s, Montgomery Advertiser and the other so-called legitimate press?
Is Archibald the only person at al.com who believes the process that removed Moore from the bench must not only look right but be right? Or is it that these organizations agree with the outcome of the Moore case, so why move to unseal records that might result in his being exonerated?
As for the Legislature, the most troubling sign is that the “Hubbardites” remain at the center of power, with chairmanships occupied by former lackeys like Reps Terri Collins and Mike Ball. Neither has the qualification to lead the committees they chair. And Collins and Ball have inserted themselves in issues way above their pay grade.
Collins’ intervention into the State School Superintendents race was unseemly and improper. As for Ball, who chairs the House Ethics Committee, it is beyond State House logic to see this man as a champion of ethics reform.
Ball has accused Special Prosecution Chief Matt Hart of crimes and recently said Attorney General Luther Strange was his enemy. The Attorney General’s Office is taking point to clarify and strengthen State Ethics laws, but it is inconceivable that General Strange could stoop so low as to appear on Ball’s level.
There are those in the Executive, Judicial and Legislative Branches who do not participate in legal or illegal corruption, but systematic venality is so pervasive it renders the totality of State government suspect.
But, there is hope that new leadership, whether this year or in 2018, will bring the type of morality as to make Roosevelt’s statement no longer applicable.