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Strange Fundraising Chair Served as Director of $360,000 Corrupt Bribery Entity

Mike Thompson, the fundraising chairman of Strange’s U.S. Senate campaign was listed as a director of the Alliance for Jobs and the Economy, a tax-exempt entity created in 2015 whose purpose was to funnel $360,000 in bribes to a corrupt politician, former Alabama State Representative Oliver Robinson, according to court filings of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The corrupt bribery entity was created, incorporated with the assistance of Balch & Bingham, the embattled law firm currently under investigation in two federal probes.

The CDLU, which has been investigating Balch & Bingham since last year in regards to the Newsome Conspiracy Case, inspected corporate documents filed with the State of Delaware by the Alliance for Jobs and the Economy and found Thompson was listed as a director of the entity.

The news comes on the heels of the CDLU showing how U.S. Senator Luther Strange allegedly gave a “helping-hand” a year ago to a criminal conspiracy that trampled the Civil Rights of Burt Newsome.

The strong stench of corruption, self-dealing, and unscrupulous conduct surrounding Luther Strange has been confirmed: his most trusted financial booster was linked to a bribery scandal that is an active and ongoing federal investigation.

Mike Thompson appears to have been associated with a corrupt entity that greased the wheels in a disgusting scheme to suppress poor African-Americans in North Birmingham from getting their toxic and contaminated property tested. As Alabama Attorney General, Luther Strange opposed this environmental clean-up.

In recent months, Alabama has been rocked by the Robinson Bribery Scandal, linked to one of Strange’s most ardent financial and political supporters, the embattled law firm Balch & Bingham.

According to U.S. News & World Report, “Federal prosecutors wrote in the charges that the goal [of the Robinson Bribery Scandal] was to protect Drummond Co. and its division ABC Coke ‘from the tremendous potential costs associated with being held responsible for pollution within the affected areas.’ Robinson took a contract with the Birmingham law firm of Balch & Bingham, which represented Drummond. Robinson urged constituents in Birmingham to oppose the Superfund action, claiming it would be bad for the area, and spoke out against the proposed action before the state environmental agency.”

“Robinson’s invoices to the law firm would sometimes be paid through a nonprofit called Alliance for Jobs and the Economy that was created by the Drummond employee, prosecutors said. Robinson was paid $360,000.00 under the contract during 2015 and 2016, prosecutors said,” U.S. News & World Report added.

Balch & Bingham is currently under scrutiny in two federal probes: the Robinson Bribery Scandal; the other involves questionable subcontracts in Mississippi in relationship to the clean-up of the BP oil spill that happened in 2010.

Balch & Bingham’s Biggest Stooge: U.S. Senator Luther Strange

The Newsome case exemplifies a despicable act of injustice, an abuse of the judiciary branch for financial and political gain.

We have reached out to federal authorities and have asked them to investigate U.S. Senator Luther Strange’s involvement in alleged corruption and the trampling of the Civil Rights of Burt Newsome, a father of four young children who was wrongly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by one of Strange’s most ardent financial and political supporters, the embattled law firm Balch & Bingham.

Strange has received tens of thousands of dollars from Balch & Bingham or political action committees funded by Balch & Bingham partners. Strange’s top political advisor and former campaign manager, Jessica Garrison, was “of counsel” at Balch until this past spring, a known revolving-door for political operatives.

What revolts us most is as Alabama Attorney General, Strange gave a helping-hand—just a year ago—to an alleged criminal conspiracy that trampled the Civil Rights of Burt Newsome, a father of four young children who was railroaded with a capital R.

According to court filings, Newsome, a small-town attorney in Alabama, was falsely arrested and defamed by the alleged co-conspirators including Balch & Bingham which allegedly had a financial objective: to obtain Newsome’s lucrative banking collections business.

In April of 2014, the criminal case against Newsome collapsed and was eventually expunged from court records. But almost a year later after the expungement, in June of 2016, another judge, with allegedly no knowledge of the details of the case, reversed the expungement and opened the contents of a case that no longer existed, declaring that the previous judge (since retired) had erred.

Incredibly, Newsome was allegedly barred by court officials from filing a brief or petitioning the court at that time.

Raising eyebrows and expanding the web of possible collusion, two months later, in August of 2016, then-Attorney General Luther Strange filed a brief in support of the resurrected expungement, citing and regurgitating the order signed by the new judge.

Observers could not understand why his office would ever get involved in a matter like this, especially since the brief looked like a simple “cut and paste job.” The reason was Balch & Bingham and other co-conspirators wanted to use the false criminal accusations in a civil case that the co-conspirators looked like they were losing against Newsome.

