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The ALGOP Steering Committee votes to continue supporting Roy Moore

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

After a week of speculation, the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee reaffirmed its support for U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said in a statement regarding the U.S. Senate election: “On Wednesday evening, the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee, comprised of 21 members, met to discuss the events and circumstances regarding the December 12 U.S. Senate race.  The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race.”

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“Judge Moore has vehemently denied the allegations made against him,” said Lathan. “He deserves to be presumed innocent of the accusations unless proven otherwise. He will continue to take his case straight to the people of Alabama.”

“There is a sharp policy contrast between Judge Moore, a conservative Republican who supports President Trump, and the liberal Democrat who will fight and thwart the agenda of our president. We trust the Alabama voters in this election to have our beloved state and nation’s best interest at heart,” Lathan continued.

The state party had been pressured by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the Washington establishment to de-certify Moore as the Republican candidate and support a write-in candidacy.

The Alabama Republican Party leadership rejected all calls to de-certify.

“Alabamians will be the ultimate jury in this election- not the media or those from afar,” Lathan said.

Moore Campaign Chairman Bill Armistead said in a statement: “I appreciate Chairman Terry Lathan and the Alabama Republican Party standing strong behind Judge Moore. As Chairman Lathan alluded, there are sharp policy differences between Judge Moore and the Democratic nominee. Judge Moore will work closely with President Trump to rebuild a strong military, confirm strict constitutionalists to the courts, and reform and simplify the tax code, while the Democratic nominee supports Obamacare, partial-birth abortion and far-left liberals on the Supreme Court.”

“The political establishment and the national media have put a bullseye on Judge Moore because he’s a conservative outsider who will go to Washington to fight for our values, but the voters of Alabama – the people who know him best – aren’t fooled by these tricks and lies,” Armistead said.  “Judge Moore will spend the next three weeks traveling the state and speaking directly to the voters about job growth, tax reform, rebuilding the military, and stopping the overreach of liberal judges.”

Moore easily overcame Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican Party runoff and was cruising toward what appeared to be an easy victory over Democratic opponent Doug Jones; until his campaign was torpedoed by the Washington Post; when it produced four women who claimed that they dated Moore in the 1970s. Most damning was a claim by Leigh Korfman that Moore undressed her and the two had some inappropriate touching with their underwear on in 1979 when Moore was a 32 year old Etowah County Deputy District Attorney and Korfman was just 14. Since then, there have been more women and more allegations.

“We are very grateful for the multitudes that have reached out to us with support and prayers” Lathan said. “We ask God to guide us, politically and personally, with His mighty strength and wisdom. In turn, we also pray that justice and truth will prevail for all involved in this situation.”

The Republican National Committee has pulled all of its people out of the state of Alabama and has repudiated a joint fundraising agreement with the Moore campaign.

The special election will be on Dec. 12, 2017.

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Elections

Ethics Commission clears Luther Strange

Josh Moon

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Luther Strange is off the hook.

The executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission told APR on Wednesday that the commission determined a few sessions ago that allegations that Strange violated campaign finance laws were unfounded.

The two allegations, which were filed by Secretary of State John Merrill’s office during Strange’s special election campaign for U.S. Senate last year, were considered potential felonies and centered around Strange’s federal Senate campaign transferring funds to his state-level attorney general’s campaign account.

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Ethics Commission executive director Tom Albritton said several factors went into determining that Strange had not violated the law. Most importantly: “The statute controlling the transfer from a federal campaign account to a state campaign account requires the candidate to be a state or local candidate. Luther Strange was not,” Albritton said.

Merrill disagreed with the commission’s decision, saying his staff’s understanding of the applicable laws forbids Strange from making the campaign account transfers in question.

“We understand that the Ethics Commission can do whatever they want with the things we send them,” Merrill said. “We do not agree with their finding, but it’s not our job to rule. It’s our job to pass along the violations. We did our job.”

While the laws governing the issue are complicated, the transfers at the center of the debate are fairly easy to understand. In December of 2016, Strange’s federal campaign account, in a series of transfers, sent a little over $1,400 to his state-level campaign account. The money was being used to pay for an already-purchased website domain.

The problem was the $1,400 exceeded the $1,000 threshold allowable for the transfers and also fell outside of the 120-day window. Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley was forced to resign after accepting a donation outside of the 120-day window.

