Son of Civil Rights Activist Tried by Jeff Sessions Endorses Him for Attorney General

sen-jeff-sessions--evelyn-turner-Albert Turner Jr.
Albert Turner, Jr.

The far-left’s smear campaign against Donald Trump’s candidate for Attorney General was further crippled on Wednesday when Albert Turner Jr., the commissioner of Perry County, endorsed Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for the job.

Turner’s endorsement is significant because he is the son of civil rights activists Albert and Evelyn Turner, whom Sessions prosecuted in a 1980s voter fraud case during his time as Southern Alabama’s U.S. Attorney.

Albert Turner Jr. said in a written statement endorsing Sessions:

I believe that he is someone with whom I, and others in the civil rights community can work if given the opportunity. I believe that he will listen, as he has in the past, to the concerns of my community. More than most I am very familiar with him. I believe he will be fair in his application of the law and the Constitution; as such I support his nomination to be the next Attorney General of the United States.

I have known Senator Sessions for many years, beginning with the voter fraud case in Perry County in which my parents were defendants. My differences in policy and ideology with him do not translate to personal malice. He is not a racist. As I have said before, at no time then or now has Jeff Sessions said anything derogatory about my family. He was a prosecutor at the Federal level with a job to do.  He was presented with evidence by a local District Attorney that he relied on, and his office presented the case.  That’s what a prosecutor does.  I believe him when he says that he was simply doing his job.

Indeed, evidence shows that Sessions prosecuted the 1985 voter fraud case in order to ensure a fair election for black citizens of Perry County. Yet because the Turners were civil rights advocates, the U.S. attorney’s office— and Sessions by extension— was accused of having prosecuted the case out of racial motivations. The case played a significant role in Ted Kennedy’s successful “Borking” of Sessions before such a term even existed during his 1986 confirmation hearing for a federal judgeship position. While several civil rights leaders and black Democrats from Perry County testified on Sessions’ behalf in 1986 to refute the allegations, to this day a handful of the populist Senator’s partisan opponents, and their allies in the corporate media, have sought to use that long-ago prosecution to impugn Sessions’ good name ahead of his 2016 confirmation hearing.

Turner’s son, however, explains that the false narrative pushed by Sessions’ opponents “distorts” Sessions’ record on issues related to race, and he says that he felt compelled to come forward to correct the record:

A lot has been said about Senator Jeff Sessions and his record on issues related to race – some of it distorted and unfair.  Some of these statements have included references to matters with which I have a very personal connection.  My family and I have literally been on the front line of the fight for civil rights my whole life.  And while I respect the deeply held positions of other civil rights advocates who oppose Senator Sessions, I believe it is important for me to speak out with regard to Senator Sessions personally.

First, let me be clear: Senator Sessions and I respectfully disagree on some issues.  That won’t change when he is the Attorney General of the United States.  And I expect that there will be times as it is with all politicians when we will legitimately disagree and I will be required by my conscience to speak out.  I look forward to those constructive debates if necessary. However, despite our political differences, the Senator and I share certain Alabama and American values, including a love for our State, its people and our Country.

“I stand ready to work with Senator Sessions as he becomes our Country’s Attorney General, and offer to him my willingness to help him in any way I might be of service,” Turner concluded.

During Sessions’ 1986 “Borking,” the Senate Judiciary Committee heard from LaVon Phillips — a 26-year-old African American legal assistant to the Perry County district attorney with intimate knowledge of the Perry County case — who testified on Sessions’ behalf.

Phillips testified that a “black-on-black power struggle” was unfolding in Perry County in which black voters began “voting more of their convictions, their interests, rather than relying on the, per se, black civil rights leadership.” Phillips testified that the established “black power base” seemed to be struggling to hold on to that power as it was becoming increasingly “neutralized.”

Phillips explained that in 1982 the Perry County’s district attorney’s office had “received several complaints from incumbent black candidates and black voters that absentee ballot applications were being mailed to citizens’ homes without their request.” Phillips said that their office performed an investigation and sought an indictment against Turner — empaneling a grand jury whose racial makeup was eleven blacks and seven whites.

