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FTR #742 Body Count (Sweet Home Alabama)

[1]

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [2] (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

Lis­ten:
MP3 Side 1 [3] | Side 2 [4]

Intro­duc­tion: A series of haunt­ing, polit­i­cal­ly-relat­ed deaths in Alaba­ma have been ruled “sui­cides,” in spite of evi­dence to the con­trary. All of the vic­tims of these so-called “sui­cides” are linked to what one inci­sive blog has termed “Karl Rove’s Alaba­ma.” [5]

Bashin­sky’s Corpse: “Mind if We Play Through?”

Linked to the polit­i­cal skul­dug­gery that appears to have engulfed for­mer Alaba­ma Gov­er­nor Don Siegel­man [6], these deaths exem­pli­fy an unpleas­ant real­i­ty that Amer­i­cans have cho­sen to ignore: polit­i­cal mur­der is an estab­lished tra­di­tion in the Unit­ed States.

The pro­gram reviews the untime­ly death [7] of for­mer Bush White House IT chief Mike Con­nell in a plane crash (fol­low­ing death threats against Con­nell [alleged­ly made by Karl Rove] and warn­ings that his plane might be sab­o­taged.)

[8]

Rest in Peace, y’all!

Con­nel­l’s tes­ti­mo­ny in ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions might have shed light on the theft of the 2000 and 2004 elec­tions, as well as the destruc­tion of White House e‑mails. At least five alleged sui­cides and mur­ders in Alaba­ma involve peo­ple con­nect­ed to the GOP pow­er struc­ture that ele­vat­ed Gov­er­nor Bob Riley, a pow­er struc­ture forged by Karl Rove. These deaths also appear linked to the oper­a­tions of con­vict­ed felon Jack Abramoff in Alaba­ma.

The late Charles "Bubba" Major [9]

The late Charles “Bub­ba” Major

The broad­cast relates the incred­i­ble cir­cum­stances of the death of Major Bashin­sky [10], whose corpse was found dead of a gun­shot wound on the bot­tom of a golf course pond.

Bashin­sky’s cousin, Charles “Bub­ba” Major (a for­mer pro at the golf club on whose course Bashin­sky’s corpse was dis­cov­ered) expressed dis­be­lief at the offi­cial account of the death:

Major was found dead [5] of an appar­ent­ly self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound after mak­ing the above state­ment.

[11]

The late Ash­ley Tur­ton

[12]

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gabrielle Gif­fords (D‑AZ)

After not­ing the alleged sui­cides [13] of a cou­ple of for­mer [14] and active FBI agents, the pro­gram ana­lyzes aspects of the shoot­ing of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gabrielle Gif­fords [15] in Ari­zona, and the mys­te­ri­ous death that same week­end of Ash­ley Tur­ton, the wife of Dan Tur­ton [16], Oba­ma’s liai­son to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

End­ing with dis­cus­sion of one of this coun­try’s major polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tions, the pro­gram notes that Sirhan Sirhan has recalled key details of the assas­si­na­tion [17] of Robert F. Kennedy under hyp­not­ic regres­sion.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The alleged sui­cide of Ralph Sta­cy [18]; the alleged sui­cide of Bob Cavi­ness [19]; the mur­der of Zoa White; the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a sec­ond sus­pect in the shoot­ing [20] of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gif­fords; the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the pri­ma­ry tar­get of the Gif­fords shoot­ing may have been a fed­er­al judge with drug task force expe­ri­ence; a recount­ing of the “girl in the pol­ka-dot dress” [21]–a key aspect of the inves­ti­ga­tion into the assas­si­na­tion of Robert F. Kennedy; Sirhan’s hyp­not­ic rec­ol­lec­tion of a sec­ond gun being fired at the Ambas­sador Hotel; Ash­ley Tur­ton’s work [22] for Rudy Giu­lian­i’s law firm; that fir­m’s suc­cess­ful nego­ti­a­tion [23] of the merg­er of Duke and Progress Ener­gy, to form the world’s largest util­i­ty.

1. Begin­ning with review of the appar­ent mur­der of Michael Con­nell, the broad­cast notes his links to the events under­ly­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into a series of high­ly sus­pi­cious deaths in Alaba­ma.

Con­nel­l’s tes­ti­mo­ny in ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions might have shed light on the theft of the 2000 and 2004 elec­tions, as well as the destruc­tion of White House e‑mails (the scan­dal sur­round­ing the e‑mails over­laps the issue of Rove’s manip­u­la­tion of U.S. attor­neys and the con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing Don Siegel­man in Alaba­ma). Note the reports of Con­nell hav­ing been threat­ened by Karl Rove.

Michael Con­nell, the Bush IT expert who has been direct­ly impli­cat­ed in the rig­ging of George Bush’s 2000 and 2004 elec­tions, was killed last night when his sin­gle engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron air­port. Vel­vet Rev­o­lu­tion (“VR”), a non-prof­it that has been inves­ti­gat­ing Mr. Con­nel­l’s activ­i­ties for the past two years, can now reveal that a per­son close to Mr. Con­nell has recent­ly been dis­cussing with a VR inves­ti­ga­tor how he can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Con­nell told a close asso­ciate that he was afraid that George Bush and Dick Cheney would “throw [him] under the bus.”

A tip­ster close to the McCain cam­paign dis­closed to VR in July that Mr. Con­nel­l’s life was in jeop­ardy and that Karl Rove had threat­ened him and his wife, Heather. VR’s attor­ney, Cliff Arnebeck, noti­fied the Unit­ed States Attor­ney Gen­er­al , Ohio law enforce­ment and the fed­er­al court about these threats and insist­ed that Mr. Con­nell be placed in pro­tec­tive cus­tody. VR also told a close asso­ciate of Mr. Con­nel­l’s not to fly his plane because of anoth­er tip that the plane could be sab­o­taged. Mr. Con­nell, a very expe­ri­enced pilot, has had to aban­don at least two flights in the past two months because of sus­pi­cious prob­lems with his plane. On Decem­ber 18, 2008, Mr. Con­nell flew to a small air­port out­side of Wash­ing­ton DC to meet some peo­ple. It was on his return flight the next day that he crashed.

