The legal career of Alabama Judge Mark Everett Fuller, who presided over the conviction and sentencing of former Governor Don Siegelman, has always been linked to the Republican party. Fuller was appointed as a district attorney by G.O.P. Governor Fob James, and appointed to the bench by George W. Bush with the backing of Alabama’s two G.O.P. Senators, Richard Shelby and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.
Moreover, throughout his rise Fuller has enjoyed a close relationship with another key Republican political figure: Congressman Terry Everett, a family friend (and the source of the “Everett” in “Mark Everett Fuller”). They both attend the same Baptist church in Enterprise, Alabama, and public records show that Fuller has donated to Everett’s campaigns, and that he has in the past served as Everett’s campaign manager.
Everett, who ran a small empire of local newspapers, was first elected to Congress in 1992, surprising political analysts when he beat Montgomery-based George C. Wallace Jr. (then a Democrat, now a Republican). “One thing that was curious,” a Montgomery-based political observer (who asked not to be identified) told me, was that “suddenly a lot of outside folks started showing up to manage Everett’s campaign; word was that Everett had reached out for top-tier political campaign support, that he had gone out-of-state.”
In any case, Everett is also a political powerhouse, with seats on three committees of vital importance to his constituency: armed services, intelligence, and agriculture. He is one of the most conservative members of the house, with views that seem well in tune with his district. His grounding in world affairs relevant to the intelligence post is, however, subject to some question. The Congressional Quarterly’s Jeff Stein conducted a test of the basic knowledge of key decision-makers about basic facts related to the current war on terror. Among other things, he asked Everett: “Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?” He reports the answer:
Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: ‘One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.’
One subject about which Everett is extremely well versed and in which he takes a lively interest, however, is Department of Defense contracting. Which raises some questions for his relationship with Mark Fuller, because much of Fuller’s livelihood comes from a closely-held business that is based almost entirely on federal government contracts (which I’ll write about soon).
My own research did not turn up any specific evidence of what Everett did to help Fuller.
As for why Fuller might have risked his own legal and political future to help convict Siegelman, the only answer can be a certain arrogance of power, perhaps because Fuller’s own background reveals interesting ties from his college days to Rob Riley, and from their ties as being campaign managers in Washington when Riley ran his dad’s Congressional campaigns and Fuller ran Everett’s. The record also shows he has major ties to the military-industrial complex operating largely out of Enterprise, Alabama, home to Rep. Terry Everett, who basically acts as Fuller’s paid lobbyist in Washington to obtain federal contracts for his defense-related companies.
Fuller’s entrenched relationships with the statewide Republican power base secured him a seat on the Alabama Republican Party’s prestigious Executive Committee. This was an obvious acknowledgement of his heavy engagement in Republican electoral causes. The Center for Investigative Reporting provides the following:
Fuller, Mark E.
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama
Nominated: August 1, 2002 | Confirmed: November 14, 2002
Summary: Prior to joining U.S. District Court, Fuller was a district attorney and active in state Republican politics. Between 1999-2000, he contributed $3,000 to Sen. Shelby and his political action committee. Sens. Shelby and Sessions recommended him for the bench. Overall, Fuller contributed $7,000 to Republican candidates between 1997 and 2001. Fuller also was the chairman of a Republican congressman’s campaign committee for several years up to his nomination, and was formerly a member of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee.
On the Executive Committee, Fuller would have had oversight responsibility for the party’s activities in Alabama—raising money and mobilizing resources to get Republicans elected to office. And during the period of Fuller’s service on the G.O.P. Executive Committee, Don Siegelman emerged as the nightmare of the Alabama G.O.P.. He had been elected to every major state office, sometimes by wide margins, and he enjoyed electoral strength across the state, including in the normally Republican south which Fuller called home and which was otherwise solidly G.O.P. No other Democrats had such broad appeal.
As might be expected, and as the Dana Jill Simpson affidavit shows, Siegelman was a topic of constant and vexed discussion. From his position on the Executive Committee, Fuller must have known that Siegelman was a target of the Alabama Republican Party. So how is it that Fuller, a man whose career is closely (and publicly) tied to the Republican party, did not recuse himself from a case involving a Democratic former governor who had for years been a target of the Republicans?
Judge Fuller has not responded to a request for comment. I’ll update this post if and when he does.
Next… A Scandal Clouds Fuller’s Departure from the DA’s Office: The Grudge
Evan Magruder contributed to this post.