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Bill Britt

Are you embarrassed?

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The jubilation felt among hardcore conservatives over Judge Roy Moore’s win in the Republican primary runoff Tuesday night also brought recrimination from the Democratic left and the sophisticated right.

After Moore’s triumph, the wife of a top White House official wrote on social media, “For the first time in my life, I have to say, I’m embarrassed to say I’m from Alabama.”

Moore’s Democrat rival Doug Jones on the same night took to social media to announce, “After years of embarrassing headlines about the top public officials in this state, this race is about the people of Alabama and about choosing a candidate with character and integrity they can be proud of. I will never embarrass the people of Alabama.”

So, when the wife of a deputy chief of staff to the president is embarrassed by Moore’s election, and Democrat Jones promises he won’t embarrass the state; what is the message?

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These views are perhaps shared by some Alabamians, but the vast majority who fulfilled their civic duty by voting on Tuesday chose Moore.

It’s not hard to see why Moore’s brand of conservatism might offend some because it is rigid and unmoved by urges of modernity. Moore stands for the traditional values of God, country and the U.S. Constitution. Is there shame in such beliefs? Why is Moore vilified for saying out loud what hundreds of thousands of church-going-Alabamans believe?

Moore is bombastic, confrontational and a religious street-fighter. Are we, as a state and nation, so delicate that dissenting voices are too harsh for the public forum?

Jones insinuates that Moore doesn’t have character or integrity; how absurd. Jones is either pandering to his base or doesn’t understand what those words mean. If being pro-life or for traditional marriage means a person lacks character, then there are a lot of unscrupulous people in our state. To believe that the only way for America to be great is for it to be morally good is not a foreign concept to most of us.

If the Ten Commandments offend you, it is not Moore who has a problem.

During his victory speech, Moore said he would support President Trump’s agenda, “As long as it’s constitutional, as long as it advances our society, our culture, our country, I will be supportive. … But we have to return to knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress.”

How can we ask for more from Alabama’s U.S. senator?

Yes, there are times when Moore’s turgid rhetoric has caused me to cringe and think, “Oops. He went a little too far with that one.” But the man believes what he says, and it is grounded in what many of our neighbors believe and our forbearers held sacred. As a nation, we have recognized the separation of church and state, but throughout our great nation, many people believe that our society is weakened when we remove God from country.

I’m not as right-wing as Moore, nor am I as fanatical about certain things, but I know the difference between an honest politician and one that’s bought and paid for. Years of observation has also given me some measure of insight in how to discern good and evil by a person’s actions. Moore is many things, but he’s not a crook; and he is a good person. He and I don’t have to agree on any issue for me to say those things about him as his life’s work, not his words, are his witness.

Who, then should be embarrassed?

Luther Strange should be ashamed because as attorney general, he accepted the Senate appointment from then Gov. Robert Bentley. Strange knew Bentley was under investigation by his office, but that didn’t matter… the golden ring was in sight. The people made Strange the state’s top law-enforcement officer. He should have shown more commitment to the voters who believed in him. But Big Luther did what weak men do. He took the easy path.

Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should be ashamed. He was certainly humiliated in his failed attempt to meddle in our state’s politics. And his Senate Leadership Fund is a disgraceful organization, which flooded our state airwaves with profound lies about Moore. The NRA is a joke – don’t hold your breath for me to renew my membership – and the Business Council of Alabama is, well, beyond contempt.

Moore was twice removed from the state supreme court, and twice the people sided with Moore, sending him back into the political arena because they believe he was wronged by the state’s elite on the right and left. Who from the political class came to Moore’s defense when he was improperly indicted by a shadowy panel led by an elite corps of do-gooders? Where were those who beat the Bible to get elected, only to shrink from scriptural teaching when it became inconvenient or perilous? The Republican establishment abandoned Moore when he was judged by a unconstitutionally appointed court, but voters did not.

If elected U.S. Senator in December, those same people who ignored Moore’s treatment by the well-meaning left and cowardly right will be solicitous of his office, as if they had been his friends all along.

Others who must feel the sting of shame are Chief Justice Lyn Stuart, Justices Mike Bolin and Jim Main for their part in Moore’s removal from the bench.

We, as a state, should be embarrassed by our underperforming schools, our lack of good paying jobs and inadequate healthcare. Far too many of your people are unhealthy, under-educated and underemployed.

To be commended is Gov. Kay Ivey, who showed great wisdom and courage in moving the election of Jeff Sessions’ replacement in accordance with the state 1901 Constitution. Secretary of State John Merrill can hold his head high, as he worked with Ivey and her chief of staff, Steve Pelham, to follow the law and not the whims of Bentley and Washington insiders.

Alabama is home to good, honest and hardworking folks, and many of them find no shame in electing Moore.

Many of our state’s leading figures have given us a reason to hang our heads in shame. There are still some who hold power. For now the people have spoken, and they are not embarrassed by Judge Roy Moore. Are you?

 

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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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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Are you embarrassed?

by Bill Britt Read Time: 5 min
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