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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Donald Trump likely is wrong about dark motives behind 2016 election, but many everyday Americans know that some U.S. systems are, in fact, "rigged"

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
(From businessinsider.com)
Lost amid discussion about Donald Trump's failure at last night's presidential debate to promise he would accept 2016 election results is this: Trump, though he surely did not realize it, actually had a point.

Trump's statement that he would keep us in "suspense" on the election-results issue caused many pundits' heads to spin, but it should not have been a surprise. It grew from Trump's pre-debate claims that the race is "rigged" in Hillary Clinton's favor.

The Trump claim is nonsensical on at least two levels; (1) We've seen zero evidence that this particular election is rigged; (2) When events are rigged in the United States, they almost never harm rich, white, conservative guys like Trump; they tend to be the riggers, not the riggees.

Despite that, Trump has provided a public service, in a roundabout way, by raising the "r word." That's because parts of American officialdom are rigged, especially in our so-called justice system. My wife, Carol, and I have seen it firsthand. So have many of the people I've reported about on this blog -- women like Sherry Rollins, Linda Upton, and Bonnie Cahalane in divorce cases; a man like Dr. Mark Hayden in a business/estate case; a man like VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor in a string of gaming-related cases; even a former governor, Don Siegelman of Alabama, in perhaps the most grotesque political prosecution in American history.

(Speaking of Siegelman, do you think he believes American elections can be stolen -- in other words, rigged -- after votes for him disappeared overnight in the 2002 race against Bob Riley? What about Sonny Hornsby, the Alabama chief justice candidate in 1994 who perhaps was the first victim of an election that was manipulated by Karl Rove? What about Al Gore supporters in 2000 and John Kerry supporters in 2004, who likely saw results in single states -- Florida and Ohio, respectively -- lead to the calamitous George W. Bush presidency? Bottom line: Donald Trump almost certainly has no grounds to believe the 2016 election is rigged against him -- his own missteps have been plenty to make him a loser -- but American election results should not be seen as sacrosanct; they can be subject to tampering.)

What about those instances when a rigged system has worked against Carol and me? I could write a multi-volume book on that, but let's focus on one element, of one case, in our legal odyssey.

In a letter dated October 31, 2013, eight days after I was arrested for writing this blog and thrown in the Shelby County Jail, Birmingham attorney David Gespass revealed stunning information. GOP political operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke had -- contrary to law -- asked for the case file to be sealed. That meant Carol and I largely were in the dark about a case that caused Alabama deputies to barge into our home and essentially kidnap me -- I use that term because the cops showed no warrant, did not mention a warrant, and did not even state their purpose for being on our property before beating me up and dousing me with pepper spray.

Gespass -- who visited me twice in jail, although he never offered any strategies for addressing the injustice I had experienced -- apparently managed to review the file. (I assume by contacting Rob Riley or his lawyers, members of Riley's firm.) Consider just one sentence from the third paragraph of Gespass' letter: (The full letter is embedded at the end of this post.)

First of all, both the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction (the latter is now in effect, but both say the same things) appear to have been issued before service was effected. . . . 

Let's briefly deal with two preliminary matters before addressing our main point:

(1) More than 200 years of First Amendment law hold that both a TRO and preliminary injunction are unlawful in a case of alleged defamation;

(2) A TRO lawfully can be issued prior to notice or service to the defendant. But that simply cannot happen with a preliminary injunction, in any kind of legal case. In fact, Alabama law holds that a preliminary injunction cannot be considered, much less issued, if the opposing party has had no opportunity to submit evidence, call witnesses -- all the elements we know as due process in the United States. (See Southern Homes v. Bermuda Lakes.)

Now, back to our main point, and the mind-blowing words from Gespass' letter. According to Gespass, a preliminary injunction had been issued against Carol and me BEFORE SERVICE WAS EFFECTED.

David Gespass
Those aren't my claims; those are from an attorney -- one I do not like, and for whom, I have zero respect -- based on his review of the court's own hidden files. Gespass' words show that the court took action against Carol and me when we had not been served -- and without service, the court had no authority over us.

A legal case can't get much more "rigged" than that. It was decided in favor of one party before the other party even was given notice of the lawsuit, before the case had even started.

And get this: David Gespass, to my knowledge, has not done or said one thing to expose such an outrage -- even though Gespass has a duty under the ethical guidelines of his profession to report wrongdoing by his fellow members of the bar. Like most lawyers, it appears, Gespass is more interested in covering up injustice than exposing it.

As for Donald Trump, he seriously thinks he knows what it's like to face a system that is rigged against you? Carol and I really know what that's like -- and so do many of the people I've written about on this blog.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Missouri Democrat Jason Kander has violated multiple laws while taking lead over Roy Blunt in key race to control U.S. Senate, newly released documents show

Jason Kander
(From pitch.com)
A candidate in one of the nation's most-watched 2016 U.S. Senate races engaged in fund-raising fraud, theft by deceit of more than $2 million, and other campaign violations, according to documents that an anonymous citizens' group has compiled.

Democrat Jason Kander is on the verge of what one newspaper calls an "astonishing upset" of Republican incumbent Roy Blunt in the race for a U.S. Senate seat from Missouri. The outcome of the race could help decide which party controls the Senate, beginning in January 2017.

A 127-page document called The Kander Memo, dated September 20 and distributed by a group of Missouri citizens to at least seven government oversight bodies, provides extensive evidence that Kander and his wife, Diana Kagan Kander, have violated multiple federal and state criminal laws. (The full Kander Memo is embedded at the end of this post.)

