Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Wherever he goes in Alabama, David Bronner likely is the smartest guy in the room. The Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), under Bronner's direction for the past 38 years, probably is the best-managed entity in our state.
Wherever Leura Canary goes in Alabama, or any other state, she likely is the most corrupt person in the room. As U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama during the George W. Bush years (and two years of the Obama administration), Canary is best known for ramrodding the Don Siegelman case, which is likely to stand as the most notorious political prosecution in American history.
So why would a smart guy like David Bronner want to hire a slime ball like Leura Canary to work in RSA's legal office? Our guess is that Bronner actually wants no part of Leura Canary. But since Republicans took over the Alabama Legislature in January 2010, they have been trying to get their grimy hands on an RSA investment nest egg that reportedly tops $32 billion, making it the 43rd largest pension fund in the United States.
If Canary actually winds up joining the RSA staff in January 2012, as was recently reported in The Montgomery Independent, it almost certainly will have nothing to do with her legal skills, which appear to be pretty much nonexistent. Instead, it will represent Bronner's effort to compromise with Republican thugs and keep them from pilfering Alabama pension funds.
How thuggish have Alabama Republicans been acting toward Bronner? The answer appears to be "pretty darned thuggish," even by GOP standards. And that makes us wonder if we should take a second look at a curious death connected to David Bronner, one that we generally have not included in our coverage of mysterious deaths that have darkened the political landscape in Karl Rove's Alabama.
Montgomery journalist Bob Martin wrote about Canary's likely hiring at RSA--a story that originated with the Inside Alabama Politics (IAP) newsletter--and noted the pressure that Bronner was facing:
Bronner told IAP he will hire Canary in January to "beef up" his legal department and because she will bring courtroom experience to his legal staff and replace the retiring Lindy Beale, who has handled legislative and legal matters, and Bill Kelly who will transfer from the legal office to handle another RSA Division.
Two capitol observers told me they believe Canary is being hired because of other reasons; one of them being that Bronner needs to improve RSA's relations with the Republican-controlled legislature.
Readers who have followed the Siegelman case quickly will note something curious in Martin's last sentence. It strongly hints that Leura Canary is seen as a political figure who will do the bidding of certain Republicans. Did the bogus prosecution of Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy help her earn that reputation?
Martin does not disclose other possible "reasons" that Bronner would hire Canary. But Martin's words suggest that such a hire would be made while Bronner holds his nose to ward off an overpowering stench. Martin's words also suggest that, figuratively speaking, Republicans have a gun cocked and pointed at Bronner's head--and the big losers could be Alabama pensioners and anyone with investments in RSA.
Why would Alabama Republicans resort to thuggish tactics? For one, it's in their DNA; they can't help themselves. Second, with Mississippi Choctaw gambling funds seemingly drying up, they need another source of revenue for their underhanded political endeavors. RSA represents a $32-billion pot of gold that could make certain GOPers very powerful--and very rich. Third, and most importantly, Republicans have not been able to infiltrate RSA through the legislative process.
Almost from the moment they took over the legislature, Alabama Republicans started pushing a pair of bills that would have given politicians more control over RSA. Here is how an editorial at al.com explained it: