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Bill Britt

I believe Judge Roy Moore

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

I prefer the grind of every day reporting to sharing my opinions with the readers. I let Bill, Josh and Joey focus on the opinion writing, which they do so well. This time I will make an exception. We are now in the start of the third day of a carefully orchestrated character assassination of the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, Judge Roy Moore.

If we are to believe his accusers, Roy Moore dated a number of 16, 17 and 18-year-old young ladies in the late 1970s. As I read the current law, it is perfectly legal to have consensual sexual contact with a 16-year-old in Alabama. That is not considered abuse or a crime. It is still legal, and likely was in 1979, and most of the accusers say that their dates with Moore never got much more exciting than some kissing and Moore playing his guitar. One of the ladies, who was 18 at the time, says that Moore served her alcohol. Alabama did not raise the drinking age to 21 until 1984.

The most troubling allegation is that Roy Moore went out with a 14 year old, took the willing young lady to his trailer where he removed her shirt and her pants and then there was some touching of private parts through the underwear. When she got uncomfortable with it, she shut it down, and that was that. It is illegal to have sexual contact with 14 year olds. I am not a lawyer and have never seen what the Alabama statute read during the Jimmy Carter administration. But according to my lay reading of current Alabama law – which admittedly was written 27 years after this alleged incident, that act today would likely be sexual abuse, a Class A misdemeanor. One attorney has already told me that he does not think we even had a sexual abuse statute on the books in 1979. This is a 38-year-old cold case of an incident that may or may not have happened. This is never going to see any court.

That being said, how can any of us really know what might have happened in a trailer in Etowah County in 1979? Those of us who want to believe the best in Roy Moore believe his account and think the WaPo story is false.

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Those of us who want to believe the worst about Roy Moore will believe the worst about Roy Moore and are inclined to believe his accuser. If we are all intellectually honest, we don’t have any video, DNA evidence, eyewitness accounts — other than Moore and the accuser, the testimony is 38 years old, so facts blur.

Roy Moore is innocent until he is proven guilty, and I don’t see this case ever being brought to trial. We just have to accept that we are never really going to know with any certainty what happened on that day in 1979, or if the two even met that day.

We now have had three days of histrionics about this in the mainstream media. Every talking head on cable news has an opinion on this, even though most of them have never stepped foot in Alabama, have never met any of us, including Judge Moore or his accusers, and will move on from this story when it plays out, or they find something more titillating for them to chatter about in front of the cameras.

Again, I — unlike any of them — have actually met Judge Moore and have known him, either through my journalistic work or through Republican politics for almost 20 years. Judge Moore believes what he says he believes, and I trust him on this.

The once respected Washington Post has changed ownership and has become the leftist version of the right’s Breitbart News, an increasingly low-brow publication that aligns itself with progressive causes and the Democratic Party. In this story, they have hit a dangerous new low for political journalism. If you like their reporting, send them a check so they will let you through their paywall.

Going 38 years back into the past to talk to the former girlfriends or boyfriends of a political candidate — or people who claim to be former love interests of candidates — is incredibly sleazy, and it is disgusting that the editors at the Post thought this was somehow a newsworthy endeavor for them to pursue.

I like Roy Moore, and I am certainly not going to vote for Roy Moore’s opponent, Clinton-era U.S. Attorney Doug Jones (D). I have nothing personal against Jones. I just think his positions and ideas are far too liberal for Alabama to seriously consider for even one moment.

Even though I would like to see Moore win and Jones lose, I will swear to all the readers right here and now, that I, as a journalist, will never stoop to interviewing any of Jones’ former girlfriends from before his marriage. I don’t know whom Doug took to the prom. I don’t want to know where they went after the prom, and I don’t want to know what age his date was or if he tried to initiate sexual contact or not, and who touched who where and what clothes were removed and by whom.

With the exception of those of you who are test tube babies, all of us are here because our moms, at least once in their lives, let our dads do what dads wanted to do all along. I hope that was not an upsetting revelation to anyone.

Roy Moore never claimed that he was God, and neither did he ever claim that he is without sin. I never thought that the kinds of things that happen in human mating rituals was news and never thought that the candidates’ premarital love lives were the sort of thing that we as investigative journalists should really devote our time and talents toward exposing in such detail.

I know there is a market for voyeuristic celebrity gossip out there. I let TMZ and People Magazine cater to that market, and apparently, the Post wants to colonize that space now, as well.

I know that I am getting old, and my ways are not as ‘hip’ as some people’s in this business, but at its core, this business is supposed to be about news. We report about real people, real issues, real policies in the now.

The sexual adventures of Roy Moore after he got home from fighting for us in Vietnam is not a topic I ever thought would be a headline here or anywhere else. Thank you, Washington Post, for becoming a more sleazy version of the National Enquirer. What’s next? Ranking all the former love interests of Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump?

