All posts by admin

AT&T Letter: Perjury or Intentional Obstruction of Justice?

The Newsome Conspiracy Case highlights what appears to be unethical, maybe even criminal behavior.

The letter sent to AT&T in early 2016 appears to have been sent to prevent phone records from being released to Newsome’s legal team.

The claims in the letter justifying the withholding of information are knowingly 100% false: there was no objection filed at the time and no valid court order was needed to release the information.

Perjury? Some think so.

We think it appears to be an intentional obstruction of justice.

Balch & Bingham leaders need to pull their heads out of the sand and clean this horrific mess up.

We learned new information from an anonymous source in the past 24 hours:  The signer of that letter is Robert M. Ronnlund.  We learned his wife, Millicent,  works as an attorney for (drum roll)… Balch & Bingham.

We now believe even more strongly that Balch may have been allegedly directing this conspiracy against Newsome from the get go. As we wrote previously about our initial perspective, we were wrong.

Why in the heck would Ronnlund, who represents alleged co-conspirator Claiborne Seier in the matter, be writing to AT&T about another co-conspirator’s (John W. Bullock) phone numbers?

How would Ronnlund know all the phone numbers associated with the other alleged co-conspirator?

Is Balch in any way funding or paying for Seier’s defense? Bullock’s defense?

With what we learned in the Oliver Robinson affair, we have no idea if the letter was written by a Balch attorney or Ronnlund directly. We only know the alleged mastermind (Clark A. Cooper) was fired on March 3 by Balch.

Interestingly, Ronnlund was the same person pushing for and defending the questionable Verizon deposition on July 31st.

We have repeatedly said that in the Newsome Conspiracy Case, Judge Carole Smitherman, who sealed the case  in its entirety and is  conducting proceedings in secret, looks like she is possibly hiding perjury or criminal acts.

The AT&T letter, now sealed and hidden from public scrutiny,  exemplifies conduct unbecoming of a lawyer who graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama, and demonstrates unequivocally that allegations of perjury or criminal acts are warranted.

Damn Lies, Crimes, and Perjury

Two important questions: Why did Judge Carole Smitherman seal the entire Newsome Conspiracy Case five weeks ago without a hearing? Why are all proceedings now done in secret in a Star Chamber in Birmingham with no public access or public schedule available?

We strongly believe Smitherman may be covering up alleged criminal acts and perjury. She appears to have been duped by Balch & Bingham and the alleged co-conspirators.

Balch stated in court that a single phone number connecting all the Newsome co-conspirators was at first from a telemarketer.

After we publicly ripped their foolishness  (to the delight of the wine drinking, chattering class in Mountain Brook), Balch and others then alleged it was a routing switch.

Anyone can call the phone number connecting the co-conspirators, (205) 410-1494,  the alleged “routing switch,” and you will hear a recording that says that the Verizon wireless phone number “has been changed, disconnected, or is no longer in service.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist in Huntsville to figure out that the “routing switch” narrative appears to be a damn lie.

Now we hope federal investigators and investigative journalists open the pandora box in the coming weeks.

And where should they start?

Since we have no new records, filings, or information available since August 31st,  we can look at a single piece of evidence that shows alleged criminal and truly unsettling conduct associated with the Newsome case: the letter to AT&T from 2016 .

The AT&T letter was drafted by an alleged co-conspirator’s attorney sent to prevent AT&T phone records (for another co-conspirator) from being released to Newsome or anyone else.

The letter affirms that the alleged co-conspirators obviously knew each other. So, we ask again, who perjured whom?

What looks like obstruction of justice, this letter demonstrates what damn lies these folks will say to impede justice and abuse the legal system.

Another Russian-linked Website Scrub

Are federal investigators finally scrutinizing Balch’s client Black Hall Aerospace, Inc. a/k/a AAL USA, Inc., the Russian-linked aerospace company tied  to Soviet immigrant Oleg Sirbu?

