8 months 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

9 mins ago

Bama, Auburn combine for three of four SEC players in 2020 State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

The 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge will return to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and air on ESPN2 at 8:00 p.m. CT on January 31.

The exclusive skills competition will feature 24 of college football’s brightest stars divided into six teams based on their college conference. The conferences represented are the ACC, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12, the SEC and four of the best players outside of the Power Five that will be called the “Wild Card” team.

Of the four players on the SEC team, the University of Alabama had two, Auburn had one and Vanderbilt had the fourth and final player.

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Team SEC as follows:

Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

Each player will individually participate in a timed event, and the competition will then finish with a full team event. All events will be timed and have individual winners, which will be compiled into a cumulative score to determine the winning team. For example, the quarterbacks from each team will compete against each other to win their competition. Ultimately, however, their time will be added to the times of the other competitors on their conference designated team to have a final team score.

Individual events will include the State Farm QB Accuracy Competition, the Mercedes-Benz Obstacle Course, the Rocket Mortgage Strength Challenge and the Hands Competition. To conclude the program, the players will compete as teams in the State Farm Team Competition.

Alumni of the State Farm All-Star Football Challenge include 81 first-round NFL Draft picks, including 38 Pro Bowlers, such as Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Ramsey, Dalvin Cook, Derwin James, Landon Collins, Von Miller, Vernon Davis, Joe Flacco, Dez Bryant, Donovan McNabb, Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James.

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

42 mins ago

Alabama finishes decade with record low unemployment rate, sets more economic milestones

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Friday announced that the state maintained its record low unemployment rate last month, ending 2019 with a preliminary, seasonally adjusted December unemployment rate of 2.7%, unchanged from November, and far below December 2018’s rate of 3.8%.

Multiple other economic records were again set last month, in addition to the record low unemployment rate holding steady.

In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey said, “I’m so proud to be able to close out this decade with record-breaking economic measures.”

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December’s unemployment rate, which ranked fifth-lowest in the nation, represented 2,204,740 employed people, a new record high, representing an increase of 83,971 from December 2018. Additionally, 61,458 people were counted as unemployed, another new record and a drop of 22,051 from last year. Moreover, the civilian labor force grew by 61,920 over the year to a new record high of 2,266,198.

“All year long, we’ve had good news to share, and to be able to end the year, and the decade, on such a positive note is wonderful,” the governor concluded. “Earlier this year, Alabama had never reported an unemployment rate lower than 3.0%, and now we’ve had one for the last three months! Nearly 84,000 more people have jobs now than last year. I’m excited about the path that Alabama is on, and the positive impacts this news has on our people.”

Wage and salary employment grew over the year by 46,300. Yearly gains were seen in the professional and business services sector (+15,000), the leisure and hospitality sector (+7,800) and the government sector (+6,100), among others. Over the month, gains were seen in the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+4,000), the construction sector (+700) and the professional and business services sector (+200).

“For the eleventh month in a row, our job growth has met or surpassed the nation’s,” Washington stated. “We’ve gained over 46,000 jobs since last December, and we continue to see employers posting job ads.”

Additionally, Alabama’s job growth rate for December was 2.2%. It significantly surpassed the national job growth rate of 1.4%, marking the 11th month that Alabama’s job growth rate matched or exceeded the national rate in 2019.

“Average weekly wages showed significant growth this month, registering at an all-time high,” Washington added. “Additionally, we saw many sectors and subsectors reach all-time wage highs, including manufacturing, with a monthly wage increase of $25.57, and financial activities, with a monthly wage increase of $50.78.”

Total private average weekly wages measured $875.44 in December, representing a monthly increase of $15.14.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates last month were: Shelby County at 1.8%; Marshall, Madison and Cullman Counties at 2.1%; and Tuscaloosa, St. Clair, Morgan, Limestone, Lee and Elmore Counties at 2.2%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 6.8%, Clarke County at 5.5% and Greene and Lowndes Counties at 4.8%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Vestavia Hills at 1.4%, Homewood at 1.6% and Hoover and Northport at 1.7%.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were: Prichard at 5.0%, Selma at 4.9% and Bessemer at 3.7%.