Less than one week ago, Kansas City Star columnist Steve Kraske, wrote that Kander stood "on the brink of an astonishing upset" of Blunt, who has held the Senate seat for six years and represented Missouri's 7th Congressional District for 14 years prior to that. Nate Silver, of fivethirtyeight.com, now projects Kander to win the race, with an almost 60 percent likelihood of victory.

Andrew Kreig, writing at the Justice-Integrity Project, puts the allegations against the Kanders into perspective:

A Kander victory in the Missouri Senate race over incumbent first-term Republican Sen. Roy Blunt has the potential to help deliver Senate control to Democrats, who now trail Republicans 46-54 (counting independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont in support of the Democratic caucus.

Therefore, the many serious new allegations against Kander and his wife . . . have both state and national importance.

Kreig notes that authors of The Kander Memo have "called on authorities and lawyers nationwide to investigate lawbreaking — and file class-action lawsuits to reimburse alleged fraud victims in every state from the actions described in the documents." Kreig sought comment from Jason and Diana Kander, and his campaign officials, but they did not respond to queries.

How serious could The Kander Memo prove to be? It raises questions about the ethical underpinnings of a campaign in perhaps the nation's most important Congressional race. The heavily sourced memo, which includes an appendix of more than 30 pages, focuses on two primary fund-raising efforts that it calls "ostensibly criminal schemes":

Fraud and The New York Times Bestseller List

Beginning in spring 2014, evidence shows the Kanders operated an Internet "crowdfunding" effort to raise online charitable donations. But the memo alleges the Kanders used the money, more than $31,000, to buy new-author Diana Kander's way onto The New York Times bestseller list. In fact, amazon.com promotes Ms. Kander's book, All In Startup: Launching a New Idea When Everything Is On the Line, as part of the prestigious New York Times lists, and the book is promoted as such at the author's Web site, dianakander.com.

How did this benefit the Kanders and Jason Kander's U.S. Senate campaign. From The Kander Memo:

The success of the Kander scheme has: (1) Provided the Kanders with a ruse to represent to the American public and Missouri voters that Diana Kander is "a New York Times Bestselling Author," when the truth is the Kanders used a deceptive scheme to raise money from the public in order to help Diana Kander buy her way onto those prestigious bestseller lists; (2) Empowered Diana Kander to break into the lucrative U.S. "Public-Speakers Circuit" so she can now pocket substantial speaker fees as a purported "New York Times Bestselling Author"; and (3) Enabled the Kanders to use the public contributions they collected from their Internet "crowdfunding" campaign in order to make the Kanders look . . .  more prestigious and more accomplished, and to help Jason Kander win election to the United States Senate. 

The plan, according to The Kander Memo, is built on inside knowledge about the publishing industry:

In 2014, when the Kanders embarked on this scheme, they calculated that if the wife of a U.S. Senate candidate was a "New York Times Bestselling Author," then this prestige could boost her husband's political campaign and help him win a U.S. Senate seat. It is a "dirty little secret" in the U.S. book-publishing industry that a new author can buy his or her way onto America's most prestigious bestseller lists. It is a scheme that costs between $150,000 and $300,000, depending on certain circumstances. The money is used to buy the author's new book in strategic, large-bulk units -- bulk purchases timed shortly after the new book is officially released.

Some people think if you spend your own money to buy your way onto a bestseller list, then it is not illegal. That's incorrect, but it's beside the point. By seeking to fund their scheme by soliciting online public donations via their "crowdsourcing" campaign, the Kanders scheme of 2014 clearly crosses the criminal line -- in fact, several criminal lines.

According to The Kander Memo, the book effort likely violated solicitation-registration and felony anti-fraud statutes in every U.S. jurisdiction -- federal and state.  It also likely violated statutes in all 50 states that make it a crime to commit, or attempt to commit, theft by deceit. From the memo:

[This] is not only an audacious and shameless scheme, it is a patently criminal scheme . . . a "50-state crime spree."

Raise Your Hands For Kids? 

Since fall 2014, according to the memo, Jason Kander has controlled a Missouri nonprofit corporation called "Raise Your Hands for Kids" (RYH4K). Kander and close accomplices directed this "kids" organization to serve as an advocacy group to promote a ballot initiative in Missouri also called Raise Your Hands for Kids. Kander and Co. collected more than $5 million in corporate and individual contributions -- including more than $2 million from individual Missourians.

What does this mean? The memo explains:

Because RYH4K is, in fact, a "candidate controlled" ballot measure committee (CCBMC) . . . , this allowed U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander, and accomplices, to treat [RYH4K] as candidate Kander's $5-million political "slush fund," to use as Kander deems best to further his political candidacy and personal ambition . . . .  

This touches on issues that have concerned election experts for years. From The Kander Memo:

By controlling RYH4K, candidate Kander has contrived a scheme to solicit and collect corporate and individual donations . . . for a Missouri "public service" organization. Kander then converts those charitable donations into money used to help him win a U.S. Senate election -- in essence, transforming those charitable . . . donations into political donations. . . . This confirms the worst fears of several nonprofit experts who have, for two decades now, warned that political candidates have increasingly used, abused, and exploited nonprofit and charitable organizations for their own personal and political benefits.