In February, when the CDLU met with Sirbu’s attorneys Benjamin Coulter and Victor Hayslip, we were baffled why Sirbu had not gone to criminal investigators at the FBI. Allegedly U.S. management had stolen corporate assets and wrongfully spent corporate resources on personal items, including a home, an airplane, and a coffee bar. That looked like embezzlement to us.

The response had that unusually moment of silence and then a pivot to a discussion about the civil action being a priority.

On or about March 2, 2017, after we had exposed Balch & Bingham’s connection to  Black Hall Aerospace  in a public education campaign, Balch scrubbed their website of all references to their successful lobbying in D.C. of changing Russian sanctions for Black Hall Aerospace. The website scrub not only created a cover-up, it magnified to what lengths Balch would go to sugar-coat the past.

In addition, Balch’s top lobbyist in Washington, William F. Stiers, changed his resume, removing all references to his success in changing Russian sanctions.

As we outlined in our Russian-Linked Scandal page and in our correspondence to Office of the Special Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice,  besides the stealing of assets, Black Hall has had questionable revenue growth while having only one certified mechanic out of 400 alleged employees, going from less than $1 million in revenue with fewer than 20 employees in 2014  to growing to over 400 employees and $50 million in revenue by 2016, according to court filings.

Sirbu was running a website called aviationintelligence.org that contained all the corporate court documents and Russian aviation certifications in his fight against the alleged corporate thieves.

But yesterday, almost a week after the publication of a Real Clear Investigations article on Balch, the site was scrubbed and shut down. (See screenshot above).

Balch Must Dismantle Corrupt Star Chamber

Vowing to make sure all partners and staff “are adhering to the highest standards of legal and ethical compliance,” Balch & Bingham leaders now need to engage in critical and concrete steps to show that their words are not fluff, public relations hot air.

First and foremost, Balch leaders need to dismantle the unethical, corrupt, and embarrassing Star Chamber, a court conducting secret proceedings with no public information or access available in regards to the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

The Star Chamber was created to allegedly cover up what appears to be unethical, possibly criminal acts, including perjury.

It’s a dirty and unethical trick that used Balch’s political connections to Judge Carole Smitherman, a sitting judge who received over $15,000 in contributions from a political action committee funded in part by Balch partners.

As al.com journalist John Archibald noted in a column on Sunday, an indicted  Balch partner used political connections and another dirty and unethical trick in the Robinson Bribery Case:

“A group worried about health consequences in a poor, polluted area made plans to speak to a state regulator that could help speed cleanup in the area, and the regulator leaked her argument straight to a [Balch & Bingham] lawyer who represented polluters in the area. And he prepared them for battle.”

Yesterday, we noted the parallel similarities between the Robinson Bribery Case and Newsome Conspiracy Case. (See image above.) Now, sadly, we can add dirty tricks to the similarities.

Secondly, if Balch & Bingham leaders are serious about adhering to the highest standards, then they must also investigate the alleged perjury in the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

Let’s review the matter:

    • In June,  after Newsome attorneys reviewed phone records, which were held up for months by creative legal maneuvers, they were able to connect all co-conspirators to a single phone number.
    • In July, at an open court hearing of the Newsome Conspiracy Case, Balch lawyers absurdly suggested that the phone number was from a telemarketer.
    • In late July, a filing including a Calera (Alabama) Police Department document, that was not a sworn statement, we began seeing the alleged narrative that the phone number was not a phone number but a “routing switch.”
    • Then a notice of a questionable deposition with a Verizon corporate representative was filed on the afternoon of  Thursday, July 27, 2017 for a deposition occurring in two business days.
    • According to Alacourt.com, no subpoena for Verizon was ever filed with the court. [Alacourt.com  documents are now unavailable due to the Star Chamber.]
    • After the sealed deposition with Verizon took place on Monday July 31st, Balch filed a motion to dismiss Newsome’s  amended complaint calling the phone number allegation a “falsity” and  Judge Carole Smitherman, that same week without a hearing, signed the order.
    • Incredibly as if they knew the fix was in, Balch had 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 phone number,  not a telemarketer as Balch had said in open court, but now a routing switch.
    • Balch appears to have misinterpreted the questionable deposition. The fellow allegedly representing Verizon acknowledged he had not researched if the phone  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.”
    • Newsome’s legal team 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 appears to have been associated with the voter registration of an alleged co-conspirator.
    • Finally, if you call the alleged “routing switch,” you will hear a recording that says that the Verizon phone number “has been changed, disconnected, or is no longer in service.”

