Ken Hare In Depth: Wife-beating federal judge, voter fraud peril - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

OPINION

Ken Hare In Depth: Wife-beating federal judge, voter fraud perils, and Roy Moore's son

  • THE GREAT OUTDOORSKen Hare's Natural AlabamaMore>>

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    Ken Hare's Natural Alabama: Birding road trips are also about freedom

    Ken Hare's Natural Alabama: Birding road trips are also about freedom

    Saturday, May 20 2017 2:30 PM EDT2017-05-20 18:30:36 GMT
    Purple Gallinule in Geneva County. (Source: Ken Hare)Purple Gallinule in Geneva County. (Source: Ken Hare)

    I love road trips. There is something soul-satisfying about jumping into a car and heading out with only a general idea of where you're going and what you're going to do.

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    Ken Hare's Natural Alabama: Sometimes weather good for birds, but not birding

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    Saturday, May 6 2017 11:45 AM EDT2017-05-06 15:45:34 GMT
    AOS members, never without their binoculars, at the Goat Trees in Dauphin Island. (Photo Ken Hare)AOS members, never without their binoculars, at the Goat Trees in Dauphin Island. (Photo Ken Hare)

    Sometimes, what's good for the birds might not be good for the birders. Each year, the Alabama Ornithological Society holds two of its three meetings on Dauphin Island specifically to try to be there when migrating birds are making stopovers during their spring and fall flights to and from wintering grounds in the Caribbean, South America and Central America. But when about 100 AOS members gathered for three days of field trips in April, there were far fewer migrants than are usuall...

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    Sometimes, what's good for the birds might not be good for the birders. Each year, the Alabama Ornithological Society holds two of its three meetings on Dauphin Island specifically to try to be there when migrating birds are making stopovers during their spring and fall flights to and from wintering grounds in the Caribbean, South America and Central America. But when about 100 AOS members gathered for three days of field trips in April, there were far fewer migrants than are usuall...

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  • Ken Hare's Natural Alabama

    Ken Hare's Natural Alabama: New bird banding project builds on years of research

    Ken Hare's Natural Alabama: New bird banding project builds on years of research

    Saturday, April 29 2017 5:02 PM EDT2017-04-29 21:02:35 GMT
    Mist nets such as this one are used to harmlessly catch small birds such as this Common Yellowthroat Warbler. (Photo Ken Hare)Mist nets such as this one are used to harmlessly catch small birds such as this Common Yellowthroat Warbler. (Photo Ken Hare)

    For more than two decades starting in 1989, ornithologists captured and banded thousands of birds migrating through the Fort Morgan peninsula on Alabama's coastline. 

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    For more than two decades starting in 1989, ornithologists captured and banded thousands of birds migrating through the Fort Morgan peninsula on Alabama's coastline. 

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The public case against U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller's unsuitability to sit as a judge continues to build.

UltraViolet, a women's advocacy group, is now running radio ads in the home districts of members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee urging them to move forward with the impeachment of Fuller, who is accused of beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel.

Meanwhile, a longer version has been released of the 911 tape in which Fuller's wife claimed he was beating her and asked for an ambulance (scroll down on the blog entry to the small audio player to hear the longer version of the call). 

Fuller's lawyer has claimed the federal judge was only acting in self defense and did not strike his wife. But the longer version of the 911 call seems to indicate that the struggle continued even after Fuller's wife is on the line with the emergency operator, and a minute and 40 seconds into the call the operator says to a dispatcher: "I can hear him hitting her now."

That full tape may prove to be the audio equivalent of the video of pro football player Ray Rice striking his wife in a hotel elevator.

New 'partnership' to fight vote fraud.

When Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill joined with the state's chief prosecutor and top law enforcement agency recently to announce a new "partnership" to protect against unfair elections in the state, it sounded like a big deal.

Merrill, Attorney General Luther Strange, and a representative of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency held a press conference to announce that complaints of voter fraud and campaign finance violations would be looked at with a human eye and investigated.

