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Opinion | One political rumor is true

Artur Davis



Preparing to run for office means fending off rumors. No surprise that as I prepare to reenter Montgomery politics next year, I have gotten tips that “people are asking about your finances” and “do you have a tax problem?”

So, I am going to beat the rumor-mongers to the punch by telling you that even they get it right sometimes. I do owe back federal taxes for one year, 2015, and the amount, roughly $272,000, is almost double what my wife and I currently earn in wages. I had a large one-time surge in income because I cashed out four years of stock options I earned from serving on a corporate board of directors.

I spent those options on three big ticket items: unexpected family medical bills, paying the tax penalty from the stock sales and financing my race for Mayor of Montgomery. If I knew the tax code as well as I should have, I would have known that the $325,000 I paid the IRS was still not enough.

I am in debt because I made the fundamental error of calculating my own tax rate and getting the baseline wrong: I thought that a stock transaction would be taxed at a rate of 20 percent. In fact, if the stock is held for less than a year, it leaps to a much higher rate, in this case, nearly 40 percent.  A former member of the congressional tax writing committee should have known better: if I had more money in those days than the mid six figure congressional salary, I suspect I might have been more attuned to the specifics of what tax laws do to families. I was a pretty good congressman, but I should have known every nuance of the tax code I voted on revising numerous times.

The same ignorance about the difference in long and short-term capital gains spilled over into another blunder, not appreciating that every individual stock sale within the year triggered new taxes and new debt to the IRS.


My “do it yourself accounting” meant that the taxes I paid the federal government in 2016 were about $270,000 short, not a good place to be when it took another year to find work. For the last two years, we have survived on a rickety structure of dwindling savings, a blend of salary and consulting fees that have yet to exceed $100,000 annually, and my wife’s modest salary as a non-profit employee.  I have withdrawn virtually half of my retirement account to stay afloat during periods without work.

My tax lawyer and I have spent several years petitioning the IRS to accept payment plans, negotiated settlements, and we are still stuck in the maze of IRS bureaucracy.

When you owe federal taxes, the government files a lien even if you are trying to work out a resolution, and it remains until the debt is paid. A lien is not a pretty thing to have sitting on your credit and it puts an anchor on any lottery you might win, or any property that you might sell.

But a lien doesn’t make a citizen a tax cheat or a tax dodger. Those slurs describe people who file false returns and try to hide their income from the government. Most liens are not a sign of irresponsibility.  They are a sign you are powerless to pay a bill that way exceeds your current means.

The sources spreading the rumors about my tax debt no doubt hope that a tax lien is toxic enough to be a disqualifier from political office.

A year and a month from now, when Montgomery elects its next mayor, we will see.  I happen to believe that enduring a financial crisis, instead of closing the door, ought to make your service more informed and more sensitive. I have had an involuntary education in what it means to be a middle-aged man who lacks the capital to start his own business, the client base to attract a law firm, or the family wealth to ride a parent’s coattails. I have established I am no tax expert, but I put faith in the reality that Montgomery is full of folks who have struggled when our dreams and hopes didn’t come through. Perhaps a leader should know up close what that burden feels like.

At minimum, my tax fight ensures I can’t be another politician who cavalierly regards taxes as just the leveraging of other people’s money to wager on my good ideas. That awareness won’t intimidate me into taking an automatic no new taxes pledge, but it reinforces my caution about the reflex I hear these days in Montgomery that the real answer to our failing schools is “make them pay more taxes.”

I live first hand with the unfairness in our code, which for example taxes the royalties from the books a dozen congressmen write at a lower rate than the stock transactions millions of ordinary Americans make. I am dealing with the inequity of a tax law that does not adequately account for the current inability to pay. And while I left the Republican Party, they aren’t wrong when they say that the government takes too much of the money we earn.   

Stacy Abrams, who may become Georgia’s first black governor in November, is right when she says that her $200,000 of debt to credit cards and IRS liens should not block her ambition, or the aspirations of us mere mortals who are trying to recover from our personal recession. In this depressing political age, more of us flawed, imperfect, indebted mortals should step forward and own the lessons from spending time in the valley instead of running from them.


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Guest Columnists

Opinion | Americans are better off now

Bradley Byrne



Two years ago, I joined other Republican House members in unveiling our “Better Way” agenda. The agenda covered everything from national security to tax reform to the economy. It was a bold vision about a different path for America that wasn’t driven by a larger, more powerful federal government. Instead, we advocated for a better way where we got government out of the way and allowed the American people to flourish.

 Working with President Trump, we have held true to our promises to the American people. Two years later and with many parts of the agenda in place, we can safely say that Americans are better off now. Our communities are safer. The economy is booming. Our military is being rebuilt. Our “Better Way” is paying off.

 Our communities are safer because we have made supporting law enforcement a top priority. We have passed historic legislation to address the opioid crisis, which is having a horrible impact on communities in Alabama and throughout the country. In addition to better policy, we have invested $4 billion in grants and programs to help combat the opioid crisis.

 We passed legislation to devote more resources to school safety, and we have made real progress in the fight against human trafficking. In fact, we have seen a 60 percent decline in online advertising for sex trafficking.

Also, important to keeping our communities safe, we set aside $1.5 billion for physical barriers and technology along the southern border and provided for over 90 miles of a border wall system. Border security is national security.


No one can deny that the American economy is booming. Just consider these numbers: 90 percent of Americans are seeing larger paychecks under our tax reform bill. 3.7 million jobs have been created since November 2016. There are 6.6 million job openings in the United States as of May 2018, meaning more jobs than job seekers. And, $4.1 billion has been saved in agency regulatory costs by rolling back burdensome government regulations.

 One of my biggest concerns during the Obama Administration was the hollowing out of our military. We had planes that couldn’t fly and ships that couldn’t sail. We were not making the continuous critical investment in our military necessary to keep up with our adversaries. Thankfully, those days are over.