The fix was in.

The Newsome case exemplifies a despicable act of injustice, an abuse of the judiciary branch for financial and political gain. Luther Strange allegedly gaming the system for financial support is shamefully repugnant.

But the Newsome case story in recent weeks has exploded with even more controversial actions. Without a hearing, not even a notice,  local Alabama Judge Carole Smitherman, last month appears to have done what Balch,  Strange allies, and the actual co-conspirators wanted: to shut down public discussion about the Newsome case.

The case was sealed in its entirety creating a Star Chamber. All proceedings are held in secret with no public access or information available.

Now comes that Judge Smitherman took over  $15,000 in campaign contributions from a Balch-backed political action committee called BIZPAC.  Strange himself had accepted $15,000 from BIZPAC back in August of 2013 as Alabama Attorney General.

In addition, Schuyler Allen Baker, Jr., Balch’s lead attorney on the Newsome Conspiracy Case, donated thousands of dollars to BIZPAC, the political action committee with ties to Strange and Smitherman.

Balch & Bingham is under investigation in two federal probes right now. One involves the alleged $360,000 bribery scheme that led to the suppression of poor African-Americans in North Birmingham from getting their toxic and contaminated property tested; the other involves subcontracts in Mississippi in relationship to the clean-up of the BP oil spill.

Here is a 30-second educational advertisement about the Newsome Conspiracy Case:

For the record:

For past 16 years, the CDLU has been a leader in defending and assisting the public from abuses by irresponsible businesses and inept government agencies. The investigative reports and efforts of the CDLU have provoked three U.S. congressional probes and numerous state and local investigations. CDLU’s work has been profiled in numerous publications including  People Magazine, The Washington Post, and CBS’ 60 Minutes. The CDLU is a non-partisan, public charity.

Welcome to BanBalch.com

Thank you for taking a moment to  visit our page and to learn about the unsettling controversies surrounding Balch & Bingham. Scroll down to read more.

Be sure to sign our  Change.org petition about the Burt Newsome case. Help defend Civil Rights.

9/22/2017 Update: We have made updates to our menu above. Please take a look at our new content and sub-menu items.

Balch in Meltdown; New Sheriff in Town

Kudos to the  new U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Jay E. Town (pictured) who made it unequivocally clear to Balch & Bingham that their participation in a $360,000 bribery scheme to suppress poor African-Americans from testing their toxic and contaminated property (involving corrupt politician Oliver Robinson) won’t be sidelined and the culprits at even the highest levels of power will be brought to justice.

In a statement yesterday after Robinson officially pled guilty, Town articulated:

“This lamentable pursuit of self-interest masquerading as beneficial for the little guy is more than a violation of our laws. This was a violation of the public trust and among the worst breaches of our social contract,” Town said. “All those engaged in public corruption must be brought to justice, and it matters not their benefactor or station.”

Our sources tell us that Balch & Bingham partners were in a nervous meltdown yesterday. None of their Southern charm or powerful connections can save them now.

From the Smithermans to Black Hall Aerospace, from Balch’s Star Chamber to Schuyler Allen Baker Jr.’s contributions to BIZPAC, Town should investigate every alleged criminal, unscrupulous, and unprofessional act conducted by Balch & Bingham including the possible violation of Civil Rights of the African-Americans in North Birmingham and of Burt Newsome.

Maybe it’s time to dust off the RICO Act.

All Eyes on Balch & Bingham’s Star Chamber

Our sources tell us that corrupt politician Oliver Robinson, who took $360,000 in bribes paid through Balch & Bingham to allegedly suppress African-Americans from testing their toxic property, will finally plead guilty on September 7, 2017 and that  legal representatives of Balch & Bingham partner Joel Gilbert, who allegedly funneled the money to Robinson and was identified as Attorney #1 by al.com, are allegedly vigorously trying to prevent any indictment or prosecution through direct channels in Washington, D.C.

But our sources also tell us the bribery investigation will proceed even after the September 7th pleading.

Now comes Judge Carole “Star Chamber” Smitherman. She took $15,000 in campaign contributions from a Balch-backed political action committee, recently sealed the Newsome Conspiracy Case and is holding all  proceedings in secret (a Star Chamber Court) with no public access or information.

All eyes are on Smitherman, even though no one knows what is happening in the Star Chamber.

In a recent correspondence to the Office of Special Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice Robert S. Mueller III about the Star Chamber, we pointed out an interesting fact:

[Oliver] Robinson’s Alabama House District (#58) overlapped State Senator Rodger Smitherman’s district (#18). He happens to be the husband of the judge. Their districts were just east of the EPA Superfund site where Robinson discouraged poor African Americans from having their toxic and contaminated property tested.