I would not want my byline associated with this kind of gossip-level reporting in any way. None of this is relevant to my life, and none of it is relevant to anybody’s lives here and now in the state of Alabama.

We have real problems. We have real issues. There are things I want to see done by the federal government in the next four years. What do you believe we should be doing on health care, on taxes, on immigration, on the border wall, on reforming Washington D.C., on protecting religious liberties, on guns?

I will be voting for Roy Moore because he is the candidate most likely to pass tax reform, vote to cut down on out-of-control immigration policies, confirm conservative judges. Why would anyone change their vote based on these accusations? You either agree with Roy Moore’s views on the issues, or you agree with Doug Jones’ views. This sensationalized journalism I don’t think has any place in a rational person’s decision-making process.

You vote for the person with the agenda closest to your own. For me, that is Roy Moore.

Moore is the candidate who will vote to confirm conservative selections to the Supreme Court; steadfastly defend our Second Amendment rights; vote for Republican budgets that make America great again by increasing defense spending; keeping Alabamians employed in defense sector jobs; fight for religious liberty; and oppose abortion.

Doug Jones posted pictures of himself partying with Planned Parenthood. Jones will not fight to protect the lives of millions of pre-born Americans; support President Donald J. Trump’s agenda; vote to repeal Obamacare; fight to repeal Obama administration era regulations that shut down American coal jobs and sent our jobs overseas; fight to decrease the regulatory state; or advance conservatism. Moore is the conservative candidate. Moore is the pro-life candidate.

A vote for Jones puts Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders one vote closer to control of the U.S. Senate, and the current Republican majority is just two seats.

Whatever you believed happened 38 years ago, that should not sway Alabamians from voting for the candidate who most closely shares our conservative Alabama values, and that is Roy Moore. Don’t be swayed by emotion or the mainstream media. They do not share any of our Alabama values and do not care about us or our beliefs. They have made that abundantly clear over the years.

It is time for Republicans and conservatives to vote with our brains and not be swayed by media hysteria and the politics of personal destruction.

 

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Bill Britt

Opinion | Can Alabama’s one-party system deliver for all the people?

Bill Britt

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Alabama is a one-party state.

For 136 years, the Democratic Party was the sole governing body which ruled the state under a one-party system. Voters switched sides in 2010, and now there is one-party control by Republicans.

Of the many problems created by a one-party system are the elimination of checks and balances, disregard for the minority population, a tendency for tolerating corruption within the controlling ranks and ignoring best practices because they may be ideas that come from the opposition.

Alabama is in dire need of men and women in positions of political power and influence who can see beyond the second ripple in the pond and who will do what is right, not based on party, but a deep abiding loyalty to our state.

Far too often policy items are ill-conceived, half-baked-by-products of some other state’s solutions or a national narrative that isn’t in the best interest of the people of our state.

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Best policy is written using fact-based information tailored to the needs of the state.

As lawmakers gear up for the 2019 Legislative Session, it might be fair to ask, “What do in-coming Republican lawmakers stand for today?”

One freshman legislator recently said that he is coming to Montgomery to help President Trump build the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Far be it from me to question the gentleman’s motivation or IQ, but if I’m correct, the state Legislature does not have any say over a border wall, unless he thinks we need one in Mobile.

We have some excellent women and men at the State House, but there are a few who have no business deciding what’s for lunch, much less what is best for the people.

The state has many challenges which include weak income growth which is only improving because the national economy is rolling along, prisons that are a disgrace and under federal lawsuits, an infrastructure which is crumbling and self-dealing that is on the rise.

Republicans, like the Democrats before them, have not adequately addressed these systemic problems because with one-party rule, no one is pushing them to do better.

Perhaps the lack of real change is understandable given that for six of the last eight years, the Republican-led government was controlled by a delusional governor and a crooked Speaker of the House.

Former Speaker Mike Hubbard is going to prison, Gov. Robert Bentley is out of office and still out of his mind, so going forward, the state will know if Republicans can actually lead.

Republicans have a chance to lead; will they?

Without a strong opposition party, Republicans, like Democrats of the past, have no reason to compromise or build a coalition between the two parties. Therefore, in many instances, what is best for the state is hampered by groupthink or a slavish devotion to a national party orthodoxy that offers scant solutions to Alabama’s most pressing problems.

The state’s voting population is arguably at 60/40, with Republicans holding a commanding majority over Democrats as evident by the state’s last general election.

In his essay “Party dominance ‘theory’: Of what value?” Raymond Suttner notes, “The notion of a dominant party, usually described by those who deploy the concept, as a theory or a system, refers to a category of parties/political organizations that have successively won election victories and whose future defeat cannot be envisaged or is unlikely for the foreseeable future.”

Republicans occupy all 29 statewide offices and control more than two-thirds of both the House and the Senate; Alabama is a one-party state.