What is the potential fallout from this? According to the memo, Kander's actions violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, 52 U.S. Code 30101 But the plot takes even more twists and turns. Authors of The Kander Memo allege that the candidate's associates are funneling donations from RYH4K into another nonprofit called "Alliance for Childhood Education" (ACE), which allegedly is controlled by a Kander ally in Johnson City, Kansas. It appears that RYH4K essentially has become a fund-raising arm of ACE.

Diana Kander
(From bizjournals.com)
That could help turn political affiliation on its head. In this case, it appears that a Democrat is duping Republican donors. But the reverse could be true in other cases. From the memo:

Imagine all those Republicans in Missouri who donated their charitable dollars to RYH4K, only to later find out that their donations were transmorgrified into support for candidate Jason Kander's political campaign and efforts to defeat the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.  

The Kander-Blunt race figures to remain in the spotlight right up until election day. But The Kander Memo suggests a darker story, maybe a more important story, is running beneath the surface.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

President of Alabama GOP women's group strongly supports Trump, proving that conservative rhetoric about "family values" has been a hoax all along

Donald Trump
(From alreporter.com)
Count me among the liberals who long have suspected the whole "family values" plank of the Republican platform was a fraud, one designed to con church-goers into voting for a party whose policies consistently cause them to lose economic ground.

Now, the head of a GOP women's group in Alabama has helped prove that our suspicions were correct. Frances Taylor, president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women (AFRW) explains in an op-ed piece "Why I Strongly Support Trump." It's possible Trump's circus-act of a campaign will kill, once and for all, the whole "family values" canard. If that happens, he will have done us all a favor.

Without getting too harsh on Ms. Taylor, her column is pure claptrap. It's a regurgitation of the usual right-wing talking points on jobs, ISIS, border security, Obamacare, and regulation. Then it dives into a pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible statements and actions that have been attributed to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in recent days. These include, of course, his recorded comments about trying to f--k a married a woman and grabbing women by the p---y. Writes Taylor:

Do we like the words that he used in the recording? No. Plain and simple, no. Do we believe in today’s society and today’s culture that the words are shocking? No. Does anyone expect us to be apoplectic over a braggadocios conversation among two men who are private citizens more than ten years ago? No.

He apologized – we accept the imperfections of others, we find forgiveness, we look at the context of the conversation and can move on. Yes, other questions linger. Why isn’t there fury at the pay for play scheme she had going as Secretary of State with the Clinton Foundation? Why isn’t there fury at the gifts from countries who suppress women’s rights and promote terrorism? Why wasn’t there this level of fury when the Democrat nominee finally – and I do mean finally – apologized for using a private server that put our national security at risk and put people in harm’s way?

You can see where this is going. It's called "When you can't defend your guy, blame the other guy (or gal)." It's also called "your guy must be 'forgiven,' no matter how grotesque his sins, while the other guy (or gal) must never be forgiven, even if it isn't clear she's done anything wrong."

How nutty is it? Johnny Norris, a Birmingham attorney and writer of the Blue Southerner blog, responded with a piece titled "Women Voting for Trump Is Like Jews Voting for Hitler." Writes Norris:

A major party presidential candidate bragging about using his authority and his fame to get away with criminal sexual assaults on women is beyond shocking. It is unprecedented. It is outrageous. And it is a sickening affront to humanity in general and the victimized women in particular.

Shame on you, Frances Taylor. Your desire to put a sexual predator in the White House makes you a traitor to your gender. Your position bears some similarity to that of a German Jew who had read Mein Kampf voting for Hitler in 1933. The difference is that Hitler promised in his terrible book to exterminate the Jewish people, and Trump just wants to grab all the pussies he can get away with.

Taylor's words become even more disturbing when you pay a visit to the AFRW Web site. If you click on the "About AFRW" section, you will find this:

The Alabama Federation of Republican Women is a partner with all Americans who believe in family values, individual initiative, limited government, low taxes, free enterprise, fiscal responsibility, and honest and accountable government. Our goal is to foster the principles of America’s founding fathers and to elect Republicans that share our values and goals.

Did I see "family values" listed as the No. 1 principle GOP women hold dear? Did I see that the AFRW is committed to electing Republicans who share such "values"?

Frances Taylor
(From afrw.org)
Are the GOP women unaware that Trump is twice divorced and working on wife No. 3, and he has bragged on an open mic about trying to cheat on her? This is the man with the kind of "family values" they can support? Surely, you can't be serious. (And yes, I need to stop calling you Shirley.)

If you click on the "Why I'm a Republican" link at the AFRW site, you will find President Taylor's welcoming message, which states in part:
We are a group of women over 1,500 strong who believe in the principles of smaller government, lower taxes and the exercise of our God-given rights to freedom and liberty.

How are women supposed to exercise their God-given right to freedom and liberty when men like Donald Trump are holding them back by shoving tongues down their throats, grabbing their butts, groping their breasts, and grabbing their p-----s? Are Republican women driven by the desires of the "Fondling Fathers," or the principles of the Founding Fathers?

Frances Taylor doesn't look like a ding-a-ling, so we can only assume she knows her little group is about electing Republicans, no matter how vile and vulgar they may be. She seems to be admitting that whole "family values" spin game means no more to her than it does to us.

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, advisor and mistress to Gov. Robert Bentley, reportedly helped plant false information designed to smear former ALEA chief

Gov. Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason
(From nytimes.com)
(Updated at 9:57 a.m. on 10/18/16, to include 61-page portion of report regarding allegations against former ALEA chief Spencer Collier.)