Since Robinson is singing like a canary, what melodies will arrive in September?

With the secret proceedings of the Star Chamber in place, we have now asked for a federal Civil Rights and criminal investigation of the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

What will the Smithermans sing? A duet?

Balch & Bingham’s Secret Star Chamber will Shield Alleged Corrupt Acts

Balch  & Bingham appears to have shown the public what money and influence peddling can buy: your own, private, secret Star Chamber.

Is Balch & Bingham  shielding alleged corrupt acts, unscrupulous behavior, and perjury?

On Friday, we purchased more documents of the Newsome Conspiracy Case from Alacourt.com, but none of our PDF documents would open and instead showed the message above, “Error. This is a confidential case.”

Even the hundreds of pages we previous purchased from the last couple of months were blocked from viewing. (Luckily, we downloaded them.)

Maxine, a representative from Alacourt.com, called us back and said the case had been sealed and “not even the attorneys of record” could view the documents.  She speculated the case might have been sealed Thursday evening, but later said she could not confirm anything since she, too, did not have access to the case.

Without a hearing, not even a notice, Judge Carole Smitherman appears to have done what Balch,  the co-conspirators, and their legal counsel wanted: to shut down the public discussion about the Newsome case.

Instead, the public discussion about what Balch & Bingham is hiding in the Newsome Conspiracy Case is now escalating and gaining even more attraction from outside investigators.

Remember, our coverage and posts about  the Newsome Conspiracy Case has exposed some alleged unprofessional and dishonest behavior including:

  • Balch & Bingham lied about the CDLU in a public (now sealed) filing in May. What raw nerve did we strike?
  • Balch & Bingham misled Politico.com and attempted to deceive the public about their lobbying ties to a Russian-linked aerospace company. Why lie about a lobbying client?
  • Balch & Bingham  foolishly stated in open court, and connecting all the co-conspirators to a single phone number,  that the phone number was from a telemarketer. Why make such a baseless claim?
  • Balch & Bingham was overly confident in comments not made under oath or in a deposition that was yet to take place about that phone number linking all the co-conspirators in which Verizon Communications had not even been subpoenaed about. Was the fix in?
  • In a deliberate and deceptive tactic to impede justice, to hide evidence, and to protect the alleged co-conspirators, an attorney for one of the co-conspirators dispatched a letter to AT&T in early 2016 calling on AT&T not to provide documentation on phone numbers of another co-conspirator, demonstrating the two conspirators indeed knew each other. Who perjured whom?

In addition, Schuyler Allen Baker, Jr., Balch’s lead attorney on the Newsome Conspiracy Case,  donated thousands of dollars to BIZPAC, a political action committee funded in part by Balch partners. BIZPAC funneled over $15,000 in campaign contributions to Judge Smitherman.

Now Smitherman has created a Star Chamber where secret proceedings  can move forward and the public will have no knowledge of the alleged criminal, unscrupulous, and perjuring acts by Balch and others.

And sealing a case from the inception for no real reason, without a hearing is unprecedented. As the Federal Judicial Center writes, “Sealing of judicial records is not considered appropriate if it is done merely to protect parties from embarrassment.”

Interestingly, according to Alacourt.com, some cases are sealed with the codes JU (juvenile) or YO (youth offender). But the Newsome Conspiracy Case was slammed shut in its entirety.

Balch & Bingham may have wanted to demonstrate the enormous power and influence they have over Smitherman and the judicial proceedings in Alabama. Instead, Balch & Bingham appears to have shown the public what money and influence peddling can buy: your own, private, secret Star Chamber.

Is Balch & Bingham Polluting Southern Company?

Southern Company is a publicly-traded company and they don’t need Balch & Bingham or economic racism as a national sideshow, especially in this post-Charlottesville era.

Economic Racism? Environmental Injustice? How did we get here?

When we started our investigation into the Burt Newsome Conspiracy case, we never thought this would lead to questioning the moral compass of  Southern Company or their subsidiary, Alabama’s most powerful corporate institution, Alabama Power.

In an early morning news release today, the Black Warrior Riverkeeper organzation called on Alabama Power to “remove their coal ash from these unlined impoundments by the river and place it in lined landfills with adequate leachate handling.”

The Riverkeepers note that “coal ash is the waste that remains after coal is burned….contains toxic heavy metals…which are harmful to human health, water resources, and wildlife.”

Another toxic waste that could be affecting Alabama Power appears to be the remnants of the shenanigans involving the law firm Balch & Bingham, currently under scrutiny in two federal investigations, including funneling $360,000 to a corrupt politician, Oliver Robinson,  who in turn suppressed poor African-Americans from having their contaminated and toxic property tested by the EPA.

