The peculiar headlines are starting to add up for Brett Talley, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to be a federal district judge in Alabama.
The latest piece of information about Talley? He was a member of a paranormal research group.
What does that mean?
Talley was a member of the Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group in 2009 and 2010.
The group’s mission, according to the website, is “searching for the truth of the paranormal existence” and to “help those who may be living with paranormal activity that can be disruptive or traumatic.”
To translate, they go to houses or buildings, stay up all night, and see if they can find or debunk the presence of ghosts.
Talley isn’t some amateur in the field of paranormal activity. He has authored books on the subject, including a book called “Haunted Tuscaloosa.”
What are his judicial credentials?
He has only practiced law for three years, and he has never tried a case.
Talley is a Harvard Law graduate (class of 2007). He spent two years as a law clerk in a federal district court and two more at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
After that, Talley served as a political speechwriter for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, and then for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
Talley was the Alabama deputy solicitor general for almost two years before becoming deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department in January.
Notably, the American Bar Association rated him as unqualified for the federal judgeship.
Adding to his issues is the fact that he failed to disclose that his wife, Annie Donaldson, is White House Counsel Donald McGahn’s chief of staff. Talley was asked to disclose family members who could present potential conflicts of interest.
What have people said about him?
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Talley's credentials.
“Mr. Talley served as Deputy Solicitor General for the state of Alabama, currently serves in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy and was recommended by Alabama U.S. Senators. He is more than qualified to serve in the federal judiciary,” Sanders said.
Charles Geyh, an Indiana University law professor who specializes in judicial ethics and conduct, raised concerns about how Talley got the nomination in the first place.
“We do have a cronyism concern; that because of his association with members of the Senate and members of the White House that he’s being considered for a position that the ABA says he’s unqualified [for],” Geyh said. “To what extent is the president doing this as a favor for someone he knows? To what extent is this an arrangement in favor of home state senators who are indifferent to [Talley’s] qualifications?”
(H/T The Hill and The Washington Post)