The Robert Bentley administration has released a second document dump to a legislative committee overseeing possible impeachment proceedings -- and the material includes false information about alleged efforts to delete or alter visitor log-in sheets at the Governor's mansion, according to a new post from Alabama Political Reporter (APR).

At the heart of the scheme, according to APR, is Bentley's advisor and mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who announced her resignation in late March, but reportedly remains very much a part of the governor's inner circle. Mason's plan was designed to smear former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) chief Spencer Collier, who has sued Bentley, Mason and others over his termination earlier this year.

How did the latest Bentley/Mason scam take shape? Reports APR's Bill Britt:

The latest round of accusations shows Collier supposedly asking Bentley’s then-body-man Ray Lewis to delete or alter log-in sheets at the Governor’s mansion. Sign-in/sign-out logs are kept at the Governor’s mansion, as well as at the Blount Estate and beach property, as one of the security protocol’s to ensure the Governor’s safety.

Out of over 10,000 pages Bentley’s office say were turned over to the committee, at least 61 pages were secreted away in a scheme staffer’s link to the Governor’s alleged mistress, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

The 61-page portion of the report can be viewed at the end of this post. It originally was published at WAAY TV.

Dianne Bentley, who divorced the governor roughly one year ago, raised concerns about visitor logs, not Collier, according to APR sources:

According to a former law enforcement agent, the questions about sign-in logs arose from Mrs. Bentley’s suspicions that her husband of 50 years was continuing a romantic relation with the married Mason, even after he had assured her it was over.

“In late 2014, Bentley convinced his wife he was no longer involved romantically with Mrs. Mason,” said the former trooper, “but she checked the records and had him dead to rights.”

According to these sources, Mrs. Bentley confided to Lewis that she had concerns about logs being altered or destroyed, in an attempt to cover the Governor’s sordid liaison with Mason. Lewis, out of his concern for Mrs. Bentley, inquired about the situation and found that inquiries about the logs were related to ALEA’s paperless security technology initiative and nothing more.

How ugly could all of this get? The answer appears to be: "Pretty darned ugly." Writes Britt:

When confronted about the sign-in logs, Bentley became furious and demanded the security protocol be stopped immediately. However, it was continued under Collier’s term despite Bentley’s order.

Current and former ALEA staff see this latest “data dump” as a continuation of the previous smears by Bentley and Mason.

One current Bentley staffer, speaking anonymously (for fear of retaliation) said, “Rebekah is vindictive and petty, but the Governor lets her do as she pleases and we have to fall in line or be fired,” adding, “I need this job, but I am terrified of what comes next.”

What comes next may be the result of a special grand jury impaneled in Montgomery County.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Russell Byrne, IT exec at Bromberg's, is married to RealtySouth agent, but still was drawn to notorious Web site

Russell and Stephanie Byrne
(From facebook.com
(In the previous installment in our Ashley Madison series, about Birmingham insurance executive Scott Sink, I inadvertently deleted two comments from Anonymous @5:16. I found the deleted comments and have replaced them at the bottom of the comment list on the post. @5:16 identified herself as a female commenter, and that is all I know about her, but her comments were insightful, and I wanted to make sure they were published if I could correct my mistake. In fact, @5:16 raised a number of points I would like to talk with her about. If @5:16 sees this message and feels comfortable doing so, please call me at 205-381-5673. I promise to protect your confidentiality; in fact, you don't even have to give me your name if you don't want to. Thanks, and I apologize to all readers for the mistake.)

The vice president for information systems at perhaps Alabama's best-known jewelry and giftware store is among paying customers at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affair Web site, records show.

Russell Byrne, a high-ranking executive at Bromberg's, is part of the family that has owned and operated the high-end jeweler since 1836. Byrne is the grandson of the late Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hurter Bromberg, of Birmingham.

Byrne's wife, Stephanie Hembree Byrne, is a graduate of the University of Alabama (as is her husband), where she had interests in television production, theater, and the UA Young Entrepreneurial Society. She now works as an agent at RealtySouth.

Based on Stephanie Hembree Byrne's Facebook page, the couple appears to have two children, and they live on Dexter Avenue in Mountain Brook, in a home valued at more than $400,000. Russell Byrne also has a Facebook page, and he appears to be heavily into outdoor activities.

Thomas Russell Byrne (his full name) appears to have a lot going for him. In fact, he was born with a significant leg up on most members of society. But he still found the need to fool around on Ashley Madison.

We don't know why because Mr. Byrne has failed to respond to our queries.


(1) Edgar C. Gentle III -- attorney at Gentle Turner Sexton and Harbison, Birmingham, AL (3/8/16)

(2) Stewart Springer -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL. (3/9/16)

(3) Richard W. "Dick" Bell -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL (3/14/16)

(4) Robert M.N. Palmer -- attorney and bar association president in Springfield, MO (3/15/16)

(5) Thomas Plouff -- attorney, who is licensed in Alabama and has a practice in Chicago (3/17/16)

(9) Randy Bates -- executive VP and member of board of directors, Golden Flake (10/5/16)

(10) Reid Carpenter -- attorney, Lightfoot Franklin White, Birmingham (10/6/16)

(11) Scott Sink -- exec. VP, McGriff Seibels Williams, Birmingham (10/11/16)

What did required counseling and hospital tests show about Missouri deputy who brutalized my wife and broke her arm during unlawful eviction in Sept. 2015?

