WSFA 12 Investigation: Allegations Against Tom Parker

Published: Oct. 14, 2004 at 11:08 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 23, 2004 at 11:24 AM CDT
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There are questions as to whether Republican Tom Parker's race for a spot on the State Supreme Court may be in trouble.

At issue is a recent published report that accuses Parker of associating with white supremacists. WSFA 12's Eileen Jones sat down one on one with Parker to discuss the matter. He says he has not seen the picture in the report that shows him holding a lot of Confederate flags in his hands.

However, that is not the only thing the Southern Poverty Law Center magazine finds objectionable. Mark Potok is the center's spokesman. He said, "Seems to me when you start hanging around with people who are essentially despising of black people and God only knows who else, that is really bad stuff."

The people, the article says Parker is hanging around with are white supremacists, like Leonard "Flagpole" Wilson, who got the name by climbing up a flagpole at University of Alabama to wave whites on during a protest of desegregation. On the other side of Parker is Mike Whorton, who the article describes as the state leader of the League of the South, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a white supremacist hate group. Potok says, "In my opinion it seems quite clear that Tom Parker has grown very close to these people, to these neo-confederates, and what I have to say about that is if you lie down with dogs you are going to get up with fleas."

Parker disagrees. He told WSFA 12's Eileen Jones, "I know these guys and I have never heard anything like that come out of their mouth." Parker admits distributing the miniature confederate flags at the funeral of the last Confederate widow in Alabama, but he says it was a matter of appreciating his southern heritage, not racism. "I think it is scurrilous politics trying to label me something that I'm not."

Parker says he has always appreciated Alabama's duel heritage, the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. He also points to the many ways he says he helped with race relations from the time he was student body President at Lanier High School to now, when he says he organized a group of black and white ministers to improve their working relationship.

Parker is running against Democrat Robert Smith for a seat on the State Supreme Court.