On Octo­ber 31, Mr. Con­nell appeared before a fed­er­al judge in Ohio after being sub­poe­naed in a fed­er­al law­suit inves­ti­gat­ing the rig­ging of the 2004 elec­tion under the direc­tion of Karl Rove. The judge ordered Mr. Con­nell to tes­ti­fy under oath at a depo­si­tion on Novem­ber 3rd, the day before the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Vel­vet Rev­o­lu­tion received con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion that the White House was extreme­ly con­cerned about Mr. Con­nell talk­ing about his ille­gal work for the White House and two Bush/Cheney 04 attor­neys were dis­patched to rep­re­sent him.

An asso­ciate of Mr. Con­nel­l’s told VR that Mr. Con­nell was involved with the destruc­tion of the White House emails and the set­ting up of the off-grid White House email sys­tem.

Mr. Con­nell han­dled all of John McCain’s com­put­er work in the recent pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. VR has received direct evi­dence that the McCain cam­paign kept abreast of the legal devel­op­ments against Mr. Con­nell by read­ing the VR ded­i­cat­ed web­site, www.rovecybergate.com [24]. . . .

“Bush Insid­er Who Planned to Tell All Killed in Plane Crash: Non-Prof­it Demands Full Fed­er­al Inves­ti­ga­tion”; Yahoo.com; 12/20/2008. [25]

2. The lethal­i­ty man­i­fest­ing in Alaba­ma appears to be con­nect­ed to Karl Rove’s machi­na­tions in that state–gambits that appar­ent­ly result­ed in the pros­e­cu­tion of Alaba­ma Gov­er­nor Don Siegel­man on cor­rup­tion charges, this in the wake of Siegel­man’s sus­pi­cious defeat in the 2002 elec­tions.

Note, in par­tic­u­lar, the pres­ence of Leu­ra Canary and her hus­band Bill in this sce­nario. Both names crop up in con­nec­tion with the events appar­ent­ly sur­round­ing the vio­lent deaths in Alaba­ma.

Note, also, the vio­lence to which whistle­blow­er Jill Simp­son was sub­ject­ed, after dis­clos­ing alle­ga­tions of Rove’s inten­tion to destroy Don Siegel­man polit­i­cal­ly.

Don Eugene Siegel­man (born Feb­ru­ary 24, 1946) is an Amer­i­can Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty politi­cian who held numer­ous offices in Alaba­ma. He was the 51st Gov­er­nor of Alaba­ma for one term from 1999 to 2003. Siegel­man is the only per­son in the his­to­ry of Alaba­ma to be elect­ed to serve in all four of the top statewide elect­ed offices: Sec­re­tary of State, Attor­ney Gen­er­al, 26th Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor and Gov­er­nor. He served in Alaba­ma pol­i­tics for 26 years.
After the expi­ra­tion of his gov­er­nor­ship, two of Alaba­ma’s Unit­ed States Attor­neys began a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion against him on accu­sa­tions of cor­rup­tion while in office. Indict­ments came in 2004 and again in 2005, and in 2006 he was con­vict­ed on cor­rup­tion charges.[1] Since then there have been counter-accu­sa­tions by var­i­ous for­mer attor­neys gen­er­al and offi­cials that his pros­e­cu­tion was inten­tion­al­ly wrong­ful, engi­neered by pres­i­den­tial advi­sor Karl Rove and offi­cials of the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice to gain polit­i­cal advan­tage. . . .

. . . Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bob Riley defeat­ed Siegel­man’s Novem­ber 2002 reelec­tion bid by the nar­row­est mar­gin in Alaba­ma his­to­ry: approx­i­mate­ly 3,000 votes. The result was con­tro­ver­sial, as on the night of the elec­tion, Siegel­man was ini­tial­ly declared the win­ner by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press. Lat­er, a vot­ing machine mal­func­tion in a sin­gle coun­ty, Bald­win Coun­ty, was claimed to have pro­duced the votes need­ed to give Siegel­man the elec­tion. When the mal­func­tion was cor­rect­ed, Riley emerged the win­ner. Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty offi­cials object­ed, stat­ing that the recount had been per­formed by local Repub­li­can elec­tion offi­cials after Demo­c­ra­t­ic observers had left the site of the vote count­ing, thus ren­der­ing ver­i­fi­ca­tion of the recount results impossible.[9] The state’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al, Repub­li­can Bill Pry­or, affirmed the recount­ed vote totals, secur­ing Riley’s elec­tion. Large­ly as a result of this con­tro­ver­sy, the Alaba­ma Leg­is­la­ture amend­ed the elec­tion code to pro­vide for auto­mat­ic, super­vised recounts in close races. . . .

. . . Siegel­man has stat­ed that he wants to see Karl Rove held in con­tempt for refus­ing to tes­ti­fy before a House com­mit­tee that is inves­ti­gat­ing Siegel­man’s conviction.[18] Although Siegel­man was con­vict­ed, his argu­ment is he may not have been inves­ti­gat­ed if not for Rove. . .

. . . Wit­ness Nick Bai­ley, who pro­vid­ed the cor­ner­stone tes­ti­mo­ny upon which the con­vic­tion was based, was sub­se­quent­ly con­vict­ed of extor­tion; upon being giv­en 10 years in prison Bai­ley coop­er­at­ed with pros­e­cu­tors to light­en his own sen­tence. Although he engaged in over 70 inter­views with the pros­e­cu­tion against Siegel­man, none of the notes detail­ing these inter­views were shared with the defense. In addi­tion, after the case was tried it was con­firmed that the check he tes­ti­fied he saw Scrushy write for Siegel­man was actu­al­ly writ­ten days lat­er, when he was not actu­al­ly present. . . .

