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Suspicious Political Deaths Are Piling Up Down South

By       Message Roger Shuler     Permalink
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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

A senior vice president at the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) died last week from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, marking at least three people with ties to our state's ruling conservatives who have died under unusual circumstances in the past six months.

Ralph Stacy was in charge of strategic communications and was a chief lieutenant to BCA president Bill Canary. Montgomery police have released few details about Stacy's death, except to say they responded last Tuesday to a report of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at BCA headquarters. Stacy's funeral was on Friday.

We have described Alabama as Ground Zero for justice-related sleaze during the George W. Bush administration, and the state's political environment has been toxic for years. Republican Governor Bob Riley has documented ties to the Jack Abramoff scandal. And for about a year, Riley has been leading a crusade against gambling in Alabama, apparently to help protect the market share of his Choctaw gaming supporters in neighboring Mississippi.

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A federal investigation is ongoing into gambling-related activities in the Alabama Legislature. And we reported 12 days ago that Leura Canary, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, might be planning indictments of 10 or more prominent Democrats as an "October Surprise" designed to have an impact on the November elections. Among Canary's possible targets are Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks, a proponent of an education lottery, and gambling magnate Milton McGregor.

Leura Canary, a Bush appointee who still has not been replaced by the Obama administration, is married to Bill Canary, and the couple have been longtime Riley allies. But now one of Bill Canary's closest associates has turned up dead under mysterious circumstances--and he is not the first person with connections to the Riley administration to meet an untimely demise.

As Riley's two terms are winding down, bodies are piling up. Is that coincidence? Or has Alabama's political environment gone from toxic to deadly? And if so, what is driving it?

Ralph Stacy certainly did not seem like a prime suspect to commit suicide. He was 53, with a wife, Angel, and a daughter, Savannah. Friends and colleagues described him as a jovial man who was a popular speaker and didn't mind poking fun at himself. The Montgomery Advertiser wrote:

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said Stacy's personality made him stand out in any group.

"He was just so gregarious and so friendly," Strange said.

Randy George, president of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, noted Stacy's long commitment to chamber interests. That career also included a stint leading the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.

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"He did a magnificent job," George said. "Ralph was one of those people who was truly bigger than life."

Stacy was a hefty man with a large smile who was just as likely to joke about his baldness as any other subject. That made him popular on the speaker circuit.

"He was a really dynamic and entertaining guy," George said.

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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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