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The ALGOP Steering Committee votes to continue supporting Roy Moore

Brandon Moseley



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.”


“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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HB317: The players

Bill Britt



Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, seated, passes a pen to Alabama Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, left, as he signs into law the Responsible Budgeting and Spending Act with Rep. Greg Canfield, R-Vestavia Hills, in a ceremony at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Ala., Friday, March 11, 2011. The bill, sponsored by Canfield, is the first passed in this year's regular legislative session and allows for a "rolling reserve" process to make the Education Trust Fund resistant to proration. (AP Photo)

Sometime after 10 a.m. today, the Alabama Senate will take up HB317, a bill to exempt a specific class of individuals from the state’s ethics laws.

During a hearing on the bill before the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh told the committee members that the legislation was, “of utmost importance.” Marsh’s pleas have been echoed by a host of players without any of them making a case as to why the measure is so urgently needed.

Often, understanding who is supporting a piece of legislation answers why it is of “utmost importance.” Likewise, it is critical to know who is not in favor of the measure.


Bentley appointees gather with Bradley Arrant lawyers

HB317, as initially conceived, is reportedly the brainchild of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield, who was appointed to his post by disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley.

When the initial bill’s flaws were pointed out, Canfield turned to another Bentley appointee – Attorney General Steve Marshall, and together they teamed with lawyers from Bradley Arrant to rewrite HB317.

The bill that emerged allowed for “less than full time” economic development professionals and opened a loophole to enable current public officials to avoid the state’s two-year revolving door statute and become economic development professionals as soon as they left office.

Both of these flaws have repeatedly been pointed out in media reports and committee meetings, but Canfield, Marshall and those supporting HB317 have refused even to acknowledge these provisions exist in the legislation.

Muzzling the help

Ethics Commission Chairman Judge Jerry L. Fielding has endorsed the bill — despite a warning by the commission’s executive director, Tom Albritton, that HB317 would weaken current laws.

Marshall has said the bill was written by or in cooperation with the AG’s public corruption unit led by Matt Hart, which after further study, it appears Hart only wrote a section that doesn’t include the offending language added by Bradley Arant lawyers.

However, no one has heard directly from Hart or Albritton, and according to those close to the action, both have been notified to stand down or face dire consequences.

Enter the Big Dogs

According to multiple lobbyists speaking on background, Will Brooke, co-founder of mega investment firm, Harbert Management Corporation, is pushing HB317. Brooke played a significant role in the conviction of former Speaker Mike Hubbard on felony ethics violations. Brooke’s cooperation with the state’s prosecution is what kept him from being charged along with Hubbard. Brooke is said to see the “less than full-time” clause as a way to influence lawmakers, like Hubbard, in the future without fear of legal entanglements. As a less than full-time economic development professional, Brooke or anyone else, for that matter, would not be constrained in giving boatloads of money to public officials. It is worth noting that Brooke’s company gave Marshall’s campaign $60,000.00 last month.

Also working hard to pass HB317 are lobbyists from Regions Financial Corporation, which is believed to be currently under investigation due to its involvement with the downfall of State Rep. Oliver Robinson, who over the last few months pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to his foundation. Regions purchased thousands in advertising in Robinson’s foundation newsletter. It is rumored that Regions is funding other lawmakers with similar arrangements.

Also, lobbyists for BCA’s Billy Canary are working to pass HB317. Canary, like Brooke, was deeply involved with Hubbard and his schemes to use his office for personal gain and, like Brooke, testified against Hubbard to avoid prosecution.

Also played

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee is chaired by State Sen. Phil Williams, who is stepping down from office at the end of his term. Williams was under investigation by state law-enforcement until then Gov. Bentley stepped in to help “his brother in Christ,” as former members of Bentley’s staff recalled his moniker for Williams.

Williams, after his first year in the state Senate, amassed a consulting business that netted him some 37 clients, which law enforcement believed to be illegal. While Williams has maintained his innocence, it is reported that upon his retirement from office, charges may be filed against him.

And in the end

Bentley appointees, Hubbard’s companions and the ever-present remnants of former Gov. Bob Riley’s machine have all come together it appears to push for a bill, which will benefit a few, while weakening the laws without a specific immediate need.


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Sponsors say key gun bills are dead this session, optimistic about return next year

Sam Mattison



Rep. Givan speaks on the House floor about a group of gun bills that were killed due to absent lawmakers at a committee meeting in March 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Gun control and school safety will have to wait after a turbulent day in the Legislature that saw key gun bills falter.

On Wednesday, bills in the Legislature dealing with gun control or school safety met their own demise in one way or another.

It started in the morning with a committee meeting that would have considered three proposals from Democratic lawmakers concerning the sale of firearms. The committee meeting, however, never happened.


