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Roby’s Benghazi Questions Drawing Attention in the White House

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Friday, Fox News investigative reporter, James Rosen asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney for answers about Benghazi based on issues raised by U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery about the military’s forward preparedness leading up to the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

On September 11, 2012, our consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked and four Americans including our ambassador to Libya were killed. We now know that the Benghazi attack was coordinated by international terrorists who are still at large. How did terrorists so easily overwhelm the consulate and why were U.S. Armed forces positioned in such a way that the decision makers in Washington were unwilling to send in any sort of rescue mission to Benghazi even though American forces on the ground were engaged in a running firefight for their lives that lasted for several hours.

Ominously the day before the attack the White House issued a press release saying, “Earlier today the President heard from key national security principals on our preparedness and security posture on the eve of the eleventh anniversary of September 11th. Over the past month, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan has convened numerous meetings to review security measures in place. During the briefing today, the President and the Principals discussed specific measures we are taking in the Homeland to prevent 9/11 related attacks as well as the steps taken to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad, as well as force protection. The President reiterated that Departments and agencies must do everything possible to protect the American people, both at home and abroad.”

Rep. Roby, who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, has led an inquiry into the military’s role in the Benghazi attack. Rep. Roby’s investigation has had some serious questions about military force posture leading up to the attack. Rep. Roby wants to know what ‘key national security principals” President Obama met with before the White House issued a press release that claimed U.S. forces were prepared.

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney deflected Rosen’s questions to the Pentagon, saying that the Department of Defense, not the Commander-in-Chief , is responsible for answering questions about the White House’s statements on preparedness.

Following a classified subcommittee briefing from Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the events of September 11 and 12, 2012 Representative Roby released a written statement. Rep. Roby said, “General Dempsey confirmed my belief that there was no amount of heroic action on the part of our men and women in uniform that could overcome our lack of preparedness during the horrible Benghazi attack. We simply were not postured to respond in time. I continue to be concerned that more than a year after the attack, our posture has not improved enough to sufficiently mitigate the risks to Americans serving overseas and in harm’s way.”

Rep. Roby continued, “Of particular interest was General Dempsey’s impression of the Administration’s preparations in the days before September 11, 2012. We were eager to understand what consultations took place between General Dempsey and the National Security Staff prior to the White House’s announcement on September 10th that John Brennan had concluded a review of U.S. Security posture to ‘prevent 9/11 related attacks as well as the steps taken to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad, as well as force protection.’ General Dempsey confirmed that while he was not personally involved in that review, elements of the Joint Staff were. His description of the process leads me to conclude that while it may have allowed the White House to issue a comforting press release, it was far from the rigorous examination and preparation the security of the American people deserved.”

Rep. Roby and her committee are continuing their review of what went wrong in Benghazi.
Congresswoman Martha Roby is in her second term in the US Congress representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

Readout of the President’s Meeting with Senior Administration Officials on Our Preparedness and Security Posture on the Eleventh Anniversary of September 11th.

Earlier today the President heard from key national security principals on our preparedness and security posture on the eve of the eleventh anniversary of September 11th. Over the past month, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan has convened numerous meetings to review security measures in place. During the briefing today, the President and the Principals discussed specific measures we are taking in the Homeland to prevent 9/11 related attacks as well as the steps taken to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad, as well as force protection. The President reiterated that Departments and agencies must do everything possible to protect the American people, both at home and abroad

Governor

A look at other issues Ivey touched on in inaugural address

Bill Britt

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Among the 2,766 words in Gov. Kay Ivey’s inaugural speech, she addressed a few major themes and some gems and clues on critical issues that she wants to tackle over the next four years.

Roads and bridges were front and center in Ivey’s remarks, as were prisons, but within the text she emphasized other priorities, as well. Among those she mentions is the Port of Mobile, the 2020 Census, health care, rural economic development and statewide access to high-speed internet broadband.

“It can be easy to focus only on the issues that need the most immediate attention – such as education, roads, and prisons,” said Ivey toward the end of her speech. “[B]ut in reality, as we dig in and begin to address these issues, I hope the progress that we make will inspire us to tackle other pressing challenges, such as health care, rural economic development, access to broadband and other important issues.”