We have called on the Southern Company to dump Balch & Bingham for being linked to this act of environmental injustice and economic racism.

The current Chairman, CEO and President of Alabama Power is Mark Crosswhite. Calling him the “most powerful CEO in Alabama,”  Yellowhammer News recently noted that Crosswhite was an attorney at Balch & Bingham for 17 years before joining Alabama Power as their General Counsel.

Yellowhammer adds, “Every single politician in Alabama covets a meeting with Crosswhite. And if he calls, everything else stops. It is because of this that Crosswhite occupies a level of power and influence in such rarified air that it is too difficult for most to breathe.”

Regardless of revolving-door cronyism or possible conflicts of interest,  Alabama Power cannot overlook the alleged egregious actions by Balch & Bingham.  Even Crosswhite must be pondering what happened to his previous employer to be caught up in this web of deplorable conduct.

Besides the $360,000 bribery scheme, Balch is under scrutiny for the following:

As the “most powerful CEO in Alabama,” Crosswhite should call his friends at Balch and ask them to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of their firm and hold any spoiled apples inside the firm accountable.

As we have stated since early this year, our hope is that Balch would start by focusing on their commitment to “mutual cooperation and openness and professionalism,” and that they would resolve all matters including those involving the North Birmingham African-American community, Mississippi BP-related subcontracts,  and the Burt Newsome conspiracy case.

If Crosswhite continues the status quo,  then Southern Company must override subsidiary management and force Alabama Power to distance itself from Balch & Bingham and the repugnant scheme to suppress African-Americans and others.

Southern Company is a publicly-traded company and they don’t need Balch & Bingham or economic racism as a national sideshow, especially in this post-Charlottesville era (pictured).

Resolutions truly are only a phone call away.

Alleged Co-Conspirators May Have “Hung Themselves”

The letter to AT&T looks like a deliberate and deceptive tactic to impede justice, to hide evidence, and to protect the alleged co-conspirators.

As the Newsome Conspiracy Case garners heavier analysis by outside groups, the alleged co-conspirators and their lawyers, including some Balch & Bingham partners,  have apparently become unhinged, as the insidious and eye-popping tricks become exposed.

In a five-page letter to Judge Carole Smitherman dated August 8, 2017, Robert M. Ronnlund, an attorney for one of the alleged co-conspirators whines to the Judge about us, a sealed video-deposition, and the negative publicity.

Regarding discovery and evidence, Ronnlund wrote, “I was more than happy to ‘give the Plaintiffs all the rope they needed to hang themselves with.'”

Now with  that discovery and evidence in hand, it looks like the rope has hung Ronnlund and the alleged co-conspirators.

In a letter to AT&T dated January 16, 2016, Ronnlund wrote that “an objection has been filed regarding the deposition subpoena” and added, “absent a valid court order, please do not produce any documentation.”

What was the documentation for?  Phone numbers associated to another co-conspirator, John W. Bullock, who is not even Ronnlund’s client.  And two of the phone numbers, according to the amended complaint, were associated with the (205) 410-1494 burner, cell phone.

Unequivocally, the alleged co-conspirators look like they definitely knew each other and Ronnlund apparently knew this over 18 months ago.

In addition, an “objection” was never filed and the threat to AT&T not to produce any documentation without a “valid court order” was 100% bull.

The letter to AT&T looks like a deliberate and deceptive tactic to impede justice, to hide evidence, and to protect the alleged co-conspirators.

Judge Smitherman should impose severe sanctions, federal authorities should investigate,  and the Alabama Bar Association should conduct a formal inquiry.

No bull.

Southern Company Should Dump Balch & Bingham

With the explosive and deadly events in Charlottesville, hate and racism are vividly alive  in the United States.

Southern Company, the large and innovative utility company based in Atlanta,  should take a strong and unequivocal stand against racism, against unscrupulous behavior, and dump Balch & Bingham as their outside counsel and lobbyists.

On June 23, 2017, the day after corrupt politician Oliver Robinson made a plea agreement in the $360,000 bribery scheme involving Balch & Bingham in which Robinson suppressed and discouraged poor African-Americans in North Birmingham from having their toxic and contaminated property tested, we wrote to Southern Company CEO Thomas A. Fanning, asking him to reach out to Balch directly:

What you have  Mr. Fanning is the power to provide a voice: a voice to those poor African-Americans in North Birmingham, a voice for people like Burt Newsome who were treated with apparent injustice. We want you to take charge and ask you to please call or email M. Stanford Blanton the Managing Partner [at Balch & Bingham]…and ask him to bring an end to this alleged unscrupulous behavior. Let him know  that Southern Company does not want to be associated with this type of behavior at any level, no matter how professional or productive Balch’s lobbyists may be.

