Riley SGO Advertises Private School Scholarships in Non-Failing Districts

April 30, 2014
By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
“Now you can receive up to $8,000 for K-12 private school education.”
That is the assertion made on the front of a direct mail piece being promulgated by the Alabama Opportunities Scholarship Fund, an Alabama Accountability Act Scholarship Granting Organization. No mention is made anywhere on the mailer of the fact that children zoned for failing schools receive the scholarships first, but after those requirements have been met, parents meet the requirements may also apply for a scholarship to transfer their child from a non-failing school system, which failing systems were touted as the point of the 2011 so-called “school choice” legislation.

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Hubbard: Alabama’s $9 Million Dollar Man

April 30, 2014

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
 
MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, through his business interests has made almost $9,000,000 off of State Government, related entities and political campaigns.
 
This does not include the millions he has made through his ownership and affiliation with Auburn Sports affiliates. Much of those millions are hidden behind Tigers Unlimited a 501(c)3 non-profit.
 
Hubbard portrays himself to the public as a pro-business, small-government conservative, while behind the scenes he has profited greatly from taxpayer funded projects.
 
Hubbard, born in Georgia, came to Alabama in 1983 to take a job with the Auburn Athletic Department as Associate Sports Information Director.
 
His rise to power and wealth came through an association with controversial banking CEO and long-serving Auburn Trustee Bobby Lowder.
 
In 1990, Hubbard, left his junior position at Auburn University to take control of the lucrative Auburn’s radio and television sports network through a deal cut with Lowder.
 
In 1998, Hubbard used his local connections and celebrity to win a seat in the State Legislature.
 
In the late 1990s he developed a close relationship with then Congressman Bob Riley. It was Riley’s election as Governor that truly opened the vaults of the State’s treasures to Hubbard.
 
Since 2001, Hubbard’s business interests have taken at least $8,899,318.36 from State entities, the Republican Party and various Republican political campaigns.
 
Hubbard’s business interests have made over $4,000,000, from State agencies since 2001. From the Alabama Department of Public Health to the State’s Board of Heating, AC & Refrigeration Contractors, big money in the form of advertising dollars has all flowed from State coffers to Hubbard’s business interests. From 2001-2010 Hubbard pulled in almost $2,500,000 from the Alabama Republican Party, most of it coming during his tenure as Chairman.
 
The University of Alabama, Troy University and Auburn University spent almost $1,500,000 with Hubbard-owned businesses, not including the money hidden behind the 501(c)3 that is Tigers Unlimited.
 
Since 2001, Hubbard business interest, took  $173,777.76 from various Political Action Committees (PACs), many over which he held sole/indirect/or some measure of control.
 
From 2010-2014, Hubbard business interests have earned $609,823.92 from Senate and House candidates.
 
Total to date:
 
Hubbard business interests have made around, $8,899,318.36 off State entities, universities and political campaigns. Hubbard, through his business interests has made millions off the very big government that he is said to detest. He has also taken millions from his own political party, and candidates. The over a million from the State’s universities is just small change compared to his secret earnings through his alliance with Auburn sports.
 
Government has allowed Hubbard, through his businesses, to prosper beyond what could be imagined by the average citizen of the State. Yet, he tells the voters that he is protecting them from big government while filling his bank account with taxpayer’s hard earned dollars.
 
By Customer
 
Agencies $4,021,346.00
University of Alabama $10,975
Auburn University $1,265,692.42
Troy University $220,044.01
ALGOP $2,371,681.76
NETPAC $94,271.26
136-year PAC $45,489.85
GOV PAC $28092.65
2014 PAC $3008.02
Storming the State House $2915.98
2010-2014 House and Senate Candidates $609,823.92
Total $8,899,318.36
 
By Year
 
2001 $977.36
2002 $294,207.58
2003 $61,042.54
2004 $0
2005 $42,899.49
2006 $968,894.00
2007 $108,085.00
2008 $299,114.08
2009 $899,608.36
2010 $3,181,530.10
2011 $1,091,116.76
2012 $1,048,766.64
2013 $670,701.85
2014 $232,374.60 (Oct 2013 through April 2014)
 
By Business
 
V3 Media Group $10,500.00
Network Creative Media $1,482,289.75
Craftmaster/Majority Strategies $2,987,158.10
Auburn (ISP) (IMG) Network $4,419,370.51

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McKinney Promises to Champion Growth

April 30, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Former Montgomery Probate Judge Reese McKinney is running in the June 2013 Republican Primary for Alabama Secretary of State.  McKinney promised in a statement on Monday June 28 that if elected he will be a champion for business.  Judge McKinney also announced last week that he had received the endorsement of the Tea Party Patriots.

Judge McKinney wrote, “Jobs matter. Leadership matters. And policies that grow jobs for Alabamians must be a top priority of our elected officials. When Republicans took control of state government in 2010, unemployment in Alabama stood at 8.9%. Today, our unemployment rate is 6.7% and while this is an improvement deserving of praise, we still have ground to gain before Alabama returns to full employment.”
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Byrne Defends Future of LCS

April 30, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Monday, April 28, 2014, U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R) sent two letters urging support for funding the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

One letter was sent to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R) from California, Ranking Member Adam Smith (D) from Washington, Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Randy Forbes (R) from Virginia, and Seapower Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike McIntyre (D) from November.
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Ivey Critical of Proposed National Guard Cuts

April 30, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

When the nation was first created the states, all had militias that they used to defend the state against foreign invasion or domestic insurrection.  Defense is primarily a federal responsibility, but throughout our history, the militia: the Alabama National Guard has been there to fight America’s wars, respond to emergencies, and defend the homeland.  The Federal government eventually assumed the funding authority over the Alabama National Guard instead of the State.  Over the last five years the Alabama National Guard has suffered from crippling federal budget cuts and the Obama Administration is asking Congress to cut the Guard even further going forward.
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Hubbard’s “Master of Propaganda” Makes 105K Annually, Double Average Legislator Pay

April 29, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

According to records from open.alabama.gov, Philip Bryan, chief of staff for Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh’s office, makes $105,000 annually, which is approximately the same salary as Governor Bentley would receive were he to accept a salary. It is also approximately double the average Alabama legislator’s pay, and more than double the yearly income for an average Alabama family.

