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GOP attorney general candidates address Republicans in Vestavia

Brandon Moseley

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The Republicans running for Attorney General — Chess Bedsole, Troy King, Steve Marshall, and Alice Martin — all addressed the Mid-Alabama Republican Club at their monthly meeting at the Vestavia Hills Public Library on Saturday.

Chess Bedsole said this was his hometown club.

Bedsole said, “I got out of law school in the mid-90s and wanted a job in D.C. so I went to D.C. hoping to get a job and found one with Jesse Helms.” While working with Senator Helms, Bedsole said that they banned federal dollars from being withheld from the Boy Scouts and defeated Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s ban on bullets.

Bedsole said in 2000 he was sent to Florida’s Broward County where he worked for the George W. Bush legal team in the Florida recount. “After that, I came home and went to work and have been here for the last 17 years. I am a 47-year-old lawyer. I got involved in the Jefferson County bankruptcy had some clients who bought the fraudulent vehicles.” Bedsole said that he has been a criminal judge for a municipality in Blount County. The drug dealers started dealing outside of Bedsole’s jurisdiction. He went to Senator Jeff Sessions for help in setting up a drug task force. Sessions told Bedsole, “I need you to work a state campaign for me.” Bedsole agreed. “Being from Alabama I thought that would be a Governor’s campaign. Two weeks later I got a call from Trump Tower.” Donald Trump wanted Bedsole to run his Alabama campaign.

“While working for President Trump, my credit cards were hacked 17 times and the death threats piled up. Eventually, they had me traveling with Mike Pence for protection.”

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After the election, Bedsole worked on Trump’s transition team. “I was asked what we are going to do with Obama’s executive orders: we are going to burn them to the ground, and that’s what we did. While there, I got a phone call from Bentley’s office asking me to interview for the Attorney General’s position. I told them, no. They said we thought you were interested in this job. I told them, I do want to do this job, but won’t interview because I am not going to recuse myself from the biggest public corruption case that office is handling. I am the only one on this stage that would not interview with Bentley. I have a passion for this job.”

Bedsole said, “We are number three for murder in the states. We trail Illinois only because of Chicago and we trail Louisiana only because of New Orleans. Birmingham’s murder rate has doubled in three years and that kind of crime has bled over into other areas.”

Former Attorney General Troy King said, “In 1979 I was a 10-year-old boy growing up in Elba. My dad called us all in for a family meeting. My dad said the real estate business is really bad. There is just nobody buying houses and there is no money for a vacation. Nobody moves to Elba so all the real estate market in Elba is just people in Elba trading houses and there has to be a strong economy for that. I asked whose fault is that and he thought for a minute and said the President’s. Back then, Elba was all Democrats. Well, I sent a letter to volunteer for Ronald Reagan. They sent me some brochures and I went door to door asking people to vote for Ronald Reagan so I can go on vacation. That is when I decided what I want to do. If we are going to send men to Washington and Montgomery that are going to make decisions that are going to affect boys in places like Elba I want to be one. I lived my boyhood dream.”

King was Alabama Attorney General from 2004 to 2011.

King said that for eight years he has watched what went wrong. The top three issues facing our state are corruption, corruption, and corruption. He said that he wants to make us proud to say we are from Alabama. He would like for parents to be able to show a picture of the governor of Alabama to their kids and tell them that if they work hard to study that they can grow up and be like the governor of Alabama. Does anyone say that? It doesn’t have to be that way

“When I became Attorney General, we had the weakest sex offender law in the whole country. There was no real penalty for sex offenders not registering and most of them did not; so it was worse than not even having one because a parent could go on the internet and search in their area and it would tell them that there were no sex offenders in their area when that was not the case so then they lowered their guard. I sought to change that. Senator ‘Jabo’ Waggoner and Rep. Jim Carns worked with us and we wrote the toughest sex offender law in the country.

King said that he wanted sex offenders to be required to wear ankle bracelets. To bring attention to that King said that he wore an ankle bracelet. “People could go on their computer and see where I had been. One day we decided to take the kids to a public pool. I came out in my swim trunks and the ankle bracelet. My wife said to go in and take that off. That the point, you can’t take the ankle bracelet off. It was a hot day and the pool it was crowded. They all left by the time we got to the pool because they thought that I was a sex offender. That was the point.”

“We passed a tough child pornography law. We went to Walker County and he had pictures of over 100 children on his computer. We indicted him for every count. We could have just indicted him on five or six; but we indicted him on all of them because we were making an example. “We have to have the will to use the laws the laws that are on the books. We are not going to let you break the law with impunity.”

“If you would like to see the job done right,” King said. “If you would like to make change, if you would like to take a stand there is a way to do that but I can’t do it alone.”

