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9 months ago

ABUSE OF POWER: How Troy King tried to put me in jail because of a joke (but really because I asked him a question he didn’t like)

On June 5, Alabama voters will go to the polls to elect an attorney general — a race that by all accounts is very tight — that includes current Alabama AG Steve Marshall, a former Alabama AG Troy King, former federal prosecutor Alice Martin and former criminal court judge Chess Bedsole.

Two of these men have done this job before. One of them has a history of abusing his position for personal gain.

Troy King seems to have his eyes set on doing this again. His failure to enforce gambling laws led to a showdown he lost with then-Governor Bob Riley, the Alabama Supreme Court, and Alabama voters in 2010.

Since his time out of office, he has taken on various roles, including an effort at ambulance chaser and the engineer of a form of video bingo that could get around the laws he failed to uphold as AG.

He also has made it clear that he intends to look the other way again. Gambling interests have rewarded him handsomely for that, both in  2010 and 2018.

That alone should be a reason to disqualify him from any office, but I will gladly offer you another reason.

Troy King attempted to put me in jail for making a joke in 2009.

However, if that were his only goal there, I would not be writing this.

He knew he had no legal case. He thought that by putting this pressure on me, he could control the narrative, punish someone who embarrassed him and pick up a political win.

He picked the wrong target.

In early 2008, Troy King was making the talk radio rounds boasting about making social media safer by asking providers to scan for known sex offenders.

This is obviously ridiculous given sex offenders will just use aliases.

I endeavored to prove this by initiating my own sting and ended up catching a volunteer firefighter in Madison County who tried to have sex with my fake 14-year-old.

Point proved.

So I invited King back on the radio to discuss a subject that is extremely personal in nature, that I won’t repeat because it was a rumor that has never been proven. But suffice it to say it was something that was being bantered about a lot in Alabama politics. A lot. A. LOT.

And no one had the guts to ask.

So… I asked the question to the man himself that no one else would, to give him a chance to respond to the rumors.

King was not happy:

King: “Hey Dale . . . “

Jackson: “That is true in any way shape or form?”

King: “Hey Dale, to this point, the answer has been the same as it is today. I don’t discuss rumors.”

Jackson: “So your answer is a no comment basically.”

King: “I don’t talk …I don’t discuss rumors.”

This was the last time Troy King would ever appear on my radio show. Reportedly, he was pissed off. The interview was shared a lot online. And of course, he looked like a fool.

In early 2009, the day of a special election between State Rep. Laura Hall and now-State Senator Paul Sanford, I made a joke about voting on two days. This joke is an old joke (Republicans vote on Tuesday, Democrats vote on Wednesday). It wasn’t particularly clever, but I spiced it up by making up a ridiculous office and posting a fake press release on my website. I even used the “Great Seal of Alabama” on the “press release” since a joke has to seem real to be funny.

Hall’s allies took the made-up press release and pretended it was being handed out at the polls. (Of course, it wasn’t).

The media took the bait and pretended there was misinformation circling. Hall lost.

I was suspended from the air for a week, and I got a great story out of it.

Then the AG’s office came knocking. An investigator showed up at my house. I gave this investigator audio of the show, a print of my blog from that day, and the straight up admittance that I did the horrible crime of making a joke on the radio.

That investigator laughed, played with my dog, and left his gun at my apartment.

Clearly, I was a dangerous criminal.

Then something unbelievable happened. I received a summon to appear in court for a criminal grand jury.

Troy King was going to get his revenge.

I contacted an attorney, now-U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, and asked him for his advice. I relayed the story to him.

He viewed it as I viewed it: as retaliation for our previous run-in and an attack on the First Amendment.

He agreed to represent me, even though he was not a criminal defense attorney. He sought out the charges that Troy King’s office would be pursuing.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement.

— Forgery
— Misappropriation of the Great State Seal of Alabama
— Voter Fraud
— Voter Intimidation

Two felonies, two misdemeanors. All combined I was looking at a potential 33-year sentence. For a joke.

Were King and his office serious about this? According to their responses, they were.

The day of the grand jury trial, Brooks and I arrived at the Limestone County Courthouse and were immediately met by one of King’s attorneys and the investigator.

They asked to meet with us before the grand jury would meet. The attorney pleaded with me to take a deal. I could choose any crime and they would ask for the minimum and a suspended sentence.

I was ecstatic. Brooks asked them to leave the room and explained to me that I should not take this deal. If I did, they would take a victory lap in the media and my employment (and future employment) would clearly be impacted by a guilty plea.

It was the legal version of “they got nothin’.” When I informed King’s men that we would not be taking the deal, his attorney instructed me that Brooks worked for me and had to do as I said, not the other way around.