Bryan, who ran communications for Hubbard during the 2010 “storming” of the State House, is referred to in the Speaker’s book on the topic as the campaign’s “master of propaganda.”

During the 2010 campaign season, Bryan was on the payroll of the Alabama Republican Party, then being payed $50,000 a year. Before 2010, Bryan had no experience in politics, as is explained in detail in Storming the State House. 

2010 did not end with only $50,000, though, for Bryan and other key ALGOP staffers. According to records from the Secretary of State’s office, Bryan and four other Republican Party staffers received $38,000 bonuses in December of 2010, the month after the historic election cycle ended.

The “win” bonuses came in the form of a questionable transaction in which a GOP Senate staffer, at the direction of Senator Jabo Wagonner, R-Vestavia Hills, donated $100,000 to fund the bonuses to the 136 Years PAC, who sent the checks to Bryan and company. 

The Senate staffer, named Monica Cooper, was then reimbursed the $100,000 from Wagonner’s PAC, the New Alabama Leadership PAC, constituting what amounted to an ethically questionable chain of events used to circumvent the then newly passed PAC to PAC transfer ban, which was signed into law by Gov. Bob Riley the very day that Cooper made the $100,000 donation to the 136 Years PAC.

When asked about the bonuses, Senator Del Marsh pointed not to Senator Wagonner, who Cooper said had directed her to donate the $100,000, but to Hubbard, who was then ALGOP Chairman, as the person who authorized the bonuses.

Marsh told AL.com, though, that he believed the staffers deserved the win bonuses given their meager salaries provided by the party – salaries which, in fact, were around $50,000 annually, more than the income of an average family in our State. 

Bryan’s salary, coming in at nearly $9,000 a month, is much higher than his Democratic counterpart’s, which is around $53,000 annually, or about $4,500 a month – about half the “Master of Propaganda’s.”

In 2012, despite no teacher, state employee, or support staff pay increases, Bryan was afforded a nearly 25% raise, bringing his compensation to its current level.

The Alabama Political Reporter has also covered the ever increasing budget breaking on the part of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

Detailed in “Spender of the House,” APR uncovered the fact that according to official budget reports from the Legislative Fiscal Office, under the leadership of Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, the Office of the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives has spent more money every year since his election, more than doubling on average from the previous quadrennium under Democratic Speaker Seth Hammett.

From 2011-2014, Speaker Hubbard’s annual spending has averaged $1,931,811. The four years prior, former Speaker Hammett’s in-office expenses averaged $748,395.

In 2013, the last full year of finalized spending disclosures, the Office of the Speaker spent a whopping $2,257,179, a budget totaling more than that of the Office of the Governor ($1,187,616) and the Alabama Ethics Commission ($1,822,177) this fiscal year.

Overall, the budget increases, budget busts, and skyrocketing staff salaries embraced by Speaker Hubbard and GOP leadership represent an attitude not of leadership, not worthy of a Speaker, but the Spender of the House.

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Storms Strike Alabama

April 29, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

According to UAB, tornados have killed 412 Alabamians since 1980, more than in any other state, and on Monday night an all too familiar weather event passing across the state added to that sad total only a day after Alabamians remembered the devastation that rocked communities across the state in 2011.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) early on Monday night declared a State of Emergency for all Alabama counties as a result of the severe weather which was impacting the State.
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Attorney General’s Offices Takes over Investigation at ASU

April 29, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Montgomery Advertiser reported on Sunday, April 27 that the state Attorney General’s office will take over an investigation into allegations of improper use of state dollars at Alabama State University.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported that Attorney General Luther Strange has recused himself from the investigation and has appointed District Attorney Chris McCool to serve as the acting attorney general.  Alabama State University was a client of Strange before he was elected as Alabama Attorney General.
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IAMAW, Passes Strike Vote

April 29, 2014

By Ronald King

Harmony and optimism gave way to discord and strike in the Wiregrass this weekend. Only 48 hours after the 2014 Daleville High School Junior-Senior Prom was held April 25 at the new tornado resistant International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local Lodge 2003, the nearly 3000 members of the IAMAW union held a strike vote. After the “last, best and final” contract proposal was presented to the membership yesterday evening, one of the final bastions of workers’ rights in southern Alabama voted to walk out on their government contracted employer, L3 Communications Army Fleet Support, starting at 12:01AM on 28 April 2014. While some sources have reported that the contract was rejected due to pay issues, union sources and striking workers state that the long five-year term of the contract, new overtime policies, and health insurance issues were the real triggers.
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Obama Endorses Sewell

April 29, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, April 24 President Barack H. Obama (D) endorsed Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D) in her effort to win a third term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.

President Obama said “I have known Terri since law school, and she has always been a strong voice and tireless advocate for the people of Alabama.  In Congress, Terri has stood by me though the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and we’ve stood up to Republicans who’ve tried to roll back our progress time and time again. Terri has been working tirelessly to promote job creation and investment in skills training and workforce development. I am proud to once again support her re-election, so we can continue the fight for our shared values.”
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