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Nine campaign committees, PACs still have not filed 2016 Annual Reports

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By Staff
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office published a list of principal campaign committees and political action committees that have yet to file their 2016 Annual Report. This report documents all money raised or spent by a candidate or committee each year.

The Secretary of State’s Office says that it made numerous attempts to notify each committee member listed in the FCPA system starting May 1, 2017. Notice was delivered to each committee by phone, mail and email.

This is the first time since the Alabama Legislature created the Fair Campaign Practices Act that the SOS has published a list of law violators.

Since the initial contact was sent out, nearly all 92 of the initial delinquent filers have reconciled the issue by completing and filing a 2016 Annual Report. At the time of this release, only nine principal campaign committees and political action committees remain overdue in their report. Those nine remaining violators are being reported to Attorney General Steve Marshall’s team and the appropriate local district attorney’s office, with a copy to be delivered to the Alabama Ethics Commission.

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The penalty for failing to file an FCPA Annual Report is a Class A misdemeanor. More than 1,039 committees are required to file annually, and to date, 1,030 have filed reports.

The nine delinquent funds are William Barnes from Birmingham, James Graham from Phenix City, Jim Green from Scottsboro, Handley Hardy from Ragland, Randy Hester from Vina, Move Birmingham Forward PAC, Steve Small from Birmingham, Orlando Whitehead from Tuskegee and Future Montgomery.

Secretary of State John Merrill is reportedly running for another term in 2018.

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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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Court denies King’s bid to block RAGA money from Marshall

Charlie Walker

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A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge denied on Thursday the Troy King campaign’s request for a restraining order preventing Attorney General Steve Marshall from spending thousands in alleged illegal donations.

Judge James Anderson agreed with Marshall defense attorney Ted Hosp that a state court has no standing to block contributions flowing from out-of-state political action committees (PACs).

King has argued that donations from the Republican Attorneys General Association to Marshall violate the state’s ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers. Anderson said the remedy for King’s complaint was the Alabama Ethics Commission, where a complaint is currently pending.

“I’m having a real problem with whether I have jurisdiction, especially to determine that something illegal has happened with a federal PAC,” Anderson during the hearing. “It’s not illegal for a federal PAC to make these transfers.”

Anderson said Alabama’s law that bans the transfers, passed in 2010, prohibits the transfers from being made. There are no laws against candidates receiving the donations, he said — a point with which attorneys from both sides seemed to agree with Anderson.

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Anderson was unmoved by King’s attorney, Agricola’s, argument that failing to block the use of campaign funds received in such a way would open up an avenue for all campaigns to avoid Alabama PAC-to-PAC transfer ban — simply move the donations to out-of-state PACs before rerouting them to other PACs and then back to the candidates.

Regardless, Thursday’s ruling means Marshall can move forward spending the recent $300,000 he received from RAGA — a donation that brings his total received from that group to more than $700,000.

King disagreed with the decision, but said his only appeal would be to “the court of public opinion.” He then took several shots at Marshall for violating the spirit of the PAC-to-PAC ban, which was put in place to prevent political donors from hiding the original source of donations.

“Steve Marshall has given Democrats the weapon they need to destroy the entire Republican Party using out-of-state liberal money,” King said in a statement.

King also took a shot at Anderson, noting that he is a prominent Democrat, and inferring that his ruling was politically motivated.

A release from Marshall’s office called the court filing and ethics commission complaint from King a “political stunt.”

 

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Shipt Announces Over 800 new Jobs in the Birmingham Area

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) joined executives of Shipt, the same-day delivery marketplace, and local officials to announce that the company plans to grow the state’s technology industry by creating more than 800 new jobs in Birmingham over the next several years.

“By simplifying life with innovative technology for personalized grocery delivery, Shipt is positioned for rapid growth,” Governor Ivey said. “The ideal location for this growth is its hometown of Birmingham, and we’re committed to helping the company develop and attract the talent it needs to fuel its expansion plans in Alabama’s ‘Magic City.’”

