By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Republican Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who will be seeking a full term in next year’s statewide elections, raked in $159,400 in contributions in November — with a sizable portion coming from out-of-state and PAC donations. But even without his PAC and out-of-state fundraising, his fundraising still outpaces any of the other candidates challenging him.
The former Marshall County district attorney who was appointed by former Gov. Robert Bentley to be attorney general in February remains the leading candidate in an already competitive race for the state’s top law enforcement post. Since he began fundraising in June, his campaign has pulled in more than $630,000 in support.
Marshall was listed as an attendee at the Republican Attorney General’s Association fall meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, from Nov. 11 to Nov. 14. Between the two days leading up to and the two days immediately following the event, at least 13 out-of-state businesses and political action committees, including Facebook and Comcast, contributed $14,600 to his campaign, according to campaign finance disclosures.
Throughout the month of November, other out-of-state donors like Wal-Mart and CitiGroup, contributed a total of $21,100. During election campaigns, conferences like the Republican Attorney General’s Association fall meeting can serve as key fundraising opportunities for candidates, particularly incumbents.
RAGA, a national organization with the goal of electing Republican AGs, hosted 20 of 29 Republican attorneys general at their fall conference along with five other candidates from Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, according to the conference’s agenda.
Despite the well-known names, the out-of-state contributions make up only about 13 percent of Marshall’s $159,400 November fundraising total with 11 percent coming from businesses and 2 percent from out-of-state individual contributors. The other $138,000 in donations, including high-dollar PAC contributions, came from within the state’s borders as Marshall gears up for a four-way battle with former Chief Deputy Attorney General Alice Martin, Birmingham lawyer Chess Bedsole and former Attorney General Troy King, who just recently entered the race.
His two largest contributions of $10,000 each came from CANPAC, one of several PACs run by powerhouse lobbyists Joe Fine and Bob Geddie, and MCG PAC, one of several PACs managed by Edward “Ted” Hosp.
Hosp has aggressively lobbied to roll back ethics reforms passed in 2010.
Two other $5,000 contributions came from PACs, FGAPAC and ED PAC, which are both managed by Fine and Geddie. In total $20,000 came from Fine and Geddie PACs, making up about 13 percent of Marshall’s total funds raised last month. Six percent came from Hosp’s PAC. All PAC donations made up 44 percent of his campaign contributions while 34 percent came from individuals and 22 percent came from businesses and corporations.
Fine Geddie & Associates’ CANPAC, EDPAC and FGA PAC are funded by Drummond Coal Co., Jimmy Rane’s Great Southern Wood, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Protective Life Co., among others. Drummond Coal has been entangled in a federal bribery and corruption investigation revolving around former State Rep. Oliver Robinson, leaving their vice president, David Lynn Roberson, indicted on bribery, fraud and money laundering charges. Rane was a close confidant and political ally of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who was convicted of 12 felony ethics charges last year.
Marshall’s campaign has said in the past that he is not accepting contributions from those who “are under state or federal investigation.” But these new PAC contributions come after past instances of high-dollar donations Marshall’s campaign has received from PACs financed by the same or similar sources.
Even without his large sums raised through PAC and out-of-state contributions, Marshall still outpaces all other candidates in terms of individual fundraising, with individuals contributing more than $54,600 to his campaign compared to his closest competitor, King, who collected $49,000 from individual contributors.
The sitting attorney general’s opponents have amassed war chests of their own, though none matches his. Martin, who stepped down from her post in the Attorney General’s Office in August, has raised more than $295,000 since then. She also loaned her campaign $100,000. She raised $21,710 in November.
Bedsoe, an Alabama Trump campaign leader and former aide to Jeff Sessions during his transition to the U.S. Attorney General post, has raised more than $195,000 through November. He loaned his campaign $300,000. He raised $7,800 in November.
King — who was appointed as attorney general in 2004 by former Gov. Bob Riley, won election in 2006 but lost his primary in 2010 to former Attorney General Luther Strange — has brought in $132,000 in his first weeks of fundraising.