If the state succeeds, Republicans can take credit. If it continues near the bottom in every meaningful measure of success, then they should be held accountable.

One-party government is fraught with problems, not the less of which is a failure to deliver good government for all the people because they don’t have to worry about reelection.

Alabama should expect more, but do we?

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Bill Britt

Opinion | Public corruption unpunished, public left in the dark

Bill Britt

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Two former state public officials appear to be receiving extraordinary leniency, and the public should demand to know why.

In one case, former Sumter County Sheriff Tyrone Clark pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges including ethics violations and drug charges. However, District Attorney Greg Griggers who oversaw the investigation announced after Clark’s plea that he didn’t want to see the former sheriff go to prison. “It was never my goal to send Tyrone Clark to prison,” said Griggers.

Grant Culliver, a former top official at the Alabama Department of Corrections, is being allowed to retire after an investigation into allegations of misconduct. The Alabama Ethics Commission, the Department of Corrections and the Attorney General’s Office refuses to acknowledge publicly what the inquiry uncovered.

In both instances, the public is being denied a full accounting of why these high-ranking government employees are being shown preferential treatment. It is also becoming evident that there is no appetite to punish office holders or hold them publicly accountable for misconduct.

These two cases are just a small sampling of how public officials are being given a pass under Attorney General Steve Marshall.

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Marshall has no real interest in prosecuting public corruption which is evident by his firing of Chief Prosecutor Matt Hart.

It is estimated that nearly two dozen public corruption investigations are languishing after Hart’s firing. Perhaps more egregiously, Marshall, according to several well-placed sources still inside the AG’s office, has denied subpoenas, withheld vital documents and generally hampered investigations that involve state lawmakers and business leaders.

More troubling, Marshall is not only compromised by his debt to his political donors but also by those in his office that have critical knowledge about his personal conduct.

As one source close to Marshall explained, “Steve is a dark character with a lot to hide.”

Under former attorneys general, Clark and Culliver would have been treated like any other individual accused of misconduct, but Marshall is side-stepping both cases.

It is entirely within the attorney general’s authority to take control of Clark’s case, as well as revealing Culliver investigations, but Marshall is doing neither.

Culliver, who served as associate commissioner for operations at the Department of Corrections, is being allowed to quietly retire without the public ever knowing what the investigation uncovered.

Clark confessed to numerous crimes including two counts of unlawful employment of county inmates, three counts of ethics violations for using his office for personal gain, one first-degree count of promoting prison contraband, another second-degree count of promoting prison contraband and a count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

The county DA wants him to walk free.

Former Sumter County sheriff pleads guilty to criminal ethics, drug charges

Marshall, with his appointment by disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley and his subsequent election, has ushered in an era where public officials are free to do as they please without fear of prosecution as long as it is in Marshall or his handler’s interest.

Marshall also serves as co-chair of the Ethics Reform and Clarification Commission which is rewriting the State’s Ethics Act to ensure that convicted felon former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard is the last high-ranking political figure ever to be punished by the once championed “toughest in the nations” ethics laws.

Both Clark and Culliver were paid with state tax-dollars and should be accountable to the citizens of our state. Clark’s crimes are clear and he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law because, not only did he break the law, he violated public trust.

Culliver, it appears, did something to warrant a forced retirement. He, too, was paid by tax-payers who have a right to know what he did.

The public should demand more, Gov. Kay Ivey should intervene, but for now, there is little hope for equal justice under the law as dispensed by the likes of Marshall.

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Bill Britt

Opinion | In the arena

Bill Britt

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Alabama Political Reporter does one thing: it covers politics, more specifically state politics. Along with our news coverage, we publish opinions about issues facing the state. We do include the state’s congressional delegation in D.C., but that is limited in scope.

As for APR’s opinion columns, we err on the side of free speech. As our nations first president, George Washington, said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

APR has two categories of opinions, feature opinions, which are ones we solicit, and guest views, which are those provided to us by individuals with political credentials or expertise that warrant giving their ideas space in our publication.

At APR, every opinion column has the name of the author and their contact information.

We don’t feel it necessary to affix a disclaimer to every opinion piece saying this material is solely the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of APR. We think our readers are smart enough to know that already. However, due to the rapid response of the internet, people sometimes do confuse what is an individual’s opinion and APR’s willingness to support free speech.

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On occasion, our contributors and columnists wander off into national politics. As editor-in-chief, I cringe on those days when opinion columnist focus on President Trump, Sharia Law, Supreme Court nominations or other national hysteria. Not because it is unimportant but because it is not our core mission, and it enflames passions that have little to do with good state government.

When we first envisioned APR, it was with an understanding that there was little we could do to change Washington or national politics. What we saw was an opportunity to do good by reporting on matters facing the state. If it holds that all politics is local, then dogged coverage of state issues might result in better local policies and governance.

