A Nashville radio talk show host investigating alleged corruption on
the part of rural Tennessee’s so-called “Hillbilly Mafia” has uncovered
suspicious business dealings between members of the group and Vice
President Al Gore.
The allegations have, in turn, led to a series of threats and legal
tactics by one member of the group against the radio station in an
attempt to silence the talk show host.
“Almost two decades after Al Gore left Tennessee for Washington, why does he keep associating with low-lifes like this, one of which is trying to beat a racketeering rap?” Valentine asked.
Valentine’s investigation has centered around Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe, currently facing allegations in a civil racketeering case of having used his position as sheriff to harass and intimidate his political rival, Dewey Lineberry, and using his powers to damage Lineberry’s real estate business.
According to federal court documents submitted in the civil racketeering case, the “Hillbilly Mafia” is an informal organization of Tennessee business and elected officials who operate near Gore’s hometown of Carthage, Tenn.
Critics say the group’s members use their influence and positions to engage in illegal or legal-but-questionable activities by harassing and threatening business competitors and political opponents alike.
In a filing for the racketeering trial, Ashe admitted to keeping 140 head of cattle on Al Gore’s Carthage, Tenn., farm, which serves as surety for a $71,000 negative balance on a joint investment account held by MAC Farms, a venture owned by Ashe and fellow “Hillbilly Mafia” members Monty Mires and Jimmy Comer, at the Gore-owned Community Bank of Carthage.
The mere mention of cows raises eyebrows in rural Tennessee political circles. In their book,
“Prince Albert: The Life and Lies of Al
Gore,” David Bossie and Floyd Brown relate how Gore’s father, Al Gore Sr., during his tenure as a U.S. senator, used to host cattle auctions for lobbyists and other influence peddlers at the Carthage family farm. While the cattle would be purchased at staggering prices, the cattle would always remain on the farm to be sold again at the next auction.
After Valentine brought up the alleged connections between the “Hillbilly Mafia” and Gore, Ashe began calling station officials to pressure them to clamp down on Valentine.
The station was reluctant to interfere, which prompted Ashe to contact his attorney to subpoena audio recordings of the programs and any related documents, even after Valentine allowed Ashe to come on his show to give his side of the story.
But Valentine told WorldNetDaily that he suspected the legal tactics were designed to obtain information about his confidential sources that have given him documents and other information related to his investigation.
“They are clearly trying to get at my sources, which I am never going to divulge. Ashe and his goons can subpoena us all day long, but we’re not going to allow our contacts to be subjected to the abuse that the Hillbilly Mafia is able to inflict,” Valentine said. “We’ll be glad to give them copies of the show, but we are not going to let these thugs intimidate us or the folks who were brave enough to come forward with this information.”
Ashe’s attorney, Rebecca Demaree, confirmed for WorldNetDaily that she had subpoenaed WLAC for the audio recordings of Valentine’s comments about the racketeering trial and for any documents related to the case.
In the on-air interview with Valentine last week, Ashe admitted to the group’s bovine business arrangement with Gore.
“Well, sure I have cows on Al Gore’s farm. Al’s an old friend of mine. I’ve been trying to sell him cows for years,” Ashe said.
But Ashe vigorously denied in his interview that the racketeering trial is moving ahead.
“Now, the judge hasn’t allowed anything to go forward. It has not been upheld to go forward to trial, so again your information is wrong,” Ashe said.
Demaree, his attorney, told WorldNetDaily that U.S. District Judge Robert Echols had dismissed some of the charges alleged in the racketeering lawsuit, but that additional charges are still being investigated while Lineberry’s attorneys conduct discovery on the claims. Because the matter is still pending, she couldn’t comment specifically about the case.
Ashe is also accused of conspiring to cover up the beating and hospitalization of an underage female high school student allegedly assaulted by one of Ashe’s deputies, by threatening and conducting regular surveillance on the girl. When the girl was called recently as a witness in an unrelated slander case against Ashe, she refused to testify for fear of reprisals against her and her family. Those allegations are also part of the forthcoming racketeering trial.
When Valentine asked about his alleged participation in covering up the girl’s beating, Ashe flatly denied any involvement, “If I’d done that, I should have been prosecuted.”
One Wilson County elected official, who spoke to WorldNetDaily anonymously for fear of retaliation by Hillbilly Mafia members, said that threats and intimidation are common methods used by the group to cover up their questionable business dealings. “The members of the Hillbilly Mafia get sloppy in how they handle their affairs because they are confident in the protection that Gore would give them if they got into a jam,” the informant told WorldNetDaily. “These guys are known for getting into trouble, so they have to resort to threatening everyone and everybody to keep it from getting out. But it seems like that policy is finally catching up with them.”
The informant claimed to have been personally subject to threats made by one Hillbilly Mafia member, Monty Mires — one of the business partners in the MAC Farms venture that keeps the herd of cattle at Gore’s farm.
Another source, also speaking anonymously out of fear of retribution, claimed to have been subjected to the group’s threats, as part of a pattern of intimidation, and added that the group operates under the presumption of Gore’s protection.
Despite what he sees as the intense pressure that Gore and his “old friends” can bring to bear on the radio station and his family, Valentine vowed to stay on the case.
“The people I’ve talked with in Wilson County are very much aware of the Hillbilly Mafia, and it’s apparently a very real and very dangerous organized criminal element. And it’s not only the sheriff, but several other Gore business associates who are alleged members,” Valentine said. “Now, I couldn’t care less who the people of Wilson County choose as their sheriff, but I believe the American people have a right to know who their vice-president is in business with.”
As reported in WorldNetDaily, Valentine was part of a quartet of Nashville talk radio personalities who took on Gov. Don Sundquist last June after Sundquist attempted to push an unpopular state income-tax proposal through the legislature, prompting
massive tax protests.
Another alleged member of the Hillbilly Mafia, Wilson County Road Superintendent Steve Armistead, also has close ties to Gore, having stood on the platform with the vice president during his speech to the Democratic National Convention held in Los Angeles two weeks ago.
According to several sources, Armistead was also involved in difficulties that Gore had with a rental home on his Carthage property earlier this year. When Armistead failed to perform the repairs that Gore had promised the renters would occur, the renters moved out of the home.
WorldNetDaily reported that as a result of Gore’s failure to resolve the problems with the property, the Tennessee Republican Party came to Gore’s rescue and assisted the family in its move from Tennessee to Lima, Ohio.
Valentine said he is surprised the repeated scandals of the Clinton administration and Gore’s own political history haven’t prevented him from having business dealings with such questionable associates.
“You would think that with the difficulties that Bill Clinton has had in recent years from his shady Arkansas connections, Al Gore might have learned something, but apparently he hasn’t,” Valentine told WorldNetDaily. “You only need to look at the cast of characters involved in the Hillbilly Mafia and the curious business dealings they continue to have with Gore to see that America might be in store for more of the same under a Gore administration. Is anybody in his campaign seeing these problems?”
Gore campaign officials did not return repeated requests for comment.