New revelations about an attempt to bribe a lawyer for one of the women who accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of dating her when she was underage show just how desperate some of the candidate’s supporters were last November to salvage his campaign. The guilty parties apparently included Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former White House strategist who was, during the time of the Moore campaign, running Breitbart News.
Bannon at the time was trying to prove he was a political kingmaker after his chosen candidate Moore won the Alabama Senate primary against Roy Moore, the candidate backed by the Republican establishment.
Bannon believed if he could get Moore elected, he would be positioned to launch a national effort for the fall with his hand-picked conservative candidates backed by millions of dollars from wealthy alt-right supporters.
However, in the months leading up the election, a number of women came forward and said Moore, while in his 30s, had dated them when they were under 18 years of age, and in some cases had molested them or engaged in various sexual activities. He was also accused of sexual assault.
Although Republicans had dominated Alabama national politics for decades, the revelations changed the dynamics of the special election and positioned a Democrat to win the Senate seat – which would be a disaster for Republicans and Bannon.
One of those women was Leigh Corfman, who in October had told reporters for The Washington Post that 40-years-ago she had met Moore in an Alabama courthouse when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old District Attorney. She told the reporters he drove her to his home where he took off her shirt and pants and touched her is a sexual manner.
Now the bizarre aftermath is again the subject of a lengthy report in The Washington Post.
With the publicity about to explode in November 2016, Corfman turned to Birmingham attorney Eddie Sexton, a childhood friend, to represent her and help manage the media scrutiny, even though his specialty was product liability and class action suits, not high profile political matters.
Sexton was a partner in a small firm where he had spent much of the prior decade working on a case involving defective drywall, the material used to create interior walls.
After the Post published the story on Nov. 9, the website AL.com identified Sexton as Corfman’s attorney and quoted him, saying she stood by her account of the affair.
Days later two men — at least one of whom was a client of Sexton’s firm in an unrelated matter — approached the attorney with a plot to discredit Corfman. Gary Lantrip and Bert Davi, partners in a local construction firm, asked Sexton to drop Corfman as a client and sign a document to show he did not believe her, which would wreck her credibility as an accuser.
“The damaging statement would be given to Breitbart News,” the Washington Post reported today, “then run by… Stephen K. Bannon.”
“In exchange,” The Washington Post reports, “Sexton said in recent interviews, the men offered to pay him $10,000 and promised to introduce him to Bannon and others in the nation’s capital.”
Sexton has provided The Washington Post with recorded phone calls, text messages, and access to people he confided in at the time about the attempt to bribe him, lending his story credibility.
I found where Christian morals disappeared to — this dirty, gluttonous Southern racist who’ll stop at nothing to maintain unearned white male power ate them. Leigh Corfman attorney says this Roy Moore supporter offered him $10,000 to drop and discredit her https://t.co/EoR6d1lSNI pic.twitter.com/zRN6p7K52k
— Lucy: Party Of One (@LucyPartyOfOne) March 23, 2018
In one of the recorded calls, Lantrip tells Sexton: “We got some chance to do something, make some quick little-bitty for you … and then, on down the line, we can go to D.C..”
Moore on the campaign trail, Breitbart in articles, and Bannon on a radio show all hinted that there was big news about to break that would discredit a key Moore accuser.
However, Moore now claims that while Lantrip and Davi attended some of his rallies, he never offered a bribe or doing anything improper or illegal.Bannon, on the other hand, refused to comment, although a spokesperson for Breitbart insisted their reporters were never aware of or approved any bribe attempt.
The Washington Post article today goes into explicit detail about what happened, the history of the attempt and the documentation.
They have a comment from an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama who acknowledged Sexton told them about the attempt, but they had ruled there was no federal crime involved so they had not followed up.
Attorney for Leigh Corfman says Breitbart reporters Aaron Klein and Matt Boyle asked him if he could say he wouldn’t represent her and decided she wasn’t believable. https://t.co/U3K1zHLryZ (Watch the video, it’s so thorough) pic.twitter.com/ER0qErFNc6
— Andrew Ba Tran (@abtran) March 23, 2018
Lantrip and Davi also denied any wrongdoing, and said they were courted by the Moore campaign to put political banners promoting the candidate on their construction sites, and confirmed they did attend some events.
Days before the election, Lantrip and Moore attended a fundraiser for Moore in Washington, D.C. at the home of Sen. Rand Paul, where the candidate was present.
In one video, they can be seen entering an event at a church in Birmingham, walking right behind Moore and his wife, and sitting in the front row near the candidate.
Davi told The Pot that he had known Bannon for some time but would not go into detail: “Let’s just say that I know Steve. I’ve known him for a while.”
Davi has a criminal past and has claimed he once was a member of the Hell’s Angels. He spent time in prison in the 1990s after convictions including auto theft, forgery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to records seen by The Post.
“My past has nothing to do with any story,” Davi wrote to The Post in a text message.
On Dec. 12, Moore lost the election, and shortly after, Bannon was forced out of Breitbart in the wake of the publication of the book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff.
Bannon’s reign as a kingmaker came to a sudden end and his big money backers abandoned him like rats leaving a sinking ship.
Oddly, after all that, Davi said, in the end, he and Lantrip came to believe Corfman was telling the truth: “We stepped away from Roy Moore.”
The whole affair is an affront to what is right, but it’s also a kind of comic opera disaster which helped no one and smeared the reputations of the very people it was meant to boost.
Corfman is now suing Moore for defaming her by denying her story.
"Leigh Corfman is not seeking financial compensation beyond legal costs, said her attorney, Neil Roman. She is asking for a declaratory judgment of defamation, a public apology from Moore, and a court-enforced ban on him or his campaign publicly attacking her again."
— Kai (fly-mommy) (@kainicole) March 6, 2018
Moore meanwhile has been reduced to begging for money to fight Corfman’s lawsuit.
Roy Moore pleads for money, saying resources 'depleted. Apparently, he wants to raise $250K for legal bills as he fights a lawsuit in which Leigh Corfman accused him of molesting her when she was 14 and defaming her during his senatorial run campaign. https://t.co/O5NGi7KGdz …
— Nicolette Glazer (@NicoletteGlazer) March 3, 2018
Bannon has disappeared from public life, Lantrip and Davi are backing doing construction and Sexton is back to battling over defective wallboard.