When APR remains focused on Legislative accountability, fiscal responsibility, public corruption and those things that directly affect the lives of our state’s citizens, we are most relevant. However, when we stray into national hot-button issues already beaten to death on cable news, we enter fights that are unwinnable and distract from the primary mission.

In an era when even cold facts make people angry or are greeted by alternative ones, it should come as no great surprise that opinions often irritate and cause consternation.

APR doesn’t print opinion columns merely to make anyone mad but to perhaps cause us all to think.

As President John F. Kennedy said, “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

Thinking is a tough business, especially in today’s political climate where much of the civic conversation is based on entrenched political identity and not necessarily on sound reasoning. On the right and left, there is an established dogma that labels competing ideas as wrong and even evil. But these national party convictions do not always translate to sound state government policy.

As a news organization, APR does not take particular positions on issues. The closest we come to an official stance on any given subject is when I, as editor-in-chief, offer an opinion, but even then it is not ex cathedra.

APR’s mission is simple, to inform, educate and alert the public on issues facing our state. When we stay true to that edict, we succeed. When we do not, we fall short of our purpose. There are times when we as a news organization must call to action those who care about good government – that is the job of our opinion page. Sometimes, we do so nobly, other times not so much.

As President Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”

APR and its writers and opinion columnists are women and men who have chosen to enter the arena. We are a small band of committed individuals working hard to bring you news and opinions that will promote good government here in Alabama. That is our job.

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Bill Britt

Opinion | Get Hart

Bill Britt

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Years of political pressure from shady defense attorneys and crooked lawmakers culminated last week in the firing of Special Prosecution Division Chief Matt Hart.

Gov. Robert Bentley’s appointed attorney general, Steve Marshall, delivered the blow just 13 days after being elected attorney general, but the move against Hart was orchestrated by some of the state’s most powerful political figures.

Make no mistake, Hart’s firing was no less than a political coup de grâce by those who operate most efficaciously in the dark corners of politics.

Hart’s removal serves as punishment not only for prosecuting some of the state’s most influential men, it is also part of a broad scheme to allow those who are currently under investigation to walk free.

There should be an immediate and thorough federal investigation into Hart’s termination as well as a joint legislative committee created to conduct an inquiry with public hearings. A former senator, such as Dick Brewbaker or Gerald Dial, should be appointed to oversee the joint committee to eliminate political chicanery. Perhaps, more importantly, Gov. Kay Ivey should name a special prosecutor working under Montgomery District Attorney Darryl Bailey to investigate the matter.

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For nearly two decades, Hart served as a widely respected career prosecutor who was once a hero of state Republicans when he successfully convicted dozens of high-profile Democrats, but that changed when he turned his sights onto corrupt Republicans after their victory in 2010.

When Hart began investigating Republican Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard in 2011, he immediately went from a conservative champion to a political pariah who must be stopped by any means.

Under oath during a July deposition, Bentley testified that lawmakers, attorneys and a major Republican donor, on several occasions, asked him to intervene in the Hubbard case by appointing a special prosecutor to replace Hart.

The goal was to appoint a special prosecutor who would remove Hart and launch an investigation to discredit him personally and the underlying case against Hubbard.

Deposition: Bentley was pressured by lawmakers, attorneys, major donors to upend Hubbard trial

After Hubbard’s conviction, Bentley and his alleged girlfriend, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, increasingly paranoid, believed Hart was coming after them which led to Bentley appointing Marshall to attorney general with the expressed agreement that he would investigate Hart.

Marshall has publicly denied this allegation, but those with direct knowledge of the quid pro quo may soon go on the record.

While under questioning in the wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier, Bentley testified that Great Southern Wood owner and Republican super-donor, Jimmy Rane, approached him on three different occasions about appointing a special prosecutor.

Additionally, Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley and a Hubbard attorney, also contacted Bentley about opening an investigation into Hart and acting Attorney General Van Davis. Hubbard’s other attorneys, Augusta Dowd and Lance Bell, also met with Bentley about replacing Hart as Bentley swore under oath. Bentley conveniently could not recall the sitting legislators who pushed him to upend the Hubbard prosecution but did admit that all these individuals shared a common goal to get Hart.

Up until his firing last Monday, Hart was overseeing dozens of investigations believed to be targeting business elites, lawmakers and other public officials, but a swift ax ended those probes.

If there is a shred of justice left in the state of Alabama, a full hearing into Hart’s firing will be conducted immediately.

Those who care about the rule of law must now demand that Gov. Kay Ivey, the Legislature and law enforcement act decisively to ensure that those who perpetrated this coup are held accountable. If Gov. Ivey, the Legislature and law enforcement fail to act, then all hope for law and order is lost here in Alabama because those who got Hart can now get anyone.

 

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I believe Judge Roy Moore

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 8 min
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