While the majority-black grand jury returned no indictments against Turner in the 1982 election, it did find that a fair election was “being denied the citizens of Perry County, both black and white,” and “encourage[d] vigorous prosecutions of all voting laws”— even requesting that an outside agency monitor the election.

Sessions took no action at the time, hoping that the problems would resolve themselves after the actions of the Grand Jury. Yet the problems apparently persisted, and a week before the 1984 primary election, Sessions said he received a call from the district attorney informing him that two black Democratic officials, Reese Billingslea and Warren Kinard, whose candidacies were opposed by Albert Turner, “were very concerned that a concerted effort was being made to deny a fair election” through the use of absentee ballots.

Billingslea wrote a letter on Sessions’ behalf for the 1986 confirmation hearing in which he expressed his appreciation for Sessions’ “professionalism” and role in the investigation. Billingslea wrote:

I was one of the first black candidates elected in Perry County Alabama. During the [1984 primary] campaign I was approached by many of my supporters who informed me… that my opposition had stated publically that they would do anything to get rid of me…. I became convinced that there was concerted, well-organized effort was being made to steal the election from me through the absentee ballot box…. I spoke with him [Sessions] and requested his assistance…. From everything that I was aware, Mr. Sessions and the United States Attorney’s office handled the investigation with the highest professionalism.

After receiving the call, Sessions took limited action, requesting visual surveillance of the post office building the day before the election.

An examination of the absentee ballots deposited revealed that some had been visibly altered, Sessions said. The altered absentee ballots collected and deposited by Turner had all been “changed in the same manner,” Sessions explained, from “non-Turner-supported candidates to Turner-supported candidates.”

Turner apparently even admitted to having changed the ballots — claiming that he had their permission to do so. However, several black voters ardently denied ever having given Turner permission to do so.

Even though all of these facts about the case are a matter of public record and emerged during Sessions’ 1986 confirmation hearing, members of corporate media seem loath to report them. For instance, USA Today’s Mary Troyan and Brian Lyman wrote an entire article about the Perry County case and the accusations of the prosecution’s racial motivations without once mentioning that both the complainants and the victims in the case were also black Democrats. Troyan and Lyman similarly made no mention of the significant testimony of LaVon Phillips nor the testimony of Reese Billingslea on Sessions’ behalf.

In a recent op-ed, Ken Blackwell, the former mayor of Cincinnati and the first African-American to be elected statewide in Ohio, addressed what he believes are corporate media’s motivations for running such distorted and “biased stories” against Sessions. Blackwell wrote:

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times spent more than a month working on stories that were exclusively about Jeff Sessions and race, to run before Mr. Sessions’ Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Their aim was clear: to try to define Mr. Sessions as a caricature, stepping straight out of the segregated south and into the Department of Justice, ignoring his 20-year career as a United States senator. There’s only one reason why large news organizations invest so much time, energy and money — they sent reporters to Alabama, each of whom spent a week there — to do these biased stories, and it’s time someone said what it is. The reason is because someone, somewhere, deep down doesn’t believe a white man from Alabama should be the attorney general of the United States. That’s every bit as racist as saying a black man from Chicago shouldn’t be president of the United States. The anti-white, anti-southern racist obsession with which media organizations have pursued Mr. Sessions is a sign they have learned nothing from the presidential campaign, where we all witnessed their all-out opposition to Donald Trump. There has been no reflection in editorial board meetings, much less in the newsrooms. If there were any, these stories would provide the public with the full picture they deserve of the man who is likely going to be their next attorney general — the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the country.

“They don’t use facts,” Blackwell said separately on Breitbart News Daily. “They don’t use measurable, observable behavior and activity. They, in fact, create this false image of a guy who they would like to bring down because they see him as the tip of the spear of moving us back to a system that respects the rule of law … that respects the Constitution … This is an all-out political attack. This is an effort to misdefine Jeff Sessions in a way that they can destroy him.”


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