Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Monday, January 24, 2011

Go On Take the BP Money and Run--Alabama State Senator Pittman Facing Ethics Charges

Which one's the tractor?
*Updated Monday PM

"Follow the money. Follow the Boom."

Alabama's recent ethics "reforms" are about to be put to a big test, but not under the glare of public scrutiny like it should be, it's going to go on in the backrooms of the lowest common denominators--the Senate and state Ethics Commissions.

Much ado surrounded the recent special session in December to overhaul Alabama’s lax and practically non-existent ethics laws and now it’s put or shut up time. Did the legislature succeed or fail? Alabamians will soon find out from the recent filing of ethics violations against Alabama State Senator Trip Pittman-R.

Senator Trip “the clip” Pittman and his partner in crime, Baldwin County Commissioner Bob "five fingers" James are accused, through a recently filed 130 page ethics complaint by Baldwin County businessman Don White and a Fairhope resident, of pilfering over half a million dollars from the $1.2 million provided to Baldwin County by BP.

In short, Pittman and James made out like bandits in the wake of the BP oil spill and they didn't even need guns and masks, because former governor Bob Riley put these two Flash Harry''s in charge of all the loot. Did he know what their business interests were and that they may profit from the huge windfall of cash?  
Pittman James Ethics Complaint

Mod Mobilian provides the back-story on what happened and how the "heist in plain sight" went down:
Other local businessmen told the Press-Register they were shut out of the process: “I showed Trip Pittman our absorbent barrier boom. … Not only did he not forward this info to anyone weeks before any votes for boom were cast, but he never told me that he was in charge of the BP funds,” Silverhill’s Don White said.
Pittman told the Press-Register it was a “complex” situation.
Fairhope citizen Paul Ripp has filed complaints with the state’s Attorney General’s Office, Ethics Commission and others. The Constitution Party of Alabama has called for Pittman’s resignation.
Readers will be shocked to know that Senator Pittman has a dismal record for transparency and fails the Political Courage Test according to Project Vote Smart.
Trip Pittman refused to tell citizens where he stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.
One local observer's take on this "hold-up":
"Don White has over 30 years experience in waste minimization, pollution control techniques and products. The minute he saw the "Constitution Party" ask Pittman to step down he had to make his complaint to protect his back side. 
Pittman and James are so shady if White had not filed a complaint, Pittman and James would have tried to turn this around on anyone that was not looking. Don White has already been suckered punch once by government and wasteful political spending (City of Fairhope.)
Don knew he could save the cities as well as the Gulf Coast millions of dollars with his products and knowledge. But like he said in the complaint, "the deals had already been made" and when he came into the picture, they could not take the pilfered BP Grant Money back to the table. It already had been portioned out between all Pittman's crew and partners. 
The feds will have to step in.because the Ethics Commission, especially in republican control, will not eat one of their own."
That observation is on point because the Senate Ethics Commission has to have "four out of five members in agreement" for anything to proceed. The Special Session did one thing right for the Ethics Commission--they finally gave it subpoena power, but they did not take it a step further and strengthen the penalties.

The legislature has kept the bar high by requiring that 80% of the members agree before an investigation can begin, and they're proud of that and are crowing about it in their Protect the Public Trust Act. What happens in this case will tell the tale and make or break the republicans promise to end corruption by public officials, but we suspect it will wind up not being worth the paper it's printed on. Similar to everything else that comes out of the state house.

The previous standard for an ethics investigation was that an agreement had to be reached by five out of five. With the "new standard" the republican legislators made some forward movement to be real proud of--they've taken it from 100% to 80%, and by doing so, they want to give the impression that the new standard will strike fear in every public officials heart.

Maybe Pittman and James didn't get the memo.

We agree that the feds should step in because leaving the Senate and state Ethics Commissions in charge of this is akin to letting the misbehaving children decide on their own punishment.

And that never works out well.

Pittman will claim that the rules said he could do what he did and any semblance of decency will make a low, fast run for the fence and it just might work because his ethical judges would have done the same thing he did given half a chance to get away with it.

That's the Alabama politician's way--never miss a good opportunity to take the money and run.

