“Fall Guy” Follies: Drummond’s “Confused” General Counsel Briefed Since Inception About North Birmingham Scheme

The emails and documents we recently received show unequivocally that Blake Andrews, the “confused” General Counsel of Drummond Company, was briefed regularly about the North Birmingham Scheme.

On February 18, 2015, at the inception of the money laundering entity, Alliance for the Jobs and the Economy (AJE), convicted felon and now ex-Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert reached out to Andrews and his underling, Curt Jones, an Assistant General Counsel at Drummond Coal Company.

AJE was not incorporated until almost two weeks later, on March 3, 2015 in the State of Delaware.

Both men, according to Gilbert’s email, “expressed interest in participating in the planning/strategy session of the establishment” of AJE.

In our story about the over 20 entities that participated in AJE, we posted the body of the email written by former Balch partner Steve McKinney warning Drummond executives and his staff about emails falling into the wrong hands. Blake Andrews and Curt Jones were included in the header.

In the body of the email, McKinney called the operatives “the Drummond/AJE team.”

Interesting choice of words or a Freudian slip of the keyboard?

A day after McKinney warned Andrews and others about the emails, he drafted another email to Blake Andrews discussing:

  • 1.) a potential AJE contractual agreement with Dr. Kenneth A. Mundt of ENVIRON. The goal was to present “truth squad” work that went counter to the arguments laid out by GASP and the EPA.
  • 2.) and asking Andrews if Balch’s AJE effort was or was not “perfectly on track with the company’s interests and concerns.”

As we reported in 2020 before ex-Drummond executive David Roberson’s $75 million civil lawsuit was sealed in its entirety, Drummond’s attorney foolishly argued that lying to and framing Roberson was ” a legal service.”

We wrote at the time:

Drummond’s attorney threw a hand grenade when he testified at the hearing. This is what he foolishly said:

With respect to the argument that Drummond’s general counsel was not giving  legal advice, I think [Roberson’s attorney] just made the argument for me. Their theory is that Drummond’s general counsel formed a legal opinion that this whole plan was illegal and did not tell Mr. Roberson about it, and in fact told him things that would basically make him be the fall guy, I think is their theory. That is — the formation of a legal opinion as to whether something is legal or illegal is the definition of what a lawyer does. So I don’t know that I can state it any better than [Roberson’s attorney] did. That is legal services.

Problem is that Drummond’s General Counsel Blake Andrews allegedly never, ever told Roberson the scheme was illegal.

Roberson’s attorney Burt Newsome rips Drummond’s argument to shreds. From the transcript:

[Drummond’s attorney] did a great job summing up Balch and Drummond’s legal services argument in a nutshell. He just told you because Blake Andrews formed in his head that this lobbying scheme was illegal and decided, I better not pay these invoices to the foundation because I’ll go to jail, then I’m going to — so I’m going to get David Roberson to pay these so he will go to jail, that that was providing a legal service to Mr. Roberson. That is absurd. Blake Andrews making a legal opinion in his head that this is illegal, I better not pay these, I better get somebody else to do it, that’s not giving legal advice to Mr. Roberson. That doesn’t make David Roberson his client. That makes David Roberson him and Balch’s fall guy.

Roberson appears to have been set up as the “Fall Guy” in the North Birmingham Bribery Case.

In court documents, Drummond denied ever having received invoices in Andrews name, an apparent bold-faced lie.

In early 2021, Roberson filed concrete evidence that Drummond Company lied in a court proceeding and that original invoices sent to Drummond from Balch & Bingham were addressed to Blake Andrews, the “confused” General Counsel of Drummond Company.

White lies, damn lies, and fall guys!

Blake Andrews should have been and should be investigated for his participation in AJE and the North Birmingham Bribery Scheme.

Now, in 2023, Andrews should also be probed for his alleged role in which Roberson’s defense attorneys (paid by Drummond) rejected a full-immunity deal for David Roberson back in 2017, allegedly trampling Roberson’s civil rights.

The only “confusion” we see has been the truth.