Missouri Sheriff Jim Arnott
The Missouri sheriff's deputy who brutalized my wife, Carol, and broke her arm during an unlawful eviction roughly one year ago (on September 9, 2015), was required to engage in counseling and visit a hospital for tests. Did such counseling and tests actually take place, and what did they reveal? Did they show that the deputy suffered any injuries, given that Sheriff Jim Arnott was on the scene and caused Carol to be arrested and imprisoned after pointing at her and stating, "She assaulted a police officer"?

Those are two of many questions raised by the Greene County Sheriff's Office Policy and Procedure Manual, which spells out a lengthy and detailed set of steps that must be completed to determine if a deputy involved in a "critical incident" acted reasonably and is fit to return to duty.

The manual calls for parallel criminal and administrative investigations to be conducted of any "critical incident" (use of force, involving any sheriff's department employee, resulting in serious bodily injury or death to any person.) Policy calls for a thorough examination of an involved officer's physical and emotional status. Consider the following required step (see page 113 of manual):

Involved Deputy will remain close to the scene with their Support Deputy until the Administrative Investigator directs them to the hospital for the required exams.

This also is from page 113:

Involved Deputies shall receive a mandated counseling from a GCSO appointed mental health professional. Additional counseling may be provided by the Sheriff or his designee.

According to the manual, any critical incident should produce a significant paper trail. Here are some of the required steps in the administrative process (see pages 110-119 of manual):

* Involved Deputies shall provide a brief Public Safety statement about the actions of the suspect(s) that shall aid investigators in the criminal prosecution of suspect(s);

* Involved Deputies will write an incident report to aid investigators in the criminal prosecution of the suspect(s). This incident report will be completed at a time mandated by the Involved Deputy’s Division Command, usually after two full sleep cycles;

* Involved Deputies will prepare a Subject Resistance and Control Report;

* Involved Deputies will be required to give a statement to the Administrative Investigator;

* Involved Deputies will submit to any/or all of the following: blood, urine, breath or other chemical test as requested by the Administrative Investigator;

* Involved Deputies shall submit to a polygraph examination if requested by the Administrative Investigator;

* Prior to returning to duty the Involved Deputy will be required to take a Fit for Duty Exam at the expense of the employer;

* The Criminal Investigator shall ensure the scene is properly documented, photographed and diagrammed;

* The Criminal Investigator shall ensure that all evidence is properly processed and collected, including any equipment or weapon belonging to the Involved Deputy that is needed as part of the investigation;

* The Criminal Investigator shall ensure interviews of witnesses, victims, Involved Deputy(s), and when applicable suspect(s), including providing Miranda warnings, even to the Involved Deputy.

By our unofficial count, that's at least 10 documents, statements, or objects (or groups of objects) that should be gathered in the investigation. But the Criminal Investigator's duties still are not completed. (And that does not include duties of the Administrative Investigator, which are spelled out on page 117.) As for the Criminal Investigator, the manual states that he . . .

* Shall review and ensure all involved/responding deputy(s) reports are accurate, correct and approved;

* Shall provide any and all material to the Administrative Investigator from the criminal investigation and will not expose themselves to the statements and evidence obtained during the administrative investigation;

* Shall assemble and prepare a case file for CID Supervisor, Major(s), and Sheriff’s review and approval;

* Upon the appropriate internal review and approval, shall contact and provide the Greene County Prosecutor a copy of the case file, with original probable cause statements where applicable.

Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson
As you can see, there should be a nice, neat case file for key officials in the sheriff's office, with a copy for the Greene County prosecutor.

It appears the county prosecutor receives a copy for purposes of bringing charges against the suspect (in this case, Carol). But the sheriff's own actions--releasing her from jail, upon learning she had a serious bodily injury; giving no indication since then that she committed any offense--suggest the county prosecutor has no role involving Carol.

But what about the officer's brutality against Carol? What about Arnott's decision to falsely claim she had assaulted an officer, causing her wrongful arrest and imprisonment? Those generally are considered civil-rights issues to be handled by federal law-enforcement.

Has the county prosecutor, a fellow named Dan Patterson, referred the matter for possible federal prosecutions against the deputy and Arnott? That appears to be what the facts and the law call for. Do facts and the law mean anything in Springfield, Missouri -- any more than they do in Birmingham, Alabama?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Did the same culture that produced Ashley Madison also give us Donald Trump, whose presidential campaign is imploding over reports of sexual abuse?

Donald Trump
(From npr.org)
For roughly the past year, this blog has covered the Ashley Madison (AM) hacking story like no other Web site. We have reported on more than a dozen high-level professional men in two states (Alabama and Missouri) who are paying customers at the site that is notorious for its one purpose -- to promote and facilitate extramarital affairs. We've even provided summaries that show payment histories, GPS locations at the time of sign-up, sexual preferences, and more. (See example at the end of this post.)

Our reporting has met with a fair amount of resistance, with a number of readers complaining that we are focusing on private individuals whose unsavory acts are not newsworthy. I've countered by noting that these "private individuals" hold positions of public trust, managing vast sums of money and/or wielding power and notoriety in ways that give them significant influence. How these people treat those who are less powerful -- their wives, children; other people's wives and children; women and minorities in general -- matters, I've argued. And it is, in fact, newsworthy.

Now we know that very issue -- abuse by the powerful/influential of those who hold less power and influence -- likely will decide the 2016 presidential race.

