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Bill Britt

Win Free Sex: Distraction

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary (ALEA), Spencer Collier, held a press conference on Wednesday, where he reiterated Gov. Robert Bentley’s order to lie to the State’s Attorney General, the firings at ALEA, the closing of ongoing criminal investigations into the Bentley Administration and a sitting State Senator. But if you read press reports from around the State about the presser, you would be led to believe it was all about an alleged affair between Gov. Bentley and his unpaid senior advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

Sadly, sex sells more than potential criminal activities.

The story of Collier’s firing is now tied to an alleged sexual peccadillo, but it is so much more than that. This story is as old as time, where a ladder-climbing younger female finds a strong man. She is seduced by his power, and he is led astray by her charms. Those who have worked along side Bentley and Mason fear to speak publicly, but they say privately, she is not just the power behind the throne, she only allows Bentley to believe he occupies that royal seat. They are a team, but only in the sense that she runs the games, and he follows her lead.

As Collier said at his press conference, she was not elected by the people, Bentley was. But she is in charge.

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Collier alluded to the fact that it was Mason who determined which drivers licenses offices would be closed, and where, and she is the one who decided that the State Parks should be closed. Others have now confirmed that it was Mason who said of the park closings, “Close them. Only poor people use them anyway,” according to two individuals in the meetings.

Gov. Bentley held a press conference just hours after Collier, where he apologized for inappropriate remarks he made to Mason, which had recorded. When asked if Mason had asked him to stop making such remarks, he said, “No.” And in a moment reminiscent of President Bill Clinton’s denial of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, the Governor said, he did not have sexual relations with Mrs. Mason.

Collier and others have said that sexting, and other inappropriate behavior was witnessed by staff and law enforcement. Will State Senators at an impeachment hearing have to decide what the mean of is, is?

Mason said Collier had a gender bias, and that if she were a man she would be treated differently. Would the Governor have said how much he liked squeezing her breast if she were a man?

Collier once again said he would swear under oath to his actions, and that Bentley and others should do the same. But again, this is not about who did or did not have sex. This is about the law.

Did Bentley or Mason give any orders or have any influence over the firings and reassignments of ALEA personnel?

Did Bentley or Mason give any orders or have any influence over the closing of criminal cases at ALEA?

Did Bentley or Mason give any orders or have any influence over the investigation they claim shows wrong doing by Collier or others?

Did Bentley and Mason use State resources to facilitate or cover up any illicit activities?

And was it illegal for Bentley to order Collier to lie to the Attorney General?

The alleged sexual relations between Bentley and Mason is a distraction from the most important question: Have any crimes been committed?

“Do not know, do not hear, do not see, do not speak,” are tenets from the murderous regime of Cambodian Dictator, Pol Pot, leader of the deadly Khmer Rouge. Many of the horrors of the Khmer Rouge are chronicled in the book, “The Killing Fields.”

As of late, Alabama has become a killing field for political careers, reputations and public trust. In just five and a half short years, the Republican leadership has shown that the Democrats were rank amateurs when it comes to corruption.

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Bill Britt

A move to reunify BCA is underway

Bill Britt

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Reconciliation efforts are underway to salvage the Business Council of Alabama after a very public split with some of its most influential members.

Those close to the negotiations speaking on background say recent talks have been productive, but there are still many details that must be agreed upon before a reunification occurs.

The forced exit of President and CEO Billy Canary earlier this month was the first step toward restoring BCA’s reputation and mending fences.

Individuals who are negotiating rapprochement are looking to restructure BCA’s governance to ensure that any future leader will not exercise the unchecked authority wielded by Canary. They also want to make BCA more equitable, fair and balanced in its representation of its members.

Beyond the mechanics of structure is the need for a strong leader who can restore not only confidence in the once powerful organization but also one who can navigate the state’s political landscape while enduring the inevitable discord that comes with change.

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There is a level of hope that an improved structure and new leadership might be in place by BCA’s summer conference, which begins August 10 at Point Clear. But even those involved in the process know it’s a tall order to fill given the short window of opportunity.

Perhaps the most significant challenge is identifying an individual who can articulate a vision for BCA, inspire confidence in its members and ensure elected officials that they are dealing with an honest broker.

There is much at stake in the upcoming legislative session, not only because it is the first year of the quadrennium, when hard tasks are generally achieved, but the 2019 session will also welcome many new legislators not necessarily in step with BCA due to a bruising primary season.

People may forgive, but they often do not forget, and there are many bridges to build.

Lawmakers will be wise to remember the warning of President Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.”

For a revitalizing transition to occur, a clean sweep of BCA’s leadership team is imperative, as those who served the old guard must be replaced or else it’s a false start doomed to fail.

BCA would be wise to move away from the partisan approach taken over the last eight years and look to establish relationships that favor business-friendly legislation without bright lines of division.

In business as in life, sharp breaks are sometimes required and often are inevitable, but this doesn’t have to be one of those times.

Now is an hour for wise deliberation, difficult choices and bold resolve to strengthen the entire business community and not merely to fortify the narrow interests of a few.

Over the last year, good and honest leaders called for BCA to do what was right. That fight hopefully can be put aside to now do what is best.

