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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Alabama A&M Attorney Rod Steakley’s Political Action Group Seeks Ban on Equitable Funding for HBCUs

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on December 18, 2023

IMAGE: Alabama A&M University attorney and Alabama Policy Institute board member Roderick G. "Rod" Steakley.

An Editorial Opinion

As we reported in November, longtime Alabama A&M University attorney Roderic G. “Rod” Steakley is a board member of the controversial Alabama Policy Institute.  In 2021, API funneled $1,077,500 to 1819 Media, LLC, to launch a multimedia organization called "1819 News."  

The co-founder, president, CEO, and publisher of 1819 News is convicted cocaine trafficker, serial motor vehicle thief, and attempted murderer, Kenneth Bryan Dawson.

IMAGE: Convicted cocaine trafficker, serial motor vehicle thief, and attempted murderer Kenneth Bryan Dawson.

On the advice of Rod Steakley and President Daniel K. Wims, Alabama A&M University has elected to forego the collection of a $527,280,064 debt owed to the university by the state of Alabama. 

This debt is the amount the state underfunded Alabama A&M during the past 30 years, as calculated by the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture in September.


On September 18, 2023, both federal agencies signed a letter to Governor Kay Ivey declaring that this $527 million debt is due and owing to Alabama A&M.


President Wims and his Board of Trustees members have never: (a) acknowledged this $527 million debt, (b) discussed it publicly, or (c) taken any steps to collect it.  One reason for their failure of leadership on this matter centers on Rod Steakley and his involvement with the Alabama Policy Institute.


As a member of the 2025 Presidential Transition Project’s Advisory Board, the Alabama Policy Institute has endorsed and helps to implement a 920-page Presidential Transition Plan for Republican presidents calledMandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise.” The Alabama Policy Institute is the first board member listed on page xi of the Mandate.  [Click here to read the full Mandate for Leadership].


The current version of the Presidential Transition Plan was initially prepared for Donald Trump’s Transition Committee in 2020 and was updated in 2023 by the right-wing, Washington-based Heritage Foundation.


Should Donald Trump win the presidency in 2024 (which seems highly likely based upon recent national polling), the Presidential Transition Plan lays out the executive actions Trump should take on Day-One in five broad policy areas affecting all federal government operations.  One of these policy areas involves revamping the operation of the Departments of Agriculture (in Chapter 10) and Education (in Chapter 11).  


The Presidential Transition Plan calls for Trump to: (a) ban all Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives mandated by these Departments, and (b) rescind all federal directives requiring states to provide the funding needed to remedy past discrimination against blacks and women in educational institutions that receive federal funds.


The Departments of Education and Agriculture presently recognize the $527,280,064 debt owed to Alabama A&M by the state of Alabama.  They have also asked the state to pay Alabama A&M this money. 

These federal government actions are in direct conflict with the bans and rollback provisions being pushed by Attorney Rod Steakley, via his board membership in the Alabama Policy Institute and the Institute's membership on the 2025 Presidential Transition Project’s Advisory Board.

Since the first edition of “Mandate for Leadership” more than 40 years ago, this “policy bible” for MAGA Republicans aims to provide their presidential administrations with a blueprint of policy solutions.  The Ronald Reagan administration implemented nearly half of the ideas included in the first edition by the end of his first year in office, while the Trump administration embraced nearly 64% of the 2016 edition’s policy solutions after one year.

During his 2024 bid for election, Donald Trump has committed to implementing all of the policies in the Presidential Transition Plan for 2025.


Alabama A&M Will Never Attempt to Collect Its $527,280,064 Debt from the State


President Daniel Wims is a closet MAGA Republican and political flunky of Gov. Kay Ivey.  Wims has surrounded himself at Alabama A&M with flaming MAGA Republican operatives and lobbyists. 

IMAGE; Alabama A&M University President Daniel K. Wims with Gov. Kay Ivey.

Wims is marching in lockstep with Gov. Ivey, the Alabama Policy Institute, and the 2025 Presidential Transition Project’s Mandate for Leadership Conservative Promises.


Rod Steakley is Daniel Wims’ wingman in this $527 million sellout of Alabama’s only historically black 1890 Morrill Act land grant university.   Steakley provides the legal cover Wims uses to: (a) snucker Bulldog Nation and (b) forego collection of Alabama A&M’s $527 million debt from the state.


The only Alabama A&M trustee who has tried to get her university to (a) acknowledge the debt and (b) take all steps necessary to collect its $527 million is A&M alumnus and international businesswoman Nichelle Gainey, whose family has a proud tradition of serving America's national interests.   

IMAGE: International businesswoman, Alabama A&M University trustee, and A&M alumnus Nichelle Gainey.

Rod Steakley, who controls the university’s notoriously weak board of trustees, blocked a move by Trustee Gainey to place a resolution on the board’s October meeting agenda that would have authorized Alabama A&M to take all steps necessary to collect its money


Neither President Wims, nor any other member of Alabama A&M’s board of trustees, has supported Trustee Gainey’s efforts to pursue collection of Alabama A&M’s $527 million debt from the state.


Alabama A&M Alumni and Supporters Have Been Hoodwinked


After three months of inaction and evasive actions by Alabama A&M’s governing officials, Bulldog Nation finally realizes that it has been hoodwinked and sold out in this debt collection matter. No university official is going after Alabama A&M’s $527 million.


In fact, President Wims sent word to Gov. Ivey on September 18, 2023, that Alabama A&M would not be seeking this money. 


For the past 90 days, President Wims has gaslighted and deliberately misled Alabama A&M students, faculty, staff members, alumni, and community supporters who questioned him about this $527 million debt by simply saying he is “working on something” when, in fact, Wims has already betrayed them on this matter. 


Now, Daniel Wims is stalling for time in the hope that Donald Trump will win the presidency in 2024 and officially nullify Alabama A&M’s entitlement to this $527 million after he takes office as president.


In addition to being a Clarence Thomas-style MAGA operative, Daniel Wims is also an alleged sexual predator who reportedly has an addiction for sexual encounters with men and women. The university’s board of trustees enables Wims’ reported sexual promiscuousness by failing to properly supervise his conduct and protect Wims' sexual harrassment victims.


Today, Daniel Wims is a deeply flawed and paranoid $400,000 per year Alabama A&M University president.  Wims, who is married, realizes that he has a sexual addiction to other people and has privately explored counseling options for this addiction.




President Daniel K. Wims and his board of trustees are not alone in their unwillingness to collect Alabama A&M’s $527 million debt from the state of Alabama.  Not one state legislator or black elected official in Alabama has opened his/her mouth to advocate for the collection of this debt. 

Yet, these same public officials fought “tooth and nail” to deliver up to $35 million in state and local taxpayer funding to financially destitute, private, and historically white Birmingham Southern College.


What is worse, none of the 21 candidates running for Congress in the newly created 2nd District has offered any assistance to help Alabama A&M collect its $527 million debt from the state.


As we can see in the 2025 Presidential Transition Project’s Mandate for Leadership, white conservative Americans tend to fight for what they believe in, which is a core value in our democratic society.


In contrast, African-Americans tend to pray for what we believe in, which merely passes the burden of fighting for equal opportunity, equitable educational funding, and the fair administration of justice to God. As a people, we no longer fight for what rightfully belongs to us.


Therein lies the real problem in this tragic situation.

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