Port of Mobile

Ivey is fully committed to a fuel tax to upgrade the state’s infrastructure. She mentions roads and bridges several times during her address, adding ports to the mix in one key sentence. “After all, if we want to compete in a 21st-century global economy, we must improve our infrastructure by investing more in our roads, our bridges, and our ports.”

Alabama’s entire congressional delegation led by U.S. Senator Richard Shelby has endorsed modernization of the Mobile Harbor Federal Navigation Channel. Port modernization is one of the most significant proposed economic development projects in state history.

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“The deepening and widening of the Port of Mobile will provide economic development opportunities throughout the entire state of Alabama,” said Sen. Shelby. “This project will create an avenue for exponential growth by facilitating and expanding commerce in the state. I look forward to continuing our work with the Corps as we strive to improve the safety and efficiency of the Port in an increasingly global marketplace.”

Alabama delegation supports Port of Mobile navigation improvements

Gov. Ivey, like Senator Shelby, understands that modernizing the Port of Mobile would fund significant infrastructure projects.

2020 U.S. Census

Also during her address, Gov. Ivey made a point of stressing the 2020 U.S. Census, which could not only cost the state a congressional seat but much needed federal funding that underpins the state government operations.

“And speaking of our Congressional Delegation, my Administration has already been hard at work with local and state leaders in all 67 counties to begin the tedious — but all-important task of making sure we get an accurate headcount for the upcoming Census,” said Ivey.

As APR’s Brandon Moseley reported, “A recent study by George Washington University indicates that the U.S. government returned more than $1,567 to the state in 2015 for every Alabamian counted in the census. More than 100 federal programs use data collected during census counts as part of their formulas to distribute billions of dollars in federal funding to the states. Those programs include Medicaid, Medicare Part B, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Highway Planning and Construction, and Title 1 Grants to Local Education Agencies. Census-derived data also is used to allocate seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and in legislative redistricting.”

Ivey establishes statewide group to prepare Alabama for maximum Census participation

Health Care

Alabama Republican politicians have ignored the question of Medicaid expansion or rejected it outright, but there are recent signs that resistance is softening.

“Despite what appears to be a solid opposition among Alabama Republicans, some public health experts and hospital officials, including the Alabama Hospital Association, are issuing dire calls for a renewed debate,” reported APR’s Chip Brownlee.

“Medicaid expansion is the one thing the state can do to prevent more hospital closures, loss of jobs, and cutbacks on services,” said Danne Howard, the association’s chief policy officer.

“The association — and the more than 100 individual hospitals it represents across Alabama, many of them rural and some of them teetering on the edge of closing — view the situation as so dire that the association plans to launch a renewed effort early next year to bring the discussion back to the forefront ahead of the 2019 legislative session, when a new class of state lawmakers will take office,” according to Brownlee.

While Ivey only mentions health care in one passage, it is no doubt on her mind.

Should Medicaid expansion be on the 2019 legislative agenda? Experts say it has to be

Broadband Access

In Aug. 2018, Ivey joined Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, and others to promote the benefits of rural broadband and announce that Aderholt has secured $600 million for USDA to increase access to broadband in rural America.

“High-speed, high-quality connectivity is essential to modern day life. It’s a necessary component to education, commerce & quality healthcare,” Ivey said.

Aderholt said that “Securing $600 million for rural broadband wasn’t the end of our mission, but just the beginning. Today, Anne Hazlett- Assistant Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and I talked about the next steps to bring broadband to all of Alabama.”

Bringing broadband to rural Alabama

Rural Economic Development

PowerSouth President and CEO Gary Smith wrote about the need for rural economic development in September of last year. After enumerating the successful economic opportunities in other parts of the state, he asked, “But what about the rest of Alabama? What about Selma, Eutaw, Greensboro, Andalusia, Greenville, and so many other communities? Those communities have succeeded in the past with textiles, agriculture, military, and lighter industries. However, many of them have fallen on hard times. What will rural Alabama look like in 20 years?”

