Suppressing Truth is an Art Form at AL.com
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on March 17, 2019
Yesterday, AL. com columnist Kyle Whitmire ran a long and rambling article titled, “An Alabama fraud story: The many faces of Donald Watkins.” Whitmire is a longtime nemesis of mine who is drenched in conflicts of interest. He has a gift for crafting versions of the “truth” that further his personal agendas.
Among the many topics covered in Whitmire’s article was my effort to buy a Major League Baseball team in the early 2000s. He failed to mention that UBS-Paine Webber issued me a financing letter on April 12, 2002 in the amount of $150 million for this transaction. Instead, Whitmire focused on negative press comments issued by my political adversaries at the time. None of these “haters” was privy to MLB's team acquisition process in my case.
Whitmire also omitted from his article any mention of my pursuit of the St. Louis Rams between 2008 and 2010, even though this topic was specifically discussed during my criminal trial.
Whitmire ignored these two topics because they got in the way of his skewed narrative and personal beliefs about me. After all, his media goal is to portray me as a "fraudster."
Chasing the St. Louis Rams
On May 3, 2008, I submitted a package to the National Football League that contained a completed “Owner Background Form” and “Authorization and Consent to Release Records.” The submission of this package was the beginning of the process to compete for a team ownership opportunity in the NFL.
On June 25, 2009, the NFL and St. Louis Rams invited me to make a written presentation to Goldman Sachs in New York regarding the purchase of the Rosenbloom family’s 60% interest in the Rams. Seymour Pierce, Ltd., a 135-year-old London-based investment bank specializing in the sale and purchase of professional sports teams, arranged my financing for the Rams purchase transaction.
Goldman Sachs reviewed my constellation of assets and personal background information. After its independent review and assessment of this information, Goldman Sachs qualified me as a bidder for the Rams. In doing so, Goldman Sachs was not conducting an exercise in political correctness or a social experiment in affirmative action. This was an undertaking in serious Wall Street business.
On July 28, 2009, Goldman Sachs invited me to submit a “written, non-binding offer” for up to a 100% interest in The St. Louis Rams Partnership. While the Rosenbloom family was selling its 60% ownership interest in the team, it unclear whether Rams limited partner Stan Kroenke was selling his 40% interest, as well.
On August 17, 2009, I submitted my written, non-binding offer to Goldman Sachs for the purchase of up to 100% of the Rams. Included in the offer was my detailed plan to liquidate certain Masada Resource Group, LLC, assets that were owned and/or controlled by me. I secured a $400 million loan commitment letter from Seymour Pierce for 60% of the Rams using my Masada assets as collateral. Citibank, N.A., agreed to provide funding for the loan.
After I submitted my August 17th bid, Goldman Sachs provided my acquisition team with a Confidential Information Memo and other due diligence materials on the Rams.
On October 12, 2009, Goldman Sachs notified me that I had advanced to the next round in the bid process. I was invited to make a “written, binding offer” for up to a 100% interest in The St. Louis Rams Partnership. I was also provided a definitive purchase agreement as part of this bid invitation package. Goldman Sachs reminded me in writing that Stan Kroenke held a “right of first refusal” in connection with any sale of the Rosenbloom family’s interest in the Rams.
On October 22, 2009, my acquisition team submitted proposed modifications to the purchase agreement to make it mutually acceptable. We also submitted a binding financing commitment letter from Seymour Pierce for the purchase transaction.
On October 29, 2009, I submitted the “written, binding offer” Goldman Sachs requested. Afterwards, there was nothing further for me to do but wait on the outcome of two events: (a) whether I submitted the best overall bid, and (b) whether Stan Kroenke was going to “tag-along” with the Rosenbloom family and sell his 40% interest or exercise his “right of first refusal” to acquire the Rosenbloom’s interest in the Rams.
On the last day of the waiting period, Stan Kroenke notified the Rams organization and NFL that he was exercising his “right of first refusal” to become the sole owner of the St. Louis Rams. On August 25, 2010, NFL team owners gathered in Atlanta and approved Kroenke's bid to become the 100% owner of the Rams.
The Ben Barnes Group Believed in Masada's Potential Value
Kyle Whitmire also omitted all references to the undisputed trial testimony that former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes and his team of experts and lawyers conducted extensive due diligence in 2011 on the same constellation of Masada assets. Barnes structured a fee schedule for his firm’s engagement in facilitating an acquisition/investment deal between Waste Management, Inc. (“WMI”) and Masada that would have paid his company a 10% commission for any transaction valued at $1 billion, 15% for the next $1 billion, and 20% commission for any transaction valued in excess of $2 billion.
Barnes even formed a special purpose company with Masada for the sole purpose of pursuing the Masada-WMI transaction in 2011 and 2012. Former Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who executed a separate engagement agreement with Masada, worked with Barnes on the WMI transaction.
None of this information mattered to Whitmire.
Suppressing Material Facts
Instead of mentioning Goldman Sachs’ decision to qualify me as a bidder for the St. Louis Rams based upon my allocation of the Masada assets, or discussing the Ben Barnes Group’s internal assessment of the same assets, Whitmire ignored this pertinent trial evidence and elected to write an article that feeds the negative stereotypes so many Alabamians hold toward people like me, even when we strive to compete on the highest stage of mainstream business.
Whitmire’s complete omission of this trial testimony and supporting exhibits represents a classic example of how AL.com suppresses the truth by simply ignoring it.
In 2004, the Alabama Supreme Court described how one AL.com newspaper -- the Birmingham News-- defrauded six of its longtime former newspaper distributors in the case of The Birmingham News v. Sherry Horn. The News essentially lied to these plaintiffs by suppressing material facts regarding its unilateral decision to wrongfully terminate their decades-old distributor agreements. The News never publicly acknowledged defrauding these victims and never apologized for the serial acts of fraud it perpetrated against them.
Nearly fifteen years later, AL.com is continuing its suppression of the truth concerning material facts of significant public interest. This time, Kyle Whitmire is AL.com's minister of propaganda and architect of disinformation.
PHOTO: "Truth is Truth, even if no one believes it; a Lie is a Lie, even of everyone believes it."