Attorney General Steve Marshall acknowledged longtime Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber. “Thank you for taking an interest, Thank you for teaching me to be a prosecutor.”

“I am an Atmore native. I went to the Birmingham School of law. After graduation, I went to Birmingham and worked for a big law firm, but I am a product of rural Alabama. I went to Marshall County have been there for the last 25 years.”

Marshall said, “I have heard that AG stands for aspiring governor. That is not me. I don’t want to be your Governor and I don’t want to be your Senator.”

“A little over a year ago, I was appointed as Attorney General and I had to evaluate the AGs office,” Marshall said. “I saw that Luther Strange was a champion against the Obama administration. I saw an emphasis on public corruption. We wanted to be able to continue that in my administration. I saw other things that the AG’s office could do better.”

One of those was opioid addiction. “Overdose deaths have quadrupled since 2007. I did not see the AGs office talking about violent crime. There was no leadership coming from the AGs office on that.”

On human trafficking: “Jack Williams started a task force, but the AGs office was not fully engaged.” Marshall said that he changed that. “Luther was a champion of regulatory reform.”

“Unlike the other people on this stage, I am not talking about what I will do as Attorney General but what I have done as Attorney General. As your AG, I have taken a stand with the Trump administration on the travel ban. I took a stand with Jeff Sessions on saying no to sanctuary cities. I have taken a stand with the people of Pensacola who have had a cross in their public park. I have taken a stand with a Christian baker who does not want to make a cake for a gay wedding. When the Mayor of Birmingham tried to put a wall around a Confederate Veterans memorial that has stood for over a hundred years, we acted within 24 hours.”

“Gambling is illegal in Alabama,” Marshall said. “I know that there are people that think it should be legal. I am not a policymaker. If there are institutions in this state that are not following the law and local authorities will not act; it is my responsibility to make that happen. In Morgan County, the local DA helped us to close a facility there. In other counties, local authorities have not cooperated. “We have 9 actions pending against 5 gambling facilities. Luther Strange did not act on that issue but it is incumbent on me to enforce the law.”

“If I see things that we need to change in the law I work with the legislature to change it. A man killed a woman that was pregnant, but he was only charged with one death. We went to Montgomery to change that law and person was defined to include a preborn child. Because of that change in the law, when a man in Marshall County killed a mother that was two months pregnant we put that person on death row for capital murder.”

Marshall promised that if elected that he will continue to push the fight on opioids and on violent crime.

Former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said, “I live in Lauderdale County; but spent 8 years here (Jefferson County) as your U.S. Attorney where I got over 140 convictions in the area of public corruption.”

Martin said that she prosecuted people involved in the two year year college scandal and helped to convict: the Sheriff of Jefferson County, four of seven Jefferson County commissioners in the sewer scandal, including Mayor Larry Langford, and in the Healthsouth corruption where many people were cheated out of their saving because of that fraudulent activities.

“AG stands for Alabama Guardian,” Martin said. “I will fight for you. I am pro life and pro-Second Amendment. In addition to being the former U.S. Attorney, I was Chief Deputy Attorney General. The AG is the tip of the spear against crime and the shield to protect the people from the leftist liberals who are trying to tear this country apart to impose a socialist experiment. They think it’s better for you.”

Martin said, “I want to fight corruption.” Marshall was appointed by Robert Bentley. He was a Democrat until 2012. Will Brooke, Jimmy Raine were named in the Mike Hubbard trial. “This AG has accepted over $250,000 from people we were investigating as part of the problem. I have worked long and hard over my 25 years to fight corruption.”

“When Gov. Fob James appointed me as a Judge he told me that he would not hold me to being a Republican as no Republican had won an election in Lauderdale County in over a 100 years,” Martin said. “I told him I would rather run as a Republican and lose than win as a Democrat. I am not a party switcher. I am not a party flopper.”

“HB317 has peril in it,” Martin claimed. “There are holes in there that good people like Jabo Waggoneer may not notice. I may not be a policy maker in Montgomery but they are going to hear my voice.”

“In 2015 (as Deputy Attorney General) I met with the Alabama Medical Association,” Martin said. “At the time we were the highest prescribing state for opioids in the country. There were two point four active opioid prescriptions per every man woman and child.” Martin said that she wanted to make the doctors check the database to see how many other prescriptions a patient had before they prescribed opioids; but they said, “That would take too much of my time.” What they did agree to do was mandate that all doctors receive training in drug addiction and narcotics as part of their continuing education requirements.

“I have a bachelors in nursing from Vanderbilt,” Martin said. “I worked as a nurse to pay my way through law school. I have worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Memphis, Tennessee in 1983 for Ronald Reagan. I am proud that I have been endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation. I am proud that I have been endorsed by Bamacarry. I am the only candidate who has been a judge and I have sentenced people to jail.”

