Albert Turner Jr., the son of two civil rights activists Sen. Jeff Sessions prosecuted for voter fraud during his tenure as U.S. attorney, endorsed his nomination for attorney general on Wednesday.
The Turner prosecution has been a prominent feature of left-wing criticism of the Sessions nomination. Critics charge Sessions with waging a punitive, racially charged jeremiad against the Turners, who served as senior aides to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and marched with Rep. John Lewis at the Edmund Pettus bridge.
Sessions brought the case against Albert Turner Sr. and his wife Evelyn in 1985. The pair was accused of tampering with dozens of absentee ballots cast by elderly black voters. They were found not guilty on all counts after a short deliberation. 30 years later, their son has come forward to vouch for his integrity. (RELATED: Biden Says Senate Democrats Should Give Jeff Sessions A Chance)
Turner Jr.’s statement Wednesday asserts Sessions was acting on evidence presented to his office by a local district attorney, and was not motivated by racial animus. He says:
I have known Senator Sessions for many years, beginning with the voter fraud case in Perry County in which my parents were defendants. My differences in policy and ideology with him do not translate to personal malice. He is not a racist. As I have said before, at no time then or now has Jeff Sessions said anything derogatory about my family. He was a prosecutor at the Federal level with a job to do. He was presented with evidence by a local District Attorney that he relied on, and his office presented the case. That’s what a prosecutor does. I believe him when he says that he was simply doing his job.
I believe that he is someone with whom I, and others in the civil rights community can work if given the opportunity. I believe that he will listen, as he has in the past, to the concerns of my community. More than most I am very familiar with him. I believe he will be fair in his application of the law and the Constitution; as such I support his nomination to be the next Attorney General of the United States.
Evelyn Turner, however, asserted that her son does not speak for the entire family and opposes the Sessions nomination.
“I do not need to re-live the hurt I have felt from this case since Day 1,” she said in response to her son’s comments. “It feels like (the prosecution) is happening all over again. As far as I’m concerned, (Sessions) shouldn’t be named to catch dogs.”
Confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are slated to begin next week.
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