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Dawson accuses Ivey of funding pro-LGBTQ group that “does not share Alabama values”

Brandon Moseley

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Birmingham evangelist Scott Dawson, left, and Gov. Kay Ivey, right, are seeking the GOP nomination for governor. (via respective campaigns)

Tuesday, Scott Dawson said that Kay Ivey gave a grant through ADECA to an LGBTQ-aligned group based in Huntsville. Dawson said that the group, Free2Be, does not share the values of most Alabamians.

Dawson made the remarks at a scheduled press conference in Mountain Brook.

“I am running because I am one of us the 98 percent of Alabamians who do not know what is going on in Montgomery,” Dawson said.

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Dawson said that his investigation has discovered that the state has awarded $817,000 in grant money to a pro-LBGTQ activist group. Dawson said that the state has been funding the homosexual advocacy group, Free2Be.

“I am told how we are short of money,” Dawson said. “But we can still find $800,000 to fund an activist organization.

The money was ostensibly to fight bullying. “As a child due to a weight issue I suffered bullying,” Dawson said but added, “We have placed one worldview over another worldview.”

“As Governor, if I gave Focus on the Family $800,000 there would be an uproar,” Dawson said.

Dawson said that Ivey, “Travels around the state passing out checks more than the Publishers Clearinghouse people,” and then promotes those activities with speeches, press releases, and on Twitter but there was none of that for this award.

Dawson accused Free2Be of promoting deviant lifestyle and transgenderism to children. “Only one state has a majority that opposes same-sex marriage and that is Alabama,” but the state government has been issuing grants to this organization since 2015.

Dawson said that Ivey says that she is cleaning up after the Bentley Administration; but “On this, she has failed miserably.”

Dawson said that Ivey is running as a defender of conservative values for us, but then, “Betrays our values. What else is being hidden from us? Her audio is not matching her video.”

“What else is there?” Dawson added. “No wonder she refused to debate she is not answering the hard questions.”

“I am calling on the Attorney General to start a full-scale investigation into this,” Dawson said. “I am asking you (the assembled press corps) and our state legislators to investigate. I am calling for a reformation in how these funds are disbursed.”

The Alabama Political Reporter asked Dawson: You said that these are ADECA funds, are these state general fund dollars or federal dollars disbursed back to the state?

Dawson said that he did not know, but said, “Either way, it is federal or state these are still taxpayer dollars.”

Alabama Political Reporter asked if the LGBTQ activists were given access to the school children?

Dawson said that he did not know but that he hoped they were not given one on one access. When we minister to school children in our ministry there is never one on one access with the children, or there is not supposed to be.

Dawson said that the group was getting over $300,000 from the Bentley Administration, but then in 2017, under the Ivey Administration, that number increased substantially to almost a $million. “With the increase of funds there should have been accountability.”

Dawson said that the Free2Be group shut down Friday after becoming aware of the Dawson campaign’s investigation. “They won’t answer our calls. They have shut their doors. Some of them appear to have fled the country.

Dawson said that we have teachers going to Wal-Mart for school supplies and we still have money to waste on something like this.

APR asked: former Governor Robert Bentley had cabinet-level position heading the Office of Faith based Initiatives that funded various projects with ministries across the state. Do you also object to how that money was spent?

Dawson said, “That position has been dissolved but maybe we should go back and look at is also.”
Reporters asked Dawson if Gov. Ivey knew anything about the grant.

“I have no knowledge of what she did and didn’t know,” Dawson answered.
Reporters asked Dawson what do you think that the Governor is hiding?

“I don’t want to fuel speculation or cause rumor,” Dawson answered. It started under the Bentley Administration dramatically increased in 2017. I think what the big problem is that we are using taxpayer funds. “I want to stay away from any and all of these rumors.”

“We turned down $tens of millions of Medicaid money because we did not want to do that,” Dawson said. If we can refuse medical dollars we can refuse this. Alabama is the one state that the majority would have a biblical world view.”

Reporters asked Dawson what are Alabama values?

“We believe in marriage between a man and a woman,” Dawson said. “I understand that we live in a nation where the Supreme Court has ruled otherwise. We still believe in faith and in family.”

Dawson said that there may be other troubling grants but “This one caught my attention because it was such an overwhelming amount of money. Hopefully you guys and gals will go and look at them.”

Dawson said that candidates should not run on one set of values and then g go into a backroom and have a different agenda.

Dawson said, “Look up James Robinson (the founder of Free2Be. Google his videos).”

Following the Dawson press conference, Governor Ivey’s office released a statement in response:

Since 2014, Free2Be (formally known as GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services) has received a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. As part of the grant process, the organization undergoes continual monitoring by ADECA in accordance with federal regulations. As a result of recent actions by the organization, Free2Be is currently being investigated and audited by ADECA. No grant dollars are currently being distributed to the organization and will not be, until the audit is completed.