Martin said that when Luther Strange became attorney general he killed a plaintiffs attorney agreement that would have paid $114 million to Jerry Beasely’s law firm that Attorney General Troy King had entered in to to handle the BP oil spill. “We worked that case ourselves and sent money back to the Treasury and avoided a staff cut to the Attorney General’s Office because of it. If I am elected I will similarly kill a plantiffs agreement that the current Attorney General has entered into on opioids, saving the state millions.”

The Republican Primary will be on June 5.

The Jefferson County Republican Party is having a banquet honoring Greg Canfield and Byron York as well as Law Enforcement on May 14. Cost to attend the dinner is $150. There are sponsorship opportunities available, including a VIP reception.

The next meeting of the Mid-Alabama Republican Club will be on May 12. Sen. Richard Shelby will be the guest speaker.

 

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with six and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook.

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Alabama secretary of state releases updates on crossover voting

Brandon Moseley

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The Secretary of State’s office announced Thursday that it has discovered 398 violations of Alabama’s new crossover voting rules in the 2018 election cycle.

At the conclusion of the 2017 United States Senate Special Election Run-off, the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office reviewed a formal, routine election report indicating that 140 individuals had been given credit for voting in the Democrat primary election on August 15th and then voting in the Republican run-off election on September 26. This action, termed crossover voting, is an action which would violate the State’s new crossover voting law (Act No. 2017-340).

After reviewing the report, Secretary of State John Merrill (R) identified the local chief election official – the Probate Judge, as the proper authority to determine whether those listed were willful in their intent, negligent, or whether these findings were listed in error in each county where the incident occurred. In each of the 41 counties, the probate judges determined it was not necessary to prosecute any of the 140 individuals found to have violated the crossover voting law.

Following the conclusion of the 2018 Run-Off Election, Secretary Merrill directed the Elections Division to review the list of 398 voters that were found to be in violation of the crossover voting law and compare that list with the list of 140 voters from the 2017 Senate Special Election. Once this review was completed, it was determined that only one voter was found to have potentially violated the law in both 2017 and 2018.
Secretary Merrill then personally visited with and interviewed the person found to have potentially violated the law. At the conclusion of that visit, it became clear to Secretary Merrill that either the poll workers or a county registrar improperly marked the wrong political party in processing the voters’ primary voter participation credit. Due to this information, Secretary Merrill determined further legal action was not necessary, at this time.

No one has been prosecuted for crossover voting, however, under Alabama law it is illegal to vote in both a party primary and then vote in another party’s primary runoff. In the general election, voters are allowed to vote for candidates from both parties and/or independent or minor party candidates. 66 percent of Alabamians straight party voted in the 2018 election. Alabama does not have party registration, so any voter is allowed to participate in the party primary of their choice.

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In the 2017 special election, former Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) faced appointed U.S. Senator Luther Strange for the U.S. Senate. In 2018, there were Republican runoffs for Lt. Governor, Attorney General and other offices.

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Secretary of State initiates legal action to recover unpaid campaign finance fines

Chip Brownlee

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The Secretary of State’s Office has begun legal action to recover unpaid campaign finance fines incurred by political action committees and candidate committees during the 2018 election cycle, Secretary of State John Merrill said Tuesday.

The Secretary’s office has issued 1,180 penalties over the course of the election cycle for a total amount of $201,893.28. About $106,000 has been collected so far, the secretary’s office said. Fines that have not yet been paid have either been waived by the Ethics Commission or the Secretary of State is still trying to collect those fines from committees.

Of the penalties that haven’t been paid, 20 committees have exceeded the statutory period in which they can pay the fine, which allowed for Merrill to begin legal action to recover the funds. That process has begun, Merrill said.

Any fines paid by committees are deposited into the state’s General Fund budget.

The Secretary of State’s Office did not release specific political action committees and campaign committees that are facing legal action for fine recovery.

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Updates to Alabama’s campaign finance laws were passed in the state Legislature in 2015 and went into effect with the start of the 2018 Election Cycle.

Those changes require the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office to issue penalties to Political Action Committees and Principle Campaign Committees, the latter more commonly known as candidates, that do not file monthly, weekly or daily campaign finance reports on time.

Fines are issued when a committee doesn’t file campaign finance reports by midnight on the date the report is due.

Generally, reports are due on the second business day of each month, but some campaigns are required to file weekly or daily reports depending on the amount raised during those periods.

Committees are required to report all contributions and expenditures incurred by their campaign during the specified time period.

Penalty amounts increase as the number of late reports increase from the committee.