We have no idea what new developments, motions, or filings have occurred since the Star Chamber came into play on or about August 31st, but Balch must dismantle the Star Chamber and investigate the alleged perjury.

Balch & Bingham’s reputation is at great risk and if they do not bite their lips and address these issues directly, as one respected legal dinosaur in Birmingham told us, “Balch will not survive.”

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?

[Since no information is available on the Newsome Conspiracy Case since August 31st because Judge Smitherman created a corrupt Star Chamber, we are re-publishing this post from Monday, August 14, 2017. The post is even more relevant today.]

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.

More Indictments? Balch leaders and FBI need to Investigate

The parallel similarities between the Robinson Bribery Case and Newsome Conspiracy Case are striking:  the use (or abuse) of an African-American elected official, money funneled through a third party entity, contributions made, etc.

Although we are pleased that in a statement the leadership at Balch & Bingham vows to make sure partners are “adhering to the highest standards of legal and ethical compliance” throughout the firm, we feel the leaders also need to look at other unsavory conduct  from the recent past unbecoming of a 95 year-old law firm.

Since early this year, we have asked Balch to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the firm and get rid of any bad apples. Instead, for over a month now, we have an active Star Chamber, a court holding secret proceedings with no public access or information, and possibly hiding unscrupulous and criminal conduct including perjury, in downtown Birmingham.

Why? Because of our exposure of the Newsome Conspiracy Case and powerful, maybe corrupt, political connections.

The Newsome Conspiracy Case exposed the most egregious conduct we have seen in which a Balch partner, Clark A. Cooper, and others were allegedly involved in a horrific conspiracy against Burt Newsome, a small-town attorney and father of four young children who was allegedly wrongly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed.

Because of our efforts, Cooper (pictured above, upper left) was allegedly abruptly fired by Balch on March 3.

The judge hearing the Newsome case  and who ordered the Star Chamber, without a hearing or no notice, is elected Judge Carole Smitherman (pictured above, bottom right). She sealed the public court documents on or about August 31st going back to the very inception of the case in 2015.

Smitherman received over $15,000 from BIZPAC,  a  PAC funded in part by Balch partners.  Incredibly, Schuyler Allen Baker, Jr., Balch’s lead attorney on the Newsome Conspiracy Case,  donated thousands of dollars to BIZPAC.

Balch leaders also say in their statement  that they “are continuing to cooperate fully with government authorities.”

We ask them, we ask FBI Special Agent Angel Castillo, and U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town to investigate the Newsome matter;  Balch’s relationship with BIZPAC and Judge Carole Smitherman; and bring this embarrassing, corrupt Star Chamber to an end.

CDLU calls on Trump to Fire Former Balch Lobbyist

Individuals tied to environmental racism should have no sanctuary in the U.S. Department of Justice or the Executive Branch.

With the federal indictment yesterday of two partners of Balch & Bingham over the Robinson Bribery Scheme,  we called on the Trump Administration today to fire Jeffrey H. Wood, Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, for his role in the alleged conspiracy to suppress African-Americans in Alabama from testing their toxic and contaminated properties under the CERCLA/Super Fund Act.

Before joining the Trump Administration, Woods was a lobbyist at Balch & Bingham, working for the Environmental and Natural Resources practice out of their Washington, D.C. offices.

Steven McKinney, head of the Environmental and Natural Resources practice at Balch was indicted yesterday along with Joel Gilbert, another Balch partner, who allegedly funneled $360,000 in bribes to a corrupt Alabama state politician who in turn discouraged African-Americans from getting their toxic property tested.

We applaud U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town for seeking justice for the poor African-Americans of North Birmingham who were the real victims in this bribery scheme.

