- "In Birmingham they love the Gov'nor. Now we all
did what we could do. Now Watergate does not bother me. Does your conscience
bother you, tell the truth." - Lynyrd Skynyrd
- On Monday, September 25, two veteran Birmingham, Alabama
radio talk show hosts, Russ and Dee Fine, were fired an hour before their
program was scheduled to end, in large part for "outing" Alabama's
Governor Bob Riley R as a member of a secret society that is still
governed by documents forbidding membership to "negroes or other inferior
- As a result, a rally to protest "Masonic Racism
in Alabama" will be held at 4 pm, Wednesday, October 11, 2006 outside
the Birmingham Scottish Rite Masonic Center where Ronald A. Seale, the
Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction,
is expected to appear. Other than animal cruelty protests held by former
Shriners outside Shrine circuses, this is the first known Masonic protest
to be held outside a Masonic event.
- The Fines had questioned why Riley had not renounced
his membership in the "racist" Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted
Masons of Alabama. "As a private group, we believe the Masons and
any other private group should certainly be entitled to their own membership
guidelines" Dee said. "But when a sitting governor who is running
for re-election is found to be a member of such a group, and we have the
temerity to expose and talk about it and then we get fired for telling
the truth, people who believe in freedom of speech should become very concerned."
- The Fines have tackled controversial issues from illegal
aliens to Islam but, according to Dee, "It looks like we can talk
about everything BUT the Masons."
- Her co-host and husband, Russ, said "We've been
in radio nearly twenty years and have never experienced anything like this.
Here we are in Birmingham, Alabama, the virtual epicenter of the civil
rights movement; a place where our local and the state's largest newspaper,
the Birmingham News, runs some story with a civil rights angle nearly every
day of the week, yet their editorial page editor and their nationally syndicated
editorial cartoonist won't touch this story, even though the editor admitted
to me, in a one word email reply, that 'yes,' it bothered him. I don't
understand the media's refusal to run with this."
- "It is far more important and sinister than former
Florida Congressman Foley's homosexual dalliances," he continued.
"Why? Because a sitting Republican governor is a member of an organization
that discriminates against black citizens of his state and a sitting president
came to Alabama to endorse and fund raise for him the Thursday after we
were fired on Monday."
- "Although I can't prove it," Russ continued,
"clearly, getting us off the air the week the President was coming
to Birmingham was no coincidence. The President should have told the governor
to do the right thing but apparently silencing us was their collective
view of what doing the right thing meant."
- "Information and photos revealing the governor's
membership in the racist Alabama Lodge had been on our site for a couple
of weeks," Russ revealed. "There's no way the President's advance
men didn't know about this. They are way too good for this to have slipped
through any cracks."
- "It's chilling," he concluded, "especially
in view of that which happened recently in 'Pootie's' Russia."
- Investigative journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, was recently
found shot dead. She had been finishing up a story about military torture
and abductions in Chechnya.
- Russ' day job is as a biomedical research scientist and
tenured professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of
Medicine, where he has been for over 30 years. He earned his PhD in Biostatistics
and Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma in 1970 and conducts research
and runs three research centers, two of which deal with injury-related
neuron trauma, with emphasis on head and spinal cord injury.
- On 9/29/06, he wrote on the Russ and Dee website (1):
- "This is not rocket science: Bob Riley is the Governor
of Alabama and is running for re-election. The President of the United
States came to Birmingham, yesterday, September 28th, to help raise more
money for Riley's re-election campaign.
- However, that which the mainstream media fails to address
or conveniently chooses to ignore is that Bob Riley is a Mason; a member
of the Grand Lodge of Alabama. So far so good. No big deal. Lots of well-known
people are Masons. But, when we learned and then exposed on our former
morning drive radio talk show that Governor Bob Riley's Grand Masonic Lodge
discriminates against African Americans, by formal resolution that they
will not allow a black man to become a member we knew that his affiliation
because he is the governor and wants to be the governor for four
more years was and is 100% wrong."
- The "media blackout" was partially lifted when
an AP story by Jay Reeves was widely published the same day:
- "BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Gov. Bob Riley is defending
his membership in a Masonic organization that critics say excludes blacks.
Riley, a Republicanis a member of a Masonic lodge in his east Alabama hometown
of Ashland that is affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Alabama, a statewide
group with no known blacks among more than 30,000 members.
- Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, Riley
said he did not know whether his lodge had any black members. But Riley
denied that the Masonic group is racist, as did two leaders of the organization
in interviews Friday."
- The protest rally has been organized by a former high
level member of the Masonic affiliate, the Scottish Rite Orient of Alabama,
- "The Grand Lodge of Alabama's 1876 resolution states
very clearly that they do not allow African-Americans to join," he
explained. Cooksey resigned from both his Blue Lodge and the Scottish Rite
after 13 years of Masonic service in protest after emails between lodge
and grand lodge officers emerged that allegedly attacked his character
for having asked questions regarding racism and financial misconduct.
- Cooksey's letter of resignation stated:
- "This system is now dysfunctional and its leadership
has no glue, its Honor Court is not honorable; it is filled with political
hat wearers and the incompetent. Hats, awards, pins, chains and rings do
nothing except stroke the egos of the unworthy. I can no longer be a part
of such filth and such negativity any longerIt will die in its present
form because its leadership refuses to learn from their mistakes, but especially
because they will not make the effort to learn from them."
