Sheriff Ana Franklin and her goons are also facing that place that has no door knobs on the inside.
U.S. Attorney on corruption indictments: be 'patient'By
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on September 17, 2017 at 7:15 AM, updated September 17, 2017 at 7:31 AM
Jay Town, the new U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Alabama, can't talk of the things his office is investigating.
Like Drummond Coal and Balch & Bingham connections to bribed former legislator Oliver Robinson.
Or investigations surrounding the Birmingham Water Works and the people who contract with it.
But he does have a word for the people of Alabama who care about such things, about sending corrupt politicians and their corruptors to that place that has no door knobs on the inside.
"I appreciate everybody's patience," he said. "I promise there will be something forthcoming."
Which says nothing.
Because without saying as much, the prosecutor acknowledged that - hold your horses, Alabama -- something is going to happen.
To the bribers, perhaps. Finally the bribers.
Robinson, if you recall, this month pleaded guilty to bribery, conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion. He admitted taking money from unnamed men at Balch & Bingham and Drummond. He agreed to cooperate with the feds, or risk a prison sentence of up to a century.
But a lot of people - me among them - grew concerned that Robinson was headed up the river and the two men at two of Alabama's most powerful companies had yet to even be named. They were listed in court filings as "Employee #1" and "Attorney # 1."
It only got more cloak and dagger when you consider that Attorney General Jeff Session - Town's boss - has had a long and lucrative relationship with Balch.
Town said he wanted to make it clear. He has had no conversation with Sessions or Justice about the any case in his office, and he can't fathom Sessions trying to intervene.
"If you are selling your office, or buying an office ... we're coming for you," he said.
He's putting his cards on the table, even if he's not showing them. He's saying, without saying, that those who bribed Robinson will be held to the same standard to which Robinson has been held. Which is a bold move. Because if he doesn't follow through, all anyone will remember is a bluff.
But it doesn't sound like it. Not listening to Town.
Because he doesn't just talk about how corruption is a crime against the people and affront to democracy - like all the prosecutors do.
He describes it, in a place like North Alabama where corruption has been so corrosive, as an economic assault.
"When you have corruption in a district, it's bad for the marketplace," he said. "Companies don't want to move to a community where officials are bought and sold."
Like a third world country.
Which is what this whole Robinson affair has been like. Some employees at big businesses, including Balch and Drummond, fought expansion of a Superfund site in neighborhoods north of Birmingham because they simply did not want to pay a bill to clean up pollution in neighborhoods so sick and poor they have no voice.
Except their elected representative.
And that elected representative, Robinson, was bought off by the very people who worked for the polluters. He was paid to convince them to oppose the Superfund cleanup of the area, to convince them it would be in their best interest to simply live with the toxins in their dirt.
Good for nobody. Bad for everybody.
Except the corrupt.
Town says he will go after any bad guy, and will prosecute any case he believes he can prove, no matter what the perps station in life or the power structure.
He played his cards. Even if he didn't show a thing.
John Archibald's column appears in The Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Register and AL.com. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.