Balch’s Mess at the U.S. Department of Justice

From protests across the country demanding that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III not be fired to revelations from The Wall Street Journal that Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was “a paid advisory-board member of an invention-promotion company shut down by federal regulators last year as an alleged scam,” controversy has engulfed the U.S. Department of Justice after Jeff Sessions was fired on Wednesday.

But an even bigger mess has rattled the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jeffrey H. Wood, the former Balch & Bingham lobbyist, who we victoriously blocked as a nominee for the Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), was made Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for ENRD on November 1st, a little over a week ago. The appointment did not require Senate approval.

Was this one of the last decisions made by Jeff Sessions?

In June of 2017, because of CDLU’s efforts, the Trump Administration quietly decided to nominate Jeffrey Bossert Clark instead of Wood as Assistant U.S. Attorney General for ENRD.

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.

Why?

Because of Wood’s role in  the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal.

Anyone involved in an alleged conspiracy to suppress African-Americans is unfit to serve in the U.S. Department of Justice. If he refuses to resign, we want his eventual nomination to be blocked,” we wrote to the U.S. Senate  Committee on the Judiciary in May of 2017.

According to lobbying disclosure reports, Wood, lobbying on behalf of Alabama Power, 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 2017  saying, because of his work at Balch & Bingham, Wood would be recused from any “CERCLA matters related to the North Birmingham CERCLA site in Alabama.”

Wood’s fingerprints are all over this debacle.

Balch-made millionaire Joel I. Gilbert, who was convicted on all six criminal charges including bribery and money laundering in regards to the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal, was a colleague of Wood.

As Wood was working out of Balch’s Washington, D.C. office on behalf of Alabama Power while Gilbert was in Birmingham working on behalf of Drummond Coal Company,  Gilbert had conference calls and meetings with Alabama Power, and even exchanged emails with Wood according to trial evidence.

Wood and his defenders, like Gilbert and his pals, try to forget that North Birmingham is 92.5 percent African-American and that the “brilliant” government relations work they were involved in was beyond unethical or immoral; it was criminal.

Wood deserves to be fired immediately.