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Bill Britt

Opinion | BCA takes out the trash, finally

Bill Britt



In a last-ditch effort to save the Business Council of Alabama from the dung heap of political obscurity, President and CEO Billy Canary was pushed out of the business association late last Friday after he waged an ugly and protracted battle to remain in power.

Canary’s fight to keep his job has left the once powerful business interests a hollow and factored alliance with an uncertain future. He didn’t care if he destroyed BCA; it was all about his ambitions.

For years, Canary, along with now-convicted felon former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and former Gov. Bob Riley, reigned over an unparalleled orgy of greed and corruption.

Canary, Hubbard and Riley’s perverse domination of the state’s political landscape was supreme, and even now, the tentacles of their profiteering are evident from the Capitol to the State House and beyond.

Even during this election cycle, Canary has used BCA’s political arm, Progress PAC, to back disreputable candidates who seek to overturn the state ethics laws that convicted Hubbard, advocate for so-called education reform that profits Riley’s business interests and to stall efforts to create a statewide lottery in favor of gambling concessions for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.


During Hubbard’s last years in office, PCI Vice Chair Robbie McGhee joined forces with Hubbard, in hopes of exercising more sway over Republican legislators. Over the previous year, he coupled the tribe to Canary with the same end in mind. McGhee, who faces a reelection challenge in August, casts himself as a Hubbard-Canary protege. Even now, he tells candidates who come calling for campaign contributions, “We are BCA,” meaning the tribe, under Canary, is controlling many decisions being made at the business association.

McGee, like Hubbard and Canary, is viewed by many as a pariah in the state capital where he still hopes to further the Tribe’s gambling operations by lavishing money and entertainment on Republican lawmakers. Twice now, McGhee has chosen poorly and tarnished the Tribe’s reputation in the bargain. With McGhee’s backing, Canary gave at least $250,000.00 to appointed Attorney General Steve Marshall so that he will continue Riley’s bingo wars.

Hubbard stands convicted on 12 felony counts of using his office for personal gain and other criminal violations of the state’s Ethics Act, yet he remains free because of the corrupting influence of Canary and others of his ilk.

During Hubbard’s trial, Canary said, “I love Mike Hubbard like a brother.” He even waxed poetic, saying his friendship with Hubbard, “Blossomed like any blessing in life.”

So infectious are the remnants of their power that even after two years Hubbard remains free because Court of Criminal Appeals Justices Samuel Henry Welch, J. Elizabeth Kellum, Liles C. Burke and J. Michael Joiner will not rule on his conviction.

Canary, in a face-saving announcement, says he is taking a position as a, “senior fellow at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” which is a nothing job.

Canary, like Hubbard and Riley, pimped the state like a cheap whore, and now he’s busted for the user he is. He left BCA in shambles, and don’t think for a minute that the coalition that left BCA isn’t coming back just because the executive committee finally took out the trash.

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Bill Britt

A move to reunify BCA is underway

Bill Britt



Reconciliation efforts are underway to salvage the Business Council of Alabama after a very public split with some of its most influential members.

Those close to the negotiations speaking on background say recent talks have been productive, but there are still many details that must be agreed upon before a reunification occurs.

The forced exit of President and CEO Billy Canary earlier this month was the first step toward restoring BCA’s reputation and mending fences.

Individuals who are negotiating rapprochement are looking to restructure BCA’s governance to ensure that any future leader will not exercise the unchecked authority wielded by Canary. They also want to make BCA more equitable, fair and balanced in its representation of its members.

Beyond the mechanics of structure is the need for a strong leader who can restore not only confidence in the once powerful organization but also one who can navigate the state’s political landscape while enduring the inevitable discord that comes with change.


There is a level of hope that an improved structure and new leadership might be in place by BCA’s summer conference, which begins August 10 at Point Clear. But even those involved in the process know it’s a tall order to fill given the short window of opportunity.

