Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Electing Lobbyists: Streamlining Political Theft in Alabama

 

October 1, 2022 | View PDF



Bill Britt (4/18/18 Alabama Political Reporter) stated current and former BCA [Business Council of Alabama] members thought the board’s vote demanding Bill Canary’s resignation was good news for our State’s future. Some were angry BCA Chairman Perry Hand wanted to keep Canary until fall. APR’s sources said Hand’s timing was designed for BCA to further influence election outcomes; control campaign donations and win enough races to rally a comeback. Hand seemed willing to risk everything protecting Canary. One source said other BCA board members saw no upside to challenging the seven most influential companies in the State (a.k.a., seven sisters) to continue Canary’s largess. Some of the ‘seven sisters’ in fact exited the corrupt organization.

The APR article made a compelling forecast; if mass exiting came to fruition, it would cripple BCA at a critical time when Alabama is rebuilding after the failed leadership of Canary and his minions. Exit by some demanding Canary’s resignation (most notable Alabama Power, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Regions - the only Fortune 500 Company headquartered in our State, last I checked) leaves a big ‘power vacuum.’ What would fill that vacuum was paramount to political insiders, swamp monsters and other big government redistributionists’ special interest at that critical moment.

Enter ‘Cash Register’ Shelby’s Chief of Staff to fill the vacuum and streamline political theft by simply electing lobbyists directly to DC brokering ‘Art of the Steal’ transfers with crony contractors and vendors. For the full text of what led to well orchestrated efforts toward streamlining political theft via installation of lobbyists into office accomplishing wealth transfers to our corporate welfare queens, please (re)read: Alabama Power finally 'zaps' the Canary in the Drummond Mine: time to 'dissolve' the BCA…

Establishment apparatchiks of Riley, Inc. and the BCA (BIG Business Council of Alabama as Sen. Rice dubbed them) have shown great acumen circumventing the will of members and general welfare of our citizens. Seems many individuals are BCA members for insurance purposes (think Speaker Hubbard getting well rewarded for mandating auto insurance) providing a significant BCA revenue stream from those not paying attention to the corruption they’re subsidizing. Most prominent in this mix of high-priced political prostitutes, US Sen. Richard “Cash-register” Shelby, who made his disdain for BCA’s leadership clear after being outed in emails submitted for Felon Hubbard’s trial in Lee County Circuit Court.

Shelby made it widely known within the politburo circle Canary was no longer welcome in his office; loss of access meant avenues to accomplish corporate welfare redistributions from DC [District of Corruption] less likely. “Sen. Shelby made calls letting folks know he was done with Canary,” said a close advisor in the APR report. As Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Shelby’s touted as one of the most powerful in DC. Long overdue for this political broker, drunk with power to go… sadly, with Shelby’s store of cash to buy elections/install his minions, little will change in a State with the most restrictive ballot access laws, hyper-gerrymandering, one of only six remaining States with ‘straight-ticket’ voting and now further closing party primaries imposing greater impediments to political competition.

Little surprise a big government Democrat turned Republican ‘public servant’ like Shelby enjoyed colluding with the Canary, Hubbard, Riley, et al machine until Felon Hubbard emails embarrassingly showed the harm Shelby has aided and abetted in our State. Sad how many think the redistributions they champion to specific groups do not harm the general welfare of citizens being sheared to generate fat corporate-welfare checks these political hacks and so-called ‘economic developers’ receive.

Columnist Steve Flowers (7/25/17) wrote about his tenure in the 1980s and 1990s State Legislature where the duopoly result was not as pronounced and political identity was either a big govt. conservative pro-corporate welfare legislator or a big govt. social-welfare, pro-union/pro-trial lawyer legislator. Weak willed legislators picked one side or the other ‘progressing’ us into the extremist mess observed today. Flowers quickly decided on a leading role/sponsor of Tort Reform redistributive legislation. Readers can decide for themselves if reform has proffered improvement with less accountability/responsibility in the courts; nonetheless his tort reform activities (according to Flowers) led most to rate him an ‘arch pro-business’ conservative.

Flowers asserted torts evoked BCAs formation. Others offer more encompassing, important and compelling reasons - facilitating environments to keep commerce regular/promote the general welfare of citizens in our State instead of the specific interests of big business (corporate-welfare recipients) trial lawyers, etc. Morphing from a general welfare mission, the BCA became the most powerful organization in Alabama making a path for the ACCA [Association of County Commissions of Alabama] another broker of political theft. It was surreal witnessing a political operative being outed as paid $90,ooo/year by UA (in the same deleterious spirit of Joe Perkins destroying the lives of students who dare challenge University malfeasance) for his columns - guess Alabama Power will have to come up with another way to pay this $90,000 of Flowers’ largess each year. Paying for high-end political betrayal of this sort requires more than 30 pieces of silver to do such ‘heavy-lifting’ dirty work for our most corrupt politburo members.

Failed businessmen like Felon Hubbard (unable to survive without corrupt wealth transfers) believe their own rhetoric; somehow getting government redistributions in their favour connotes outstanding business acumen/entrepreneurship - you know, “Art of the Steal” folklore - the book with several Chapter 11s. Flowers explained when Riley became governor in 2002, he orchestrated plans to control BCA. He succeeded and installed his boy, Washington political insider Billy Canary. An accomplished political hack, Canary would carry out dirty tricks and chicanery for George W. Bush and Karl Rove. The Riley/Hubbard machine controlled BCA through Billy Canary. Riley continued to pull the strings and make money until angering ‘Cash Register’ Shelby. To anyone paying attention it is easy to see/understand the streamlining and how Shelby is keeping his political theft brokerage house operating.