With 15 minutes after the scheduled meeting time, the three representatives present decided to abandon hopes that the other representatives would show up. Since the session is expected to come to a close next week, the move effectively killed the bills’ chances of getting out of the chamber.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, sharply denounced the missing representatives for what she viewed as a bid to not give the bills a vote. Givan reiterated her comments on the House floor Wednesday afternoon by saying the absent representatives took the “coward’s position.”

Givan was sponsoring a bill that would raise the age cap of purchasing an assault weapon to 21, which is a proposal that she said had traction with House leadership.

All three bills were pronounced dead by Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham, who told the floor on Wednesday that she hoped the proposals would come back for next year’s session.

She and other Democrats in the House have been extremely critical of the fast track that a bill to arm educators was given by leadership. That bill, sponsored by Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville, was also pronounced dead on Wednesday.

In a statement, Speaker of House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said the bill would not be brought back to the floor. Previously, the bill had appeared at the top of Tuesday’s agenda but was never brought for a formal vote or debate.

McCutcheon also said in the statement that the House would examine the issue of school safety with more detail. The speaker said the issue would come back for next year’s session.

Ainsworth was much more critical in his statement and blamed the failure of his bill solely on Democrats, who threatened to filibuster the bill.

Not dissuaded by the announcement, Ainsworth floated the idea of a special session addressing school safety over the summer, and the Guntersville representative was darting around the chamber on Wednesday with petition and pen in hand.

But even some Republicans in the chamber predicted the bill would narrowly win a Budget Isolation Resolution—a procedural vote that requires three-fifths of the body’s approval—in the House, and Democratic filibusters have scantly dissuaded the House from acting on controversial legislation in the past.

The bill even faced great challenges in its committee with the bill narrowly passing out on a 5-4 vote.

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Speaker: Ainsworth bill to arm teachers scrapped this year

Chip Brownlee



Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon watch Gov. Kay Ivey deliver her first State of the State Address. (Adam Brasher/The Auburn Plainsman)

A bill that would have allowed teachers to be armed in classrooms across the state is dead for this session.

The bill, sponsored by Guntersville Republican Rep. Will Ainsworth, was one of the most prominent of several gun and school safety bills filed this session.

Filed three weeks ago, just a month before the Legislature is expected to sine die and end the session, the controversial bill had a steep hill to climb.


It didn’t make it to the top.

Leaders in the legislature — from the House speaker to the Senate president pro tempore — have been cautious about the calendar realities of passing gun bills this session, and McCutcheon was the more optimistic of the two.

But Tuesday House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said opposition from Democrats threatened to derail the session and led to the bill’s demise, though several Republicans — particularly in the Senate — had also expressed opposition to the measure.

“Although the bill was in a position to be considered yesterday, the Democratic opponents of the legislation were prepared to lock down the chamber to prevent its approval,” McCutcheon said. “There was also a great deal of misinformation being distributed to educators, school administrators, law enforcement agencies, and parents that needed to be corrected.”

McCutcheon wasn’t clear what “misinformation” had been spread about the bill.

The House speaker, in his second session in the Legislature top role, said he expects the bill to make a reappearance during the next session.

“I can offer a personal guarantee that this issue will be revisited when the Legislature convenes its next session,” McCutcheon said.

The Legislature won’t return for a regular legislative session until March 2019. Lawmakers will have an extra month off next year during the first year of the quadrennium after the 2018 statewide general election.

Ainsworth’s HB435 isn’t the only gun bill that died this week. All of the other proposals — from both Democrats and Republicans — were also given a hypothetical death certificate after their sponsors admitted that it’s unlikely they’ll move forward with less than a week to go in this session.

Ainsworth was more forceful, calling on Gov. Kay Ivey to convene a special session of the Legislature later this year to revisit school safety proposals. It’s unlikely Ivey will call a special session given lawmakers are battling it out ahead of primaries scheduled for June 5 and a general election set for November.

Constitutionally, the Legislature has several more weeks left in the session, but lawmakers are expected to depart next week in order to get home and campaign. It’s typical for lawmakers to end an election-year session early.

Nevertheless, McCutcheon and the bills’ sponsors say they are not abandoning them, and some school safety legislation has already passed or has a much better chance of making it out before the end of March.

“The House is deeply committed to school safety issues, and we are already passing legislation this session that allows retired law enforcement officers to serve as school resource officers, redirects state technology dollars to fund school security needs, and creates a permanent committee that will suggest school security improvements on an annual basis,” McCutcheon said.

The speaker said lawmakers are also researching how existing laws on the books could allow for changes to school safety, and he directed lawmakers to get feedback from their local school districts and law enforcement on how the Legislature could help. McCutcheon said the House won’t forget about the need for school safety and gun reform next year.

“As the next regular session approaches, we will be taking a look at all the pieces of the complex school security puzzle and come forward with a package of legislative proposals,” McCutcheon said. “Ensuring that the children parents send to school in the morning return to their home safely in the evening will always remain among the top priorities of the Alabama House of Representatives.”

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The ALGOP Steering Committee votes to continue supporting Roy Moore

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 3 min