Perhaps the most significant challenge is identifying an individual who can articulate a vision for BCA, inspire confidence in its members and ensure elected officials that they are dealing with an honest broker.

There is much at stake in the upcoming legislative session, not only because it is the first year of the quadrennium, when hard tasks are generally achieved, but the 2019 session will also welcome many new legislators not necessarily in step with BCA due to a bruising primary season.

People may forgive, but they often do not forget, and there are many bridges to build.

Lawmakers will be wise to remember the warning of President Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.”

For a revitalizing transition to occur, a clean sweep of BCA’s leadership team is imperative, as those who served the old guard must be replaced or else it’s a false start doomed to fail.

BCA would be wise to move away from the partisan approach taken over the last eight years and look to establish relationships that favor business-friendly legislation without bright lines of division.

In business as in life, sharp breaks are sometimes required and often are inevitable, but this doesn’t have to be one of those times.

Now is an hour for wise deliberation, difficult choices and bold resolve to strengthen the entire business community and not merely to fortify the narrow interests of a few.

Over the last year, good and honest leaders called for BCA to do what was right. That fight hopefully can be put aside to now do what is best.


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Bill Britt

The fix was in

Bill Britt



Montgomery Circuit Judge James Anderson’s ruling to allow out-of-state political action committees to donate to in-state campaigns without disclosing its donors through PAC-to-PAC transfers may be the legal fulcrum Democrats need to target key Republican officeholders in the state.

On Wednesday, attorney general candidate Troy King filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court seeking a restraining order to prevent his opponent, appointed Attorney General Steve Marshall, and his campaign from using donations it received from the Republican Attorney Generals Association (RAGA) which doesn’t disclose some of its mega-donors by using PAC-to-PAC transfers.

Judge Anderson ruled against King and dismissed the lawsuit in Marshall’s favor.

Marshall, unlike an ordinary plaintiff, wasn’t present at the hearing before Judge Anderson, which should have alerted the public that the fix was already in.

The State’s Ethics Commission will likely weigh-in on King’s question soon— finding that RAGA’s actions were unlawful—but Thursday’s judgment holds for now, with no consequences for Marshall, win or lose.


In 2010, the state’s newly minted Republican supermajority outlawed PAC-to-PAC transfers as part of its effort to show voters that there was a new day in Montgomery politics.

Since 2010, both Republicans and Democrats have found ways to circumvent FPCA restrictions, but until Thursday, there wasn’t a court ruling that opened a flooded-gate to renew PAC-to-PAC campaigns using outside interest groups.

Republican conservatives who believe that undisclosed donors shouldn’t control the state’s election process through hidden contributions should worry.

Is it now legal for pro-abortion groups to finance judicial races with stealth campaign donations to defeat pro-life candidates like Supreme Court Justices like Tom Parker?

What about Gov. Kay Ivey? Is it now legal for The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to upend her campaign with hidden contributions to her rival, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox?

Ethic Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton has all but definitively stated that RAGA’s contributions are illegal, but it’s too little too late for this election.

Perhaps none of this matters because it seems that many of the Republicans who passed these bans in 2010, don’t seem to honestly believe in them or any of the ethics reforms that they once championed.

So once again, it’s winning, not the law, that matters, or as a prominent Montgomery attorney said, “When you have a Democrat judge, a Democrat lawyer and a Democrat attorney general what else did you expect?”

More, I guess.


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Bill Britt

Opinion | No, Mr. Marshall, it’s you

Bill Britt



A few hours after Bridgette Gentry Marshall ended her life on Sunday, June 24, her husband, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, approved a press release that exposed her, “long struggle with mental illness.” Just days later on Wednesday the 27, Marshall summoned the state’s news media to the Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Albertville where, in front of the press and broadcast on Facebook Live, he revealed, in intimate detail, her private battles.

Why he felt it necessary to have his office divulge his wife’s, “long struggle with mental illness,” is unclear. He, however, did say the press conference was because of a new article. The news items to which Marshall referred was a non-descriptive report on his wife’s death gathered from a publicly issued police incident report. The press conference went far beyond anything the press had reported or would have had reason to report if Marshall had not recounted his wife’s many personal struggles.