But according to Albritton, that’s where the mixing of federal and state laws make things murky. Because in addition to Strange, who was running for U.S. Senate, not being a state-level candidate, the law also requires the transfer to be a campaign contribution before it can be considered illegal.

“The transfer was made in order to reimburse the state campaign for an unintentional payment by the state campaign for the domain maintenance fee for the domain that the federal campaign had already purchased,” Albritton said. “It was not intended to influence the election of a state or local candidate.

“Federal law preempts state law in this circumstance. Federal campaign finance laws required the reimbursement for the state campaign. If they had not repaid it, it would have been a violation of federal campaign laws.”

Albritton said that Merrill and his office can forward their findings directly to the Alabama AG’s office if they feel a mistake has been made.

The Ethics Commission decision on the matter will likely add fuel to what is becoming a fiery feud between it and Merrill’s office. Just last week, Merrill was particularly critical of the Commission’s decision to pass on issuing fines to candidates, businesses and PACs that failed to file campaign finance reports on time.

During an interview with APR last week, Merrill was asked whether his allegations against Strange had been resolved by the Ethics Commission. At that time, he said he wasn’t sure, prompting APR to raise the question with Albritton. It doesn’t appear as if the decision on the Strange allegations has been previously reported in the media.

 

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Elections

A quick snapshot of campaign cash after primaries

Bill Britt

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Since the June 5 primary, candidates have only been required to file major contribution reports of $25,000 and over, so understanding the financial health of any campaign is difficult to ascertain.

In the Lt. Governor’s race, Rep. Will Ainsworth has loaned his campaign $500,000, while his opponent, PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh, hasn’t reported any new contributions. In their last reports, Cavanaugh had $165,439.56 on hand, and Ainsworth had $670,233.34, which includes the $500,000 loan.

The last filings in the Attorney General’s contest show Steve Marshall with $48,794.15 to Troy King’s $36,127.04. The two will face each other in the July 17 Republican Party runoff.

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Democrat attorney general contender Joe Siegelman last reported having $113,450.44 in his account. He will compete with either King or Marshall in the November general election.

The Republican runoff for Agriculture Commissioner finds BCA backed candidate Lowdnesboro Mayor Rick Pate with $4,107.44 in cash, with his challenger, State Senator Gerald Dial, reporting $107,634.45.

Gov. Kay Ivey received one major contribution of $25,000 from Cullman resident Roy Drinkard, while her Democrat rival Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox hasn’t reported any similar fundraising efforts.

These cash totals are a snapshot of fundraising, with approximately two weeks before the next FCPA reports are required.

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PowerSouth CEO explains why companies are leaving BCA

Bill Britt

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PowerSouth President and CEO Gary L. Smith may have made the most transparent case for why the state’s marquee corporations are in a steady exodus from the Business Council of Alabama.

“Our problem with BCA is simply Billy Canary and his leadership,” wrote Smith in the company’s withdrawal letter to BCA Chairman Perry Hand. “Billy has been effective in the past, but in our opinion, Billy is now a severe liability and must be replaced for BCA to again be effective.”

In April, Alabama Political Reporter broke the news that seven of the state’s leading companies were parting ways with BCA if Canary was not replaced by June.

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Billy Canary out at BCA, sort of 

After APR‘s story broke that the BCA Executive Committee had agreed to replace Canary, it was Hand who took to an internet newsletter to claim our story was false. However, Smith’s letter obtained by APR proves Hand lied. “You indicated the BCA Executive Committee agrees a leadership change is needed, but we have serious disagreements about the timing of the replacement,” wrote Smith.

In fact, the Executive Committee agreed it was time for Canary to go, but Hand and a few Canary loyalists invented a reason to keep Canary around until 2019. As Smith points out, not only is Canary staying in place, he is also included in selecting his replacement.

Smith states, “Billy’s continuing involvement in the search for his replacement,” as well as, “his involvement in the leadership transition,” is a severe problem.

Smith further writes, “We have no interest in participating in or supporting an organization that Billy heads, influence through his choice of successor, or can manipulate through a transitional plan. It is simply time to completely sever the relationship before further damage is done to the organization.”

To date, Alabama Power Company, PowerSouth, Regions Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield and BCA legal counsel Boots Gale have fled BCA due to Canary’s failed leadership and Hand’s obstinate refusal to see the wisdom of his immediate replacement.

 

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The ALGOP Steering Committee votes to continue supporting Roy Moore

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 3 min
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