1 year ago

Internal emails show Culverhouse donation refund was never about abortion, he called for ‘cover story’

The University of Alabama System on Sunday definitively proved that returning Hugh Culverhouse, Jr.’s record donation was never about abortion, providing emails that showed the recommendation was made four days prior to any public remarks he made about the subject.

In a statement accompanying a number of documents and electronic correspondences between UA administration, System officials and Culverhouse himself, a System spokesperson emphasized, “Our decision was never about the issue of abortion. It was always about ending the continued outside interference by the donor in the operations of The University of Alabama School of Law.”

The statement and document dump came after The Washington Post published an op-ed from Culverhouse in which he made several claims that are now refuted by the System’s records.

The System spokesperson advised Culverhouse had even been attempting to bar the emails from being released “for reasons that are now obvious.”

The emails show objectively that Culverhouse was trying to influence the law school’s student admissions; scholarship awards; the hiring and firing of faculty; and the employment status of the law school dean himself.

“The donor’s continuing effort to rewrite history by injecting one of society’s most emotional, divisive issues into this decision is especially distasteful,” the System spokesperson concluded.

While Culverhouse first denounced Alabama’s new abortion ban law to Florida Politics on May 29, emails show that University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and Trustee Joe Espy on May 25 recommended the return of the donation amount Culverhouse had already paid — along with the cancellation of the amount yet to be paid and the renaming of the law school.

This came after an early morning May 25 email from Culverhouse to UA President Stuart Bell, in which Culverhouse admitted his expectation of “quid pro quo” was not being met. In that lengthy email, Culverhouse bashed the law school dean, Mark Brandon, repeatedly and trashed the nationally highly ranked law school as “mediocre.”

“I also know you have never dealt with a gift of my size-either for endowed professor or a something as large as to change the name of the law school. You are unprepared,” Culverhouse wrote to Bell. “Mark will always be a small town, insecure dean. The outside world frightens him.”

Culverhouse then said as a result of his demands about admitting more students and the hiring of personnel not being met, the amount of his donation he had paid ahead of schedule ($10 million) should be returned.

“And, if you want to tell the board of [trustees] for the state, fine,” Culverhouse signed off.

“I would like those funds returned. You can send a check or wire transfer,” he further outlined in a separate email.

In subsequent public comments, Culverhouse has said he never asked for a refund of his donation.

In his The Washington Post op-ed, misleadingly entitled, “I gave the University of Alabama $26.5 million. They gave it back when I spoke out about abortion,” Culverhouse brazenly alleged, “It has been painful to witness administrators at the university choose zealotry over the well-being of its own students, but it’s another example of the damage this attack on abortion rights will do to Alabama.”

On his abortion comments, Culverhouse claimed, “I expected that speaking out would have consequences, but I never could have imagined the response from the University of Alabama, which on Friday said it would be returning my gift and removing my name from the law school.”

This came in spite of the facts exposed by the emails and documents released Sunday — and that Culverhouse on Friday had said in a statement, “I expected this response from UA.”

Internal emails also showed that Culverhouse had demanded the right to freely roam the law school, walking into ongoing classes unannounced. Additionally, he had desired for ten professors to be fired, along with alterations to the law school’s financial operations.

Writing to Bell the night of May 24, Culverhouse complained about the prospective candidates to become the law school’s new constitutional law chair, decrying that his name would be “attached” to any of their hires.

“It is a joke,” Culverhouse wrote of the potential professors at the then-Hugh F. Culverhouse, Jr. School of Law. “Use another name.”

In an email from the previous week, Culverhouse had written, “I could give a crap about newspaper articles or even the name on the law school.”

Speaking of the law school’s high national rankings, Culverhouse told the dean, “[Y]ou need to forget the ratings.”

Emails show that while disagreeing with Culverhouse’s attempts to influence law school hiring decisions and the like, administrators were trying to continue constructive dialogue with him until he blew up over a two-day period, finally writing to the law school dean on May 25, “Mark-at this point conversations are not worth the time.”

This came the day after he admitted at being “mad” at the school for not heeding his demands.

Culverhouse even wrote to Brandon that he had removed the University of Alabama completely from his will and trust on May 23 and would no longer be giving any more gifts during his lifetime to the university.

“That amount makes a mockery of the sums I have [already] given,” Culverhouse bragged. “It is gone. You have already cost University of Alabama Law School a fortune. We will see the next few months if you can change your relationship with me. You may also learn my approach is beneficial.”