What was the purpose of the press conference?

Marshall apparently blames the media for some of his wife’s problems. “She also was worried for me. Because she had seen the negative articles that were false and malicious, that were written by some that were on blogs and claimed to be journalists.

“And she saw what they were doing, in making up facts, and she was scared that someone was going to write the fact that she was committed and that she had a problem.


“And that those facts were going to be revealed to the world. And she didn’t want that. And so her answer was to leave the state.”

Marshall said his wife left Alabama because she didn’t want the media to report, “that she was committed and that she had a problem.”

But it was not the media who published his wife’s problems, it was not the media who reported the Marshalls’ troubled marriage, it was not the media who recounted the many ways that Bridgette Marshall suffered. No, Mr. Marshall, it was you, her husband, who did those things.

Former colleagues who have left the attorney general’s office describe Marshall as angry, insensitive and paranoid.

Perhaps this is why he carelessly exposed his wife’s most personal difficulties.

Others say he is driven by an unhealthy ambition in which remaining attorney general is his life’s focus.

Whether callously insensitive or cruelly calculating, his wife’s tragedy is not something that needed airing before she was laid to rest or even now. But it was you, sir, who opened the door.

He can be excused for lashing out at the media. His anger in a time of grief is understandable, but he should not be allowed to lay that blame at the feet of the press when he was the man who exposed her sorrows.

Marshall knew full well that taking the job as attorney general might endanger his marriage, but he did it anyway.

During a testimony given at Lifepoint Church and published on Yellowhammer News, Marshall talks about how accepting then-Gov. Robert Bentley’s appointment as attorney general would negatively affect his marriage.

“The plan is for me to be around until August when Faith [his daughter] goes to college, and then Bridgette will come down there [Montgomery], and it’s going to be a hard period on my marriage and family… and that’s the area where Satan is going to attack me most.”

While Marshall’s speech was published on April 16, 2018, by Yellowhammer News, it is evident from his remarks that the event was recorded shortly after accepting the job of attorney general.

After taking Bentley’s offer, Marshall told Alabama Political Reporter and others that his wife agreed to him going to Montgomery on the condition that he returns home to Albertville by suppertime every Friday. He also said his wife hated politics and Montgomery.

During his testimony at Lifepoint, Marshall also spoke about the media scrutiny that came along with being attorney general. “We talk about the First Amendment by the way. It’s a wonderful Amendment unless you are on the receiving end of a lot of criticism which is kind of what has been going on a little bit this week, but I think it’s gotten better.”

APR has reported on Marshall many times because he is the state’s Attorney General. APR never published a word about Bridgette Marshall until after her death, and those were just sterile facts. APR has heard many unpleasant things about the Marshalls’ marriage but has never researched, much less reported, a single word about their personal lives.

APR deals in facts and informed opinions to educate and alert the public about politics and the public officials who shape policy.

Mrs. Marshall was not a public figure as such, but Mr. Marshall is a public officeholder by choice.

While addressing the Lifepoint congregation, Marshall said, God gave him his “dream job.” Along with any high position in public office comes a spotlight of accountability. That is how representative republics work.

At a time when we should be talking about the state’s appalling mental health system, or how to help others who suffer debilitating mental troubles, we are being lectured by a man whose actions have demonstrated a gross lack of empathy.

When APR‘s staff learned of Bridgette Marshall’s death, we purposefully withheld the details of her passing out of respect for her and her family.

With earnest sensitivity, APR has approached reporting on Mrs. Marshall with the utmost concern for her dignity. It is you, Mr. Attorney General, who shamed your wife and exposed her most intimate secrets, and it is you who bears the blame for opening her deepest wounds for the world to see.

It is you, sir. Not the press.


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Opinion | BCA takes out the trash, finally

by Bill Britt Read Time: 3 min