Ex-Balch & Bingham partner Jeffrey H. Wood, one of President Donald J. Trump’s first nominees to the U.S. Department of Justice after he was inaugurated as President, appears to have been shown the door by U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr, according to our sources.
Only days after the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal broke headlines, we, the CDLU, successfully blocked Wood’s nomination in May of 2017 by reaching out to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. We wrote to the committee at the time:
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.
Weeks later, President Trump reversed himself and nominated someone else to the position of Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) in June of 2017. Wood served as the “acting” stand-in until the nomination was approved by the U.S. Senate and his replacement took office on November 1, 2018.
A long-time crony of the Balch & Bingham/Jeff Sessions/Alabama Power revolving door, Wood was appointed on November 1, 2018 as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for ENRD. The appointment did not require Senate approval and appears to have been one of Jeff Sessions’ last appointments before Sessions was fired by the President.
Wood’s fingerprints were all over the North Birmingham debacle, and two scathing national investigative reports by The Root, an African-American online publication, didn’t help Wood.
In addition, Balch-made millionaire Joel I. Gilbert, who was convicted on six criminal charges last summer in regards to North Birmingham, was an esteemed 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 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.
And so where has Wood landed? At Baker Botts, which represents Alabama Power’s parent company, Southern Company.
After the stunning rebuke by Trump, the crony position of “Principal Deputy,” like the environmental racism in North Birmingham, is something no longer to remember.
On the Baker Botts website, Wood’s profile states:
Prior to joining Baker Botts, Mr. Wood served as the Acting Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) from January 20, 2017 until October 31, 2018.
And who is the biggest loser?
Balch & Bingham, which now has lost its most trusted crony in the Trump Administration, and appears to be side-lined by its once biggest client: Southern Company.
Balch’s third-party risk has come home to roost.