The “Deadbeat Donald” Smear Campaign Has Begun
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published - November 5, 2017 - 6:39 A.M. C.T.
©Copyrighted and Published - November 5, 2017 - 6:39 A.M. C.T.
A group of powerful Tuscaloosa-based “haters” has aligned itself with rape suspect Terry Jackson “Sweet T” Bunn, Jr., in the hopes of destroying my personal and business relationships. Last week, this group launched a high profile smear campaign against me. As part of this campaign, the group placed an electronic billboard in Tuscaloosa calling me “Deadbeat Donald”. It also launched a similarly named website that lists a handful of lawsuits filed against me during my 44-year business career.
This coordinated smear campaign was launched because of my in-depth news reporting on the 2015 rape case involving Megan Rondini, a University of Alabama honors student who committed suicide after Sweet T escaped criminal justice in her case with the help of a few crooked Tuscaloosa law enforcement officials.
Fortunately, the “Deadbeat Donald” smear campaign has given me a timely opportunity to share with the public some lesser-known aspects of my character, business activities, and personal value system.
The Detroit Pension Fund Litigation
The “Deadbeat Donald” website lists a 2013 Consent Decree between two Detroit Pension Funds and me that resolved five years of litigation. Here is the backstory regarding this litigation:
In 2008, I bought an operating international cargo airline company. The Detroit pension funds made a $30 million loan for this purchase transaction. Shortly after the deal closed, several trustees of the pension funds made unlawful pay-for-play demands on me, including a $100,000 cash kickback demand from former pension fund trustee Jeff Beasley. After I refused every unsavory pay-for-play demand made by the trustees, the business relationship between the pension funds and me soured.
I voluntarily reported the pay-for-play demands to the U.S. Attorney’s office and a federal grand jury in Detroit. Jeff Beasley, Ron Zajac (the pension funds’ general counsel), and Paul Stewart (a pension fund trustee) were subsequently indicted, tried, and convicted for various bribery offenses. Zajak died prior to his sentencing. Beasley and Stewart went to federal prison.
In the end, I was released from my $30 million “unconditional” personal loan guarantee (which had ballooned to nearly $40 million with accrued interest and legal fees during the five-year litigation period). In return for this release, I agreed to redeem $4 million worth of energy company stock that I conveyed to the airline as a condition for making the loan.
The FDIC Litigation
The “Deadbeat Donald” website lists a $4 million court judgment held by the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation (‘FDIC”) against me and three other defendants. The judgment represents the aggregate loan amount owed by four bank stock loan borrowers/owners of Alamerica Bank. Our bank loans were obtained from an Atlanta bank that collapsed in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008. The loans were then sold to another Atlanta bank, which collapsed a year later. The FDIC finally assumed responsibility for administering the loans.
In 2011, the FDIC refused to modify and renew our bank stock loans on the terms and conditions that had been negotiated with the borrowers and recommended by the FDIC’s loan servicing agents. We were shocked to learn that the FDIC granted a similar loan modification request and renewal for Alabama-based BancTrust Financial Group, Inc., while ours was being denied. Of course, the ethnic make-up of BancTrust’s ownership group is strikingly different from the ethnic composition of Alamerica's ownership group. Adding insult to injury, the FDIC subsequently tried to sell Alamerica Bank a portion of the renewed BancTrust loan.
For the record, I co-founded Alamerica Bank in 2000. It is a full service, state-chartered bank in Birmingham. Alamerica holds the first and only bank charter issued by the State of Alabama to an African American-owned financial services institution. I am the Bank’s largest shareholder. Alamerica is one of only nineteen black-owned banks in America. Unlike some other Alabama banks, Alamerica Bank never sought or received federal “bailout” money during the Great Recession of 2008. Alamerica enjoys one of the best Tier 1 capital ratios among banks in Alabama and is a profitable business enterprise.
The Tax Dispute with the City of Birmingham
The “Deadbeat Donald” website lists a 2013 tax dispute between the City of Birmingham and two of my businesses. During this time, the City attempted to tax business revenues earned by these companies outside the city limits of Birmingham. This taxation effort violated the U.S. Constitution’s requirement for the “fair apportionment” of business taxes. After a special audit was conducted by its Finance Department, the City of Birmingham: (a) agreed with me that my businesses did not owed the $146,177 in taxes and business license fees the City was seeking, and (b) elected to resolve this taxation matter for a total payment of $11,769 for the period covered by the audit.
The SEC Case
The “Deadbeat Donald” website lists a September 1, 2016, lawsuit filed against me by the Atlanta office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). I have posted articles about this lawsuit on several occasions.
The SEC, which does not regulate any of my privately owned businesses, has identified two athletes who it claims were “duped” by me. In May, one of these individuals wrote a letter to the SEC informing them that he had dismissed (with prejudice) all “fraud” claims he had previously made against me in a 2013 federal lawsuit. The other individual has never filed a fraud claim.
Both athletes have chosen to remain in business with me despite the SEC’s widely publicized allegations of fraud. Additionally, both individuals were “accredited” investors who were represented by major investment banking firms at the time of their transactions.
Interestingly, the SEC has never made any claim in my case that the businesses in question are not ongoing business enterprises, or that the businesses are not commercially valuable, or that any investor has lost money in these businesses. Furthermore, the SEC has not produced any evidence of corporate actions on my part that were not authorized by the contracts that were executed between the affected parties and/or corporate governance documents in force at the time.
Finally, the SEC’s investigation in my case was commenced in 2014 as an accommodation to then-Alabama governor Robert Bentley and other influential people in Washington who strongly oppose my brand of political independence and hard-hitting investigative journalism.
The Cessna Litigation
Contrary to the false and malicious statements on the “Deadbeat Donald” website, Cessna Financial Corporation has not “garnished” any money from me in connection with a Consent Judgment executed between the parties in May. Cessna holds a $2 million deficiency judgment from the sale of my jet aircraft in a 2011 down market. Cessna is patiently awaiting the closings on specific business transactions where a portion of the proceeds due me is earmarked for this payment.
The Art of War
I love Sun-Tzu’s book, “The Art of War”. For decades, I have used this book to navigate life and the difficult seas of business. It is evident from the “Deadbeat Donald” smear campaign that my “haters” know nothing about me. I know everything about them.
I am committed to ending the rape culture symbolized by the Megan Rondini case. My “haters” are determined to protect this culture by all means necessary. The Art of War tells us how this contest between “Good” and “Evil” will end.