*Update--Baldwin Watchdog has produced a "letter" to former Governor Bob Riley allegedly from the Mayor of Fairhope asking for an additional $650,000.00 in BP funds. The signature comparison to a previous document that was signed by the Mayor, and the lack of an official letterhead (something you would expect from the Mayor's office in official correspondence) are questionable at best.

* A previous post on Riley's "Roadmap to Resilience" Coastal Recovery Commission's potential to fleece.
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  1. Lessee now...
    Shady deals
    Inside baseball
    Profiting from a tragedy
    Running roughshod over competitors
    Total betrayal of the public trust
    Bob Riley is involved in it too
    Sounds like as BAU to me.

  2. There's bad stuff going on in Baldwin County and it's about time someone paid attention to it outside of the area.
    If Pittman and James had pulled this trick while in the employ of a private company, rather than public office, they'd be in deep trouble.
    But as an elected Alabama politician this kind of skulduggery is encouraged rather than discouraged. Almost like it is a requirement of office. I hope they put some silver bells on their ankles and wrists. Riley shouldn't skate on this either, he has some culpability by giving control of so much money to Pittman, whom he had to know because of his business, would be in a prime position to profit from it.

  3. Didn't Benedict Beason call Pittman "A really good guy" on a radio show just last week? Crooks of a nature stick together.

  4. I didn't know tractors could smile.

  5. They can get elected to the Alabama senate too, along with assorted farm animals. Mostly mules though.

  6. There's compelling evidence in this complaint that is evidential of some serious shenanigans involved.
    Which creates the obvious question: Why did it take this step to have the higher ups take notice?
    My take is that numerous complaints were voiced and they have been ignored.
    Most troubling.

  7. I bet this is just the tip of the iceberg and there is a lot more than we don't know yet. Kudos to the Press-Register for staying on top of this, but where are the rest of the papers in the state? The News outlets? This story has interest outside of the area and their are politicians in prison for a lot less.
    I hope the feds get in the mix, the "new day" Alabama crooks will never do the right thing when it involves on of their own.

  8. Pittman's voting record is dismal. Almost all "nays."
    Exactly what the hell is he doing for Alabama anyway? He's doing plenty for himself, that much is evident.
    Riley needs to explain his actions and what process he used to arrive at his decision to put these elected crooks in charge of all the bananas.

  9. Regarding the letter, is that all that was required to get $650K? Just a couple paragraphs?
    Were there any itemized lists accompanying it that detailed what the requested funds were going to be used for?
    You would do that BEFORE getting the money in the real world.
    But this isn't the real world, Alabama that is.
    No way in hell do those sigs match.

  10. And we're surprised that republicans are the culprits here?

  11. "Oh what a tangled web we weave..."

  12. "Pittman denied the allegations and said that the complaint was the result of a “political grudge and vendetta” that is not based on “fact”. While emphasizing that he had not yet seen the actual complaint Pittman also said that he “welcomed” the investigation into the “baseless complaint” and predicted that it would be dismissed “quickly.”
    That's one smug and cocky SOB position to take considering what he's done. He seems arrogantly confident that he'll get away it. Wonder why? NOT.

  13. Riley has been involved in more shady deals and distasteful "friends" than I can count while serving himself, not Alabama. Want a recession proof job?
    Run for office in Alabama!
    The perks are incomparable to any other job, you know the ones like 95% of the rest of us work.

  14. Janet From FairhopeJanuary 25, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    We certainly need to be watchmen at the gate....Apparently, no one is to be trusted when it comes to power and money....We folks who worked for and changed the out the public officials this last election need to hold their feet to the fire to assure that we "changed the game" as well. They will not govern themselves, we have to make them accountable and be involved. Without an engaged electorate they will definitely be tempted to fall to corruption.

  15. Carney Shows do not have anything over Senator Tripp Pittman and his partners Commissioner Bob James and Mayor Kant. Each one has their own little side show . You know the ones were no matter how hard you try they are designed to make you lose whatever you do. Step right up Baldwin county citizens, we will take your money right here. And the law is own our sides !!!!


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