. . . Alle­ga­tions that Siegel­man was pros­e­cut­ed at the insis­tence of Bush-appoint­ed offi­cials at the Jus­tice Depaont­gomery whose hus­band was Alaba­ma’s top Repub­li­can oper­a­tive and who had for years worked close­ly with Karl Rove, led fed­er­al courts to release the accused on bail.[22] In June 2007, a Repub­li­can lawyer, Dana Jill Simp­son of Rainsville, Alaba­ma, signed a sworn state­ment that, five years ear­li­er, she had heard that Karl Rove was prepar­ing to neu­tral­ize Siegel­man polit­i­cal­ly with an inves­ti­ga­tion head­ed by the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice.[23] Simp­son lat­er told The Birm­ing­ham News that her affi­davit’s word­ing could be inter­pret­ed in two ways, and stat­ed that she had writ­ten her affi­davit her­self, where­as in her Con­gres­sion­al tes­ti­mo­ny she had admit­ted to hav­ing help from a Siegel­man supporter.[24]

Accord­ing to Simp­son’s state­ment, she was on a Repub­li­can cam­paign con­fer­ence call in 2002 when she heard Bill Canary tell oth­er cam­paign work­ers not to wor­ry about Siegel­man because Canary’s “girls” and “Karl” would make sure the Jus­tice Depart­ment pur­sued the Demo­c­rat so he was not a polit­i­cal threat in the future.[23] “Canary’s girls” sup­pos­ed­ly includ­ed his wife, Leu­ra Canary, who is Unit­ed States Attor­ney for the Mid­dle Dis­trict of Alaba­ma, and Unit­ed States Attor­ney for the North­ern Dis­trict of Alaba­ma Alice Martin.[23] Leu­ra Canary did not sub­mit vol­un­tary recusal paper­work until two months after Siegel­man attor­ney David Cromwell John­son’s press con­fer­ence in March 2002.[25][26][27]

In inter­views with the press, Simp­son has empha­sized that she heard Rove’s name men­tioned in a phone con­ver­sa­tion in which the dis­cus­sion turned to Siegel­man, clar­i­fied that she heard some­one involved in a 2002 con­fer­ence call refer to a meet­ing between Mr. Rove and Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials on the sub­ject of Siegel­man, and revealed that Karl Rove ordered her to “catch Siegel­man cheat­ing on his wife.”[20] The Annis­ton Star pub­lished an edi­to­r­i­al stat­ing that, “If that’s his sto­ry, then Rove should not hes­i­tate to go under oath and answer ques­tions before a con­gres­sion­al committee.”[28] . . .

. . . On the oth­er hand, Raw Sto­ry reports that Karl Rove advised Bill Canary on man­ag­ing Repub­li­can Bob Riley’s guber­na­to­r­i­al cam­paign against Siegel­man in the elec­tion fraud con­tro­ver­sy of 2002, based on the tes­ti­mo­ny of “two Repub­li­can lawyers who have asked to remain anony­mous for fear of retal­i­a­tion,” one of whom is close to Alaba­ma’s Repub­li­can Nation­al Committee.[29]

Simp­son’s house burned down soon after she began whistle­blow­ing, and Simp­son’s car was dri­ven off the road by a pri­vate investigator[30] and wrecked. As a result of the tim­ing of these inci­dents, Simp­son said, “Any­time you speak truth to pow­er, there are great risks. I’ve been attacked,” explain­ing she felt a “moral oblig­a­tion” to speak up. . . .

“Don Siegel­man”; Wikipedia. [6]

3. Ana­lyz­ing those sus­pi­cious deaths in Alaba­ma, the pro­gram begins by high­light­ing the alleged sui­cide of Charles “Bub­ba” Major.

For the fourth time in rough­ly a year, a per­son with ties to Alaba­ma’s corporate/political elites has com­mit­ted sui­cide under mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances. This time, the deceased had fam­i­ly ties to a man who com­mit­ted a most pub­lic “sui­cide” in March 2010.

Charles “Bub­ba” Major died on Mon­day at age 59, and his funer­al will be at 3 p.m. today at Moun­tain Brook Bap­tist Church. Bub­ba Major was a first cousin of promi­nent Birm­ing­ham attor­ney Major Bashin­sky, whose body was found float­ing in a golf-course pond last March and lat­er was ruled a sui­cide, a find­ing we have report­ed is dubi­ous, at best.

Bub­ba Major was quot­ed pub­licly as say­ing the sto­ry of Major Basin­sky’s death did not add up. Now, sources are telling Legal Schnau­zer this morn­ing that Bub­ba Major’s death has been ruled a suicide–and that has been con­firmed with today’s post from goodmorningfloridakeys.com, a blog writ­ten by Sloan Bashin­sky Jr., Major’s old­er broth­er.

This brings to four the num­ber of curi­ous sui­cides in rough­ly the past year in Alaba­ma, all involv­ing indi­vid­u­als with ties to the state’s con­ser­v­a­tive rul­ing elites? We know about Major Bashin­sky and Bub­ba Major. The oth­ers are Ralph Sta­cy, an exec­u­tive with the Busi­ness Coun­cil of Alaba­ma, and Bob Cavi­ness, an inves­ti­ga­tor in the office of for­mer Attor­ney Gen­er­al Troy King. That list does­n’t include Zoa White, a woman who worked in the Riley admin­is­tra­tion and was found beat­en to death in her Mobile home. That has been ruled a homi­cide.

