Perry County Commission Chairman Albert Turner Jr., indicted this week on voter fraud charges, is lashing out at the outgoing district attorney who secured the indictment and Alabama’s secretary of state.
Turner, in a lengthy Facebook post, described 4th Judicial Circuit District Attorney Michael Jackson as “ousted” and said he learned of Wednesday’s press conference through an informant “inside the DA’s office.”
Jackson, along with Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, announced the two-count indictment against Turner charging him with voting more than once, which is a misdemeanor, and harvesting ballots, a felony.
Turner is accused “stuffing” ballot boxes at a Perry County polling place in the May 2022 Democratic primary. He is also accused of mailing a large number of absentee ballots in November’s general election.
Turner is the son of civil rights activist Albert Turner Sr. Turner’s parents were unsuccessfully prosecuted for voter fraud by then-U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions in the 1985.
Turner’s first cousin in May defeated Jackson, who has been district attorney since 2004.
Jackson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Turner’s response to the indictments.
In his Facebook response, Turner wrote that he and Jackson have a long history dating back to Jackson’s first election.
“Turner was unimpressed by Jackson then as he is now, but because Jackson was seeking to make history as the first African American to be elected, Turner and the powerful Perry County Civic League did not go public with opposition to Jackson,’’ Turner wrote.
“However, Jackson always knew he was not Turner’s guy,’’ the commission chairman wrote.
In Jackson’s third bid for re-election, Turner wrote, he and Attorney Rose Sanders “raised the heat up on the Jackson administration and his treatment of victims.”
“Now in 2022, Turner had weakened Jackson’s image and the lure of defeat was within reach,’’ Turner wrote. “Turner’s first cousin, Robert Jr., had the clean-cut intelligence to make Jackson look like the buffoon he had displayed on tv over the last six years.”
“Robert, Jr. would have the name recognition, intelligence, and money to run a creditable campaign to defeat a three-term incumbent like Jackson,’’ Turner wrote.
Turner said he and his political organization worked overtime to defeat Jackson.
“Robert Jr. defeated Jackson in every county except Dallas, however, the margin was not enough to overcome the massacre Jackson would receive in Perry County,’’ Turner wrote. “Robert Jr. defeated Jackson with 80% of the vote in Perry County and thus we are here today.”
Turner said called Jackson’s allegations bogus. He said the ballot boxes were indeed stuffed, but by voters, not him.
“If I am guilty of anything it was making sure Robert Jr. beat the hell out of Jackson and he did that,’’ Turner wrote.
“The people were tired of politically motivated prosecutions by an incompetent district attorney,’’ Turner wrote. “It is not going unnoticed that two days before he leaves office for good, he sends out a press release before he gets an arrest warrant or notifies the accused of the charges.”
Turner said he has not received any paperwork outlining the charges against him. Perry County sheriff’s and jail officials refused to say whether Turner had been arrested on the indictment.
“The outgoing womanizer Secretary of State John Merrill acknowledged the investigation is ongoing and is asking people to contact his office which he vacates in two days with any information to help with the case,’’ Turner wrote. “This is political theater at its finest. Merrill was at Turner’s courthouse office two weeks ago asking that the Chairman throw him some business at his new government relation job with a Mississippi-based engineering firm.”
Merrill responded to Turner’s statement.
“I have spent the seven, 11 months and 23 days ensuring we have the safest and most secure elections in the United States. We have been recognized by three national entities as being the gold standard for election administration in the United States,’’ he said.
“Whenever somebody breaches the confidence of that process, we encourage people to report. They have done so through our Election Fairness Project 1,806 times and we’ve investigated each and every one of those. All of those have been adjudicated through our office,’’ Merrill said.
“The most recent one was the one announced yesterday through that indictment that was handed down by District Attorney Jackson. Anybody that’s indicted is actually innocent until proven guilty but part of the evidence we submitted to District Attorney Jackson was evidence that was presented to a grand jury in Perry County, made up of Commissioner Turner’s peers and they brought back an indictment – two counts,’’ he said.
As for Turner’s statement about Merrill trying to get Turner to “throw him some business,” Merrill said he was in Perry County recently meeting with the probate judge and the board of registrars.
He said he stopped into Turner’s office and they talked five to 10 minutes and took a picture together. “He asked me, ‘What are you going to do when you leave office?’’’
Merrill said he told him he has taken a job with Waggoner Engineering as the director of public policy and strategic markets for Alabama. Waggoner has its headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi, and more than ten office locations across six states and Washington, D.C.
He said he told Turner, “When I start my job in January, I’d love to come see you and talk about how we might be able to do business.” He said he’s done so with multiple people since accepting the position.
“And I will continue to do so, because I want people to know what I’m going and where I’m going,’’ Merrill said.Turner concluded his statement with this: “Chairman Turner will go on with his schedule on January 13th Atlanta, January 14th Savannah Ga., and January 15th back in Atlanta ending the King Holiday with friends at Governor Kaye Ivey’s inauguration on January 16th,’’ Turner wrote. “The Chairman wishes Mike and John a happy King’s Day and a peaceful retirement.”