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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Vigilante Journalism: The Voices in Kyle Whitmire’s Ear

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

By Donald V. Watkins ©Copyrighted and Published July 24, 2019

On October 1, 2017, I published an article titled, “Judge Gaines McCorquodale’s Reign Of Terror: The Tanya O. Butts Story.” The article told the story of Tanya O. Butts, who was falsely accused of wire fraud involving eight authorized business transactions that totaled $12,616.27. Ms. Butts pled "Not Guilty" to the charges. Her case was tried over a five-day period in a Mobile, Alabama federal court.

On July 19, 2016, the jury deliberated for three hours (which included a lunch break) before acquitting Ms. Butts on all eight counts of wire fraud. Jurors were appalled by the law enforcement misconduct in Tanya Butts’ case. The "Not Guilty" verdicts constituted a stunning defeat for the federal prosecutors who tried her case.

Clarke County Circuit Judge Gaines McCorquodale, acting in concert with his sidekick and close friend, Clarke County Sheriff Ray Norris, orchestrated the criminal charges against Butts. The charges were part of a scheme devised by McCorquodale in May of 2014 to confiscate three well-established healthcare-related businesses and one Orange Beach corporate condo from Ms. Butts without compensating her for the equity stake she held in these valuable assets. Ms. Butts and Judge McCorquodale co-owned the businesses and condo at the time. Ms. Butts served as the president and chief executive officer of the companies.

To ensure that their nefarious confiscation scheme was successful, McCorquodale and Norris also arranged for Ms. Butts’ indictment on seven counts of state theft of property in January 2015. The state charges were in addition to the eight federal wire fraud charges lodged against Ms. Butts.

The jury verdicts in her federal court case gave Ms. Butts, a 47-year-old Grove Hill, Alabama native and mother of three children, the first measure of relief from McCorquodale’s two-year reign of judicial terror. However, she was not out of harms way. The state court theft of property case was still pending against this 1994 University of Alabama graduate, successful businesswoman, and strong community leader.

In August of 2016, state prosecutors dismissed the false theft of property charges. This action was taken over the objection of McCorquodale and Norris.

Today, Tanya Butts is free of all criminal charges.

“Good Ole Boys” Push Kyle Whitmire’s Vigilante Journalism

Judge Gaines McCorquodale and Sheriff Ray Norris are pushing Birmingham News/ reporter Kyle Whitmire to lynch me in the media by waging a campaign of vigilante journalism. Both men are still angry that I exposed their corrupt scheme to confiscate Tanya Butts’ equity interests in the businesses and property she jointly owned with McCorquodale without compensating her for these assets.

As planned, McCorquodale sold the three businesses in July of 2015 for $2.5 million and kept all of the sales proceeds from the transaction. He never paid Ms. Butts a dime for her equity stake in these businesses.

As it turns out, Judge McCorquodale and Sheriff Norris have a “good ole boy” connection to Kyle Whitmire, who was born and raised in Thomasville, Alabama (which is located in Clarke County). Whitmire graduated from Thomasville High School and attended Birmingham-Southern College, where he was an editor for the campus newspaper. As a student, Whitmire interned for the Clarke County Democrat under the tutelage of veteran editor Jim Cox.

McCorquodale and Norris have even offered Whitmire monetary compensation to continue his campaign of writing negative COINTELPRO-style articles about me. They definitely have Whitmire's attention. They are now his "ear whisperers."

Meanwhile, Whitmire continues to peddle an unauthorized book deal on my life story. All of his negative articles about me have been written with an eye toward drumming up interest for a book deal.

Whitmire’s "Ear Whisperers" Used Gestapo Tactics Against Tanya Butts

On April 12, 2016, the FBI arrested Ms. Butts in SWAT team formation, with guns drawn and with officers in full SWAT gear. The FBI used approximately ten to twelve agents, together with Clarke County Sheriff’s deputies, to effectuate the arrest of Tanya Butts at her residence and in front of her children. McCorquodale and Norris had previously informed the FBI that Ms. Butts was armed, dangerous, and a flight risk.

After her arrest, Ms. Butts was taken to Mobile for booking and processing. A federal magistrate arraigned Butts and released her on a personal recognizance bond.

McCorquodale and Norris used Ms. Butts’ federal charges as a justification to revoke her bond on the state theft of property charges. They waited inside the federal courthouse to re-arrest Ms. Butts after her arraignment on the federal charges.

McCorquodale and Norris did not immediately return Ms. Butts to the Clarke County jail. Instead, they transported her to the Monroe County jail. Once there, Tanya Butts was subjected to severe emotional distress and physical abuse. Norris and McCorquodale sanctioned this mistreatment of Ms. Butts.

McCorquodale is the same state court judge who tossed out sexual enticement charges against a former Mobile County assistant district attorney, who was trolling the Internet looking for underage girls for unlawful sexual encounters. 


Even though Kyle Whitmire cherishes his connection to Clarke County in many of his published articles, he has never written a news article or opinion column about the mistreatment of Tanya Butts by his "ear whisperers." Instead, Whitmire gave them a “pass” on their bad behavior.

Today, Whitmire is waging a COINTELPRO campaign of vigilante journalism against me that is laced with his personal desire to profiteer from a book deal. Whitmire can no longer pretend that he is a fair, objective, and unbiased news source who is covering my case. He has been outed.

PHOTO: reporter/columnist Kyle Whitmire worked as an intern at the Clarke County Democrat weekly newspaper in Grove Hill, Alabama while he was a student.


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