Later in that email, he suggested changing the name of the constitutional law chairmanship to “The Richard Shelby Chair of Constitutional Law” and inventing a “cover story” for Culverhouse’s demands not being met. He said the same could be done with the law school “after a financial settlement is reached and accomplished.”

“One of the terms of a settlement would be I will not give any money to any other law school or discuss anything about the Alabama Law School,” Culverhouse concluded in that email.

On June 3, well after St. John had publicly recommended the return of all his money and Culverhouse had begun his public abortion spectacle, Culverhouse wrote to a System attorney requesting that the emails and documents not be publicly released.

Read the emails for yourself here.

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

10 hours ago

Tuberville supports #WeWantToPlay movement — ‘Let them play’

Count former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville as a supporter of the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

Prominent elected officials from across the country, including President Donald Trump, and major leaders in the college football world, including University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, on Monday voiced their support for the movement.

In a video message posted to social media, Tuberville added his voice to the mix.

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The current Alabama Republican senatorial nominee said, “You know, college football is the lifeblood of the South, and allowing teams to play this season will bring a much-needed sense of calm to these strange times.”

Tuberville then echoed a key sentiment that Saban outlined earlier in the day.

“With proper medical supervision, college players are likely safer on the field than they are if they’re sent home. And most programs are implementing stricter guidelines than the CDC recommends,” Tuberville added. “If a player wants to opt out, that’s fine. But don’t take this opportunity away from thousands of young men who have worked their entire lives for this moment.”

“I support the players who want to take the field this season, and I hope you will join me. Let them play,” he concluded.

WATCH:

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

12 hours ago

Sierra Club endorses Joe Biden, calls him ‘champion for climate justice’

Emphasizing its agenda of “climate justice,” the California-based environmental group Sierra Club announced its endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Monday.

In a release touting its intent to elect what it termed “climate champions up and down the ticket,” Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune outlined the desire of his group to defeat President Donald Trump.

“We are confident that Joe Biden will be the champion for climate justice that America needs in the White House,” Brune stated. “As Americans head to the polls in November, our country will be facing crises on multiple fronts, including a climate emergency that disproportionately harms communities of color. This may be the most consequential election of our lives, and it is critical that we replace Donald Trump with a leader who understands the scale and urgency of the climate crisis and is ready to take bold action to solve it.”

Sierra Club has maintained an active presence in Alabama this year.

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In May, Secretary of State John Merrill declared Sierra Club an organization “threatening the economic livelihood of Alabama’s own businesses” through what he called a “shortsighted political agenda.”

Merrill cited lawsuits initiated by Sierra Club to restrict Alabama energy production as part of his contention that the group’s effort in the state would kill jobs.

“The Sierra Club, which is based out of San Francisco, California, does not represent Alabama thinking or values,” Merrill wrote. “It is troubling to see out-of-state activist groups working to influence our state’s power supply and its workers.”

In March, Sierra Club was among the environmentalist groups which descended upon the Alabama Public Service Commission to oppose natural gas usage for power generation.

Sierra Club endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

12 hours ago

Madison County Commission says it will not break the law to remove a Confederate monument

Alabama is obviously not immune from the racial strife gripping the United States. In recent months, we have seen statues come down, a state representative attended a birthday party for Nathan Bedford Forrest, small riots and acts of vandalism.

Like most Americans, Alabamians have generally accepted that the Confederate memorials all over the state on courthouse squares and in public parks are going to come down. Some are headed to cemeteries, some are headed to storage, and the fate of many is still unknown.

In Madison County, the Huntsville City Council and the Madison County Commission have both voted to move its controversial Confederate statue, and a new resting place at Maple Hill Cemetery has been selected. However, the monument still remains.

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That monument was vandalized last week, and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong did not want to use taxpayer resources to clean it up, so it stands defaced and ugly near the steps of the Madison County Courthouse.

Strong appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Monday and made it clear he wasn’t going to clean it up or force county employees to do so, but he hinted that if someone wanted to clean it up in the dead-of-night, like when it was vandalized, they should have at it.

In the interview, Strong voiced frustration with recent reporting that indicated he and the Madison County Commission have not reached out to Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office seeking a way to remove the statue and pay a $25,000 fine.

The commission views this as a non-starter. Strong believes attempting to “negotiate” breaking the law is a violation of his oath of office. Instead, he “filed an application of waiver with the committee based on a law that was written in 2017,” he advised.