- Coincidentally, it was confirmed today that an audit
team of two from the Masonic affiliated groups, Shriners Hospitals for
Children and the Shriners Imperial Council, spent the morning at the Cahaba
Shrine in Huntsville, Alabama investigating allegations of Bingo theft
that were, according to an anonymous source, reported all the way up the
chain of command three years ago but remained "swept under the rug"
and ignored. Questions left with the office of Willard E. Fawley, Shriners'
controller, remain unanswered at the end of the business day. Cahaba Shrine
Potentate, Robert Utley, was unavailable for comment.
- Back to the Gov'nor.
- It seems that there is a connection between Governor
Bob Riley and Michael Scanlon, who pled guilty last November to conspiring
to bribe a member of Congress and other public officials. Scanlon was partners
with Jack Abramoff in the "ripping off Native American tribes for
$85 million in gambling lobbying fees" scandal. Abramoff pled guilty
to defrauding of American Indian tribes, corruption of public officials,
conspiracy and wire fraud.
- According to a 4/13/06 Birmingham News article (2):
- "A Washington lobbyist who has been convicted of
bribery gave $100,000 in 2002 to four Alabama political action committees
that contributed heavily to Gov. Bob Riley's campaign that year. Michael
Scanlon, who had been Riley's press secretary during part of his first
term in Congress, gave four $25,000 checks to PACs run by Fine Geddie and
Associates on June 6, 2002, two days after Riley won the Republican primary
for governor, campaign disclosure reports show
- When Scanlon contributed the money to the four PACs,
he was representing an Indian tribe in Mississippi that operated casinosAt
the time of the Alabama donations to the Fine and Geddie PACs, Scanlon
was running Capitol Campaign Strategies, a public relations firm that shared
clients with Jack Abramoff, the convicted lobbyist at the center of the
federal investigation. One of the clients that Abramoff and Scanlon shared
was the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, whose casino interests feared
an expansion of gambling next door in Alabama.
- Riley campaigned for office as a gambling opponent; Democratic
candidate Don Siegelman backed a state lottery. Asked if his 2002 campaign
received money from Scanlon, Riley said Wednesday, 'I don't know.' He referred
questions to his campaign staff."
- Unlike other elected officials who quickly disassociated
themselves from this web of corruption by either returning or donating
the tainted campaign contributions to charity, the Riley camp has remained
silent on the issue.
- Conflict of Interest?
- In the "Current Interest" section of the Nov/Dec
2005 edition of the Scottish Rite Journal (3), it was reported that:
- "Alabama Governor Bob Riley was invested with the
Rank and Decoration of Knight Commander of the Court of Honor on May 9,
2005, in a private ceremony held at the Alabama Governor's Mansion. Following
the Investiture, a reception was hosted by Governor and Mrs. Riley."
- It is not yet known if Riley violated Alabama conflict
of interest or any other laws by hosting the Scottish Rite ceremony and
reception in the Governor's Mansion, presumably at tax payers' expense.
- However, the same article reported that:
- "On July 20, 2005, Ill. Ronald A., Seale (the same
as mentioned above), 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander, opened a Court
of Honour in the auditorium of the Memphis Scottish Rite Bodies for the
purpose of investing fifty-year member, Bro. Jabie Sanford Hardin, Jr.,
the founder of Sysco foodservice company, the premier supplier to commercial
- According to a May 10, 2005 press release from the Governor's
- "GENEVA - Governor Bob Riley joined local officials
to welcome Sysco Corporation to Geneva, where the food service giant will
open a distribution center Jack D. Carlson, Vice President of Real Estate
and Construction for Sysco, said several factors were involved in selecting
the facility's location. 'This site was chosen because of the availability
of an existing high quality building in a location that could easily serve
a growing Gulf Coast marketplace. Additional factors influencing the decision
were an available outstanding workforce, and the willingness of the city,
county and state officials to assist in securing economic development incentives
and other assistance,' Carlson said."
- Carlson failed to mention another possible factor, that
the founder of Sysco and Governor Riley both held high positions in the
- (1) http://www.russanddeeonline.com/
- (2) http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/index.ssf?/base/news/
- (3) http://www.srmason-sj.org/web/journal-files/Issues/nov-dec05/cinov-
- (4) http://governorpress.alabama.gov/pr/pr-2005-05-10-01-geneva-photo.asp
- Editor's Note: The Shriners Hospitals for Children and
Shriners Imperial Council have also attempted to silence those who question
them by filing a defamation lawsuit against whistleblower Vernon Hill and
website operator/accountant, Paul Dolnier. In early September, the men
were sued for defamation after they questioned Shriners finances and alleged
that the group might "be of interest" to Pennsylvania authorities
after Dolnier spent hours with PA investigators explaining his findings,
based on tax returns, that showed that instead of the required 100%, only
23% to 48% of what was raised by some Pennsylvania Shriner temples was
going to charity. More coverage at: http://sandyfrost.newsvine.com.
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Copyright © 2006 by Sandy Frost. Used by permission.
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