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Feds may be least of “Bad Jack’s” worries

There are two members of the Alabama House of Representatives who go by the name Jack; one is Vestavia Hills Republican Jack “J.D.” Williams, AKA “Bad Jack” among his colleagues, and then there is Wilmer Republican lawmaker Jack W. Williams called “Good Jack.” Earlier this week, Bad Jack Williams was indicted on federal conspiracy charges.

Few embraced disgraced former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard more than Williams, who, like Hubbard, has entered into questionable business transactions involving lobbyists. Williams, also like Hubbard, appears to have used his office for personal gain. If any of this is true, then Williams has more headaches to come.

Even before Bad Jack was charged in a federal conspiracy case along with his longtime associate, former Chair of the Alabama Republican Party Marty Connors, it was widely suspected that he was running afoul of state ethics laws.

As far back as 2015, the Alabama Political Reporter tracked questionable actions that Williams undertook while serving in the Legislature.

Williams made headlines in 2014, when he used his office as a legislator to build support to return the University of Alabama Birmingham Blazers football program, which had been canceled by the university’s board. An outspoken critic of the university’s cancelation of the football program, Williams made frequent appearances on radio, television and in print demanding the return of UAB football. However, he never made known the fact that he was personally profiting from the team through ownership of UAB sports fan-based message board, Blazer Sports Report.

Williams’ website is part of the network of websites dedicated to covering college athletics. Yahoo! acquired the Rivals network of websites in 2007, for an estimated $100 million.

On March 19, 2015, Williams introduced HB 341, which would have required the University of Alabama system to establish and maintain a football program at the UAB campus. Although the bill had 38 co-sponsors, the bill failed to make it out of the Education Policy Committee.

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Under pressure in June 2015, UAB announced it would reinstate its football program beginning in the 2017 season.

Did Rep. Jack Williams Use His Office For Personal Gain?

In another 2015 report, APR found that Williams, beyond his involvement with the return of UAB football while operating a fan website dedicated to UAB athletics, also appeared to be on the payroll of a company run by a registered lobbyist.

At the time, Williams’ Alabama Legislature’s online biography said 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.

Breaking Investigative Report: More Potential Problems for Rep. Jack Williams

Williams’ public disclosures with the Alabama Ethics Commission shows he did not work at Aldridge Gardens in 2010, but began working there at some point during 2011, and was no longer working there in 2014.

Over the years, Williams’ statement of economic interest filing has shown an inconsistent employment record listing several different consulting jobs and business ventures.

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In 2011, Williams reported 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 in favor of Cadence Bank.

Few championed the cause of freeing Hubbard more than Williams. From organizing a letter to the Obama Administration’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch for pushing legislation to aid Hubbard, it has been Williams who has fought so faithfully for the convicted felon.

What’s happening with Jack?

In late 2015, Williams was reportedly active in raising funds for Hubbard’s legal defense. It was believed that he and Hubbard’s attorney, Rob Riley, were soliciting donations for the fund shortly after Hubbard’s attorney, J. Mark White, withdrew from the case allegedly due to Hubbard’s failure to pay over one million dollars in legal fees.

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Williams also sponsored a bill to make such a defense fund legal under State statutes.

Furthermore, it was Williams who solicited House members’ signatures on a letter calling for a federal investigation of Attorney General Luther Strange and Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart. U.S. Attorney Beck responded to the letter at a rare press conference, highlighting the irony of predominantly white, majority Republican lawmakers pleading with the Obama Administration to intervene in the Hubbard case.

Williams currently faces federal legal jeopardy, and if the state has kept tabs on APR’s reporting over the last several years, there may be cause to think the feds are the least of Bad Jack’s worries.

Williams and Connor say they are innocent.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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