Both Major Bashin­sky and Bub­ba Major had round­about ties to a law­suit brought by the estate of Sloan Bashin­sky Sr. against the Birm­ing­ham firm W and H Invest­ments. The “H” stands for William Cobb “Chip” Hazel­rig, an entre­pre­neur with ties to the Alaba­ma gam­ing com­mu­ni­ty. Hazel­rig is a part­ner in Paragon Gam­ing, a com­pa­ny head­ed by Robert Sigler, of Tuscaloosa. Paragon is pur­su­ing a major gam­bling resort in Cana­da, and Rob Riley, the son of for­mer Alaba­ma Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Bob Riley, used to be involved in Paragon.

Bub­ba Major was known as one of the finest golfers in Alaba­ma and was a long-time mem­ber of the pres­ti­gious Coun­try Club of Birm­ing­ham. And how is this for irony? An Inter­net search reveals that Bub­ba Major worked in sales at South­line Steel, a com­pa­ny based in Besse­mer, Alaba­ma. Who has a promi­nent inter­est in South­line Steel? None oth­er than Chip Hazel­rig.

Peo­ple with ties to the law­suit styled Estate of Sloan Bashin­sky v. W and H Invest­ments have a curi­ous way of turn­ing up as sui­cide vic­tims. Is that because Chip Hazel­rig has ties to Alaba­ma’s Repub­li­can machine, built large­ly by Karl Rove in the 1990s and run by the Riley fam­i­ly in the 2000s? And is this ugli­ness dri­ven part­ly because of the GOP’s under-the-table ties to the gam­bling indus­try?

We know for sure that Chip Hazel­rig took some curi­ous actions last March, while Major Bashin­sky was miss­ing. Why would he show up for a vis­it with Sloan Bashin­sky Jr. in Key West, Flori­da?

What about Hazel­rig’s ties to the Alaba­ma GOP? Rob Riley dis­tanced him­self from Paragon Gam­ing only after a con­tri­bu­tion from Hazel­rig to Bob Riley’s guber­na­to­r­i­al cam­paign was revealed to have come from some­one with ties to gam­bling. Bob Riley returned the con­tri­bu­tion, claim­ing that he was staunch­ly anti-gam­bling, and he went on to launch a cru­sade against elec­tron­ic bin­go in the last year of his reign as gov­er­nor.

The Riley fam­i­ly’s pub­lic stance on gam­bling, of course, rep­re­sents breath-tak­ing hypocrisy. Bob Riley, it has been wide­ly report­ed, was elect­ed with mas­sive finan­cial assis­tance from Mis­sis­sip­pi Choctaw gam­ing inter­ests fun­neled through con­vict­ed GOP felon Jack Abramoff. And it has been well doc­u­ment­ed that Rob Riley has ties to Chip Hazel­rig, Robert Sigler, and their gam­ing inter­ests.

Now, two peo­ple with ties to the Bashin­sky fam­i­ly, which was seek­ing an account­ing of $37 mil­lion invest­ed with Chip Hazel­rig’s com­pa­ny, have turned up dead. Both have been ruled a sui­cide, but we have shown there are sig­nif­i­cant rea­sons to doubt the find­ing in the Major Bashin­sky case. The Bub­ba Major sto­ry is in its ear­ly stages, but we’ve seen signs that he was con­cerned about what had hap­pened to his cousin. Did that con­cern cost him his life? We would not be sur­prised if the answer is yes. . . .

“Anoth­er ‘Sui­cide’ Dark­ens the Polit­i­cal Land­scape in Karl Rove’s Alaba­ma”; Legal Schnau­zer; 3/31/2011. [5]

4. Exhibit­ing the para­me­ters of the so-called “sui­cides” in Alaba­ma are the pre­pos­ter­ous cir­cum­stances of the alleged “sui­cide” of Charles “Bub­ba” Major’s cousin Major Bashin­sky.

Note that Major was a golf pro at the club where Bashin­sky’s body was found. Major felt it was impos­si­ble for his cous­in’s body not to be dis­cov­ered. He was found dead rough­ly a year lat­er.

. . . Author­i­ties say Bashin­sky wrapped rope around parts of his body and attached a bot­tle that con­tained a copy of the note they found in his car. He stuck a label from a Gold­en Flake bag in the roof of his mouth and loose­ly bound his mouth with duct tape and his hands with rope. He then walked into the pond and shot him­self.

If he wad­ed into the water, obvi­ous­ly the water was shal­low. Being in Alaba­ma in ear­ly March, the water prob­a­bly was not ter­ri­bly cold. This was on a pub­lic golf course where many peo­ple come and go. And yet the body remained sub­merged and unno­ticed for rough­ly 12 days?

I don’t pre­tend to be a foren­sic pathol­o­gist, but this seems unlikely–and offi­cials gave no indi­ca­tion that the body was weight­ed down by any object. . . .

. . .You prob­a­bly did not know that I ran High­land Golf Course for 15 yrs 83–98 and thought it was iron­ic that they found Major’s body at High­land Golf Course, still have not heard the cause of death, but guess it will come out soon. For the record there is no way the body could have been there sev­er­al days, with­out being seen because Hoot­ers had golf tour­ney there Sat and had over 120 peo­ple going by that pond every 3 min­utes. . .

. . . Back­ground note: Major’s body was spot­ted by golfers Mon­day fol­low­ing the Hoot­ers tour­na­ment. He went miss­ing 12 days before his body was found. He was alive most of that time. There was no ran­som demand. There was no note to law enforce­ment or the fam­i­ly or the media. There was only silence. . . .

“Should We Doubt a Find­ing of Sui­cide in Major Bashin­sky’s Death?”; Legal Schnau­zer; 3/25/2010. [10]

5. Bob Cavi­ness was yet anoth­er of the mys­te­ri­ous deaths in “Karl Rove’s Alaba­ma.”

An inves­ti­ga­tor in the office of Alaba­ma Attor­ney Gen­er­al Troy King recent­ly died under mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances, adding to a grow­ing list of sus­pi­cious deaths in the final 12 months or so of Gov­er­nor Bob Riley’s two terms.