Now is the time for the Trump Administration to dismiss Wood who as a Balch & Bingham lobbyist worked closely with these two indicted partners and had his fingerprints on this debacle.

Individuals tied to environmental racism should have no sanctuary in the U.S. Department of Justice or the Executive Branch.

According to lobbying disclosure reports, Woods met on Capitol Hill to discuss CERCLA/Superfund laws and policies in the second quarter and third quarters of 2016.  In addition, the CDLU reviewed a U.S. Department of Justice memo from February saying, because of his work at Balch, Wood would be recused from any “CERCLA matters related to the North Birmingham CERCLA site in Alabama.”

In June, because of our efforts, the Trump Administration quietly decided to nominate Jeffrey Bossert Clark instead of Wood as Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. This happened only days after the CDLU sent dispatches to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary calling on them to block the Wood nomination.

Will Balch & Bingham Partner Turn Federal Witness?

After the federal indictments were handed down, Balch & Bingham partners Joel Gilbert and Steven McKinney were put on an indefinite leave of absence and their Balch.com web pages were taken down.

Balch released this statement to al.com:

“Today we learned of the federal grand jury action regarding Joel Gilbert and Steve McKinney. While we note that Mr. Gilbert has denied the charges and vowed to vigorously defend himself, and expect Mr. McKinney to do the same, the charges allege actions that, if proven to be true, are contrary to the ethical values that guide our firm’s attorneys and staff. We take these issues very seriously. We are continuing to cooperate fully with government authorities because, in part, we believe strongly that our firm is not implicated more broadly in the alleged conduct. Both Mr. Gilbert and Mr. McKinney are on an indefinite leave of absence. We will continue to ensure that all of the firm attorneys and staff, across our footprint, fully understand and are adhering to the highest standards of legal and ethical compliance.”

Looks likes Balch has seen the writing on the wall and appears to have thrown the indicted partners under the bus.

We note the silence from Steve McKinney (Pictured). Will McKinney turn federal witness? Will he, too, start singing like a canary?

On his web page at Balch (since taken down), McKinney wrote, “I ‘get the call’ when an environmental problem has developed and legal or strategic help is needed fast.”

So who called McKinney when Drummond needed help? Who thought of the idea about suppressing the African-Americans in North Birmingham? Who did he report to about the Robinson Bribery scheme? Did any other partners or Balch lobbyists know about this scheme?

On that same now defunct web page, McKinney noted, “I come from a blue-collar home where education and a serious work ethic came in daily doses.”

Maybe its time to use blue-collar smarts to shorten one’s possible prison sentence, a  potential death sentence.

At 62 years of age, even a 15 year federal prison term would mean McKinney could die in prison. Now that’s a bitter dose of reality.

Do Balch’s “Routine Legal Services” include Bribes and Economic Racism?

To defend the indefensible by calling the overt suppression of African-Americans “routine legal services” is economic racism.

More indictments are expected today from the U.S. Attorney’s  Office in Birmingham in the Robinson Bribery Case and a partner (or more according to our sources) at Balch & Bingham will be indicted.

[Update: As our sources correctly told us, two Balch partners were indicted: Joel Gilbert and Steven McKinney. Full coverage here.]

Calling his client’s actions “routine legal services,” Jack Sharman, a partner at Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC and attorney for Balch partner Joel Gilbert tried to get in front of the story when his spin doctor released a statement last night: 

“Joel Gilbert is innocent of these charges. He did not bribe anyone. Everything he did while representing that client was lawful and ethical. He is a longtime partner at a leading law firm. A lawyer with a reputation for honesty and integrity, he did what is routine for good counselors to do for corporate and individual clients every day–he engaged a consultant through a written contract to perform real and lawful services.”

Sorry Jack! Funneling $360,000 to a bank account to an entity set up in Delaware to allegedly send lucrative bribes to a corrupt Alabama politician does not appear to be ethical or legal.