The grant awarded to Free2Be is overseen by ADECA using funds given by and regulated by the federal government from criminal fines and forfeitures, not taxpayer dollars. In 2013, Alabama was notified that at least 10 percent of the grant dollars given to the state under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) must be given to agencies that provide services to underserved populations. Additionally, Alabama was notified that grants must be extended to organizations which seek to provide victim services to the LGBTQ population. Following federal direction, a grant was first awarded to Free2Be in 2014, which was the only organization seeking the grant.

All federal grant programs ADECA administers require ongoing monitoring for compliance. In March of this year, ADECA began planning an on-site compliance monitoring visit to the Huntsville office of Free2Be. During the desk review process that precedes routine monitoring, it was discovered that the organization has an outstanding federal debt with the IRS for payroll taxes. The agency was placed on high risk status on March 29, 2018, and the agency’s ability to draw grant funds was suspended. ADECA continues to monitor the agency and will be making a monitoring and financial audit visit on May 21, 2018.

The grant given to Free2Be was extended and monitored in compliance with federal law and in accordance with publicly available rules and regulations. The Free2Be grant, as required by the federal government, provides assistance for victims of domestic violence, bullying and other crimes of violence. Federal regulations require agencies receiving grant dollars to provide matching funds, a requirement which Free2Be has complied with.

Any suggestion that the Free2Be grant is an expense of state dollars which could have been used for any other purpose is simply wrong, and illustrates a lack of understanding of federal grant processes. Compliance with federal regulations is required to ensure that Alabama continues to receive federal grant dollars. In 2017, ADECA administered federal grants totaling approximately $168,665,540.

The views espoused by Free2Be, nor the extension of a grant to the program, do not represent Governor Ivey’s personal views and simply represent a requirement and demand from the federal government.

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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Elections

A case of mistaken candidate identity could embarrass the ALGOP

Josh Moon

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It’s one of the oddest, and most embarrassing, cases of mistaken identity in recent Alabama political history.

According to recent polling, James Bonner is leading Jeremy Oden in a race for a seat on the Alabama Public Service Commission.

No, not that James Bonner.

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It doesn’t matter which James Bonner you were thinking of, it’s a different guy.

This Bonner — the one who resides in Bear Creek and who has never held public office despite several attempts — is set to embarrass the ALGOP like few other candidates.

On Monday, APR editor in chief Bill Britt wrote about a number of highly offensive Facebook posts by Bonner, including posting a Valentine’s Day card that read: “My love for u burns like 6,000 Jews.” There are other posts about strippers and an old blog post that inexplicably uses a racist rhyme.

Yet, because voters — mainly voters in south Alabama — are confusing James Bonner with a longtime congressman, he’s running neck and neck in the GOP primary.

“What makes this particular race so interesting is that Jim Bonner is benefiting greatly from having the same last name as the former Congressman Jo Bonner and his well-known sister, former Judy Bonner,” noted pollster and Cygnal president Brent Buchanan told Britt. “This is borne out by the fact that in the Mobile media market Bonner leads Oden by 28 percent to 6 percent, a 4-to-1 ratio.”

Should James from Bear Creek manage to pull off this “Distinguished Gentleman,” it could be a disaster for the ALGOP. Because his problems go well beyond a few offensive Facebook posts.

Bonner has filed multiple bankruptcies, has been cited by the IRS for failing to pay his federal income taxes for several years and owes his ex-wife more than $40,000 in back alimony. He also claimed during his most recent bankruptcy proceedings in 2016 that he is too disabled to work, and thus avoid paying his full alimony payments, yet he’s been able-bodied enough to run for public office five times over the last eight years.

And it gets worse.

Bonner entered into a bankruptcy agreement to repay his debts, which totaled into the six figures, and then he failed to pay the agreed-upon bankruptcy payments. That failure resulted in his bankruptcy agreement being dismissed — an extremely rare action by the courts and one that could see him face criminal charges over his back taxes.

And that’s not the end of it.

His campaign finance reports are also a mess. Most of his forms have been filed hopelessly late and are filled with incorrect info. He also has failed to report a single donation — outside of a loan he made to his campaign fund — to any of his various campaigns.

Following APR’s initial report on Monday, Bonner began scrubbing his Facebook page clean of the offensive posts. In response to the story, which he linked, he claimed his various offensive posts were made “make liberals angry.” He did not deny making any of the posts.

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Elections

Poll shows Maddox pulling ahead in race for Democratic nomination

Chip Brownlee

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With endorsements from heavyweight Democratic groups like the New South Coalition’s campaign arm and the Alabama Democratic Conference, the Democratic party appears to be coalescing around Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox ahead of the June 5 primary.

A new poll released by the Maddox campaign Tuesday backs up what the endorsements hint: Maddox appears to be pulling ahead of challengers Sue Bell Cobb, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and James Fields, a former state representative from Cullman County.