Robert William “Bob” Cavi­ness died on Novem­ber 15 in Alexan­der City, Alaba­ma, where he lived. Mul­ti­ple sources have told Legal Schnau­zer that Cavi­ness died from a gun­shot wound to the head, and his death appar­ent­ly is being con­sid­ered a sui­cide.

Sources also say that Cavi­ness was friends with Ralph Sta­cy, a Busi­ness Coun­cil of Alaba­ma (BCA) exec­u­tive who was found dead in his office in Sep­tem­ber from an appar­ent self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound. Cavi­ness and Sta­cy report­ed­ly shared a com­mon faith and both were lay min­is­ters.

An obvi­ous ques­tion: Was Bob Cavi­ness inves­ti­gat­ing his friend’s death and did he get too close to the truth for some­one’s com­fort?

Anoth­er ques­tion: Is this tox­ic envi­ron­ment a nat­ur­al by-prod­uct of efforts by Karl Rove and the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce to take over Alaba­ma courts in the 1990s–which served as a pre­cur­sor to the Don Siegel­man pros­e­cu­tion and oth­er nasty events in our state?

Cavi­ness was 46 years old, with a wife and two sons. He had worked for the Mont­gomery Police Depart­ment, most­ly in drug inves­ti­ga­tions, for 20 years before going to work for the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s Office. . . .

. . . The Cavi­ness case marks at least four sus­pi­cious deaths that we know of in 2010, all involv­ing peo­ple with some con­nec­tions to the Riley admin­is­tra­tion or its activ­i­ties. Cavi­ness’ boss, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Troy King, is a Repub­li­can and once was a Riley ally. But the two have had a very pub­lic and ugly falling out over gam­bling-relat­ed issues. King has stat­ed that elec­tron­ic bin­go gen­er­al­ly is legal in Alaba­ma, while Riley launched a cru­sade to shut down gam­ing facil­i­ties in Alaba­ma.

Eleven lob­by­ists, leg­is­la­tors, and gam­ing figures–including the high-pro­file Mil­ton McGre­gor and Ron­nie Gilley–are under indict­ment on charges relat­ed to gam­bling leg­is­la­tion. The inves­ti­ga­tion has been led by U.S. Attor­ney Leu­ra Canary, a Riley ally and George W. Bush appointee who, inex­plic­a­bly, has remained in office through­out the Barack Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.

What are the oth­er sus­pi­cious deaths? We have writ­ten sev­er­al posts about Major Bashin­sky, Zoa White, and Ralph Sta­cy:

* Major Bashinsky–The 63-year-old son of one of the state’s best-known busi­ness­men was report­ed miss­ing in ear­ly March. About two weeks lat­er, his body was found float­ing in a golf-course pond on Birm­ing­ham’s South­side, and his death was ruled a sui­cide. His father, the late Sloan Bashin­sky Sr., was the CEO of Gold­en Enter­pris­es, the mak­er of Gold­en Flake pota­to chips and snack foods. In the months lead­ing up to Major Bashin­sky’s dis­ap­pear­ance, the Estate of Sloan Bashin­sky was involved in a law­suit with W and H Invest­ments of Birm­ing­ham, seek­ing an account­ing of some $37 mil­lion the elder Bashin­sky had invest­ed with the firm–mostly in oil wells. A set­tle­ment was approved in the law­suit on March 1, two days before Major Bashin­sky was report­ed miss­ing. One of the part­ners in W and H Invest­ments is William Cobb “Chip” Hazel­rig, who once had a cam­paign con­tri­bu­tion to Bob Riley returned when it was dis­cov­ered that Hazel­rig was a found­ing part­ner of a com­pa­ny called Paragon Gam­ing. Both Hazel­rig and Rob Riley, the gov­er­nor’s son, had ties to a com­pa­ny called Crim­son­i­ca, which is based in Tuscaloosa and run by a man named Robert Sigler.

* Zoa White–A for­mer Riley cam­paign work­er, the 69-year-old White was found dead in her mid­town Mobile home on June 28. News reports have said she was beat­en to death with a ham­mer. White had worked in the Alaba­ma Depart­ment of Eco­nom­ic and Com­mu­ni­ty Affairs (ADECA) under Bill John­son, who went from being a mem­ber of the Riley admin­is­tra­tion to one of the gov­er­nor’s harsh­est crit­ics. John­son was so close to White and her fam­i­ly that he helped noti­fy friends about funer­al arrange­ments. Mobile police recent­ly made an arrest in White’s mur­der, but they have said lit­tle about evi­dence found in the case. The pros­e­cu­tion will be led by Mobile Coun­ty Dis­trict Attor­ney John Tyson, who is com­man­der of Riley’s anti-gam­bling task force. Sus­pect Car­los Edward Kennedy has been denied bond in the case and is rep­re­sent­ed by a court-appoint­ed lawyer.

* Ralph Stacy–He was in charge of strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions and was a chief lieu­tenant to BCA pres­i­dent Bill Canary. Canary, who is Leu­ra Canary’s hus­band, is a long-time asso­ciate of Karl Rove and U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce Pres­i­dent Tom Dono­hue. Mont­gomery police have released few details about Sta­cy’s death, and the Mont­gomery Adver­tis­er has writ­ten almost noth­ing about it. Sta­cy was 53, with a wife, Angel, and a daugh­ter, Savan­nah. Friends and col­leagues described him as a jovial man who was a pop­u­lar pub­lic speak­er. Before mov­ing under the BCA ban­ner ear­li­er this year, Sta­cy had served as direc­tor of the Cham­ber of Com­merce Asso­ci­a­tion of Alaba­ma, which rep­re­sent­ed the state’s 120 Cham­bers of Com­merce and had some 60,000 dues-pay­ing mem­bers. The BCA, with about 5,000 mem­bers, report­ed­ly had long cov­et­ed the siz­able mem­ber­ship over which Sta­cy ruled.

