|Strange can’t prosecute ASU|
|Written by News Desk|
|Wednesday, 23 October 2013 12:49|
Gov. Bentley has requested Atty. Gen. Luther Strange to open an investigation into the questionable activities unveiled by forensic auditors who have been probing financial problems at Alabama State University in Montgomery (ASU).
The attorney general, however, has properly shifted that duty to a district attorney 24th Judicial Circuit in northwest Alabama, Chris McCool of Gordo.
The reason Mr. Strange was required to recuse from the Alabama State case is triggered by the fact that the school paid him at least $41,250 between May 24, 2010 and February 8, 2011. However, Mr. Strange's office remains in charge of the investigation. That too, I believe should change.
The time frame for the payments was during his primary and general election campaigns for the state's top prosecutorial position in which Mr. Strange was a candidate and until almost a month into his first term in office after winning the election. He was paid $15,000 of the money after he took office as AG.
I wrote at the time that those revelations came when Mr. Strange should have been investigating the potential corruption at ASU. It remains the case today, but he chose never to investigate. I asked this question then and I reiterate it now. What will it cost the state to hire outside prosecutors to carry out such a massive investigation? That situation has now reached fruition. At that time I was provided a 17-page document listing nearly 700 ASU payments by check in 2010 and 2011 involving multi-millions of dollars. Seven checks were paid to Mr. Strange, one in the amount of $18,750, and the remainder, each in an amount of $3,750.
Previously I reported about a $100,000 contribution from the Poarch Creek Indian Casinos made to the Strange Campaign for Attorney General. I also reported that I had been told by reliable sources that Mr. Strange did little or no work for ASU which had been revealed by the university's new president at that time, who had threatened to reveal bones buried on the ASU campus which dealt with contracts and other matters. He is no longer at the school.
More of those matters are now coming to light in the current ongoing investigation into the school by Gov. Bentley.
In the Poarch case the tribe laundered the $100,000 to Mr. Strange's campaign for Attorney General in 2010 through various entities. The money trail went from the Poarch Leadership Committee to the Republican Leadership Committee on July 15, 2010; from the Republican Leadership Committee to the Alabama Republican Party on July 22, 2010; then from the Alabama Republican Party to Mr. Strange's campaign on August 4, 2010.
In the ASU matter the money came from the university. No data has been provided for what services they were paid. Perhaps that will be revealed in the current investigation.
I wrote at that time that Mr. Strange owes the taxpayers of our state an explanation of these Poarch Creek contributions and with regard to the principle of equal justice under the law, and a clear recusal of his office in any action that might involve the Poarch Tribe or their competitors.
To restate the issues that now surround the AG's office, consider these points:
1. Mr. Strange hid his contract with ASU for several years until a group of concerned ASU supporters provided The Independent with the information and we reported it.
2. Mr. Strange's first response as to why he was paid by ASU was for consulting with regard to micro-biology in India...not Indians, India.
3. His second response was payment for legal work at the school.
4. His third response was for speaking engagements.
Mr. Strange, I believe, owes the citizens of this state a full report on his relationship with the university. And although he did bring in, who we must assume, is an independent prosecutor to take his place, that assumption also must be verified.
Another piece of information we have learned is that Forensic Strategic Solutions, (FSS) the company Gov. Bentley employed to carry out the audit of ASU, is said to be represented by Bradley Arant, the Birmingham Law Firm where Mr. Strange practiced law for more than 20 years.
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