By Thomas Scovill
The rise of Kay Ivey to Governor and her appointment of Bryan Taylor as her legal counsel prompted me to recall my correspondence in 2012 with them on the subject of campaign finance.
That year I reviewed the 2011 annual reports of every official elected statewide and every legislator. I was impressed to find that most of these incumbents were following the law, most were using their campaign funds for campaigning, and few were involved in campaign finance shenanigans. Generally, my questions were taken seriously, replies were prompt, and the consideration of my criticisms were thoughtful.
This was certainly the case with then-Lieutenant Governor Ivey. When I pointed out a reporting error, she quickly corrected it and filed an amended report.
In some cases I learned from my correspondents. For example, then Senator Bryan Taylor explained that the much ignored itemization requirement for credit card expenditures and reimbursements to candidates required identification of the person or vendor who actually got the money from the campaign. But sadly, some of my interaction with Bryan Taylor was disappointing.
Taylor’s annual report for 2011 was submitted on January 31, 2012. It shows a reimbursement from his campaign account to himself on January 19, 2011 for a purchase he made at the Fort Rucker Post Exchange on June 12, 2010. The amount of the purchase (a computer and related stuff) and reimbursement are both $1,637.
I told Taylor that I saw two issues. First, he was months late in reporting an expenditure which should have been reported weeks before the November 2010 election. Second, and more importantly, as an Army National Guard officer he had abused his privilege to use the PX, a privilege which is limited to buying items for personal use, not for business and not for campaigning, a privilege which avoids taxes on goods usually priced lower than in private stores, a privilege governed by military regulations, regulations I provided to Senator Taylor.
Taylor made the PX purchase with his own money before the election. He reimbursed himself with campaign money after he had won the election and at a point when he could determine that his campaign account would have funds in excess of his legitimate campaign expenses according to state records. It seems Taylor saw an opportunity to enrich himself with campaign funds and he took it. It appears he profited personally by $1,637.
Taylor has had plenty of time to fix the two problems I raised with him in 2012. Sadly, he has not.
To those who think this matter is too small for concern, I suggest they remember words of St. Luke, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16:10)
If I were Governor, I would not place Bryan Taylor in a position of trust. He could be a fox in the hen house.
Thomas Scovill is a Republican activist and retired army officer from Madison, AL; 256 509 4522; firstname.lastname@example.org