Merrill outlined a process in which his office would look at all complaints and forward those it believes have merit to ALEA to be investigated. Those ALEA officials find are illegal would be forwarded to the attorney general for prosecution.

In other words, each agency would do its job.

When I asked Merrill what's different from the status quo, he answered by saying that he could not remember when there was a conviction for campaign finance violations or voter fraud.

That statement should have made Merrill's partner agencies a bit uncomfortable, since it has been their responsibility to investigate and prosecute voter fraud and campaign finance cases in the past. Merrill is new to his post, having been elected in November. But Strange is serving his second term as attorney general.

Merrill said no new laws were needed to make the partnership work, so it sounds as if the new partnership boils down to everyone being more diligent in meeting their responsibilities to ensure fair elections. That's not a bad thing.

But there was one aspect of Merrill's proposal that could prove troubling. As Merrill described it, his office would conduct an investigation of complaints and then forward those his staff felt could be criminal to state criminal investigators.

The Alabama secretary of state is an elected official, and therefore allied with a political party. Merrill is a Republican, but most past secretaries of state have been Democrats.

When I asked Merrill if he saw a problem with the office of an elected official deciding which complaints to forward for criminal investigations, he said it was no different than the Ethics Commission doing the same thing for complaints of ethics violations. But there is a difference: The ethics commissioners are not elected by party; they are appointed, and thus one step further removed from political influence.

If this new partnership leads to a spate of criminal investigations and most of those involve Democrats, not Merrill's fellow Republicans, the process will leave itself open to charges that it is politically motivated.

There are two ways that Merrill can mitigate such charges: First he could forward all complaints of criminal violations to the staff of ALEA and the attorney general's office and let them decide which to investigate. The second is transparency.

All complaints could be documented and made public (the identity of the complainant could be protected when necessary), as well as whether they were found to be with or without merit, dealt with administratively, forwarded for investigation and possible prosecution , and the final outcomes of such investigations.

That way, the public could judge how well each of these partner agencies is doing its job.

Moore's son blames police, media for problems.

When I first read that the son of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was in trouble with the law again, I thought that it was not something I would write about. After all, Moore is the public official, not his son. As long as Moore doesn't use his position to intervene in his son's behalf, my first instinct was that this was not an issue worth more than passing note.

But after Caleb Moore took to social media to blame his problems on "crooked police officers" and the news media, I can't resist a brief comment.

In a Facebook post that his attorney now says Moore regrets, Caleb Moore wrote: "This is nothing more than a prime example of how media and crooked police officers and critics of my dad try to not only destroy his career for what he stands for but will go as far as trying to destroy his family. I am not a drug user as the drug test taken today will show. As for the malicious possession charges, justice will be served.”

For Caleb Moore to blame others -- especially police officers -- is pure bunkum.

The sad fact is that young Moore has a checkered history with the law, and that so far he has gotten off incredibly lightly.

Caleb Moore's recent arrest for drug possession was at least his sixth run-in with the law in four years. The web site al.com says the 24-year-old's issues started in 2011 when he was arrested for driving under the influence and drug possession. His father said at the time that his son, 20, was seeking youthful offender status. There is no record of the disposition of those charges.

Since then, there have been arrests for third-degree domestic violence, two misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possessions, another DUI, and the latest drug possession charge. For all those charges, Caleb Moore has received no recorded jail time outside of the booking process.

Again, none of this should reflect on Caleb Moore's father.

Some advice to young Moore, who is an employee of his father's non-profit Foundation for Moral Law: First, he should recognize that as long as his father is a chief justice and he works for an organization that promotes "moral law," his brushes with the law will draw public attention. Second, and most important, he should stop blaming others for problems that it appears only he has created.

Ken Hare is a veteran newspaper editor and editorial writer who now writes a regular column for wsfa.com. Contact him at khare@wsfa.com.

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