By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced the appointment of Bryan Taylor as her chief legal counsel. The Governor’s spokesperson, Eileen Jones, told The Montgomery Advertiser that Taylor was appointed because the Governor feels “he is an excellent lawyer; excellent.”
The Alabama Political Reporter informed Jones early on Monday morning that Taylor, a former State Senator and chief counsel for the Department of Finance, was suing The Alabama Political Reporter and its owners, Bill and Susan Britt.
Recently Taylor petitioned the gag order from Etowah County Circuit Court Judge William Rhea after Taylor’s boss at Finance, Clinton Carter learned of Taylor’s lawsuit against APR and Bill and Susan Britt. Taylor had not informed Carter of the 2014 lawsuit in which he accused APR and Bill and Susan Britt of, among other things, engaging in a Civil Conspiracy to,”[D]o substantial harm to Taylor’s personal, business, professional, and political reputation.”
A hearing before Judge Rhea is set for August on the gag order.
In response to series of questions submitted to the Ivey administration concerning Taylor’s appointment and his lawsuit against APR, spokesperson Jones answered by text saying, “Governor Ivey was not aware of the situation. However, she is now after making a commitment to him. She plans to have a conversation with him soon.”
In submitting the questions to Gov. Ivey’s office, APR asked that the administration provide answers by 5:00 pm Tuesday. Gov. Ivey’s Office chose to ignore our request.
Taylor never informed the Governor or his former boss, Carter, about the suit against APR or his request for a gag order.
The essence of Taylor’s lawsuit against APR and the Britts stems from an April 2014 article published by APR entitled, “Shadowy Conduct of the Man Who Would Be Ethics Chief.”
Taylor filed suit in September 2014, alleging the article was part of a Civil Conspiracy to,”[D]o substantial harm to Taylor’s personal, business, professional, and political reputation in order to interfere with or undermine Taylor’s potential candidacy for the position of State Ethics Director and/or maliciously to impair his livelihood as an attorney or otherwise cause harm to his business or profession; and/or to inflict embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress on Taylor.”
Taylor soon after filing the lawsuit filed a motion to have it sealed after learning APR had received cooperation from his former law firm Bradley Arrant.
Taylor’s lawsuit came at a time when APR was reporting daily on former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, who was later convicted on 12 counts of felony public corruption.
In her first meeting with the media, Gov. Ivey expressed a desire to know the members of the Press Corps personally and promised to be open and honest with the media. However, Taylor’s lawsuit would seem to undercut any relationship personally or otherwise with APR.
APR and the Britts have incurred tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees since Taylor filed his lawsuit almost three years ago.
Gov. Ivey’s office said she hired Taylor because he is an excellent lawyer. Is the press to believe that the Ivey administration will use the same tactics as Taylor to muzzle the press? If so, her promises are as shallow as those made by Hubbard, who claimed he would rid State government of corruption and former Gov. Robert Bentley who betrayed the public’s trust in the rudest and most inappropriate way.
Gov. Ivey’s administration said they would illuminate the darkness and wash away the stain of corruption that has seen two of Alabama’s most powerful political figures driven from office, due to scandal and illegal activities.
A hearing on Taylor’s lawsuit is set for October.