Oliver Leon Robinson (Born March 13, 1960 in Birmingham) is the owner of Robinson & Robinson Communications, a former Alabama State Representative and a former basketball player who played for the UAB Blazers and the NBA's San Antonio Spurs.
Robinson grew up in Gate City and the Harris Homes project, and graduated from Woodlawn High School in 1978. He was recruited by several out of state schools, including Florida State, but chose (at his mother's insistence) to stay close to home, becoming the first four-year signee for Gene Bartow's UAB Blazers basketball program.
Robinson played with an injured shoulder for his first two seasons and contributed little on the court. He came on strong at the end of his sophomore year and ended up setting several long-standing UAB records as he led the team to two NCAA tournament appearances, culminating in the Elite Eight in 1982. That year he was the Sun Belt Conference's Player of the Year and an Honorable Mention AP All-American.
Robinson was the first UAB player to score 1,000 career points. His totals at UAB were 1,577 points (now 4th all-time), 420 rebounds, 290 assists (9th all-time), 176 steals (4th all-time), and 67 blocked shots (6th all-time). He also had 192 turnovers and committed 254 fouls. His career field goal percentage was 50.6% and he shot 74% from the free-throw line.
Robinson was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2nd round (23rd overall) in the 1982 NBA Draft and appeared in 35 games during his lone season in the league. He finished with 101 points in 147 minutes on .361 shooting, including 30 of 45 free throws. He had 17 rebounds (6 on the offensive boards) and 21 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocked shots. He committed 18 fouls and gave up 13 turnovers in his NBA career. He later played for a year in the Continental Basketball Association and another year with the Athletes in Action touring team. He retired from the game after knee surgery in 1984. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in the Class of 2008.
Robinson returned to school and completed a bachelor of science in urban affairs at UAB. He was hired to manage AmSouth Bank's Office of Community Affairs with the title of vice-president. In 1994 he and his wife started Robinson & Robinson Communications, a community relations consulting firm which publishes the Community Reinvestor magazine. Robinson also founded ABI Capital Management, a bond underwriting and capital projects consultant. He left AmSouth in 1999 to focus on his other work.
He participated in the 1991 Leadership Birmingham class and was elected as a Democrat to the Alabama House of Representatives, District 58, in 1998. He was re-elected in 2000 and 2004. While in office, Robinson has sponsored laws to curtail pass-through appropriations and has joined fellow Democratic legislators to oppose cuts to state funding for Medicaid and the Alabama Accountability Act which created tax credits for parents of children assigned to failing public schools who chose to enroll them in private schools. Robinson was involved in numerous local bills as part of the Jefferson County Legislative Delegation, often proposing legislation that was seen to transfer power to the Mayor's office in Birmingham's Mayor-Council form of government. He broke with many in his party to oppose tighter regulation of short-term "payday" lenders while also serving as a paid consultant to many such firms.
Robinson chaired the house's Government Operations Committee and has served on the Education Policy, Financial Services, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Rules committees. He retired from the state legislature after the 2016 general election. He cited the need to avoid the potential of conflicts of interest after his daughter Amanda was appointed by Governor Robert Bentley to serve as his legislative liaison.
In June 2017 Robinson pleaded guilty to multiple counts of bribery and conspiracy related to his accepting bribes from Drummond Company and its subsidiary ABC Coke in exchange for his opposition to expansion of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 35th Avenue Superfund Site in North Birmingham to include areas in Inglenook and Tarrant and to the agency's proposal to add the site to its National Priorities List, which would give it greater power to seek participation from polluters for the costs of clean-up. Those bribes, totaling $360,000, were passed through an attorney at Balch & Bingham and a front group, the Alliance for Jobs and the Economy, to the Oliver Robinson Foundation, which employed Robinson's daughter, Amanda, and was involved in encouraging residents in the Superfund site to resist the EPA. Robinson's plea was made contingent on his cooperation in the ongoing investigation. Attorneys Joel Gilbert and Steven McKinney and Drummond executive David Roberson were later charged with bribery.
Robinson also pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of using campaign funds for personal use. As part of his plea, Robinson agreed to forfeit property, pay restitution, accept a prison sentence to be determined later by federal guidelines, and to never again seek public office. Robison testified in the trial of Gilbert, McKinney and Roberson in July 2018. The charges against McKinney were dropped during the proceeding. Gilbert and Roberson were both convicted on all counts. Robinson was sentenced in September to serve 33 months in prison. He was released from Federal Correctional Institution, Seagoville in Texas in June 2020. His early release was granted due to risk factors related to the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities.
|Alabama State Representative, District 58
1998-2016 (5 terms)
- Segrest, Doug (December 2, 2007) "McNeal, Carr, Holloway, Mincher, Robinson, Lowery, Byrd, Wilson enter Alabama Sports Hall of Fame." The Birmingham News
- Segrest, Doug (May 30, 2008) "Oliver Robinson to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame." The Birmingham News
- Lyman, Bryan (November 30, 2016) "Oliver Robinson leaving Ala. House of Representatives." Montgomery Advertiser
- Archibald, John (November 30, 2016) "Rep. Oliver Robinson out? Is there more to that story?." The Birmingham News
- Whitmire, Kyle & John Archibald (May 11, 2017) "Lawmaker under investigation after taking money, fighting Superfund cleanup of toxic neighborhoods." The Birmingham News
- Faulk, Kent (June 22, 2017) "Former Alabama legislator Oliver Robinson charged in bribery scheme; enters federal plea deal." The Birmingham News
- Hrynkiw, Ivana (September 27, 2018) "Oliver Robinson sentenced to less than three years in prison." The Birmingham News
- Faulk, Kent (June 7, 2020) "Former Alabama lawmaker Oliver Robinson released early from federal prison due to COVID-19 risk." The Birmingham News