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By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
The unthinkable nearly happened in Mobile County District Court here Tuesday: a U.S. senator almost represented a poor person.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who boasts a law degree and membership in the state bar association among his many accomplishments, received notice that he had been appointed by the court to provide criminal defense counsel for William Clyde Kelly, a 46-year-old Saraland man accused of possessing a controlled substance.

Mobile County District
Judge Mike McMaken
thought his secretary
was pulling his robe
when she told him
Shelby was on the
phone and wanted to
speak with him.

"I said 'no, you've got
to be kidding,'" said

But indeed it was
arguably the state's
most powerful
political figure calling
to discuss Kelly and
the sorting out of this
stemming from
various drug charges
and alleged traffic

But, alas, the
had more to do with
Shelby's appointment than Kelly's guilt or innocence.

When Kelly made his initial appearance in court, he told McMaken that he planned to hire a lawyer but had not yet done so. The judge appointed young Matt Shelby to the case temporarily under indigent
defense provisions. Young Shelby, with offices on Florida Street at the Greene & Phillips firm, trails his senior namesake, with offices in the nation's capitol, by some 47 years in bar membership.

The glitch occurred when the clerk's office apparently entered the identifying number for Richard Shelby rather than Matt Shelby in the case file. In due course, the senator got notification of his assignment.

According to McMaken, Shelby admitted that his criminal defense skills, if they ever existed at all, had probably eroded as he pursued a career in politics. Legal malpractice would not do anyone -- him, McMaken or Kelly -- any good, Shelby suggested.

"It was a refreshing break in the action," McMaken said. "Just when you think you've seen it all. And people wonder why I find District Court so addicting."

McMaken said he and Shelby became acquainted on the campaign trail almost 25 years ago when both were Democrats seeking office. Both are now Republicans.

“We bumped into one another in 1986 when we were running for office (McMaken for the district court judgeship and Shelby for U.S. Senate). We saw each other at a bunch of places. He was running statewide but he did a good bit of campaigning in Mobile. A good while after that, we (the McMaken family) were in D.C. getting the Capitol tour that (U.S. Sen.) Jeff (Sessions) had arranged for us. We were walking across the rotunda and ran into Shelby. He remembered who I was. He’s a sharp guy.”

Meanwhile, Kelly remains in Mobile Metro Jail charged with Expired tag (two charges); No insurance; Drivers license, not in possession; Possession of controlled substance; Driving with a suspended license; and running a red light.

Tax Day Tea Parties
The Common Sense Campaign's Tax Day Tea Parties are set Thursday, April 15 in Mobile from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at
Bienville Square and in Daphne at the Civic Center from 6-8 p.m.

Speakers will include:

For more information visit or call 251-626-7808.

Shelby: Too big to fail? How about
the bigger they are the harder they fall?
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby has consistently propounded a flat tax for the U.S., usually with a shout-out around April 15 and this year is certainly no different.

In light of financial reform proposals that are currently being considered in the Senate, Shelby released the following statement:

“Taxpayers across America are disgusted with the government’s tax policies and use of their hard earned tax dollars. Americans are fed up with the government’s stimulus packages and bailouts because they know the taxman cometh for a bigger share of their income down the road to pay for it. For years, I have introduced legislation in the Senate that would provide for a flat tax and a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I continue to advocate for these sound policies.

“But with the April 15th filing deadline upon us this year, there is much more Congress can do to stand up for U.S. taxpayers. Americans remain rightly outraged that their tax dollars were used to bail out irresponsible Wall Street firms and auto companies. I firmly and vocally opposed these bailouts, as I have every bailout to come before Congress, beginning with Chrysler in 1979.

“It is time once and for all to bury the flawed policy of “Too Big to Fail.” American taxpayers demand and deserve air-tight assurances that the federal government will never again use their tax dollars to bail out Wall Street or anyone else.

“A bedrock principle that has made the U.S. economy the most dominant on the planet and the most prolific in history is the freedom to try new ideas and to reap the benefits of success.  Congress must ensure, however, that the flip side of that equation also holds true: Failure means failure.  Above all, failure must never mean taxpayer assistance. Public subsidization of private failure is unfair to taxpayers and distorts the free market that helped make our country great. 

“Unfortunately, Democrats’ financial reform proposals would not correct this problem. The current Senate bill would allow for backdoor bailouts, expand the scope of bailouts and institutionalize “Too Big to Fail.”

“As the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, I am working with committee Chairman Christopher Dodd to address this and other issues. It is my hope we can reach a meaningful agreement that can garner broad bipartisan support. If Democrats and Republicans focus on policy rather than politics, a substantive agreement remains entirely possible.

“Republicans support financial reform that truly ends “Too Big to Fail” and aids the U.S. economy in creating jobs. Anything short of that is unacceptable.”

Gounares to open campaign HQ
GOP congressional candidate Peter Gounares will have a Grand Opening of his Mobile Headquarters Friday from 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. The headquarters is located on Airport Blvd. at the Loop in the 2032 Plaza shopping center.  Refreshments will be available all day, and hotdogs will be served during the lunch hours as well, according to Gounares.

Nicrosi fund raisers
The Brutkiewicz Law Office in downtown Mobile will be the site Wednesday from 5:30-7 p.m. of a reception to raise funds for Michel Nicrosi's Democratic campaign for Attorney General.

A $250 contribution is suggested of attendees. A former assistant U.S. attorney, Nicrosi once headed the criminal section of the federal prosecutor's office here.

Members of the host committee are:

The Brutkiewicz office is located at 56 S. Conception Street near Government Street and the county courthouse. For more information call 334-356-1432 or

A Rich dinner
A $25 per person barbecue dinner/fund raiser is scheduled Tuesday, April 20 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Inca Grand Hall at 3556 Halls Mill Road in the GOP campaign of Ashley Rich for district attorney. The casual event will feature barbecue pork and all the trimmings and a cash bar (beer, $2; wine, $3). For more information email

Rich and Mark Erwin vie in the June 1 primary for the GOP nomination to face Democrat Don Foster in November.

Dems get together
The Mobile County Democratic Executive Committee will meet Thursday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the library at Davidson High School on Pleasant Valley Road.

Bonner, Bentley top ESRW card
GOP political candidates Dr. Robert Bentley and U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner will address the Eastern Shore Republican Women luncheon meeting Monday, April 19 at 11:30 a.m. at the Fairhope Yacht Club. Guests and prospective members are welcome. Lunch is $16.  Reservations should be made by Thursday, April 15 to Lucy Sundbeck, or call 929-0081.

Bentley, a state legislator from Tuscaloosa, is running for governor. Bonner is seeking re-election to Congress.

Coming up
Scheduled to speak to the Knollwood Republican
Women’s Club in coming weeks are:

The club meets at Gordon Oaks Retirement Community at 3159 Knollwood Drive, Building B Dining Room
at 2 p.m.

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