That became clear last night as stories flooded the Web and mainstream news outlets about GOP candidate Donald Trump and his rampant abuse of women. The New York Times reported on two women who said Trump had groped and kissed them in ways that were unwanted and violated their space. A former People Magazine reporter said Trump had forcibly kissed her while she was in Florida to report on his first year of marriage to Melania Trump; a People headline called the incident an "attack." The Palm Beach Post reported on a 36-year-old woman who said Trump had grabbed her butt.

Before these news accounts, Democrat Hillary Clinton enjoyed a healthy lead and likely was going to win the presidential race anyway. But now, the Trump campaign is in free-fall mode, and the election could turn into one of the most one-sided in history. Perhaps worst of all for Trump, more reports of boorish and creepy behavior could be on the way.

I would argue that the Ashley Madison and Trump stories have much in common. Both are about behavior that is dishonest, disgusting, disloyal, and dehumanizing. Both involve powerful men (mostly white) showing utter disregard for the women and children around them. We have little doubt that Democratic males are capable of being louts. But in these two stories, it appears the bad actors are overwhelmingly Republican, supporters of the party that tends to flaunt its "family values."

In my view, the Trump tale helps show that we took the correct position on the Ashley Madison case, that our determination to pursue the story was based in sound news judgment. At the risk of patting ourselves on the back -- OK, we admit we are patting ourselves on the back -- we saw an alarming societal trend before many others did, and we understood the damage it could do to society. Now, it has snaked its way into the presidential race and has shown we have been close to putting a predator in the White House.

The Trump story is not over, and neither is the Ashley Madison story. Dozens of AM lawsuits from around the country are being litigated at a federal court in St. Louis, Missouri. And we have dozens, maybe hundreds, of profiles to publish on AM customers -- men who might not have Donald Trump's notoriety, but who have a mindset that is a whole like his.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Was my Missouri-lawyer brother, David Shuler, blowing smoke up my fanny when he suggested it was fine for a landlord to shut off utilities on tenant?

From juxlaw.com
(Updated at 11:15 a.m., 10/12/16, to include extended version of e-mail between Roger Shuler and his brother, Missouri lawyer David Shuler.)

What does it mean when your landlord tries to force you out of property by turning off the utilities? It means you have a really sleazy landlord because such forms of "constructive eviction" are unlawful in all 50 states.

What does it mean when your brother, who happens to be a lawyer and a landlord, tries to convince you it's perfectly fine for landlords to turn off utilities in order to get tenants out? It probably means you have a pretty crappy brother.

My wife, Carol, and I experienced both of these scenarios in the process of losing our home in Birmingham, Alabama, to what now appears to be a wrongful foreclosure. To say the experience was unpleasant would be a Bunyanesque understatement. When it happened, I had just been released from being unlawfully incarcerated for five months -- and if forced to make a choice, I would gladly go back to jail for another five months over going through another foreclosure.

Who was the landlord that illegally shut off our utilities? That would be Spartan Value Investors, a Birmingham company headed by a fellow named Clayton Mobley, which apparently was the winning bidder for our house in a courthouse auction. Once Spartan bought our house -- assuming it was done lawfully, and that's a big if -- we became "tenants at sufferance" and they became our landlords. That means they could use the normal eviction process, if necessary, to get us out of the house. But they could not turn off our utilities. Someone apparently forgot to tell the creepy capitalists at Spartan about that little quirk of the law.

What about the lawyer/landlord who tried to convince me that it would be fine for Spartan to shut off our utilities? That would be my brother -- attorney David N. Shuler of Springfield, Missouri.

Hmmm . . . whose side was David Shuler really on here?

First, let's consider the actions of Spartan Value Investors. As one of their employees, Lindsay Jackson Davis, periodically stopped by to post threatening notices on our door, we received word from Alabama Power and Birmingham Water Works that our accounts had been taken out of our names and placed with Spartan.

This was strange for several reasons. In most landlord-tenant agreements I'm aware of, the tenant pays for utilities, so the landlord wants them in the tenant's name. Here was Spartan doing just the opposite -- putting the accounts in their name, even though it was our responsibility to pay them as long as we were there. Even more troubling, both utilities swapped the accounts over before ever contacting us. They apparently just took Spartan's word that the property belonged to them and did not check with us before making the change. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems Spartan came real close to tortiously interfering with our business relationships with the utility companies. (Note: After Carol had several conversations with them, Alabama Power apparently came to its senses and put the account back in our name -- we timely paid it, and our power never was shut off.)

With my brain fried from having been kidnapped and thrown in jail, I tried to consult my lawyer brother about all of this. Here's what he said, via an e-mail dated May 28, 2014:

I don't handle real estate matters and I certainly do not know the law in Alabama. I do know that here in Missouri, they do start turning off utilities one by one to try to get people to leave the house voluntarily as opposed to being removed by force. I know there are some rules about turning off the heat if it is extremely cold outside, but otherwise, I think the new owner can turn off the utilities as they see fit. Again, that is just my understanding but I certainly do not know the law on that issue.

That paragraph includes enough qualifiers to sink the Lusitania, but the gist of it this: According to David Shuler, Esq., it's common practice for landlords to turn off utilities, one by one, on tenants. And get this . . . such tactics are designed to get the tenant to leave "voluntarily." Who knew? (Note: A reader suggested I run the full e-mail exchange, and I think that's a good idea. I've added an extended version of the e-mail at the end of this post.)

My brother and Spartan Value Investors apparently were on the same wavelength. (Imagine that!). A "friend" from my college days visited us in Birmingham and convinced me to go back to Springfield with him for a few days, while Carol held down the fort in Birmingham. While I was gone, I got a frantic call from Carol, saying that our water had been turned off. My memory was that it was off for several hours before, via multiple calls to Birmingham Water Works, she was able to get it back on.