Smith highlighted three areas that need improvement so that rural communities can be competitive.

“It is clear that good-paying jobs locate in areas with better education, medical care, and communications services,” he wrote.

The Alabama House Rural Caucus is ready to use its energy to gain support for rural cities and counties and can be a great asset to Gov. Ivey. Rural Caucus Chair David Standridge, R-Hayden, recently said, “A vast majority of Alabamians live in rural areas, and it is vital that their voices be heard in the Legislature and throughout all of state government. From rural healthcare to broadband internet access, to improving our roads and bridges, there are serious issues that must be addressed to improve the quality of life of those who live away from major urban centers. I, along with my colleagues, remain committed to protecting rural Alabama.”

Alabama House Rural Caucus re-elects David Standridge as chairman

Toward the end of her speech, Ivey made a plea to all Alabamians to join her in a quest to make the state even better.

“The campaign season and elections are long since behind us. Today, all Alabamians – regardless of party affiliation – have the chance to stand together, united, to help build a brighter future and guarantee that our best days are still in front of us.

And we need everyone to help… teachers, farmers, job creators, health care professionals, law enforcement and the media.”

Ivey’s inaugural address leaves tempting clues on her full agenda.

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Judge rules Memorial Preservation Act unconstitutional

Brandon Moseley

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Jefferson County Judge Michael Graffeo ruled that the state of Alabama’s Memorial Preservation Act is unconstitutional because it limits the free speech rights of cities.

The City of Birmingham wants to remove the historic Confederate veterans memorial in Linn Park but was blocked from doing so by the state legislature.

Former state Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) sponsored the Memorial Preservation Act in the Alabama House. Butler said in a statement: “In a very cowardly act Judge Graffeo entered a ruling 20 minutes before midnight which was 20 minutes before his retirement from office. His ruling is NOT binding other than to the original parties until appealed through the process. Only our State Supreme Court or US Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional. The fact he made his ruling 20 minutes before retirement speaks volumes. Agree or disagree but only the legislature can make law.”

Mike Williams, the President of the Legislative and Historical Protection Group, expressed confidence that Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall would appeal the controversial ruling.

“The recent ruling by a Birmingham judge that the Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 is a violation of cities rights to free speech, is merely another attempt at activism,” Williams said in a statement. “We feel sure that the Attorney General of Alabama will appeal this ruling and that the law will prevail. The Legislative and Historical Protection Group will be actively in contact with the Attorney General Steve Marshall, and with the legislature to see that this activist on the court is not allowed to change laws from the bench.”

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The Memorial Preservation Act was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa).

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly. A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law,” Sen. Allen said in a statement. “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is “undisputed” that the majority of residents of Birmingham are “repulsed” by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations,” Allen added. “The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) however applauded the ruling.

“Striking a blow to the defenders of the “Lost Cause,” a judge has struck down an Alabama law that prevented the removal of Confederate symbols from public land,” the SPLC wrote in a statement. “Yesterday’s ruling is the first time a court has concluded that a state cannot force a city to maintain a confederate monument that its citizens find abhorrent. Cities have long been at the forefront of our nation’s civil rights movements, and this ruling protects and builds on that tradition. The Circuit Court ruled that Birmingham has a constitutionally protected right to decide for itself what messages it wants to convey to its citizens and to the world. Alabama’s majority-white legislature cannot force Birmingham, a majority-black city, to maintain a monument to white supremacy. This is a groundbreaking ruling that should give comfort to other municipalities throughout the South and the country that want to remove confederate monuments from public land. “

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The Lodge at Gulf State Park is back

Brandon Moseley

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The Lodge at Gulf State Park reopened in November after a 14-year absence.

The old lodge was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Governor Kay Ivey opened the much larger new lodge in November. The new lodge is 350 rooms and is managed by Hilton Hotels.

The Alabama Political Reporter toured the new facility on January 11 to 13 as part of Governor Kay Ivey’s Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration.