I informed him I would not be taking a deal and he sulked out the door. The investigator told Brooks and I that they knew they had no case and that the King would now tank the case.

Relief and anger flashed over me. What a waste of taxpayer money and resources. What an abuse of power.

I still went through the grand jury process — this consisted of King’s prosecutor asking me why I did it and if I was sorry. I was upset, but I played the game. I wanted this over.

“It was a joke,” I replied. “Of course I am sorry, I think all of this is a waste of everyone’s time.”

The grand jury members could ask questions as well, and they peppered me with questions about embarrassing people, and one even told me he was a big fan and thought the joke was funny.

This thing was a farce. The attorney was not attempting to get me indicted. Within 20 minutes of leaving the courthouse, Brooks received a call of “no bill,” meaning no charges and informed me that this was over before we returned to my radio station.

To say I was enraged would be an understatement.

The Attorney General of the State of Alabama had attempted to ruin my career with clearly trumped-up charges. But he didn’t want anyone to know he was doing it until it was over.

Troy King is an absolute coward.

Grand juries are secret. If I didn’t tell anyone it had happened, no one would know. If I pled to one of his garbage charges, he would have bragged about fighting voter fraud and holding people responsible.

He used his position of authority to punish his political enemies. He attacked the First Amendment in a way that the media pretends Donald Trump would love too. He used his office for personal vengeance and personal gain.

On June 5, ask yourself: “Is Troy King fit to be Attorney General?”

To answer that question, look at what you know he did with this powerful office in his first term. Then think about what you don’t know.

2 hours ago

David Cole departs Alabama Farmers Federation for BCA

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is adding another star to its governmental affairs team.

Shortly after breaking BCA’s hiring of Molly Cagle from Manufacture Alabama, sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News that Alabama Farmers Federation Director of State Affairs David Cole is coming on board at the same time.

Cole, like Cagle, is joining BCA’s governmental affairs staff effective February 28, just in time for the March 5 start of the state legislative session. Most recently, Cole spearheaded the federation’s lobbying efforts in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan sent out an email announcing Cole’s departure and thanking him for his commitment to Alabama agriculture — the state’s biggest industry. Pinyan also outlined how the staff would be moved around in response to Cole leaving.

Director of External Affairs Matthew Durdin – and his staff members, Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts and administrative assistant Jessica Mims – will now be involved in some state governmental affairs work. Former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who has been working as a political consultant for the federation, will now add governmental affairs work on contract.

An official announcement with details of the federation’s staff changes is expected to be released in the coming week.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt announced the two major additions in an internal email sent out to the business council’s leadership Friday evening. Britt took the reigns of BCA January 2. Cagle and Cole are her first hires.

The email detailed that Cole is being named senior vice president of governmental affairs and Cagle vice president of governmental affairs.

“These two additions to our team position the BCA to serve our members and advocate effectively on behalf of the business community,” Britt wrote.

Mark Colson, who most recently filled in as BCA’s interim president after serving as chief of staff and senior vice president for governmental affairs, will continue to serve the organization in his new role as senior advisor through the transition period.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Molly Cagle joining BCA from Manufacture Alabama

One of Alabama’s rising stars in the governmental affairs world is on the move.

Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that Manufacture Alabama (MA) Director of External Affairs Molly Cagle has accepted a governmental affairs position with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). While an exact title has yet to be released, Cagle is expected to bolster BCA’s legislative affairs team.

The hire marks the first in BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt’s tenure. She was hired by the organization’s executive committee in December and took office January 2.

Cagle’s last day at MA is February 20, according to an email from her to the association’s membership obtained by Yellowhammer News.

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“My time at Manufacture Alabama over the last four and a half years has been incredibly rewarding. The friendships, lessons, and advice are things that I cherish and will take with me throughout my career,” she wrote.

Cagle comes to BCA with an impressive track record in legislative work, including past service as the Senate Liaison for Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh. She received her bachelor’s in Political Science, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Troy University.

Named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “Power and Influence: Who’s Next?” list for 2018, Cagle will be a major addition to BCA as the organization refocuses on its pro-jobs mission of “making a sweet home for business” in Alabama.

Cagle’s email noted, “As I prepare to take on my new role, I want to assure everyone that the staff at Manufacture Alabama has taken the steps to make my departure as seamless as possible. A special thank you to George Clark for his guidance and support not only over the last several years but also throughout this process.”

The state legislative session begins March 5.

As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., BCA had taken down its online staff directory. An official announcement of the hire is expected in the coming days.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

Cagle is being named BCA’s vice president of governmental affairs.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

It is time for the Alabama legislature to end the state-mandated subsidy to print media outlets

Who won the 2018 general election in Alabama?

