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.
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.
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.
— 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.