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

1 hour ago

What does Trump’s tweet say about his position on the U.S. Senate race in Alabama?

After remaining silent on the GOP primary in 2020 U.S. Senate race for the state of Alabama, the President of the United States has checked in via Twitter.

But what does it mean?

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The answer to this question all depends on how you lean in the race.

Do you support former Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

Trump is happy he is leading!

Do you support former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville?

Trump is happy that Tuberville is close to Sessions (he did tweet a poll put out by a pro-Tuberville group)!

Do you support U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope)?

Trump is bringing attention to the race to get people to pay attention to all of the ads on television and radio by the Byrne campaign.

Do you support former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore?

Hey, at least Trump didn’t say he wanted Moore out of the race again.

Do you support State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs)?

Hey look, Arnold Mooney is included!

Do you support Stanley Adair?

Hi, Stanley!

Before anyone gets too excited, Trump was tweeting about a bunch of races, so maybe it means nothing.

Also, let’s remember that Trump was 0-2 in 2017. He backed then- Senator Luther Strange (R-AL) for reelection to the seat he was appointed to and he then begrudgingly backed Roy Moore. Obviously, the existence of U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) shows he was not successful in either endeavor.

Because of this, President Donald Trump should just sit this one out.

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

Mooney: Why every day should be Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

As a nation, we recently mourned on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, the almost 62 million babies of all races killed by abortion since the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade. This solemn occasion is the result of President Ronald Reagan’s historic 1984 Presidential Proclamation of National Sanctity of Human Life Day on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Sanctity of Life Human Sunday, the third Sunday of each January, commemorates the lives lost to abortion and proclaims protecting human life at every stage

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Life is precious and begins at conception. It’s heartbreaking and unfortunate that this is a controversial statement. I strongly believe that as a society we are judged by how we protect those who are the most vulnerable, and given the unborn cannot speak for themselves, there is no group more vulnerable. Having watched my children experience the miracle of life with their growing families and welcoming eight grandchildren into this world, as well as expecting two more, have only further cemented my unwavering belief in safeguarding the unborn’s right to life.

In 47 years since the Roe v. Wade decision, the medical community has made massive medical advances that clearly establish that life begins at conception. A heartbeat can be heard as early as six weeks after conception! Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows the unborn, and God is growing that child with a purpose in our world. The black and white ultrasound picture clearly shows this growing baby.

The day after our tribute to the millions of unborn babies, the third Monday every January, our nation honors the most famous American civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s peaceful struggle against racial discrimination and civil rights was valiant, and the delivery of his 1963 speech “I Have a Dream” was the impetus of a movement that led to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Is it coincidental that the day our nation honors the unborn, and the day our nation honors the man who was instrumental in the decision to outlaw discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin are on consecutive days? I think not. As a nation, we still have unfinished business to protect the lives of the unborn as we continue our nation’s civil rights fight.

This is a fight against the worst form of discrimination, discrimination against life.

Arnold Mooney is a State Representative representing District 43 and a candidate for U.S. Senate

2 hours ago

February event promises answers to VA health care concerns

The Veterans Affairs departments of the state and federal government are teaming up to put on the Montgomery Veterans Experience Action Center (VEAC).

VEAC will be on February 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Campton Bowl Multiplex in Montgomery.

The agencies promise it will be a time “for veterans to get answers—and sometimes resolutions—regarding their benefits and healthcare.”

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Veterans Service Officers will be in attendance, as will workers trained to handle claims both new and existing.

The groups welcome both veterans and family members, saying the event will provide the opportunity to “receive one-on-one service to address any and all issues” with the VA.

The Alabama Department of Veterans affairs reminds those attending that “for assistance with VA claims and services, veterans should bring proper documentation about their case: DD 214, all medical records about any military and civilian disability, and dependency documents.”

Other services available at the event will be the American Red Cross, Still Serving Veterans, and job opportunities from the Alabama Department of Labor.

Anyone seeking additional information can call (334) 625-3480.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.