Was any of this lawful -- and did my attorney brother have a clue what he was talking about? First, let's consider the law in Alabama, where this happened and where Spartan Value Investors operates. This is from Code of Alabama 35-9A-427:

Section 35-9A-427

Recovery of possession limited.

A landlord may not recover or take possession of the dwelling unit by action or otherwise, including willful diminution of services to the tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas, or other essential service to the tenant, except in case of abandonment, surrender, or as permitted in this chapter.

OK, it's real clear: Landlords cannot shut off utilities in Alabama. What about the law in Missouri --where David Shuler, being both a lawyer and a landlord, might be expected to know a little something about such matters. This is from Missouri Statute 441.233:

Any landlord or its agent who willfully diminishes services to a tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of essential services, including but not limited to electric, gas, water, or sewer service, to the tenant or to the premises shall be deemed guilty of forcible entry and detainer as described in chapter 534; provided however, this section shall not be applicable if a landlord or its agent takes such action for health or safety reasons.

That is as clear as the law in Alabama, maybe clearer; a landlord who shuts off utilities to a tenant is violating the law. How could David Shuler, who is both a lawyer and a landlord, not know that?

Is David Shuler a bad lawyer, a bad landlord, a bad brother -- or maybe all three? Or maybe, like so many other members of his profession, he instinctively turns into a con man when it serves his purposes -- or the purposes of other con artists who have sought his assistance.

That leaves us with this question: Whose purposes is David Shuler serving, and does it involve stabbing his brother and sister-in-law in the back?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Scott G. Sink, exec at McGriff Seibels Williams brokerage firm, manages $1.7B in revenue and appears at cheaters' site

Scott and Linda Gill Sink
(From Facebook)
The senior executive vice president at the nation's fifth largest insurance brokerage firm (sixth largest worldwide) is among paying customers at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Webs site, records show.

Scott G. Sink, senior EVP at McGriff Seibels Williams, appears to have a demanding position, and you might think he has his hands full. After all, he helps manage a company with $1.7 billion in combined revenues, providing services in numerous insurance categories -- energy and marine, transportation, construction risk, employee benefits, health care, and more.

With what appears to be a full plate, records show that Sink still has found time to fool around on Ashley Madison. That probably is news to his wife, Linda Gill Sink, who shares his home (valued at roughly $800,000) at 4967 Reynolds Cove in Vestavia Hills. According to zillow.com, the house has eight bedrooms, five baths and almost 3,800 square feet. The couple has two children, Taylor and Brittany Sink.

Scott Sink is a prominent alum of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. He is a member of the college's alumni board. And in 2012, he was named the college's Risk Management Alumnus of the Year. From an article about the award:

Insurance executive Scott G. Sink was named the 2012 Risk Management Alumnus of the Year at the Insurance Society Banquet hosted by the University of Georgia Terry College of Business’ Risk Management and Insurance program in Athens on April 3. Sink is the 20th recipient of the UGA RMI award that was established in 1992.

“Scott‘s career achievements have distinguished him in his field and he is well deserving of this recognition,” said Rob Hoyt, Head of the Risk Management and Insurance Program at the Terry College.

Linda and Scott Sink (right), with children
Taylor and Brittany
(From Facebook)
Sink is the senior executive vice president of McGriff, Seibels and Williams Inc., the fifth largest insurance-brokerage firm in the United States. Sink serves as the practice leader for the energy/utility group in Birmingham, Alabama, He specializes in providing risk management consulting and insurance brokerage services to large electric, gas and integrated energy companies. Since joining McGriff in 1994, he has been instrumental in developing one of the largest energy/utility practice groups in the country.
Sink received his BBA in Risk Management and Insurance from the University of Georgia in 1984 and began his career with Virginia Power in Richmond, Va. From 1987-1994, Sink served in several capacities for Alexander and Alexander in its Baltimore and Washington, D.C. offices.

We sought comment from Sink for this article, but he has not responded to our queries.


(1) Edgar C. Gentle III -- attorney at Gentle Turner Sexton and Harbison, Birmingham, AL (3/8/16)

(2) Stewart Springer -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL. (3/9/16)

(3) Richard W. "Dick" Bell -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL (3/14/16)

(4) Robert M.N. Palmer -- attorney and bar association president in Springfield, MO (3/15/16)

(5) Thomas Plouff -- attorney, who is licensed in Alabama and has a practice in Chicago (3/17/16)

(9) Randy Bates -- executive VP and member of board of directors, Golden Flake (10/5/16)

(10) Reid Carpenter -- attorney, Lightfoot Franklin White, Birmingham (10/6/16)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Donald Trump's presidential-debate promise to, if elected, have Hillary Clinton prosecuted and thrown in prison suggests he is a fascist in the making

Donald Trump, in his "stalking" pose, with Hillary Clinton
(From washingtonpost.com)
Many Americans probably tuned into last night's presidential debate expecting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to engage in a spirited discussion of Trump's crude comments about women, from a videotape unearthed last week. They did, in fact, discuss the topic early in the debate, with Trump dismissing it as "locker room talk." (Note: I've been in a bunch of locker rooms in my day, and I've never heard talk like that.) But Trump's tales of grabbing p---y and striving to f--k a married woman hardly were the most newsworthy moment in the debate.

