6 days 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

11 hours ago

Birmingham students awarded scholarships to fuel their studies in technical fields

The Birmingham chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) recently awarded five students sholarships to further their studies.

The mission of the organization is to provide energy professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and students a pathway to learn more about the energy industry through education, mentoring, community service and business networking.

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Phillip Coffey, Marketing specialist for Alabama Power, helped organize the annual scholarship luncheon. He says the organization gives greater exposure and representation of the energy industry to students and professionals.

The chapter awarded $10,000 in scholarship funds – Iva B. Williams Endowment Scholarships – to five students:

  • Grant Sims.
  • Alexander Washington.
  • Adetola Koiki.
  • Micah Pruitt.
  • Amira Gilford.

The Birmingham chapter of AABE is made up of employees from Alabama Power, Southern PowerSouthern Nuclear Company and Southern Company Services.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

13 hours ago

Tuberville’s warning on immigration: ‘We have more Middle Easterners coming across that border at times than we do people from Latin America’

As was the case with several of the past elections, immigration will be a significant issue in the 2020 campaign cycle, especially with President Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.

The 2020 U.S. Senate GOP primary in Alabama will not be an exception, especially as many Republican base voters are growing restless with congressional Democrats stalling Trump’s effort to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2020 U.S. Senate race, decried the lax border security and added that in some cases Middle Easterners were exceeding the number of those from Latin America coming across the border.

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“The problem that we’re having, and people don’t understand this, is we do need workers,” he said. “We need people over here to work. I’m big on immigration, but we got to get them in there the right way. And we’ve got to know who is here. We have more Middle Easterners coming across that border at times than we do people from Latin America. We do not have a clue who is coming across, and a lot of these people aren’t coming over here to help this country out. They’re coming over here to tear this country down. They are not for the Constitution. They are not for our laws. They are not for the people in this country. They want to tear it down, and we’re not going to let that happen.”

“That’s the reason I’m running because I want the people in this country to have safe neighborhoods, safe streets,” Tuberville continued. “It sounds like a politician, but all you got to do is open up your eyes and look. That’s one of my mottos in this campaign: Open your eyes and look at what’s going on, and let’s get these people out of Washington that won’t do anything and put people up there that will make a decision and don’t care if they go back and get reelected.”

@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.

15 hours ago

Roby: Honoring our symbol of freedom

On June 14th, 1777, our country’s flag was officially adopted by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Many years later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that established June 14th as Flag Day, and on August 3, 1949, this day of observance was officially established by an Act of Congress.

Now, every year on June 14th, our country has a special opportunity to celebrate our flag and reflect upon what it symbolizes. The American flag displays 13 horizontal stripes alternating red and white with a blue rectangle, specifically referred to as the “union,” that bears 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine horizontal rows. As you may know, the 50 stars on the American flag represent our 50 states. The 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and became the first states in the United States.

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While the design of the American flag has been officially modified 26 times since its initial adoption in 1777, the symbolic meaning has remained the same. Whether flown on front lawns across Alabama, in front of schools, universities and businesses of all sizes, or proudly displayed at military installations across this great country, for centuries the American flag has been an inspiring emblem of pride, hope, and freedom for countless people throughout the world.

Whenever I see our flag, I am especially reminded of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have fought to defend it and all it represents. This year, Flag Day comes during an especially important time, as I recently was proud to announce my 2019 appointees to our United States service academies.

Each year, it is my distinct privilege and honor as a member of Congress to nominate students from the Second District to be considered for appointment to the United States Air Force, Naval, Military and Merchant Marine Academies.

