Skip to comments.Culverhouse, UA feud was about ego, power and money, not Alabama’s abortion law
Posted on 06/10/2019 11:40:35 AM PDT by servo1969
It was a narrative that would not die, kept alive by a social media frenzy and a lot of folks too eager to believe it.
In an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Friday, Hugh Culverhouse Jr., again framed his ongoing feud with the University of Alabama as a political dispute over the states near-total abortion ban.
Culverhouse Jr. is an heir of Hugh Culverhouse Sr., a University of Alabama alumnus and donor. Last year Culverhouse Jr, who is not himself an alumnus, pledged $25 million to the universitys law school, and in exchange, the university agreed to name its law school after Culverhouse Jr. and set up an endowed chair. That relationship went sour, Culverhouse claimed, after he called for prospective students to boycott the university because of the abortion law.
Its a good story.
Heck, I shared Culverhouses initial comments on Twitter when he first made them. And after the Post published his op-ed Friday, that story traveled even farther and faster, as it was shared and retweeted by a lot of people willing to believe the worst about Alabama and its namesake university.
We all should have given it a second look.
Emails and a timeline
There are big problems with that narrative, problems that show little of Culverhouses premise, if any, may be true, and that he hijacked the abortion debate and Alabamas ugly moment in the national spotlight as a preemptive attack against the university.
The university has now released email exchanges between Culverhouse and university officials showing the dispute as something else entirely a bitter, personal feud between the University and one of the institutions biggest donors. Those emails show Culverhouse trying to influence hiring decisions, admissions and scholarships and threatening to take his money out of the school when he didnt get his way.
I want to talk next week and go over every candidate, but your actions have resulted in my not giving any further gifts to Alabama and yesterday, I removed Alabama as a beneficiary from my will/trust, Culverhouse wrote to the universitys law school dean on May 24. That amount makes a mockery of the sums I have given.
And those records show Chancellor Finis St. John first told trustee Joe Espy that the university should refund all of Culverhouses donations and un-rename the law school after Culverhouse four days before Culverhouse made any publicly reported comments about the abortion ban.
Further, those records show Culverhouse mocking trustees, the university president and the law school dean, threatening to pull his money from the university unless those officials treated him with more deference, and eventually demanding at least $10 million back from the school.
Again, all before Culverhouse said a word in the press about Alabamas abortion law.
If you want to continue treating me as a subversive spy, simply change the name of the professorship to The Richard Shelby Chair of Constitutional Law, and we will think of a cover story, Culverhouse wrote o May 24. The same can be done with the law school, after a financial settlement is reached and accomplished.
Virulent and viral
On May 29, a Florida politics website, FLAPOL, published a story in which Culverhouse called on prospective students to boycott the University of Alabama not because of his spat with university officials, but because of Alabamas near-total abortion ban.
Thats the story I shared on social media. A lot of other folks did, too. But quickly, the facts got in the way of a good story. And facts matter.
From the beginning, there were reasons to be skeptical. For starters, Culverhouse didnt target Alabama in general but the University of Alabama in particular. Yes, his family name carries more weight there, but shouldnt Auburn get the same treatment? Or any other university or college in the state? Or any business? Why just UA?
Timelines are important, and the backstory made Culverhouses motives more clear.
The truth dies first
On Friday, university trustees approved of St. Johns proposal, took Culverhouses name off the law school and agreed to refund Culverhouses donations. The same day, Culverhouse sent his op-ed to the Post, which published it and began a social media firestorm. Other media followed, most portraying the dispute as a he-said/they-said.
Im married into the Crimson Cult, but I have never hesitated to bend the UA systems nose when I thought it warranted. I might never have received more hate mail than the day I argued in a column that Nick Saban might have voted by absentee ballot illegally. Im lucky I didnt have to leave the state.
And Im not a fan of Alabamas abortion law. Quite the opposite. Ive argued vehemently against it.
But the University of Alabama is not the right target here. Not this time.
Facts matter. Truth matters. And this whole sorry saga has been short on both, even when Culverhouse tried to bring it back to the real Alabama religion: Football.
I think what provoked them the most was when they asked me if I wanted to see a football game and I said no; I dont like to see young men hurting themselves, Culverhouse told the American Bar Association Journal last week.
It was a good line. A good story, but
In addition to the emails, Sunday I got emailed a photo, too. Its of Culverhouse and his wife standing on green grass, waving to a sea of crimson from the 50-yard line at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Kyle Whitmire is the state political columnist for the Alabama Media Group.
In this Sept. 20, 2018, photo, Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr., right, and wife, Eliza, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., show off T-shirts from the the University of Alabama law school, which now bears his name. The university appears poised to reject a $26.5 million pledge by Culverhouse, who recently called on students to boycott the university over the states new abortion ban. (Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News via AP)
He is pro-baby killing. So I am glad he had had his name removed.
He is pro-baby killing. So I am glad he had had his name removed.
Yes, hes pro-baby killing but, from this story, the bigger problem is that he is a major league JERK!
“He is pro-baby killing. So I am glad he had had his name removed.
Yes, hes pro-baby killing but, from this story, the bigger problem is that he is a major league JERK!”
This is the guy financing the buildup of the Democrat Machine at the Florida County level, to the tune of milions of dollars...
I think he wants to be Gov.
Culverhouse Jr. looks like his dad. Probably a clone.
The media is DESPERATE to get this off the radar. They don’t want any organization to be seen as reacting positively toward our new abortion law in Alabama, even if it is in sort of a double-negative fasion.
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