Canary boasted of his position on convicted Speaker Mike Hubbard’s “kitchen cabinet.” However, in the Hubbard trial, Canary was less than convincing on the stand as his memory faded on issues w.r.t. Hubbard. Some issues were ‘inextricably intertwined’ with the 12 felony convictions which finally removed Hubbard from Montgomery. Many expected Canary would be indicted with Hubbard along with many other co-conspirators. BCA and Canary were facing possible involvement in the north Birmingham corruption investigation that resulted in one House member’s criminal confession. The mix of anger/fear from Shelby, et al political thieves is none are safe from Hubbard’s willingness to sing in exchange for an early prison release, in spite of backdoor hush money AU students and taxpayers are supplying for Hubbard’s silence addressed in:

https://www.alabamagazette.com/story/2019/10/01/opinion/the-au-horror-picture-show-bride-of-felonstein-meets-yellagrubbear/1750.html

The BCA Board and those genuinely concerned with Alabama’s future wondered why Canary captained a once proud and effective organization into such controversial issues having little to do with core business interests. The answer is simple… numerous conflicts of interest. During his tenure as BCA president, Canary continued to maintain outside consulting contracts in clear conflicts with his role at BCA. Obviously Canary (inserted by Boob Riley soon after his installation as Governor) and Felon Hubbard are kindred spirits in this regard.

Alabama Power withdrew from BCA, "effective immediately" (to make the point on election timing) according to a letter from CEO Mark Crosswhite, who is now up to his neck with questions about political hacks like Flowers, Perkins (Matrix), et al. Dennis Pillion (dpillion@al.com) cited the letter where Crosswhite wrote Alabama Power exited the powerful business group because the organization had "needlessly alienated federal and state officials, failed to communicate with its own members, squandered our collective corporate goodwill, allowed its financial health to decline, and become a divisive force in our State." The letter was addressed to BCA Chairman Hand, stating the power company had expressed concerns with BCA leadership since August 2017, with "no meaningful response," and "At this point, further discussions would be fruitless and a waste of everyone's time." Crosswhite further explained Alabama Power was a founding member of the BCA, but the company has become "concerned that membership in the BCA has become a liability rather than a benefit."

The exchange describes numerous conversations between Crosswhite and BCA leadership, in which the letter says Crosswhite "asked that the committee remove our President and CEO [William J. Canary] by May 1 or June 1." Political insiders intuit the importance of the dates with the election cycle. According to Pillion, the letter says the BCA Executive Committee was scheduled to meet for approval of a "transition plan" aimed at "having a new CEO installed no later than January 1, 2019." The timing was important - a fight to the death to get election results to bailout Felon Hubbard and protect his unindicted co-conspirators.

Then Sen. Ward offered a pressing question on the matter… where do the ‘seven sisters’ go? Decades ago Alabama Power/Southern Company were members of the Auburn Policy Research Center which was on its way to be advocate for the general welfare of our State until corrupt administrators captured by the Lowder/Felon Hubbard ‘public servant’ gang killed the Center and the successful Economics program increasingly attacked by less productive faculty and champions of big government. The deleterious spirit of not wanting to compete has grown strong roots on the Plains of Dixie. The two most notable in the fight to block “Billion Dollar Bob’s” Amendment One tax explosion and the ‘new and improved’ BIG Business Council of Alabama were John Rice in the traditional political arena and Libertarian Mark Bodenhausen on the emerging internet scene. Mark is no longer with us and dearly missed by those who remember how well he championed liberty against big government extremists.

This leaves Sen. Rice/AFLG [Alabama Foundation for Limited Government] who’s been most effective at blocking and containing Big BCA extremism since the Riley/Felon Hubbard installation of co-conspirator Canary in 2003. Some readers may recall my March 2017 Alabama Gazette column [https://www.alabamagazette.com/story/2017/03/01/opinion/consider-the-olive-branch/993.html] toward this end of shepherding BCA back to their original mission of promoting our general welfare by keeping voluntary commerce regular in our State. In the Spirit of opening a dialog to facilitate a peaceful effort to move forward, Sen. Rice delivered a quote worthy of (re)reading from the link above. No civil dialogue between Rice and the BCA ever occurred; few have more sweat equity than Mr. Rice in the attempt to get the BCA he helped build back on course.

More failed Riley/Siegelman business incentives and command economy transfers impeding our State continue to proffer the usual deleterious result even with Canary removed. Foolish to think any of these political predators may change… If you’re looking for someone to shepherd the BCA toward promoting our general welfare over special interests again, allow Sen. Rice to explain the history which built BCA and noble beginnings before it morphed into the destructive redistributive entity we observe today. If the ‘seven sisters’ want to charter a new no nonsense, truly non-profit organization, getting a short list of participants from Sen. Rice is a sound starting place. Until then, expect more streamlining of political theft electing corporate welfare queen lobbyists to become legislators.

Postscript: wishing the Alabama Gazette a joyful 23rd Anniversary celebration. As the Greeks say, “Chronia pola!” - i.e., wishing the Gazette many more years filled with God’s blessings! Indeed a blessing to be a columnist since 2009. I pray Loretta Grant (who named my column THINK) has found I’ve lived up to her assigned moniker and readers considered my often difficult to read/digest input worthy these past many years.

 

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