 

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Bill Britt

The fix was in

Bill Britt

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Montgomery Circuit Judge James Anderson’s ruling to allow out-of-state political action committees to donate to in-state campaigns without disclosing its donors through PAC-to-PAC transfers may be the legal fulcrum Democrats need to target key Republican officeholders in the state.

On Wednesday, attorney general candidate Troy King filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court seeking a restraining order to prevent his opponent, appointed Attorney General Steve Marshall, and his campaign from using donations it received from the Republican Attorney Generals Association (RAGA) which doesn’t disclose some of its mega-donors by using PAC-to-PAC transfers.

Judge Anderson ruled against King and dismissed the lawsuit in Marshall’s favor.

Marshall, unlike an ordinary plaintiff, wasn’t present at the hearing before Judge Anderson, which should have alerted the public that the fix was already in.

The State’s Ethics Commission will likely weigh-in on King’s question soon— finding that RAGA’s actions were unlawful—but Thursday’s judgment holds for now, with no consequences for Marshall, win or lose.

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In 2010, the state’s newly minted Republican supermajority outlawed PAC-to-PAC transfers as part of its effort to show voters that there was a new day in Montgomery politics.

Since 2010, both Republicans and Democrats have found ways to circumvent FPCA restrictions, but until Thursday, there wasn’t a court ruling that opened a flooded-gate to renew PAC-to-PAC campaigns using outside interest groups.

Republican conservatives who believe that undisclosed donors shouldn’t control the state’s election process through hidden contributions should worry.

Is it now legal for pro-abortion groups to finance judicial races with stealth campaign donations to defeat pro-life candidates like Supreme Court Justices like Tom Parker?

What about Gov. Kay Ivey? Is it now legal for The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to upend her campaign with hidden contributions to her rival, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox?

Ethic Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton has all but definitively stated that RAGA’s contributions are illegal, but it’s too little too late for this election.

Perhaps none of this matters because it seems that many of the Republicans who passed these bans in 2010, don’t seem to honestly believe in them or any of the ethics reforms that they once championed.

So once again, it’s winning, not the law, that matters, or as a prominent Montgomery attorney said, “When you have a Democrat judge, a Democrat lawyer and a Democrat attorney general what else did you expect?”

More, I guess.

 

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Bill Britt

Opinion | BCA takes out the trash, finally

Bill Britt

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In a last-ditch effort to save the Business Council of Alabama from the dung heap of political obscurity, President and CEO Billy Canary was pushed out of the business association late last Friday after he waged an ugly and protracted battle to remain in power.

Canary’s fight to keep his job has left the once powerful business interests a hollow and factored alliance with an uncertain future. He didn’t care if he destroyed BCA; it was all about his ambitions.

For years, Canary, along with now-convicted felon former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and former Gov. Bob Riley, reigned over an unparalleled orgy of greed and corruption.

Canary, Hubbard and Riley’s perverse domination of the state’s political landscape was supreme, and even now, the tentacles of their profiteering are evident from the Capitol to the State House and beyond.

Even during this election cycle, Canary has used BCA’s political arm, Progress PAC, to back disreputable candidates who seek to overturn the state ethics laws that convicted Hubbard, advocate for so-called education reform that profits Riley’s business interests and to stall efforts to create a statewide lottery in favor of gambling concessions for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

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During Hubbard’s last years in office, PCI Vice Chair Robbie McGhee joined forces with Hubbard, in hopes of exercising more sway over Republican legislators. Over the previous year, he coupled the tribe to Canary with the same end in mind. McGhee, who faces a reelection challenge in August, casts himself as a Hubbard-Canary protege. Even now, he tells candidates who come calling for campaign contributions, “We are BCA,” meaning the tribe, under Canary, is controlling many decisions being made at the business association.

McGee, like Hubbard and Canary, is viewed by many as a pariah in the state capital where he still hopes to further the Tribe’s gambling operations by lavishing money and entertainment on Republican lawmakers. Twice now, McGhee has chosen poorly and tarnished the Tribe’s reputation in the bargain. With McGhee’s backing, Canary gave at least $250,000.00 to appointed Attorney General Steve Marshall so that he will continue Riley’s bingo wars.

Hubbard stands convicted on 12 felony counts of using his office for personal gain and other criminal violations of the state’s Ethics Act, yet he remains free because of the corrupting influence of Canary and others of his ilk.

During Hubbard’s trial, Canary said, “I love Mike Hubbard like a brother.” He even waxed poetic, saying his friendship with Hubbard, “Blossomed like any blessing in life.”

So infectious are the remnants of their power that even after two years Hubbard remains free because Court of Criminal Appeals Justices Samuel Henry Welch, J. Elizabeth Kellum, Liles C. Burke and J. Michael Joiner will not rule on his conviction.

Canary, in a face-saving announcement, says he is taking a position as a, “senior fellow at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” which is a nothing job.

Canary, like Hubbard and Riley, pimped the state like a cheap whore, and now he’s busted for the user he is. He left BCA in shambles, and don’t think for a minute that the coalition that left BCA isn’t coming back just because the executive committee finally took out the trash.

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Win Free Sex: Distraction

by Bill Britt Read Time: 3 min
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