• Donald V. Watkins

Surviving Hatred In Alabama

Updated: Jul 18, 2018

 By Donald V. Watkins ©Copyrighted and Published on July 17, 2018

Online journalist Roger Alan Shuler published an article today reporting that former Alabama governor Robert Bentley ordered the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (“ALEA”) to open a criminal Investigation on Shuler and me for exposing his marital cheating and public corruption scandal with his lover, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Bentley was also the Chief Magistrate of Alabama when the order was given, but he provided law enforcement officials with no evidence that Shuler or I had engaged in any wrongdoing. 


To his credit, then-ALEA Chief Spencer Collier refused to open the criminal investigation Bentley requested. Bentley later fired Collier.


In March 2017, Collier confirmed to me that Governor Bentley requested a criminal investigation that targeted me. Bentley's June 23, 2018 deposition testimony in Collier's wrongful termination case affirms this fact.


Unlike Spencer Collier, John D. Harrison, then-Superintendent of the Alabama State Banking Department, went along with a separate Bentley order to place my Birmingham-based bank and me under heightened regulatory scrutiny. Working in concert with the FDIC, the State Banking Department launched a full-scale, coordinated "Blitzkrieg" investigation of Alamerica Bank and me that has been ongoing for five years. To provide political cover for this illegal regulatory activity, the State Banking Department encouraged the FDIC to take the lead in trying to run me out of the banking business.


As an accommodation to the State Banking Department, the FDIC trumped-up baseless allegations that I violated Regulation O with respect to a loan the bank made to one of my business partners and a loan that was made to one of my sons. Regulation O governs bank loans to executives and directors of the bank. I was chairman of the bank at the time these loans were made, but I had no role in their application process, underwriting, or approval.


In my case, the FDIC has repeatedly refused to recognize that both loans fell squarely within the well-known, published exceptions to Regulation O. This has not been the case with similarly situated bank officers and directors.


I formally answered the FDIC’s allegations and denied all of the charges, while asserting my affirmative defenses. My case is in front of an FDIC administrative law judge, but it has been stayed indefinitely.


My case will likely have to start over in light of a June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring the process used by federal agencies like the FDIC and SEC for selecting and assigning administrative law judges to be unconstitutional. I lodged the same objection to the selection of the administrative law judge in my FDIC case.


Based upon what is happening in Washington, the public knows that federal regulatory agencies have become convenient tools for imposing and enforcing political agendas and for administering retribution against targeted individuals. My case is no different.


In fact, the "non-public" agency files in this state/federal regulatory investigation of Alamerica Bank are filled with racially derogatory references to me. What is worse, another Birmingham, Alabama-based federal agency that is involved in a parallel investigation of the same two loans transactions has at least two reputed white supremacists embedded in the agency who are reportedly actively working on my case.


Interestingly, Alamerica Bank has never asked the State Banking Department or FDIC for any favors. We did not seek or take the “bailout” money that hundreds of banks around the nation gleefully requested and accepted during the Great Recession of 2008. We survived the Recession by managing our bank in a prudent fashion. We have never been required to “recapitalize” Alamerica Bank. We have never participated in the symbolic “window dressing” programs that the FDIC claims it offers to minority-owned financial institutions.


Despite the sustained efforts of state and federal bank regulators since 2013 to harm Alamerica Bank and me, the Bank’s regulatory capital ratios at the close of 2017 exceeded the 13.3% national average and were among the best in the banking industry. 


Alamerica Bank is one of only nineteen African-American-owned banks in the United States. Within this group, we are the only one that state and federal regulators are actively trying to collapse (without any success to-date).


For the record, no judicial body has ever found that I have violated any state or federal banking industry rule or regulation. 


John D. Harrison, the former Superintendent of the State Banking Department, announced on June 23, 2016, that he was retiring, effective on June 30, 2016. Harrison gave no reason for his abrupt retirement announcement.


Governor Robert Bentley resigned in disgrace after pleading guilty to ethics violations on April 10, 2017. Today, Bentley and Rebekah Mason are working together in his private, Tuscaloosa, Alabama-based dermatology clinic.


PHOTO: Former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's Mugshot.


© 2020 by Donald V. Watkins, P.C.