The hotel sits on a white sand beach facing the Gulf of Mexico and is immediately across the street from Lake Shelby. Alabama’s Gulf State Park is 6,150 acres of beaches, lake, wetlands, brush, and forest. The lodge is connected to 25 miles of walking trails throughout the park. The state fishing pier is a short walk away.

The Lodge is four buildings: a spacious lobby building, a five-story hotel building with pool and fitness room, a restaurant building, and a conference center with parking underneath and adjacent to the conference center.

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Most of the building are built on piers so that a future storm surge can go under the buildings, hopefully minimizing the damage and making the facility more survivable than was the previous lodge (1974-2004).

The lodge charges guests $5 to park in the parking lot. There is a ten dollar a night option for valet parking. The walk from the parking through the four buildings including two elevator rides back and forth between the hotel room and the parking lot means that paying the extra $5 for the valet is worth it. Rooms are $264 to $473 a night during peak times of the year. The Alabama Political Reporter paid only $105 a January is the offseason for beach hotels.

The Alabama Political Reporter sampled the cuisine at the Foodcraft restaurant. Fish and chips cost $26. The fish was good quality and heavily breaded. The French fries were narrow cut in the McDonalds style. For breakfast, there was a full-service breakfast bar for $22. The Alabama Political Reporter ordered eggs, two biscuits with gravy, and potatoes for $10. Quality was good and portion size was high. The Perch is the more expensive fine dining restaurant at the lodge.

The Lodge has both two bed and single bed options. Every room faces either Lake Shelby or the Gulf of Mexico. The Alabama Political Reporter stayed in a fifth-floor room overlooking Lake Shelby. Each room comes with a desk and a flat-screen TV. The room had a walk-in shower; but no bathtub. It also had a refrigerator, microwave, and free Wi-Fi.

Touring the fishing pier costs $3. Fishing at the fishing pier costs $9 a day. Fishing from the lake is just $2 a day. Birds, particularly pelicans, are everywhere.

The completely reimagined Lodge was designed by LakeFlato and Rabun Architects with a native landscape by Sasaki Associates. The building is just 200-225 feet from the gulf. The buildings are positioned to take advantage of gulf breezes for natural ventilation. While that likely is pleasant in summer months, going in and out of the four buildings periodically meant windy conditions during my stay. The interiors were designed by Dallas based interior design firm, Looney & Associates. The Lodge at Gulf State Park includes offers over 40,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space. The Gulf view Ballroom is the largest beach-view ballroom in the region and can accommodate indoor events up to 1,000 guests. There were over 800 guests at Governor Kay Ivey’s Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration and the facility easily handled that crowd. Every meeting room has direct views and patios and/or terraces overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

The Roasted Oak Coffee and Wine Bar is in the main lobby. The Dragonfly Pool Bar & Grill is next to the pool; though it only operates in the spring and summer months.
Condensation from the HVAC system is collected and recycled to replace water in the pool. Rainwater is collected and directed to a restored wetland on site rather than being diverted to storm sewers. The hotel parking lot is permeable using TrueGrid technology so rainwater drains into the ground.

The Lodge shares space with endangered species. All lighting is shielded away from turtle nesting areas and pointed away from the beach. Baby sea turtles hatch and walk toward lights. For a hundred million years the light on the horizon was the ocean. Today many baby turtles instead walk into traffic or buildings. Lights on the beachside of the property are warmer to be less confusing to wildlife and floor to ceiling glass windows in the main lobby have bird friendly safety measures. Sand dunes are protected as habitat for endangered Alabama Beach Mouse. Landscaping uses native species that can thrive without irrigation, chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

Economic Developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “The Lodge at Gulf State Park is appealing to both business and leisure travelers. The partnership with Hilton Hotels and Valor Hospitality establishes a world-class environment that guests can count on, which should generate repeat visits to a beautiful area of our state.”

Nicole Jones shared, “On a more sentimental note, Gulf State Park is part of a tradition many of us grew up with. Now that The Lodge is up and running again, new generations will be able to create memories similar to the ones we all hold dear.”

The state spent $150 million to improve the Gulf State Park and replace the storm-ravaged old lodge. Much of that money came from BP oil spill penalties.