Sorry Jack! Gilbert is part of  “leading law firm” Balch & Bingham currently under scrutiny in two federal probes. Since you are licensed in Mississippi, maybe you can help Balch with their troubles there.

A written contract to do what, Jack? Suppress poor African-Americans from getting their toxic and contaminated property tested?

Sorry Jack! But the “real and lawful services” of economic and  environmental racism are repugnant, disgusting, and an aberration of what we hold dear.

As the Balch partner gears up to fight this damaging indictment with the a professional public relations flack instead of contrition, we hope the U.S. Attorney will look at Balch & Bingham’s conduct in the  Newsome Conspiracy Case, whose secret and unknown proceedings are happening in a Star Chamber, set up by a questionable judge who took over $15,000 in “contributions” from a  political action committee funded in part by Balch partners.

On top of that, we hope their largest client,  Southern Company and their subsidiaries, will dump Balch & Bingham. To defend the indefensible by calling the overt suppression of African-Americans “routine legal services” is economic racism.

We wonder if Joel Gilbert or anyone at Balch has ever driven through the North Birmingham CERLA/Superfund area.  We have.  (Picture above).

Joel Gilbert  has the education, the skills, the experience, the conscience to have known better.  He should drive up to 35th Avenue and see what his “real and lawful services” did to the poor African-Americans in that community.

Star Chamber Blues

Is Balch & Bingham singing the blues? Are the Smithermans, too? Did they all make an enormous mistake?

Since the end of August, bowing to Balch’s wishes, Judge Carole Smitherman created a Star Chamber without a hearing, without notice to hold secret proceedings in the Burt Newsome Conspiracy Case. She sealed the public court documents going back to the very inception of the case (2015) and at the same time, created an enormous black-eye on the judicial branch in Alabama.

Smitherman, who received over $15,000 from BIZPAC,  a  PAC funded in part by Balch partners, appears to have shown the legal world what campaign contributions can buy in Alabama. Her husband Rodger is an Alabama State Senator who also received generous contributions from BIZPAC.

To add to this , Schuyler Allen Baker, Jr., Balch’s lead attorney on the Newsome Conspiracy Case,  donated thousands of dollars to BIZPAC.

Money in; money out. The Star Chamber appears to be a corrupt institution whose only purpose is to protect Balch and the co-conspirators from any public embarrassment.

Even though they foolishly hoped to end the publicity surrounding the case, the Star Chamber has provoked even more awareness, more scrutiny of the Newsome Conspiracy Case,  Balch,  and the shenanigans surrounding the case.

One of our most viral Facebook posts ever is about the Star Chamber, the Burt Newsome Conspiracy Case, and the involvement of U.S. Senator Luther Strange. As of press time, about 50,000 individuals in Alabama have viewed the post, shared the post over 700 times, and posted 300 plus comments.

The Star Chamber proceedings may be secret, but its existence is not.

And that alone is creating even deeper problems for Balch, the alleged co-conspirators in the Newsome case, and the Smithermans.

Just ask U.S. Senator Strange.

Will Prosecutors Now Take a Closer Look at Balch & Bingham?

The Alabama Political Reporter wrote about our site yesterday morning, driving traffic to our site up at least 250%.  Besides law firms, we received identifiable traffic from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Alabama State Legislature, and several law enforcement agencies.

Alabama Political Reporter wrote:

[BanBalch.com] seems “to know much about Balch & Bingham’s internal activities. Someone’s spent a ton of money, to compile this information,” said a former federal investigator who asked not to be identified. “They have a specific goal… by pushing this into the public domain, they are daring prosecutors to take a closer look at Balch & Bingham. Whoever is behind this, they know more than what we’ve seen publicly.”

The CDLU is behind this site. We are a national public charity that has spurred three U.S. Congressional hearings, and numerous state and local investigations. Since 2001, we have worked closely with federal and local law enforcement to bring an end to unsavory, unconscionable, and criminal conduct.

Even after our fierce criticism, the CDLU has collaborated with some of our former adversaries to bring about robust and needed changes.

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.

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.

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.

From a previous BanBalch.com post:

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.