That came when Trump informed Clinton that, if elected, he would seek to have her prosecuted and thrown in the slammer. Why? That wasn't real clear, at least to me, but it apparently was over the Clinton e-mail controversy. In essence, Trump said he intended to turn the United States into a banana republic, with him playing the role of Idi Amin, or some other unsavory character with dictatorish tendencies.

This should have been a horrifying moment for all Americans; Trump already has admitted to engaging in federal bribery, and now he was announcing plans to practice political prosecutions. But it should have been especially terrifying in Alabama, where we have experienced our fill of dubious prosecutions during the George W. Bush era, including perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in American history -- the one involving former Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

How big a moment was this in last night's debate. Consider these Twitter words from Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman:

Let's be clear: a candidate for president promised to put his opponent in jail if he wins. Everything else is secondary.

Author Greg Mitchell added this perspective at his blog:

I flipped continually between CNN and MSNBC and it was astounding how little attention was paid, for many minutes, to Trump's jaw-dropping promise to prosecute and jail Hillary (in a Nixon-like abuse of power) as they continued to give him high marks in the debate. I was watching what seemed to be turning points at both cable channels when Van Jones and James Carville finally went ballistic on this. Almost in shame, some of the others starting talking about it. Or perhaps they had checked their Twitter feeds and saw what so many others were saying about this. . . . This morning the Trump display of fascism made the top of newspaper front pages all over Europe. Yet most of our own TV commentators shrugged it off for too long.

Why was this likely the most stunning statement ever made in a U.S. presidential debate? It's not that it was news; Trump has made similar statements dating at least to February 2016. But to hear a candidate say he has zero respect for the rule of law, and zero understanding of presidential powers . . . well, it makes you wonder how he got this far -- and it sure makes you hope he does not get any farther.

As CNN commentator Paul Begala tried to explain, the president appoints an attorney general, as the leader of the U.S. Department of Justice. But the AG, in our democracy, does not "serve at the president's pleasure." Rather, there is an "arm's length" relationship with the White House. The AG does not take instructions from the president on what cases to pursue or not pursue. He is, as many have said before me, "the people's lawyer," who could be subject to investigating and prosecuting the president himself.  It's kind of a "separation of powers" thing, which appears to be way beyond Trump's understanding. Consider this from Zack Beauchamp at Vox:

There is no way to sugarcoat this: At Sunday night’s presidential debate, Donald Trump threatened to throw Hillary Clinton in jail if he wins the presidency. This — threatening to jail one’s political opponents — is how democratic norms die.

The exchange happened during a discussion of the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Trump began by decrying Clinton’s conduct — which, according to the FBI, was quite bad but not illegal. He then proposed appointing a special prosecutor to investigate her, and warned Clinton that, if he were president now, “you’d be in jail. . . . ”

In democracies, we respect people’s rights to disagree with each other. When one candidate wins a presidential election, the loser returns to private life or another government position. In some cases, former rivals become close friends. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in the 1992 election, travel together and have spent decades jointly raising money to aid the victims of natural disasters.

They don’t get sent to jail, because we believe that political disagreement should be legal.

Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about all that.

Here is more perspective from Ari Melber, of NBC News, showing that Trump truly is Nixonian:

Donald Trump's pledge Sunday night that he would order his attorney general to investigate Hillary Clinton, and his quip that she should "be in jail," is a direct breach of the tradition of nonpartisan rule of law. . . .

A president is not typically authorized to order specific criminal investigations of individuals, let alone a public pledge to investigate a political opponent. Former Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted that President Richard Nixon's attorney general "courageously resigned" after being asked to fire a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.

When Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused, Nixon went on to fire several members of his cabinet in what became known as the "Saturday Night Massacre. . . . "

The FBI and Department of Justice have formally closed the inquiry into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. So the notion of a new president seeking to force the re-opening of the case, because a new party is in office, is essentially unprecedented.

Trump is not the first person of "presidential timber" to run afoul of this notion. Barack Obama also screwed it up, although with a different twist. He made it clear that the DOJ, ironically under Eric Holder, was NOT to pursue apparent crimes of the George W. Bush administration. Krugman, appropriately, took Obama to task in a January 2009 article titled "Forgive and Forget." From that piece:

Now, it’s true that a serious investigation of Bush-era abuses would make Washington an uncomfortable place, both for those who abused power and those who acted as their enablers or apologists. And these people have a lot of friends. But the price of protecting their comfort would be high: If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we’ll guarantee that they will happen again.

Meanwhile, about Mr. Obama: while it’s probably in his short-term political interests to forgive and forget, next week he’s going to swear to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That’s not a conditional oath to be honored only when it’s convenient.

And to protect and defend the Constitution, a president must do more than obey the Constitution himself; he must hold those who violate the Constitution accountable. So Mr. Obama should reconsider his apparent decision to let the previous administration get away with crime. Consequences aside, that’s not a decision he has the right to make.

Krugman nailed it back then: Obama had no authority to block an investigation, and a President Trump would have no authority to order an investigation.

So, where does that leave us now? Trump's statements about women were nauseating, and they should have disqualified him as a presidential candidate among those who have not let race- and class-based fears cloud their better judgment. But his words on the stage last night in St. Louis were much worse than his videotaped statements from roughly a decade ago. Anyone who would consider voting for this "fascist of the future" should remove himself from the voters' rolls. Hillary Clinton is not the perfect presidential candidate, but she is not likely to turn the United States into a country we do not recognize. Donald Trump has made it clear he intends to do exactly that.

We had better be paying attention.