Records maintained by the Alabama Secretary of State’s office show that between 1998 and 2013, at least 42 business entities and property owners associations were registered at 12940 Underwood Road in Summerdale, the current address for construction company Summit Industries LLC. Those entities were formed by Baldwin County Commissioner Tucker Dorsey, Dorsey’s employer Clarence E. Burke Jr. and Summit Industries owner Jacob L. Cunningham.
The formation of so many legal entities by a county commissioner and two men who do business with the county, along with the fact they they are all listed as having the same physical address, raises questions about exactly what relationship exists between the three.
Summit Industries LLC has received more than $539,000 in nine total payments from the county since 2012. This week Dorsey said he has “absolutely no connection” to Summit Industries LLC. He cut short an interview with a Lagniappe reporter before there was an opportunity to ask why he has formed so many property owners associations and listed them at Summit Industries’ address.
Dorsey did explain that he is employed part-time by Magnolia River Management, a company owned by Clarence Burke Jr., who also owns Baldwin County Sewer System. Dorsey listed Magnolia River Management as his employer on his statement of economic interests filed with the Ethics Commission in January this year.
Summit Construction Company Inc. is listed as the registered agent for Magnolia River Management LLC in records available through the Alabama Secretary of State’s online business entity database. The records show that in 1987, Summit Construction Co. Inc. was registered to Clarence E. Burke Jr. While state records list “Highway 59 North, Robertsdale” with no street number for Summit Construction Co. Inc., in its 2015 annual report, Burke lists his personal address as 12940 Underwood Road. Company Secretary Dorie Burke also lists the same address.
According to Dorsey, Summit Construction Co.’s assets were sold to Jacob L. Cunningham approximately 15 years ago and Cunningham changed the named to Summit Industries LLC. According to state records, Summit Industries LLC was registered to Cunningham in 2000, while Burke was removed from the company’s listing in 2008.
Baldwin County probate records appear to show the company’s assets were sold in 2000, when Laurel LLC purchased a 75 percent interest in property at 12940 Underwood Road from Wolf Creek Industries, which is listed on Secretary of State’s records as an asphalt company registered to Burke. Laurel LLC was incorporated in 2000 with Jacob L. Cunningham as a member. On its 2015 annual report, Burke is listed as president, secretary and agent for the company and lists the 12940 Underwood Road as his address.
“I don’t have anything to do with Summit Industries and I never have,” Dorsey said. “The people who spread rumors like this don’t understand the facts about the business, and they don’t even try to understand the facts.”
Reached by email on July 25, Summit Industries owner Jacob L. Cunningham said Dorsey has no connection to the company.
“Tucker Dorsey has never owned any part of or been employed by Summit Industries LLC,” Cunningham said. “Any work Summit Industries has performed for Baldwin County has been competitively bid.”
The county’s online database shows Summit Industries LLC has three current contracts with the county for completion of the Eastern Shore Trail as well as work in Rayne Plantation and phase one of The Reserve subdivision.
The county’s online check register does not show any payments or contracts with Magnolia River Management in at least the last 10 years. The records do show the county has a current contract with Baldwin County Sewer System and the county has paid the company more than $140,000 for work since 2010. Dorsey said he has not been involved in any discussions or votes related to Baldwin County Sewer since taking office because of a 2010 Ethics Commission advisory opinion.
Newspaper reports from 2010 indicate Dorsey faced questions from media about his relationship to Burke during his first campaign for the Baldwin County Commission’s District 3 seat. Dorsey told media outlets he was not employed by Baldwin County Sewer Service but ran Magnolia River Management, a real estate development company, for Burke.
In October 2010, the Alabama Ethics Commission issued an advisory opinion on whether or not Dorsey would be legally able to rule on matters related to BCSS because Burke was his employer.
The Ethics Commission issued a 4-0 opinion ruling that as a member of the Baldwin County Commission, Dorsey should not vote, attempt to influence or otherwise participate in issues related to business dealings with BCSS. State ethics law defines a conflict of interest as actions or decisions by a public official in the discharge of official duties which affect that official’s personal financial interests or the financial interests of family members or businesses with which the official may be associated.
The county’s records show just one current contract between the county and BCSS for a utility permit for the installation of sewer force mains in the Plantation Estates Subdivision, which commissioners approved with a 3-0 vote at the commission’s Aug. 19, 2014, meeting. Official approved minutes from that meeting show Dorsey left the commission chambers and did not participate in the discussion about the contract or cast a vote.
Probate records from 2005 show Dorsey was granted power of attorney over Burke’s affairs with Summit Construction Co. According to Dorsey, the move allowed him to make decisions for the company while Burke traveled abroad.
“I did have power of attorney over him at one point because he travels all over the world for business and he needed someone here who could sign important documents while he was gone,” Dorsey said. “That’s it. People act like this is some big deal, but it really isn’t.”
Dorsey ended the interview before more questions could be asked.
Alabama Secretary of State records show Baldwin County Sewer Service was formed at 12940 Underwood Road in 1987, but the privately run utilities provider now lists 14747 Underwood Road as its address online. Magnolia River Management shares the 14747 Underwood Road address with BCSS.
Meanwhile, there are 43 business entities for which Dorsey is listed as the incorporator. The records show 37 of those entities are various property-owner associations, at least 25 of which were registered at 12940 Underwood Road, but only one was registered after 2010, when Dorsey took office.
Burke currently has eight entities listed with the Secretary of State’s Office that either list 12940 Underwood Road as their address or his address. He also has seven more that list 14747 Underwood Road as an address.
Dorsey has 37 property owners associations listed with him as incorporator, 30 of those have the 12490 address associated with them, either through Burke as an agent, or listed as primary address. In most of these Dorsey did not list an address. There are also four more listed at 14747 Underwood Road and one at 12640 Underwood Road.
Cunningham is listed as incorporator or primary agent for Marlin Management LLC, Summit Industries LLC and Laurel LLC, all of which have 12940 Underwood Road listed as their physical address.
UPDATE: This report was edited at 1:15 p.m. July 29. It originally stated that the Baldwin County Commission has made no payments to Baldwin County Sewer System in the last 10 years. In fact, the county has paid the private utilities provider more than $140,000 since 2010, according to its online check register.
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