Perry County Commission Chairman Albert Turner has fired back at his accusers after being indicted for voter fraud last week.
Former District Attorney Michael Jackson and Former Secretary of State John Merrill announced the indictment at a press conference last Wednesday, Jan. 11, in Selma. They announced that a Perry County Grand Jury had returned two indictments, one felony and misdemeanor, against Turner for alleged ballot harvesting and ballot-box stuffing in the 2022 elections.
The conference was one of Jackson and Merrill’s final acts before leaving office at the beginning of 2023. Jackson was defeated in the 2022 Democratic primary by Robert Turner, Jr. for re-election to his position, and Merrill had announced that he would not seek re-election in the wake of accusations of misconduct.
Turner, who has held a seat on the Perry County Commission for some twenty years, published a long post to his Facebook account last Thursday about the matter.
Calling the indictment “bogus,” Chairman Turner accused both men of playing politics with the announcement. Turner, writing in the third person, said, “the history between Jackson and [him] goes back to [Jackson’s] first election against Ed Greene. Turner was unimpressed by Jackson then as he is now.” In that election, Turner said he and the Perry County Civic League, a local political organization over which he has influence, chose not to publicly oppose Jackson because he “was seeking to make history as the first African-American to be elected” to the position. “However,” he went on, “Jackson always knew he was not Turner’s guy.”
Turner went on to detail how he “shot at” Jackson in his first attempt at re-election by supporting Selma attorney Joseph Haygood in the Democratic primary. In that race, Turner said Haygood “exposed Jackson on credibility and strange relationships with Drug cases in the 4th District.”
Turner said he went on to support Attorney Rose Sanders against Jackson in his third bid for re-election. “Jackson knew Attorney Sanders was not serious about his defeat but he was weakened in the public eye,” said Turner.
“The lure of defeat was within reach,” with the 2022 election, Turner went on to write. Turner said Jackson had sought his help in the primary against Turner’s cousin, newly-inaugurated District Attorney Robert Turner, Jr, “believing that an earlier cross-up over Robert Jr.’s wife’s bid for the circuit clerk would spill over into his DA race.”
“That was a miscalculation on Jackson’s part, as Turner and his political organization worked overtime to defeat Jackson,” he went on to write.
Turner said he was “not concerned” about the charges.
“If I am guilty of anything, it was making sure Robert Jr. beat the hell out of Jackson and he did that,” he wrote. “Turner said he agrees with Jackson’s claim that the ballot box was stuff, not by him, but by the people of Perry County and the 4th Judicial District.”
Turner noted that Jackson and Merrill had held the press conference before obtaining an arrest warrant.
Calling Merrill an “outgoing womanizer” and the press conference itself “political theater at its finest,” Turner said that the former Secretary of State “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.”
Turner said he would “go on with his schedule” in the coming days, including stops in Atlanta and Savannah before attending Gov. Kay Ivey’s inauguration on Jan. 16.