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Chamber of Commerce Thuggery Comes As No Surprise

By       Message Roger Shuler     Permalink
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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

Reports last week that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had engaged in a campaign to sabotage its political opponents were not a surprise here at Legal Schnauzer headquarters.

Birmingham is our home base, and Alabamians have seen the results of the chamber's underhanded tactics for 15-plus years now. In fact, a strong argument could be made that Alabama has felt the impact of the chamber's unlawful actions more than any other state--and the corporate sleaze has seeped into our own household.

It's probably fair to say that the influence of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce played a key role in the workplace cheat jobs my wife and I have experienced--all because I dared to write a progressive blog focusing on judicial corruption in Alabama. I was unlawfully terminated from my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and my wife was cheated out of her job at Infinity Property and Casualty.

Evidence strongly suggests that we were targeted by people with ties to the Alabama Republican Party, which has been heavily influenced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its local affiliate, the Business Council of Alabama (BCA).

So were we surprised to learn that the U.S. Chamber and its minions had tried to harm political opponents by gathering information about their spouses, children, and personal lives? Not at all. In fact, we would expect nothing less from the corporate forces that have brought untold corruption to Alabama.

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We were not surprised by a USA Today article outlining the chamber's efforts to distance itself from the sleazy plan. We have learned from harsh experience that individuals who are cheaters also tend to be liars.

Many Americans probably associate Karl Rove's rise to power with Texas. But the GOP strategist did not become a national figure until he came to Alabama in the 1990s and, with the help of the BCA's Bill Canary and massive amounts of dollars from the U.S. Chamber, turned our state courts from Democratic to Republican control.

Now it is commonplace for large jury verdicts against corporate entities to be overturned in Alabama appellate courts. Perhaps the most famous such case involved ExxonMobil and a $3.6-billion judgment for fraud. The most recent came about a month ago when the Alabama Supreme Court overturned a $3.2-million judgment in a medical malpractice/wrongful death case against the Health Care Authority of Baptist Health.

On what grounds did our state's high court overturn the jury verdict? It said Baptist Health enjoyed state immunity because it had developed an affiliation agreement with . . . UAB. Isn't that interesting? The same public university that fired me is trying to help private facilities bypass accountability for gross medical negligence. This is a university that rakes in more than $400 million a year in federal funds and still discriminates and violates the public trust with impunity.

Corporate forces cheated my wife and me out of our jobs because I chose to exercise my First Amendment rights and start a blog that tells the truth about the rampant corruption in both state and federal courtrooms in Alabama, focusing heavily on the notorious Bush-era prosecution of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. Similar forces now are on the attack against others who would dare tell the truth.

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ThinkProgress is one current target, and here is how it describes the chamber's scheme:

ThinkProgress has learned that a law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with set of "private security" companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign.

According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams. Hunton and Williams' attorney Richard Wyatt, who once represented Food Lion in its infamous lawsuit against ABC News, was hired by the Chamber in October of last year. To assist the Chamber, Wyatt and his associates, John Woods and Bob Quackenboss, solicited a set of private security firms--HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis)--to develop tactics for damaging progressive groups and labor unions, in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)

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