Strong is worried about precedent, saying, “[T]here’s a lot of hesitation in contacting the attorney general. What happens if the next time someone that somebody desires to remove the name Jefferson Street, Washington Street or they don’t like the name on a building? What do we do? Just go in here and let somebody set a fee, pay the fee, and say hey just remove whatever you want to?”

My takeaway:

This is what should be done. The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act is the law of the land and it has been upheld.

Obviously, Chairman Strong is right. The law needs to be followed, and if it is unwieldy, change the law. If you don’t, we will be seeing attempts to move historic markers, veterans memorials and the like that are followed by the presentation of a cartoonish $25,000 check.

Society cannot just ignore the laws we dislike and pay a fine and move on. The precedent is bad, and the Madison County Commission and its chairman want no part of it.

Listen:


Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

12 hours ago

ICE announces arrests of two illegal aliens in Alabama, including for attempted murder

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday announced two recent Alabama arrests by its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division.

According to a release, HSI made the pair of arrests in the Yellowhammer State on July 22.

Agents of the HSI Birmingham office reportedly arrested Christian Martinez, 32, a Salvadoran national and U.S. fugitive, on two state charges of attempted murder, as well as a charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling and another for being an alien in unlawful possession of a firearm.

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HSI Birmingham worked with the United States Marshals Service on Martinez’s arrest on a fugitive warrant at a work site in Mountain Brook. ICE is also pursuing federal charges for unlawful firearm possession. Martinez was booked into the Jefferson County jail and given a $150,000 bond. This is an ongoing, HSI-led investigation, according to the release.

Additionally, HSI Huntsville arrested Iris Ferreira-Cardoso, 49, a Brazilian national, for alleged violations of federal immigration law.

Agents from HSI Huntsville and ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations were part of a federal-local law enforcement collaboration that reportedly arrested Ferreira-Cardoso at a residence in Owens Cross Roads in Madison County. He will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

ICE advised that both Martinez and Ferreira-Cardoso are aliens who were in the United States illegally.

Martinez is alleged to have illegally entered the country without being inspected or paroled by an immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location.

Ferreira-Cardoso was previously removed from the United States in 2005. He is believed to have returned after that time, allegedly illegally entering without being inspected or paroled by an immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location.

“People in these communities can rest easier knowing that these two violent criminals are not roaming the streets in search of their next victims,” commented Acting HSI Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama.

“The United States should not be viewed as a safe haven for violent criminals fleeing justice in their own countries,” he concluded.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Saban: ‘Players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home’

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban on Monday afternoon weighed in on the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

In an interview with ESPN, Saban commented on the movement that is in part led by Crimson Tide star running back Najee Harris.

The movement, less than a day old, has quickly gained steam, garnering public reactions already by President Donald Trump, other prominent elected officials across the nation and many in and around college football.

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Speaking to ESPN, Saban pushed back on the notion that student-athletes will inherently be safer if the season is not played.

“I want to play, but I want to play for the players’ sake, the value they can create for themselves,” Saban said.

“I know I’ll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don’t care about player safety,” he outlined. “Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of the July. It’s a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can’t get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they’re in a bar or just hanging out.”

The legendary coach noted that the SEC has already pushed back the start of its season to September 26 to allow the fall semester to resume before final decisions are made on football.

“It’s going to be a challenge when the other students get on campus, and I get that,” Saban remarked. “But we really don’t know what that entails until it happens. It’s a big reason we pushed the season back, to assess that, which is the prudent way to do it.”

Bama senior All-American offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood also spoke with ESPN, strongly stating his position. He underscored that players need to have a voice as conferences and schools make decisions.

“There’s a lot of noise and bad stuff out there about playing football with the virus going on, but I haven’t really seen anything about what the players want,” Leatherwood told ESPN. “We’ve been grinding all summer, and you don’t want it to be all for nothing.

“The story that needs to be written is that we want to play,” he added. “We take risks every single day, especially in this sport, and life shouldn’t stop. If there is a chance for long-term effects if you get it and people don’t feel comfortable, then don’t play. Everybody is entitled to their right. But we want to play, and we’re going to play.”

Harris, speaking to ESPN, praised Saban’s leadership.

“Coach Saban listens to his players and wants to hear from us first,” the running back advised. “He told us that none of this is about him, but it’s about us. He wants to hear our concerns, and we made it clear that we want to play and feel like Alabama is doing everything they can to make sure we can play safely.”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth backed Saban on the matter in a tweet.

“I’m with Coach Saban on this one. The player are much safer on campus and at practice than back home. For the players sake, let them play,” he commented.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn