Sunday, April 5, 2009

Roger Bedford and the Law

Attorney and State Representative Roger H. Bedford Jr. is familiar with Alabama courts in more ways than one. On December 22, 2001, Bedford was indicted in Marion County on charges of extortion. Specifically, he was accused of withholding two million dollars in state grants earmarked for an agricultural center in the rural county. Allegedly, the "Prince of Pork" refused to give county commissioners the funds unless they purchased 33 acres of land from his friend, Marion County industrialist Blue Harbor. When only one of the five commissioners agreed to testify in court, the charges were dropped.

In 2007, Bedford was one of four Alabama legislators accused of failing to file a report on campaign contributions. Again, a judge dismissed the charges.

Not all controversy surrounding Bedford has been legal in nature. After securing a large grant for the Bureau of Tourism and Travel, Bedford, along with Bureau lobbyists Jeff and Deb Miller, used $25,000.00 to attend a Paris air show. He later returned the entire amount of his expenses, $3,395.00, to the State.

In 1998, Bedford campaigned on the promise to fund the Children First program, but later supported legislation that removed the earmarked funds for this program, allowing the money to be diverted to causes with greater effect on his district.

During the Siegelman administration, the governor awarded a prime contract to Trillion Industries, a company whose submission was five million dollars over the lowest bidder. Siegelman friend Bedford was the attorney representing Trillion, a widely reported fact that did nothing to enhance Bedford's reputation.

Bedford's political ploys have also included his family. Both his wife and son have campaigned for positions as delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Political analyst Lawrence Kestenbaum has commented on the practice:

"Nonetheless, there are now so many related suggest either a shortage in the pool of potential delegates, or a delegate selection process so open to manipulation by insiders that it's easy for a politico to get...credentials for family members."

Now, with the withdrawal of Jim Folsom Jr. from the ranks of potential Democratic candidates, Roger Bedford is seeking his party's nomination. He certainly has the funding and the tenacity to make it an interesting race. Not that Alabama politics are ever less than fascinating.

What's up with this: Apparently at least one Florence police officer thinks the Florence-Lauderdale work release program is "a joke." Perhaps it's something Troy King's office should place on its list to investigate.