Is it coin­ci­dence that these deaths hap­pened in 2010, as Bob Riley’s term was wind­ing down and the gov­er­nor was engaged in a high-pro­file cru­sade against gam­bling inter­ests? Is it coin­ci­dence that these deaths occurred as ques­tions con­tin­ued to rise about Riley’s finan­cial sup­port from the Mis­sis­sip­pi Choctaw Indi­ans, report­ed­ly laun­dered through GOP felon Jack Abramoff? Is it a coin­ci­dence that Bob Riley has strong ties to Bill Canary, Karl Rove, and the U.S. Cham­ber of Commerce–and Riley’s term is end­ing amidst a dis­turbing­ly high body count? It could be. Is it pos­si­ble that there is noth­ing sus­pi­cious about any of these deaths?. . .

“Anoth­er Mys­te­ri­ous Death Dark­ens the Polit­i­cal Land­scape in Karl Rove’s Alaba­ma”; Legal Schnau­zer; 12/21/2010. [19]

6. One of the “sui­cides” had been harassed by the FBI.

Alaba­ma deputy attor­ney gen­er­al before he com­mit­ted sui­cide last November–all because the agents mis­tak­en­ly thought the deputy AG was try­ing to help gam­bling mag­nate Mil­ton McGre­gor.

Robert William “Bob” Cavi­ness died from an appar­ent self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound on Novem­ber 15, as FBI agents Kei­th Bak­er and John H. McEachren III were con­duct­ing a harass­ment cam­paign against him, accord­ing to a report in The Mont­gomery Inde­pen­dent. Bak­er and McEachren were involved in an inves­ti­ga­tion of McGre­gor, which led to the ongo­ing pros­e­cu­tion of 11 indi­vid­u­als con­nect­ed to gam­bling-relat­ed mea­sures in the Alaba­ma Leg­is­la­ture.

We have report­ed on the Cavi­ness sto­ry as one of sev­er­al mys­te­ri­ous Alaba­ma deaths that seem con­nect­ed rough­ly to the last year of Gov. Bob Riley’s admin­is­tra­tion. The most recent such death came just last week, when Birm­ing­ham busi­ness­man Charles “Bub­ba” Major report­ed­ly com­mit­ted sui­cide in Moun­tain Brook. Major was a first cousin to promi­nent attor­ney Major Bashin­sky, whose death in March 2010 was ruled a sui­cide. Bub­ba Major had expressed doubts about the offi­cial cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his cous­in’s death, which came just days after the set­tle­ment in a law­suit the Bashin­sky fam­i­ly brought against an invest­ment firm with ties to the Riley fam­i­ly and the gam­bling indus­try.

How did Bob Cavi­ness incur the wrath of the FBI? Bob Mar­tin, edi­tor and pub­lish­er of The Mont­gomery Inde­pen­dent, reports:

The Deputy AG, Robert William “Bob” Cavi­ness, was in the process of con­duct­ing a back­ground check on an indi­vid­ual with the last name of McEach­ern, who lived in the Auburn-Ope­li­ka area. It was a mat­ter involv­ing worker’s comp fraud.

The Inde­pen­dent was told by the AG’s office that Agents Bak­er and McEach­ern became sus­pi­cious when they found out through the state’s com­put­er data base that some­one in the Attor­ney General’s office was con­duct­ing the search involv­ing McEachern’s name.

“They went bal­lis­tic” accord­ing to a source at the AG’s office, “and began harass­ing Bob and accus­ing him of try­ing to help Mr. McGre­gor,” AG offi­cials told us.

What was the fall­out?

An inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion was con­duct­ed by the AG’s office, which, at that time was under the direc­tion of Atty. Gen. Troy King.

The inves­ti­ga­tion com­plete­ly cleared Cavi­ness of doing any­thing improp­er.

“He was just doing his job but those idiots at the FBI wouldn’t let him alone. They (the FBI) were bound and deter­mined to tie Bob in with try­ing to help McGre­gor,” one AG offi­cial told our reporters. Bak­er and McEach­ern were the agents who arrest­ed McGre­gor at his home.

Mar­tin reports that the AG’s office con­firmed that Cavi­ness’ death was a sui­cide. But a num­ber of ques­tions remain, in our mind. Did the AG’s office, now under Luther Strange, pro­vide any doc­u­ments to sup­port the sui­cide find­ing? Did the AG’s office con­duct an inves­ti­ga­tion of its own into Cavi­ness’ death?
What about Cavi­ness’ pos­si­ble ties to Ralph Sta­cy, the Busi­ness Coun­cil of Alaba­ma exec­u­tive who report­ed­ly com­mit­ted sui­cide in his office last Sep­tem­ber. Mul­ti­ple sources have told Legal Schnau­zer that Sta­cy and Cavi­ness were friends, that they shared a com­mon faith and were lay min­is­ters. . . .

“FBI Harass­ment Pre­ced­ed Alaba­ma Offi­cial’s Sui­cide”; Legal Schnau­zer; 4/4/2011. [18]

7. Some FBI agents and for­mer agents have also become “sui­cides” late­ly, also vic­tims of appar­ent­ly self-inflict­ed gun­shot wounds. What was he work­ing on?

The FBI wasn’t say­ing much last week about the sui­cide of an FBI agent, who shot him­self  in the Port­land, Maine area over the week­end of April 24, accord­ing to sources.

The agent was in his ear­ly 50s, one source said.

FBI agent Greg Com­cowich, a spokesman for the Boston FBI Divi­sion, which includes Maine,  told the ticklethewire.com:

“The type of ques­tion which you are inquir­ing (about)is not some­thing the FBI would com­ment on.”

Last year, an FBI agent assigned to Quan­ti­co com­mit­ted sui­cide.

