Will Crosswhite Reform Balch & Bingham?

[This post originally appeared on October 29, 2018. Now that Drummond and Balch & Bingham are in the midst of a $50 million lawsuit that could expose the ugly truth, will Crosswhite lead or not?]

When Mark Crosswhite, the CEO of Alabama Power withdrew from the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) early this past summer, creating headlines, he wrote:

“[W]e have become concerned that membership in BCA has become a liability rather than a benefit….To be candid, BCA has needlessly alienated federal and state officials, failed to communicate with its own members, squandered our collective corporate goodwill, allowed its financial health to decline, and become a divisive force in our State.”

Likewise, people are asking this morning, with a massive civil RICO suit in the works, has Balch & Bingham become a liability rather than a benefit?

What looks like an abuse of their close relationship, Balch appears to have used connections at Alabama Power to target Burt Newsome under color of authority. 

With the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal and Newsome Conspiracy Case, Balch & Bingham appears to have become a divisive and disrespected force across the state; appears to have alienated government officials, businesses, and community advocates; and squandered its once-highly respected reputation in legal circles.

At the end of the BCA fight, Bill Canary, the long-serving CEO at BCA resigned and packed his bags.

Crosswhite had won, and reform, changes came shortly thereafter.  Alabama Power returned to the organization in August and Crosswhite currently serves as Executive Committee Chairman of BCA.

As a former partner at Balch & Bingham, what would Crosswhite have to do?

Most importantly, Crosswhite needs to advocate for the removal of Schuyler Allen Baker, Jr., the long-time attorney defending Balch in the Newsome matter, from having any further role in the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

Baker has failed, and failed miserably.

Baker appears to have turned a simple matter into an embarrassing quagmire allegedly causing a dozen money-making partners to leave the firm and an unknown number of high-paying and respected companies to cut ties with Balch & Bingham’s lobbying division in Washington, D.C.

In 2016, Baker wrote in in his Amended Motion for Summary Judgment that:

“Until Newsome filed this suit, [the alleged mastermind of the conspiracy and Balch partner, Clark A.] Cooper had never met the other Defendants in this matter.”

The narrative that none of the co-conspirators knew each other appears to be a blatant lie.

Baker appears to have squandered the corporate goodwill not only with foolish moves and ego-laced anger, but half-truths.

Before Bill Canary had resigned we wrote:

Canary’s reputation (like Balch’s) looks like it has swiftly crumbled into the sea near Destin, Florida. And fighting the inevitable like Canary’s departure or settling the Newsome Conspiracy Case is a futile game with no strategy.

We hope Mark Crosswhite leads once again and brings this ugliness (and civil RICO suit) to an abrupt end.

Balch & Bingham has done a disservice not only to the men and women of the firm, but their most trusted and closest client, Alabama Power.