The Lodge at Gulf State Park is part of Hilton Honors guest-loyalty program for Hilton’s 15 distinct hotel brands.

For nearly 100 years, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has been a leader in the hospitality industry. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits. Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 15 brands comprising more than 5,500 properties with nearly 895,000 rooms, in 109 countries and territories.

To learn more about Gulf State Park, visit their website.

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Roy Moore releases 2017 polygraph results

Brandon Moseley

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Former Judge Roy Moore (R) has steadfastly denied the allegations that he abused underaged young women during the 1970s.

On Monday, the Moore Defense Team released a polygraph test in which Moore denies the accusations against him that derailed his 2017 senate campaign.

The Moore team said that to this day Corfman and her attorneys have refused to answer questions about Judge Moore’s residence or vehicle at the time and have not agreed for us to take her deposition. Judge Moore’s team emphasizes that he passed the polygraph that taken on December 19, 2017.

Leigh Korfman charges that in 1976 when she was a 15-year-old student and Moore was a 36-year-old deputy district attorney the two of them had a romantic encounter in which the two both stripped to their underwear and engaged in inappropriate touching; before Korfman put a stop to it. Moore says he did not do anything with Korfman and also denies Nelson’s claim that he assaulted her in the parking lot of a Gadsden diner to force her to give him oral sex in 1978 when she was just 16.  Tina Johnson claims that a then married Judge Moore groped her on a visit to his law offices.

The Moore defense team wrote in a statement:

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“Judge Roy Moore took an official polygraph examination, regarding his accusers. To this day no one but Judge Moore has sworn under oath multiple times as to the false allegations that were brought against him during his run for United States Senate in 2017. This polygraph extends to include questions about not only Corfman but also Nelson and Johnson as these three are the ONLY ones who have accused him of any sexual misconduct. Judge Moore has also been present for deposition. To this day Leigh Corfman and her attorneys refuse to answer questions about Judge Moore’s residence and/or vehicle. Furthermore, neither her or her attorneys have agreed for us to take Corfman’s deposition. As illustrated in the document Judge Moore proved to give a truthful account and successfully passed the polygraph.”

The questions include:

  • Did you ever touch Leigh Corfman’s breasts? Moore answered no.
  • Did you ever have sex with Leigh Corfman? No
  • Did you ever touch Leigh Corfman’s buttocks? No
  • Are you trying to withhold any information about this matter? No
  • Have you told the whole truth about this matter? Yes
  • Did you try to have sex with Beverly Young Nelson? No
  • Did you ever touch Beverly Young Nelson’s buttocks? No
  • Did you ever touch Beverly Young Nelson’s breasts? No
  • Did you sexually assault Beverly Young Nelson in any manner? No
  • Did you ever try to have sex with Tina Johnson? No
  • Did you ever touch Tina Johnson’s breasts? No
  • Did you purposely try to lie to these questions? No

Many of the questions were repeated over and over again including questions about where or not Moore was withholding information or had lied during the examination.

“It is the opinion of this examiner that the subject told the truth during this examination,” Polygraph examiner Clyde Wolf wrote.

The New York Times exposed that a team of Democratic operatives funded by the founder of LinkedIn, who has since apologized, used these allegations to create a fake website in which they used these sexual misconduct allegations and other charges to make the case that Moore was unfit for office and claiming that they were Republicans could not support Judge Moore for U.S. Senate.

The group then highlighted thousands of fake social media accounts by bots operating out of Russia to harass Roy Moore supporters, prop up the campaign of Doug Jones, increase Democratic turnout and depress Republican turnout.

The Democratic operatives involved claim that they were only testing these tactics in real-world conditions. The Doug Jones campaign denies that the “dark arts” effort cost Moore the election and denies any knowledge of the operation. Jones also called for an investigation of the operation by law enforcement.

The December 2017 special election in which Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore is the only time that any Democratic candidate running for state office in Alabama has defeated any Republican running statewide since 2008. Moore claims that the allegations against him of sexual misconduct are false.

Senator Doug Jones faces reelection in 2020.

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Roby’s Benghazi Questions Drawing Attention in the White House

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 4 min
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