“FBI Agent Com­mits Sui­cide in Maine”; ticklethewire.com; 4/27/2011. [26]

8. Anoth­er for­mer FBI agent allegdly shot her­self to death in the Hous­ton area. What had she been work­ing on?

The body of a miss­ing for­mer FBI agent from Har­ris Coun­ty was found Thurs­day near her car in Waller Coun­ty just north of Rolling Hills.

Patri­cia Dur­ney, who had been report­ed miss­ing the day before, was retired from the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion and work­ing in the pri­vate sec­tor. Her car was found Thurs­day morn­ing in a clear­ing off Wig­gins Road, which set off a mul­ti-agency search for her. A law enforce­ment heli­copter and air­plane cir­cled the area while law enforce­ment offi­cers searched on the ground with the air of dogs.

Agents from the FBI, Texas Rangers, Texas Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safe­ty and Waller and Har­ris coun­ty sher­iff offices respond­ed.

“The inves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues, how­ev­er the ini­tial inves­ti­ga­tion does not reveal any evi­dence of foul play,” the Waller Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Her body has been tak­en to the Har­ris Coun­ty Med­ical Examiner’s Office. Uncon­firmed, pub­lished reports indi­cate Dur­ney died of a sin­gle gun­shot wound to the head.

On Thurs­day, Sher­iff Glenn Smith said they were wait­ing for crime scene inves­ti­ga­tors to exam­ine the area to help deter­mine if the death was mur­der or sui­cide.

“Body of For­mer FBI Agent Found in Waller Coun­ty” by Joe South­ern; yourhoustonnews.com; 2/19/2010. [14]

9. The pro­gram high­lights some of the con­sid­er­a­tions at the core of the inves­ti­ga­tion [15] of the shoot­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gif­fords in Ari­zona. (These will be dealt with at greater length in a future pro­gram.)

10. Quite apart from ques­tions as to the ide­o­log­i­cal moti­va­tion of Jared Lee Lough­n­er, the media have quick­ly dropped reports of a sec­ond pos­si­ble sus­pect in the case.

. . . With the local sheriff’s office and the FBI inves­ti­gat­ing, sus­pi­cions that the sus­pect­ed gun­man, Jared Lee Lough­n­er, had an accom­plice would com­pli­cate the the­sis that the shoot­ing was the work of a lone and men­tal­ly unbal­anced young man lash­ing out at the gov­ern­ment. The exis­tence of a co-con­spir­a­tor could point to a more cal­cu­lat­ed plot, and per­haps shed more light on the motive for the attack.

“We are not con­vinced that [the man in cus­tody] act­ed alone. There is some rea­son to believe he came to this loca­tion with anoth­er indi­vid­ual, and that indi­vid­ual is involved,” said Clarence Dup­nik, Pima Coun­ty sher­iff, at a press con­fer­ence Sat­ur­day. . . .

“Gabrielle Gif­fords Case: Sec­ond Man Sought in Mass Ari­zona Shoot­ing” by Cheryl Sul­li­van; Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor; 1/9/2011. [20]

[27]

Ash­ley Tur­ton Death Car: What do YOU think?

11. A hor­ri­fy­ing polit­i­cal­ly-relat­ed death occurred the same week­end that Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gif­fords was shot. The fiery death (mur­der?) of Ash­ley Tur­ton [28], wife of Dan Tur­ton, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s liai­son to the now GOP-con­trolled House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives received lit­tle atten­tion, and was read­i­ly dis­missed as an unfor­tu­nate acci­dent.

Of course, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gif­fords is a mem­ber of that same House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, due to con­vene short­ly after that dead­ly week­end.

Was a mes­sage being send to the Oba­ma White House?

The car fire that led to the sud­den death of Ash­ley Tur­ton was caused by the impact after a low-speed crash, accord­ing to the major crash inves­ti­ga­tion unit of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment.

“It’s quite pos­si­ble that the vic­tim was maneu­ver­ing the car and came in con­tact with some kind of flam­ma­ble chem­i­cal mate­ri­als,” D.C. Fire spokesman Pete Piringer said.

Tur­ton, 37, was the for­mer chief of staff to Rep. Rosa DeLau­ro (D‑Conn.) and wife of White House liai­son to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan Tur­ton. She worked as a lob­by­ist for the Raleigh, N.C.-based util­i­ty giant Progress Ener­gy.

Tur­ton was found dead in her car Mon­day morn­ing, which was dis­cov­ered ablaze in a row house garage, pre­sum­ably the Tur­ton home, in the 800 block of A Street South­east near East­ern Mar­ket.

Police said there was a heavy fire in the garage at 4:45 a.m. that caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to the 2008 BMW X5, which was par­tial­ly backed out into the dri­ve­way and looked singed. Fire dam­age could also be seen on a cor­ner of the brick home Mon­day.

When the fire was extin­guished, fire­fight­ers dis­cov­ered Turton’s body inside the car. . . .

“Tur­ton Car Fire Caused by Low-Speed Crash, Police Say” by Rachel Blade, Jes­si­ca Brady and Ann Palmer; Roll Call; 1/10/2011. [16]

12a. Ms. Tur­ton worked for Rudy Giu­lian­i’s law firm, which had just suc­cess­ful­ly nego­ti­at­ed the merg­er of Duke Ener­gy with Pro­gres­sive Ener­gy, to form the largest U.S. util­i­ty.

In the con­text of Ms. Tur­ton’s lob­by­ing activ­i­ties, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that K Street lob­by­ists have, as a mat­ter of cus­tom, giv­en gen­er­ous­ly to both par­ties. Under the influ­ence of GOP big­wig Grover Norquist, how­ev­er, lob­by­ists have increas­ing­ly been favor­ing the GOP. Might Ms. Tur­ton’s work have threat­ened that dynam­ic?

The Bureau of Alco­hol, Tobac­co, Firearms and Explo­sives is now assist­ing D.C. Fire and EMS and D.C. Police with an inves­ti­ga­tion of a dead­ly fire that killed a key Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ist.

