Federal Bribery Trial Digs into Lobbying Around Birmingham Superfund Site

 ========= Old Image Removed =========Array
(
    [_wp_attached_file] => Array
        (
            [0] => 2018/07/33877743865_597dba24ea_gavel.jpg
        )

    [_wp_attachment_metadata] => Array
        (
            [0] => a:5:{s:5:"width";i:500;s:6:"height";i:333;s:4:"file";s:40:"2018/07/33877743865_597dba24ea_gavel.jpg";s:5:"sizes";a:6:{s:6:"medium";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:40:"33877743865_597dba24ea_gavel-336x224.jpg";s:5:"width";i:336;s:6:"height";i:224;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:9:"thumbnail";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:40:"33877743865_597dba24ea_gavel-140x140.jpg";s:5:"width";i:140;s:6:"height";i:140;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:9:"wbhm-icon";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:38:"33877743865_597dba24ea_gavel-80x80.jpg";s:5:"width";i:80;s:6:"height";i:80;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:18:"wbhm-featured-home";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:40:"33877743865_597dba24ea_gavel-467x311.jpg";s:5:"width";i:467;s:6:"height";i:311;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:22:"wbhm-featured-carousel";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:40:"33877743865_597dba24ea_gavel-398x265.jpg";s:5:"width";i:398;s:6:"height";i:265;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:14:"post-thumbnail";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:40:"33877743865_597dba24ea_gavel-125x125.jpg";s:5:"width";i:125;s:6:"height";i:125;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}}s:10:"image_meta";a:12:{s:8:"aperture";s:1:"0";s:6:"credit";s:0:"";s:6:"camera";s:0:"";s:7:"caption";s:0:"";s:17:"created_timestamp";s:1:"0";s:9:"copyright";s:0:"";s:12:"focal_length";s:1:"0";s:3:"iso";s:1:"0";s:13:"shutter_speed";s:1:"0";s:5:"title";s:0:"";s:11:"orientation";s:1:"0";s:8:"keywords";a:0:{}}}
        )

)
1626173130 
1531737863

For three weeks, federal prosecutors in Birmingham have detailed what some might see as the dark underbelly of state politics in the trial of a coal company executive and two attorneys. Attorneys Steven McKinney and Joel Gilbert of the law firm of Balch and Bingham along with David Roberson, a vice president at coal company Drummond, are accused of bribing State Representative Oliver Robinson. Prosecutors say it was an effort to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from expanding a Superfund toxic cleanup site in North Birmingham. Drummond could be responsible for some cleanup costs if that happened. Robinson already pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and was a key witness for the prosecution, which rested their case last week.

Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald has been watching the trial. He spoke to WBHM’s Andrew Yeager about what he’s seen so far.

Interview Highlights

How prosecutors are trying prove a complex case:

“The crux of that whole case is was [Robinson] hired as a state legislator…There is a lot of discussion in emails and documents about what they’re trying to do. They’re hiring him as a public relations consultant, etc., etc. Some of the most damming testimony so far has been documentation that showed that Joel Gilbert, who was really the prime mover of all of this among the defendants, requested that a letter that he, in fact, drafted for Oliver Robinson, he specifically said it should include language that he’s a state legislator when he was trying to appear before a state agency.”

How the defense may present its case:

“If you’re defending the vice president of Drummond, for instance, you can say, hey, he hired a lawyer to protect him and to serve his interests. And if that lawyer failed him, then that’s on the lawyer…For Steve McKinney who was the boss at Balch and Bingham, a lot of the emails and documents don’t necessarily reach to him. Some do, but in a far more limited way than to Joel Gilbert…And with Joel Gilbert it’s a little more explicit because he was the tip of the spear in this. He was writing letters for public officials to use as their own. His defense is going to be a little tougher.”

John Archibald’s takeaway from the first half of the trial:

“What sticks out is the fact that the defense contends that this is essentially business as usual. That’s how politics gets done in Alabama. It’s how people are persuaded in Alabama. And I think ultimately when I look at this trial, the reason I find it so interesting, even though a lot of other people do not, it is because it represents so much of how things get done in Alabama and how so much corruption has been done in Alabama.”

 

Photo by allenallen1910

 

Q&A: Prison reform advocate Terrance Winn on gun violence in Shreveport, Louisiana

Winn sat down with the Gulf States Newsroom's Kat Stromquist to discuss what causes Shreveport to struggle with shootings, and what could help.

Should heat waves get names like hurricanes? Some believe it could help save lives

As heat waves and heat domes become more intense, the idea of naming extreme heat as we do with other major disasters is gaining traction with some experts.

Gun violence and incarceration issues go ‘hand in hand’ in this Louisiana city, residents say

Some residents say Shreveport’s history of mass incarceration has changed their community — and their families.

Price increases? Job losses? How will UAB’s acquisition of St. Vincent’s impact local health care?

The president of Alabama’s hospital association says the acquisition will help maintain access to care, but some economists predict the move will lead to job cuts and higher health care costs.

In the fight against gun violence, this Gulf South city is searching for ways to save lives

As violent crime slows down across the South, Shreveport, Louisiana, is reckoning with the aftermath of an unusually deadly 2023.

UAB to acquire Ascension St. Vincent’s for $450 million

Under the agreement, UAB will assume control of all Ascension St. Vincent's hospitals and providers in Alabama.

More Front Page Coverage