Former gubernatorial aide Doug “New Blue” Smith and Dothan activist Christopher Countryman are also seeking the nomination.

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The poll — conducted by Mississippi-based Chism Strategies for the Maddox campaign — shows Maddox capturing 68 percent of likely voters surveyed ahead of the Democratic primary election.

Cobb and Fields trail behind Maddox in the poll by a 5.6-to-1 and 11-to-1 advantage among those who expressed support for a candidate, respectively, according to the poll results provided.

“Numbers don’t lie — Walt is on a fast track to a substantial victory in the primary,” said Chip Hill, a spokesman for the Maddox campaign. “The people of Alabama, especially younger voters, are finding Walt and his message very attractive.  He will most definitely be a force to be reckoned with in November.”

From May 15 to May 17, 13,601 likely Democratic voters were interviewed by live callers, according to the Chism Strategies results released.

The Alabama Democratic Conference — long considered one of the main gatekeepers in Alabama Democratic politics and one of the most powerful and active black political groups in the state— officially threw their support behind Maddox on Saturday.

Maddox has received a number of endorsements in the race for governor including from Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin last week.

A number of key Democratic lawmakers in the state — from State Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, and State Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa — have also backed Maddox.

A Democrat hasn’t been elected governor in Alabama since former Gov. Don Siegelman’s victory in 1998. Democrats in Alabama are hoping that recent momentum from Sen. Doug Jones’ election last year could help a Democrat upend the GOP’s hold on most statewide elected positions.

While Maddox is a newcomer to state politics, Cobb has experience in statewide races. Her election as supreme court chief justice in 2006 cost millions and achieved national notoriety as a Democratic victory during a time of Republican takeovers in the South.

Cobb has had trouble getting traditional Democratic groups to back her campaign. Members of the Alabama New South Coalition and its political arm, the New South Alliance, expressed concern during their endorsement vote over Cobb’s resignation as chief justice and a letter she wrote backing President Donald Trump’s nomination of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

When Cobb resigned in 2011, she was the top statewide elected Democrat left. Only Public Service Commission President Lucy Baxley remained after Cobb quit.

Both the Alabama Democratic Conference and the New South Coalition have strong voter outreach and get-out-the-vote operations that could work to Maddox’s advantage in the June 5 primary.

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Elections

Manufacture Alabama makes endorsements

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, Manufacture Alabama announced several endorsements for the upcoming primaries.

“Alabama’s Primary Election is June 5. Many Manufacture Alabama endorsed candidates have tough primary elections. It is crucial that you get out and vote on June 5. There have been many significant races over the years that have been decided in close primaries or run-offs,” the group said in a statement.

Manufacture Alabama Endorsed Candidates include:

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Governor: Kay Ivey (R)
Lieutenant Governor: Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R)
Attorney General: Steve Marshall (R)
Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries: Gerald Dial (R)
Treasurer: John McMillan (R)
Alabama Public Service Commission, Place 1: Jeremy Oden (R)
Alabama Public Service Commission, Place 2: Chris “Chip” Beeker Jr. (R)

State Senate Races
Senate District 2: Tom Butler, R-Madison.
Senate District 3: Mike Sparks (R)
Senate District 7: Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville.
Senate District 8: incumbent Steve Livingston , R-Scottsboro.
Senate District 12: incumbent Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston.
Senate District 21: incumbent Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa.
Senate District 34: Jack W. Williams, R-Wilmer.

State House Races
House District 10: incumbent Mike Ball, R-Madison.
House District 12: incumbent Corey Harbison, R-Cullman.
House District 14: incumbent Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley.
House District 16: incumbent Kyle South, R-Fayette.
House District 22: incumbent Ritchie Whorton, R-Owens Crossroads.
House District 30: Rusty Jessup, R-Riverside.
House District 48: incumbent Jim Carns, R-Vestavia Hills.
House District 49: incumbent April Weaver, R-Alabaster.
House District 55: incumbent Rod Scott, D-Fairfield.
House District 64: incumbent Harry Shiver, R-Bay Minette.
House District 73: incumbent Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo.
House District 77: Malcolm Calhoun, D-Montgomery.
House District 102: Thomas Gray, R-Cintronelle.
House District 105: Chip Brown, R-Mobile.

Alabama Supreme Court
Chief Justice: Lyn Stuart (R)
Place 1: Brad Mendheim (R)
Place 4: Jay Mitchell (R)

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals:
Place 1: Christie Edwards (R)
Place 2: Terri Thomas (R)

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Place 1: Richard Minor (R)
Place 2: Chris McCool (R)
Place 3: Bill Cole (R)

State Board of Education
Place 8: Rich Adams (R)

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Dawson accuses Ivey of funding pro-LGBTQ group that “does not share Alabama values”

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 7 min
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