This year, I am very pleased to announce that I nominated the following students who received official appointments to the service academies:

  • Daniel Brayden Banner is the son of Dan and Amanda Banner. He is a graduate of Providence Christian School in Dothan, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.Theodore Maxwell Dowd is the son of John and Donna Dowd. He is a graduate of Northview High School in Dothan, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • Amore Jacarra Hardy is the daughter of Regina Hardy. She is a graduate of Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, and she received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Timothy Jurard McClendon is the son of Emma Lee McClendon. He is a graduate of Carroll High School in Ozark, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Johnny M. Montgomery, III, is the son of Johnny Montgomery. He is a graduate of Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Jackson Scott Parker is the son of Scott and Hannah Parker. He is a graduate of Abbeville High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • Isaac Taylor Sherman is the son of Jeremy and Morgan Sherman. He is a graduate of Prattville High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Seth Cameron White is the son of Steve and Terri White. He is a graduate of Wicksburg High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

In the spirit of Flag Day, I believe these students from our communities are to be commended not only for their academic excellence, but more importantly, for their eagerness to serve our great country. I am incredibly proud to join their families, friends, teachers and hometowns in offering my sincerest congratulations and thanks. Our flag will continue to shine as a symbol of freedom because of young leaders like these men and women.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

17 hours ago

SEC Baseball Tournament at Hoover Met sees record crowds

Record crowds of more than 160,000 people attended the 2019 SEC Baseball Tournament.

The tournament, held annually at the Hoover Met Complex, had an estimated $15 million economic impact on the area.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the conference three years ago looked for a host site that would enhance the tournament experience for fans. “After reviewing numerous proposals and visiting a number of potential sites, it turned out that Hoover, our longtime home, could provide everything necessary to make it the right venue for SEC Baseball,” Sankey said.

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He said the city of Hoover stepped things up with the Finley Center to house the SEC Fan Fest, the construction of on-site practice fields and, this year, the addition of a new video board.

“We feel those changes in particular have been game-changers in providing the SEC with a ‘baseball campus’ that is unique to college post-season tournaments,” Sankey said.

From May 21-26, 12 teams competed in the double elimination tournament, which was won by Vanderbilt.

Throughout the week, 162,699 people attended the various baseball games and 32,000 of those attendees came through the SEC Fan Fest. The area included access to inflatables, arcade games, a zip line, climbing, miniature golf course, live entertainment, food and beverage options and more. Fans were able to watch the game from a giant flat-screen TV and couches in the large, air-conditioned facility.

“The 2019 SEC Baseball Tournament was a tremendous success at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex,” said Hoover Mayor Frank V. Brocato. “The city of Hoover was able to welcome a record-setting number of baseball fans throughout the week and attendees had many options for activities around the baseball tournament once they arrived at the complex. … It is certainly our privilege to have hosted this tournament for the past 22 years. We look forward to seeing everyone back in 2020.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

17 hours ago

State Sen. Cam Ward: ‘I don’t think you bring back a lottery’ in proposed prison special session

The Alabama legislature was not able to come to an agreement on a lottery this past general session, meaning the body will likely address it in the future.

Could that come as soon as later this year, when Gov. Kay Ivey will reportedly call a special session to address Alabama’s prison system? Given the state’s prisons are under the threat of a federal government takeover, some have suggested that a lottery could be used as a funding mechanism to fix the state’s ailing prisons.

During an appearance on WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), who has been out in front of the prison issue, downplayed the chances of lawmakers addressing the lottery as part of any prison solution.

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“I just don’t see what has changed since the regular session until now that would make a lottery even feasible to bring up in a special session,” Ward said. “I mean, you look at our state. We’re one of four states that have two budgets. And the bulk of our money goes to the education budget, which has a $400 million growth fund this time, and that’s good. But at the same time, we had a lottery that we passed out of the Senate that money went to the general fund, which is constantly struggling with issues like prisons, Medicaid, and mental health. And it failed in the House because most people want to see it all go to education. I just can’t imagine why a lottery bill would come back during a special session because I’m not sure what has changed since it failed in the House this last time. I mean, unless something has changed that I’m not aware of, I don’t think you bring back a lottery in this special session.”

Ward said he did not see the need for increased revenue to solve the prison problem, noting the significant increase in funding for the Department of Corrections already.

“I think the money is already here,” Ward replied. “I really do. I don’t think you need any kind of increase in revenue. I mean, good gracious we gone from a $380 million budget for prisons just a few years ago. Today we’re at $560 million-$580 million. I don’t think you need to do any more revenue. I think it’s how you handle policy within the prison and how you handle the policy with sentencing.”

@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.