The economic racism and environmental injustice that occurred in North Birmingham led the Trump Administration to revoke their consideration of Jeffrey H. Wood, a former partner and lobbyist at Balch & Bingham, for Assistant U.S. Attorney General; Trump simply nominated someone else.

Alabama Power, a Southern Company subsidiary, has relied on Balch for decades, paying them millions in legal and lobbying fees.

Now is the time for Southern Company’s executive leadership and Board of Directors (pictured above) to take the high road and let their customers and the public know they will not stand by idly while Balch & Bingham engages in what appears to be repugnant and unscrupulous behavior to the alleged detriment of African-Americans and others.

There are many other law firms in the Southeast who can match or exceed Balch’s expertise without the embarrassing baggage, without the alleged shenanigans, and without two ongoing federal probes.

Will Carole Smitherman be the next Oliver Robinson?

Why was Balch & Bingham so confident in comments not made under oath or in a deposition that was yet to take place in which Verizon had not even been subpoenaed about?

With former and disgraced Alabama State Representative Oliver Robinson facing prison time for a $360,000 bribery scheme involving the embattled law firm Balch & Bingham, will Judge Carole Smitherman be the next Oliver Robinson?

On August 2, 2017, in a highly questionable, egregious act going against legal common-sense, Smitherman dismissed the amended complaint from June of Burt Newsome, an alleged victim of a conspiracy by Balch and others, without a hearing and without due process in less than 48 hours after Balch had filed the motion to dismiss.  She also concurrently dismissed an alleged co-conspirator from the case a day before a hearing was set on August 3rd to discuss the matter.

Is it of no coincidence that Smitherman has received over $15,000 in campaign contributions from BIZPAC, a political action committee that is funded in part by Balch & Bingham partners?

Now, in a new amended complaint posted this weekend on Alacourt.com, Newsome’s attorney, Charles I. Brooks, General Counsel to the Civil Rights group the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, exposes more of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

He was advised not by the court but in an email from Balch’s attorney that the hearing for August 3rd had been cancelled.

The veteran and lead attorney defending Balch is none other than Schuyler Allen Baker Jr., who has donated thousands of dollars to (you can guess) BIZPAC. He’s the same illustrious attorney that filed the motion in May lying about the CDLU, and who also cited the 1961 Alabama Supreme Court decision, declaring “ruining a rival” was justified interference.

According to the latest amended case, Balch dispatched a letter to Newsome’s attorney the Friday before the questionable Verizon deposition threatening them with the Alabama Litigation Liability Act if they did not dismiss the case, regurgitating the narrative that the phone number connecting the co-conspirators was not a pre-paid cell phone,  not a telemarketer as Balch had said in open court, but now a routing switch.

Why was Balch & Bingham so confident in comments not made under oath or in a deposition that was yet to take place in which Verizon had not even been subpoenaed about?

Like Robinson, Smitherman, a Civil Rights leader who broke down many barriers, appears to be a dupe, a pawn in what looks like a scheme to suppress the truth, the whole-truth, and nothing-but-the truth.

And foolishly, Balch even appears to have misinterpreted the questionable deposition, providing  Smitherman with what looks like spliced and diced half-truths.

The fellow allegedly representing Verizon acknowledged he had not researched if (205) 410-1494 could have been a Verizon pre-paid, burner phone and declared, “This is the first I’m hearing of it.” And then Verizon’s  corporate counsel affirmed saying, “He has no basis to dispute or not dispute.”

On top of that, Brooks provided hard evidence that the Verizon phone number was indeed a burner, pre-paid telephone including Verizon’s letter affirming records were not kept for more than a year (unlike regular cell phones) and that it was  associated with the voter registration of an alleged co-conspirator.

So it was not a slam dunk after all, and Judge Smitherman appears to have dismissed a case with no due process while listening to the oral flatulence from the co-conspirators or their legal counsel.

Will Smitherman allow Balch and others to abuse her credibility as a  respected constitutional law professor like Balch abused Robinson’s credibility and legacy as a UAB basketball star?

Will Smitherman protect her legacy as the first African-American female mayor of Birmingham, who served with distinction on the city council or toss it aside for 30 pieces of campaign silver?

Will Smitherman stand up to the lying sacks of marbles once and for all and treat all parties with fairness and due process regardless of campaign contributions?

Time Smitherman took the reins back.