Shipt Founder and CEO Bill Smith said the company is actively recruiting across all departments and focusing its continuous growth on Birmingham. He said the company plans to primarily recruit talent from within the city and the surrounding area.

“Shipt was founded and has flourished in Birmingham, and we would not have reached the success we have today without the continued support of this community,” Smith said. “As a rapidly growing technology company, we feel fortunate to be able to offer an avenue for creating highly skilled jobs within Birmingham.

Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) said, “The online grocery marketplace Shipt has just announced an expansion that will create more than 800 new jobs in Birmingham over the next several years. I applaud Shipt’s commitment to Alabama and especially the Birmingham area. The growth of Shipt is a story of seeing an opportunity and filling a need in the marketplace. This expansion will create more opportunities in workforce development, from attracting professional shoppers to software engineers and data scientists. It is another example of how Alabama is on the cutting edge of not just today’s economy, but of the economy of the future.”

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“Founded in Birmingham in 2014, Shipt is a membership-based online grocery marketplace delivering fresh foods and other items through a community of shoppers and a convenient app.,” Palmer said. “Its service is available to nearly 50 million households in more than 150 markets across the country. The Alabama Department of Commerce projects that the upcoming expansion will generate $1.1 billion in new payroll over 20 years.”

Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) acquired Shipt in December 2017, and the Birmingham company is already playing a key role in Target’s plans to offer convenient, same-day deliveries from the majority of its stores. Shipt also partners with a number of additional retailers.

“Shipt is a highly successful company that sprang from Birmingham’s innovation environment, and its decision to accelerate its growth in the city speaks volumes about the potential they see for growth there,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “We hope this becomes a signpost project that leads the way for the growth of innovation opportunities in Birmingham and across the state.”

Economic developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “It was refreshing to hear Shipt’s CEO Bill Smith share the company’s story of commitment to family, excellence, human capital, and future generations. Smith, originally from Birmingham, brainstormed the idea after a trip to the grocery store with his wife and small children. Smith sought to make the shopping process easier and within three weeks, 1,000 Birmingham residents signed on before he wrote the first lines of Shipt’s code.”

Nicole Jones continued, “The evolution of Project Unicorn (Shipt), a product created as a result of an entrepreneurial spirit, is a testament to our state’s inherent values of family, hard-work, dedication, and persistence. The estimated 881 highly-skilled jobs created over time showcase our state’s positioning as a leader in technology and innovation. Congratulations, Birmingham and Jefferson County, on this win, and thank you to Shipt for choosing to expand your operations within Alabama.”

To facilitate its job-creation plans, Shipt will receive support from AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, for recruitment assistance, talent development services and on-the-job training, as well as tax credits under the Alabama Jobs Act.

“With this development package, we’ll be able to deepen our roots in our hometown, helping establish Birmingham as a center of technology and innovation not only in the South, but also within the United States,” Smith said.

“Shipt represents the innovation, ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that is defining a new generation of builders in Birmingham, and we are proud that Shipt calls our city home,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said.

Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington said Shipt’s growth reflects the emergence of a budding information technology ecosystem in the Birmingham metro area. The commission has pledged a cash incentive tied to Shipt’s hiring.

“With the acquisition of Shipt by Target last December, the company easily could have expanded in Silicon Valley, where Shipt already has a presence, or Minneapolis, Target’s headquarters,” Carrington said. “Instead, the company’s commitment to add another 881 jobs over the next several years in Birmingham bodes well for the future of both the company and the community.”

As part of an overall economic development package, the City of Birmingham has committed up to $1.7 million to support Shipt’s growth strategy through programs aimed at professional skill development, hiring local talent, and attracting software engineers and data scientists.

The support package was the result of a team-based approach between the State of Alabama, City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama Power, the Birmingham Business Alliance, and Innovate Birmingham, with all organizations recognizing the importance of assisting an innovative, home-grown company.

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Nine campaign committees, PACs still have not filed 2016 Annual Reports

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