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ALGOP Chair, Steering Committee reprimand Hooper

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Crenshaw County Republicans and some on the ALGOP steering committee are still seething over self-proclaimed Alabama Trump Victory chairman, Perry O. Hooper Jr., inserting himself into a recent local event.

The rift came to a head at Wednesday’s ALGOP Steering Committee meeting according to multiple sources with knowledge of the event but are not authorized to speak on the record. According to these sources, ALGOP Chair Terry Lathan felt there was no need to address Hooper’s unrelenting self-aggrandizing political activities, but the rest of the committee disagreed. After some discussion, the committee unanimously approved that Lathan would send Hooper an official reprimand.

For over a year, Hooper has posed first as the Alabama Trump Campaign co-chair, which has been soundly disputed by Republican State Rep. Ed Henry who was Trump’s co-chair, Chess Bedsole and others who held official positions. Even though Hooper was repeatedly warned not to use the title, he’s continued to market himself as a Trump Campaign co-chair. He has also referred to himself as Alabama Trump Victory chairman, which he says is a title bestowed on him by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son.

In the recent press notice that started the brouhaha in Crenshaw County, Hooper again refers to himself as Trump campaign co-chair, which is false and misleading according to Henry, who first exposed Hooper. In the press release, he also uses the title of Alabama Trump Victory chairman. A search of FCC filings show a Trump Victory Committee, which doesn’t list Hooper in any capacity. According to the RNC, there were 22 members on the committee; Hooper’s name doesn’t appear in the official documents. In July 2016, the State Victory Finance Chairs names were released without a mention of Hooper. Bedsole earlier confirmed Hooper was the Trump Montgomery River Region Committee chair. A far cry from the lofty titles he claims.

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In response to APR’s request for clarification, Lathan said, “My understanding is that Ed Henry and Jim Carns were the Alabama Trump Campaign Co-Chairs. I have seen Mr. Hooper say he is the chair for a Trump Victory Campaign but I have no knowledge one way or the other. Those are two different entities per my understanding.”

Hooper’s latest adventure began on Oct. 4, when under an official-looking logo, he sent a press release stating that he was emceeing an event where, “Two Crenshaw County Commissioners will become the latest in a long list of Alabama elected officials to switch from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party.”

The event was canceled after Crenshaw County Republican Party Chairman William Morgan Rayborn Jr. sent a letter to ALGOP Chair Terry Lathan asking her to put an end to Hooper’s practice of seeking headlines to further his political profile. “Perry has pulled this same publicity seeking stunt before in other areas,” wrote Rayborn.

But Hooper, undeterred, held the party-switching event even though Lathan notified the press it was canceled and told Hooper the same.

Over the last several days, APR received several calls and emails from committee members who are tired of Hooper’s grand-standing. APR also received a copy of a letter sent to Lathan and her reply.

Republican stalwart and Crenshaw County resident, Judge Terry Butts, who serves as a pro bono legal adviser to the county party, confirmed to APR that he wrote a subsequent letter to Lathan, ALGOP’s legal counsel and the steering committee questioning what it would do about Hooper holding an unauthorized party event.

“In spite of the event cancellation, ‘Perry Hooper and the Party Switcher’s’ (not to make light of it, but it does sound comically like some kind of Juvenile Band), went on with their apparently pre-planned event and agenda to the exclusion of the Local GOP,” Butts wrote. He also points out that Hooper used the name, mantle and banner of the GOP to do so, thereby simply ignoring the directions, authority and rules of the GOP.

Butts also questions if ALGOP rules matter any longer, or are they ignored for favorite-sons?

Lathan responded to Butts’ letter saying, “Hey Judge. I have spoken with the county chair twice and had very good supportive conversations on this issue. I also warned Mr. Hooper and asked him to cancel his event. He said he would, however it went on.”

Lathan’s email shows that Hooper, who sits on the ALGOP executive committee, ignored the chair’s directive by carrying out the unauthorized event. She said Hooper “plans to apologize for his ‘press release’ to the chairman and the county party.”

She further says, “Good news is these incidences are few and far apart. It is hard to control another’s choices. I did note that the ALGOP logo or name was not used in Mr. Hooper’s release. He mentioned I was attending which was accurate although I was a guest of the Crenshaw County GOP.”

For Lathan, it seems in her response to Judge Butts that she placed more emphasis on what Hooper had not done than the fact that he held an unauthorized event under the ALGOP banner.

However, Lathan responded to the incident saying she believes internal party matters should not be handled with leaks to the press. “Internal party matters happen time to time. I prefer to handle these matters firmly behind closed doors,” said Lathan. “Any party member that anonymously shares inside organizational bumps or espouses their opinion with a lack of information to the press should be ashamed of themselves.”

Perhaps taking a page from President Donald Trump’s play book, Lathan sees little value in anonymous sources, labeling them cowards. “Hiding behind anonymity is cowardly,” she said. “That’s not a team player and their motives are highly suspect.” She added that she had admonished Hooper privately and felt it was an internal matter, even after Hooper publicly ignored her stern advice.

Writing about the event on social media, Hooper said, “I’m not a politician! I’m a businessman…I got involved with the Trump campaign because I knew we had to change the direction of America. I am very loyal to President Trump, and I’m proud of it.” However, it is widely known that Hooper is seeking the senate seat being vacated by Republican lawmaker, Dick Brewbaker, at the end of his term.

Hooper, also on social media, posted several pictures of him with various Trump children to validate his relationship with the president.

One of Hooper’s supporters called APR’s story, “Fake news.” Angela McClure on Facebook wrote, “This article is fake news!! How do you think Mr. Hooper sat in the front row when the President came to Huntsville?? It’s because he is Chairman of Trump’s Alabama Campaign.”

But contrary to McClure’s thinking, seating arrangements do not change the fact that public records and statements from the campaign dispute Hooper’s claims.

In his letter to ALGOP, Judge Butts asks:

“Does one have the right to use by usurping the Mantle and Banner of the Republican Party by:

(1) Either expressly and/or impliedly, holding  oneself out falsely, including falsely creating personally enhancing “Titles” (perhaps comparable to the shame of wearing military medals never earned)

AND/OR

(2) Profanely “cuss out” an Honorably serving Republican State Representative & Member of the State GOP Executive Committee (Ed Henry), plus have it published/heard all over the internet, Facebook, etc., with no repercussions from the State Party as if one (Perry) was apparently a sanctioned (or perceived to be sanctioned) spokesman for the Republican Party, in the manner in which Perry Hooper, Jr., has done and is continuing to do, at political events?”

Butts concludes by asking, “Just how far will our Party allow Ethical Hypocrisy to extend?”

The ALGOP steering committee decides in Hooper’s case that enough is enough.


The headline of this story was changed after ALGOP chair Lathan shared more material with APR.

 

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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House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

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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.

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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.

 

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

Sam Mattison

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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.

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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.

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In Case You Missed It

Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

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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.

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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.

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ALGOP Chair, Steering Committee reprimand Hooper

by Bill Britt Read Time: 7 min
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