Connect with us

In Case You Missed It

Ivey’s Chief of Staff hid hospitalization after stroke-like symptoms

Bill Britt



By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In April 2015, then Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey was admitted to a hospital in Colorado due to a series of stroke-like attacks, according to two high-ranking former government officials. Ivey had flown to the Aerospace State Association Annual Meeting held in Colorado Springs that year. She was accompanied by Chief of Staff Steve Pelham and Security Officer Thomas Andrew “Drew” Brooks.

After several attacks, Ivey was taken to the hospital where she allegedly spent four days recovering, before returning to Alabama. According to reports, Pelham threatened Trooper Brooks, not to report the incident to anyone. However, under security protocol, Brooks was bound to tell his supervisor, Jack Clark. The event generated buzz around ALEA but was quashed according to those at the agency at the time of the incident. “We all knew what happened, but because she was scheduled to be out of town for the conference, it was easy for them [Ivey’s people] to keep a lid on it,” recalled a former Trooper.

“Pelham wanted it scrubbed,” said another former government official, “and was determined not to let it leak.”


Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA) are often referred to as “Mini Stokes.” However, the Stroke Association points out that these temporary episodes are more appropriately called “warning stroke…because they can indicate the likelihood of a coming stroke.” About 1 in 3 people who has a TIA goes on to experience a subsequent stroke.”

Concerns about Ivey’s health were widely circulated by her security personnel, which saw reoccurring episodes of slurred speech, incoherent ramblings, and a inability to focus for extended periods, according to former troopers.

Brooks’ superiors asked if he needed to be relieved of his duties in Colorado, but he chose to remain at his post. Brooks received a travel reimbursement of around $1300, paid out in May 2015.

The Governor’s office was asked to comment on this report, specifically if there had been any reoccurrences of the episodes since 2015. As of press time, they said they were checking.

Nearly half a dozen individuals in Ivey’s Capital orbit expressed concern over Ivey’s health. They also believe the Governor is being “managed” by Pelham and legal counsel, Bryan Taylor.

“So tight is Pelham’s rein on the Governor that he’s moved his office right next to hers,” said a staffer. Traditionally the Governor’s Chief of Staff works in a separate office in the North Wing down the hall form the Governor.

These individuals who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal told APR that Pelham and Taylor are making the calls and Ivey is only marginally in the loop. “Pelham acts as if he’s the Governor with his nose constantly in the air,” said a well-placed person inside the administration. “If you want an answer, you go Pelham or Taylor,” said another.

Those with knowledge of Ivey’s recent appearance at the Republican Senate Caucus meeting this week say Ivey gave a short meandering presentation concerning legislation she is supporting. Caucus members would not confirm to APR what was said in the meeting, but her behavior was described as “shaky and rambling.”

Pelham and Taylor are keeping Ivey’s public appearance to a minimum, limiting her speaking engagements to only a few minutes, according to those within the administration. In the last two weeks, Ivey gave short remarks at the Community College Board meeting and at the Board of Education. At each session, Ivey’s remarks were short, scripted and her security team hustled her from the events quickly after her speech.

Neighbors say Ivey spends a good deal of her time at her home in Old Cloverdale, and other government officials report she is often phoning people from her residence.

Those around Ivey on regular basis say she has good days and bad, “It’s sad,” said a former colleague.

It has become a growing concern that Pelham and Taylor are filling Ivey’s administration with those aligned with former Gov. Bob Riley. “Is it the Riley administration, the Bentley Administration, or the Ivey Administration,” asked a frustrated lawmaker. “We need to know who we are dealing with here.”

There is grave concern that Ivey’s health is being kept from the public in order for Pelham and Taylor to retain power. Again, a former close associated added, “They [Pelham and Taylor] will prop her up like, ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ as long as they think it’s to their advantage.” Weekend at Bernie’s is a reference to a 1989 movie in which a pair of losers pretend their murdered employer is still alive.

Pelham hid Ivey’s condition in 2015, now, according to those around the Capital, he and Taylor are doing the same.


Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley



By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”


Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.


Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison



By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.


The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison



By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.


Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

Continue Reading






Ivey’s Chief of Staff hid hospitalization after stroke-like symptoms

by Bill Britt Read Time: 4 min