 We have made the largest investment in our military in 15 years. This means 20,000 new troops, the largest pay increase for our service members since 2010, more training time, better equipment, new ships, and much more.

 On the world stage, countries know that the United States means what we say. ISIS is on the run in the Middle East, North Korea has come to the negotiating table, and China is being held accountable for their dangerous trade practices.

 Now, I want to make clear that much work remains. For example, we have to keep working to fix our broken immigration system and ensure that our borders are finally secure. We also cannot give up on our efforts to improve health care in our country. Costs remain too high and rural communities right here in Alabama are facing dangerous hospital closures.

 But, despite what some on the other side of the aisle and the national news media want you to believe, the American people are better off now than they were two years ago. That’s a testament to our pro-growth agenda, but, more importantly, it is a testament to the spirit and drive of the American people.

Want to know more? I encourage you to visit to learn more about the various ways the American people are better off now.

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Guest Columnists

Opinion | Pro-Life Movement momentum is strong

Martha Roby



As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have the privilege each year to advocate for the priorities most important to the people who live and work in Alabama’s Second District.  Among many other key issues, I have been proud to stand up and fight for a strong military and smart agriculture policy on this committee. On the reverse, I am also in a strong position fight against funding from being steered towards programs or organizations that I adamantly oppose. Recently when the Appropriations Committee approved our Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Fiscal Year 2019 funding bill, I had the opportunity to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves: the unborn.

As a member of the Labor-HHS Subcommittee, I am extremely proud to report that our bill passed by the full Committee includes the strong pro-life language I have fought for year after year and implements additional policy riders to defend life. Every single one of these measures is critically important and further ensures that no taxpayer dollars can be used for abortions.

Among the key pro-life provisions included in the Labor-HHS FY19 funding bill are the Hyde Amendment, which directs that no taxpayer dollars be used to fund abortions, and the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which bans Labor-HHS funding from being used on research that harms human embryos.

In addition to these longstanding pro-life measures, our bill also includes several other important pro-life provisions that continue our efforts to assign greater protections for life under the law. These measures include the Conscience Science Protection Act, which protects the rights of health care providers that do not participate in abortion.

In addition, the bill includes language that prohibits funding for fetal tissue research obtained from abortion. This measure might sound familiar because it is a direct response to the 2015 scandal that revealed how Planned Parenthood officials were systematically altering abortion procedures to preserve babies’ organs in order to sell them to researchers for profit. Planned Parenthood’s action was sick, callous, and completely inhuman.


Finally, the bill includes language to prohibit abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving any available funding, including through Title X family grants. This measure works hand-in-hand with the Trump Administration’s “Protect Life” rule, which also directs that Planned Parenthood is not eligible to receive Title X grant money. As I have said many, many times: Abortion is not family planning. Abortion is not health care. Organizations that offer these services should not receive taxpayer dollars that are intended for family planning.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have remained unapologetically pro-life. I believe life begins at conception, and our laws and policies should reflect a strong commitment to defending life at every stage. I have considered it a great privilege to have a platform with which I can serve as a voice for the voiceless.

After eight long years of coming up short pro-life victories, I am encouraged that we now have a President who supports our efforts and is willing to sign important measures into law. The pro-life movement’s momentum is strong, and I look forward to seeing it grow as we continue to impact meaningful change on behalf of the unborn. I am eager to support our Labor-HHS funding bill when it comes before the full House for a vote.

 Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.

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Guest Columnists

Opinion | Gerald Dial is a steady hand for Alabama



Alabama’s economy is growing…but it can do so much more. The key is having the right leadership in all elected positions, people who have vision.

So far, Governor Kay Ivey has shown she has what it takes to make important changes and place our state in a position to win.

Did you know agriculture and forestry together are the biggest industry in Alabama? They contribute $70 billion each year toward the economy. Nearly 9 million acres and 600,000 Alabamians are involved in this huge business that benefits us all.

I would know; I was Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries several years back. During that time, we put Alabama’s top asset at the forefront of economic development.

John McMillian, our current commissioner who is term-limited and running for Treasurer, has done a good job, and now Alabama is at another crossroads. We need the next Ag Commissioner to find new and more ways to grow our state.


Gerald Dial is just that person. He and I served together in the State Senate, and his Christian values and new ideas are exactly what Alabama needs right now. The key to making government work for the people is to have someone who can’t be bought but also knows how government works. Gerald Dial fits the bill, and I trust him explicitly.

Just recently Gerald Dial created a solution to a massive problem in our state – the opioid crisis. This pandemic is killing thousands of our citizens each year. Instead of sitting back and think it isn’t his problem, Gerald Dial petitioned the drug manufacturer, Kaleo, of naoxolene, an injection that can save someone experiencing an opioid overdose. The delivery device is called EVZIO.

The result is 1,744 FREE doses of an overdose-reversing drug to Alabama’s volunteer rescue squads to combat the opioid crisis. That $4 million donation to our rural first responders equates to nearly 2,000 lives that will be saved.

I could go on and on about Gerald Dial because he’s such a wonderful friend and effective public servant, but what I want to ask you is to support Gerald Dial in the July 17th Republican Primary Runoff for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

The powerful special interest groups in Montgomery don’t want Gerald elected, because they are scared he won’t take marching order like their preferred candidate. I don’t know about you, but that’s all I need to know about Gerald Dial – the powerbrokers don’t want him, so I do!

Charles Bishop was a Republican member of the Alabama Senate. He represented District 5 from 2006 to 2010. The district covers portions of Winston, Walker, Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties. He was elected as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries for the term 1999 to 2003. 

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Opinion | One political rumor is true

by Artur Davis Read Time: 5 min