You might think with all the talk of $900 prison spending bills, gas taxes, Medicaid expansion and the lottery that Democrats won in a massive landslide and were preparing to implement their agenda. But that is not what happened — Republicans actually picked up seats.

The state of Alabama, with a Republican super-majority, is preparing to spend big and grow government.

As they do this, maybe they can toss the citizens of Alabama a bone and make the government a little more efficient by saving state agencies, counties, cities and school boards a substantial amount of money every year.

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Current Alabama law requires government entities in Alabama to advertise legal notices, legislation, constitutional amendments, voter rolls and other public matters in the local print media outlets.

This is not chump change:

  • The state of Alabama spends up to $800,000 each year.
  • The city of Huntsville spends up to $115,000 each year.
  • Madison County spends up to $153,000 each year.

If we were to add up all the costs to local governments, we would find that these costs are in the multiple millions of dollars range.

In a state that has a $6+ billion dollar education budget, this may seem like something that is minuscule and irrelevant, but that is not the case when adding all the entities required by law to hand government money over to private companies to print a product that very few use and could easily be uploaded to an official state/county/city website and be more accessible to your average Alabamians.

The only counter-argument, which will be made by those working in or for the print media industry and no one else, is that there are communities in Alabama that don’t have high-speed Internet and can’t access these websites.

This is a canard that only allows legislators to do nothing and not face the wrath of people who “buy ink by the barrel.”

Keeping these laws on the books only acts to subsidize the print media. It does not benefit your average Alabamian one bit.

This print media subsidy should be ended immediately. Surely there are other things these government entities can spend this money on.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

5 hours ago

Tennessee Valley Authority selects next president and CEO

The nation’s largest public utility has picked the leader of one of Canada’s largest power companies to head the $11 billion federal corporation.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Valley Authority board announced the selection of Jeffrey Lyash as president and CEO effective in April.

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Lyash is president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation Inc. He was formerly president of CB&I Power and executive vice president of energy supply for Duke Energy.

He also served in management roles with Progress Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Lyash is chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute, an international nonprofit for public interest energy and environmental research.

Lyash replaces Bill Johnson, who is retiring after joining the federal utility in 2013.

TVA serves about 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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6 hours ago

Doug Jones on Medicaid expansion: ‘We’re losing out on billions of dollars … the state of Alabama damn sure could use’

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Thursday, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) offered his thoughts on rumblings that policymakers in Montgomery were considering expanding Medicaid rolls.

The renewed discussion comes in the wake of Butler County’s Georgiana losing its hospital and some GOP lawmakers in the statehouse suggesting it was something to consider.

According to Jones, the expansion of Medicaid would be one of the ingredients necessary in ensuring rural hospitals in Alabama are sustainable.

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“I think it would go a long way,” Jones said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “There are a lot of factors that come into play when you’re talking about rural hospitals, including the wage index that we try to get things changed, so we get the same reimbursements as other states. But I think expansion of Medicaid would be a big help. I think it would be a huge deal for rural hospitals. It would bring in billions of dollars – billions of dollars that’s our money, by the way, that we haven’t been getting since the state refused to do that. And candidly, it was a political decision when they refused to do it. Everybody knows that. There was a legitimate concern about the cost.”

“But now that we look back, we can see that the cost-benefit – the benefit outweighs the cost tremendously,” he continued. “Plus the benefit with the good health outcomes – more people with good health care, better health outcomes. It’s just a win-win. And so I am hoping this year they can do that.”

Jones said he and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) were working on legislation to gives states that have not yet expanded Medicaid the incentive to do so, and that way the “money would start flowing in.”

When asked about the possibility of the state of Alabama being on the hook for extra cost when that initial infusion of federal money runs out, the Jefferson County Democrat said he expected the money to continue to be there for Medicaid.

“I don’t think the money will run out,” he replied. “I think the money is here to stay. It is one of those things that passed in the ‘60s. It is here to stay. I think the money is going to continue to be there. And the fact of the matter is, no one would get left holding the bag because if the Medicaid money went away, then obviously the insurance goes away. I don’t think anybody’s going to want to let that happen.”

When asked about lawmakers considering the possibility, Jones described his attitude as “hopeful.”

“I am very hopeful,” Jones said. “I think there’s a couple of dynamics in play, including the fact that we’re not really talking about ObamaCare anymore. We’re talking about the Affordable Care Act, and we’re talking about things – keeping people with preexisting conditions and making sure they have health care. And the other thing, too – now we have the evidence. No one can really say, ‘Oh, this is going to cost too much. We can’t afford it.’ We got the evidence from all the states to show that is just not the case and we’re losing out on billions of dollars that come in, and that’s billions of dollars the state of Alabama damn sure could use.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.