37-year-old Ash­ley Tur­ton was killed in a fire as she backed out of her garage ear­ly Mon­day morn­ing.

A spokesman for D.C. Fire and EMS says the ATF rou­tine­ly helps out on most fire inves­ti­ga­tions because they bring in valu­able resources. At this point, they are eval­u­at­ing all pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios, but have not deter­mined a cause. Offi­cials are also await­ing an autop­sy report to deter­mine the cause of death.

Offi­cials do believe the BMW SUV that Tur­ton was in ini­tial­ly had a low-impact crash which was fol­lowed by a fire. The airbags did not deploy.

Inves­ti­ga­tors say they’re look­ing at all pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios and are check­ing the vehi­cle main­te­nance records as well as whether the garage door was work­ing. . . .

. . . In the tough world of pol­i­tics, she made her pres­ence known with her insight and a smile. Tur­ton worked as a lob­by­ist and had close ties to the White House. But if you talk to friends, she was the excep­tion.

The 37-year-old was one half of a well-known and well-liked Wash­ing­ton pow­er cou­ple who accom­plished a lot. Ash­ley’s hus­band, Dan Tur­ton, is the point per­son for the White House when it comes to mov­ing leg­is­la­tion through Con­gress.

“She nev­er let that change her per­son­al­i­ty. She was still a very reg­u­lar per­son. The kind of per­son that if you met, you’d would think was a nice per­son and a smart per­son, but you would­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly sus­pect that she had sub­stan­tial con­nec­tions to cor­ri­dors of pow­er,” said Scott Segal, a lob­by­ist with Bracewell & Giu­liani.

From Capi­tol Hill to K Street, she stood out first as a top staffer on the Hill, then as a lob­by­ist for Progress Ener­gy. . . .

“Friends Remem­ber DC Lob­by­ist, Ash­ley Tur­ton, Killed in Mys­te­ri­ous Fire” by Roby Chavez; myfoxdc.com; 1/13/2011. [22]

12b. More about the Duke, Progress merg­er:

Merg­er mania in the util­i­ty indus­try con­tin­ues with the grand­dad­dy of them all–at least so far. Duke Ener­gy and Progress Ener­gy have announced their intent to merge in a deal that would cre­ate the largest util­i­ty in the Unit­ed States and among the largest in the world with a $37 bil­lion mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion, $65 bil­lion enter­prise val­ue, and $20 bil­lion in rev­enue. . . .

“Duke, Progress Ener­gy to Cre­ate Largest U.S. Util­i­ty” by Travis Miller; Toron­to Star; 1/10/2011. [23]

13. The pro­gram con­cludes with exam­i­na­tion of an aspect of the inves­ti­ga­tion [17] into the assas­si­na­tion of Robert F. Kennedy.

Con­vict­ed assas­sin Sirhan Sirhan was manip­u­lat­ed by a seduc­tive girl in a mind con­trol plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bul­lets did not kill the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers.

The doc­u­ments filed this week in fed­er­al court and obtained by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press detail exten­sive inter­views with Sirhan dur­ing the past three years, some done while he was under hyp­no­sis.

The papers point to a mys­te­ri­ous girl in a pol­ka-dot dress as the con­troller who led Sirhan to fire a gun in the pantry of the Ambas­sador Hotel. But the doc­u­ments sug­gest a sec­ond per­son shot and killed Kennedy while using Sirhan as a diver­sion.

For the first time, Sirhan said under hyp­no­sis that on a cue from the girl he went into “range mode” believ­ing he was at a fir­ing range and see­ing cir­cles with tar­gets in front of his eyes.

“I thought that I was at the range more than I was actu­al­ly shoot­ing at any per­son, let alone Bob­by Kennedy,” Sirhan was quot­ed as say­ing dur­ing inter­views with Daniel Brown, a Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor and expert in trau­ma mem­o­ry and hyp­no­sis. He inter­viewed Sirhan for 60 hours with and with­out hyp­no­sis, accord­ing to the legal brief. . .

. . . The sto­ry of the girl has been a lin­ger­ing theme in accounts of the events just after mid­night on June 5, 1968, when Kennedy was gunned down in the hotel pantry after claim­ing vic­to­ry in the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry.

Wit­ness­es talked of see­ing such a female run­ning from the hotel shout­ing, “We shot Kennedy.” But she was nev­er iden­ti­fied, and amid the chaos of the scene, descrip­tions were con­flict­ing.

Through the years, Sirhan has claimed no mem­o­ry of shoot­ing Kennedy and said in the recent inter­views that his pres­ence at the hotel was an acci­dent, not a planned des­ti­na­tion.

Under hyp­no­sis, he remem­bered meet­ing the girl that night and becom­ing smit­ten with her. He said she led him to the pantry.

“I am try­ing to fig­ure out how to hit on her.... That’s all that I can think about,” he says in one inter­view cit­ed in the doc­u­ments. “I was fas­ci­nat­ed with her looks .... She nev­er said much. It was very erot­ic. I was con­sumed by her. She was a seduc­tress with an unspo­ken unavail­abil­i­ty.” . . .

. . . Sirhan main­tained in the hyp­not­ic inter­views that the mys­tery girl touched him or “pinched” him on the shoul­der just before he fired then spun him around to see peo­ple com­ing through the pantry door.

“Then I was on the tar­get range ... a flash­back to the shoot­ing range ... I did­n’t know that I had a gun,” Sirhan said.

Under what Brown called the con­di­tion of hyp­not­ic free recall, he said Sirhan remem­bered see­ing the flash of a sec­ond gun at the time of the assas­si­na­tion. With­out hyp­no­sis, he said, Sirhan could not remem­ber that shot. . . .

“Con­vict­ed RFK Assas­sin Says Girl Manip­u­lat­ed Him” by Lin­da Deutsch [AP]; Yahoo News; 4/28/2011. [21]