When a committee files a report late, but within 48 hours of the date the report is due, the committee is issued a warning. That first late report does not count against them or require a fine be paid, and the campaign finance laws state that those warnings are not a violation of the law.

 

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Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi Senate race

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, appointed U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) easily won her own term in the U.S. Senate defeating Clinton era Secretary of Agriculture and former Congressman Mike Espy (D) 53.9 percent to 46.1 percent in the runoff for U.S. Senate there. The race results were not as close as some politicos had been predicting.

“I want everybody to know, no matter who you voted for today, I’m gonna always represent every Mississippian,” Hyde-Smith said at her victory party. “Being on that MAGA-wagon, the Make American Great Again bus, we have bonded, we have persevered.”

“She has my prayers as she goes to Washington to lead a very divided Mississippi,” Espy said in his speech to supporters conceding the race. “While this is not the result we were hoping for, I am proud of the historic campaign we ran and grateful for the support we received across Mississippi,” Espy said in a Tuesday night statement.”

Democrats went shockingly negative down the stretch of the campaign focusing on a comment by Hyde-Smith that she would attend public hangings if they were legal and footage of her wearing a Confederate hat while visiting a museum.

Hyde-Smith apologized for the comment.

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The attack strategy was similar to tactics used by Democrats to defeat Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election in 2017. Unlike the Alabama special election however where national Republicans distanced themselves from Moore, the Republican National Committee embraced Sen. Hyde-Smith and made a maximum effort sending over 100 political operatives and $3 million to the state to get out the Republic vote in the special election. Senator Roger Wicker (R) held rallies with Sen. Hyde Smith where Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said he would never vote for Judge Moore. Donald Trump and Senator Lindsey Graham both held rallies with Hyde-Smith in the days before the election.

Mississippi Governor Phillip Bryant (R) appointed Cindy Hyde-Smith, age 59, to the seat after longtime incumbent Thad Cochran retired in April citing his deteriorating health. Hyde-Smith fills the remainder of Cochran’s term and will have to run again in 2020. Since it was a special election there were no party primaries. Instead there was an open ballot. Conservative Senator Chris McDaniel (R) also ran for the seat finishing third in the November six general election, but pulling enough votes that a runoff between Hyde-Smith and Espy was needed.

The win in the deep south for Republicans make the GOP even more confident about their prospects of retaking the Alabama seat in 2020. Jones is the only Democrat to win a statewide election since 2008.

The Republican in the House suffered tremendous defeats in the 2018 midterms; but Senate Republicans grew their majority from 51 Republican Senators to 53.

(Original reporting by the Hill and Fox News contributed to this report.)

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Zeigler: Kasich would lose every primary if he challenges Trump

Brandon Moseley

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Outgoing Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) announced that he was thinking seriously about running for President of the United States, challenging President Donald J. Trump in the Republican primary. Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler was critical of Kasich’s prospects of beating the President in 2020.

“If Gov. John Kasich runs against President Trump, I predict Kasich will lose every primary, including his own state of Ohio,” Zeigler said on social media. “Remember last time, the Alabama campaign head for Kasich was Gov Robert Bentley.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, then Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) did formally endorse Governor Kasich for President of the United States. Bentley knew Kasich through their work in the Republican Governor’s Association. Gov. Bentley also withdrew his later endorsement of Donald Trump in the 2016 general election. Neither action seemed to matter as Trump won the Alabama Presidential primary in a landslide and carried the state in the general election by a larger percentage margin than any Republican since Richard M. Nixon’s victory over George McGovern in 1972.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been a fierce critic of President Donald Trump. Kasich said that is thinking “very seriously” about another run for president in 2020.

Kasich said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that he is having “earnest conversations that go on virtually every day” with his friends and family about running in 2020.

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“We need different leadership, there isn’t a question about it,” Kasich said. “I’m not only just worried about the tone and the name-calling and the division in our country and the partisanship, but I also worry about the policies.”

Kasich said that he is concerned about: the rising national debt, the inability to find a solution to the immigration problem, isolationism, and the “rotten deal with the Saudis to look the other way” after the murder of Washington Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I’m worried about our country in the long term. So, the question for me is, ‘What do I do about this?'” he said. Kasich said that he would run only if he thought he could win or if it would be worth it to run to “send a message that can disrupt the political system in this country.”

Kasich is 66 and is a former member of Congress. Zeigler did not rule out running as a third party candidate and said that he was keeping all of his options open.

Zeigler was just re-elected as state Auditor with over a million votes. He is reportedly considering a run for the U.S. Senate challenging incumbent Doug Jones (D). Jones is the only Democratic candidate to win a statewide race in Alabama since 2008, when he upset former Chief Justice Roy Moore a year ago.

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GOP attorney general candidates address Republicans in Vestavia

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 11 min
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