Law Firm that Exposed Mike Hubbard in Memo Will Sue Obama for US House

August 28, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Baker Hostetler, the law firm that authored the memo exposing the money funneling scheme between officials in the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national GOP PAC, and Speaker of the Alabama House – then ALGOP chairman – Mike Hubbard, will now take on a new, even more high profile role: suing the President of the United States.

David Rivkin, a partner at the D.C.-based law firm, has been chosen as the primary lawyer in moving forward with a suit against U.S. President Barack Obama, authorized by a vote of the House of Representatives earlier this month.
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AG Strange Tells Hubbard in Letter: No Go, Joe

August 28, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY – In a letter dated August 27, the Office of Attorney General Luther Strange notified State Representative and Democratic candidate for AG Joe Hubbard that they will not be providing a response to a legal question for which Hubbard had asked for an official AG’s opinion.

Rep. Hubbard, D-Montgomery, had asked for an official AG opinion on the legality of transfers from one political campaign committee to another, a practice that has come to light within the ALGOP in the last few day with the disbursement of funds left from the campaign coffers of now retired Congressman Jo Bonner.

Over the last year, Bonner’s principal campaign committee, of no use to him any longer, is dispensing its funds to state GOP candidates.

Hubbard’s legal understanding, however, was that such transfers violate the PAC-to-PAC transfer ban signed into law by former Governor Bob Riley, so he requested a formal opinion.

Instead of a formal opinion, Hubbard received a letter from the AG’s office claiming they had no legitimate duty to issue an opinion based on his request.

“Legislators are not among the public officials entitled to receive opinions… As a courtesy to legislators, this Office has given opinions to legislators if there is some nexus between the question posed and a perceived legislative duty,” the letter reads.

“Your present question does not appear to be one under which we can give a formal opinion. I regret that I will be unable to provide you with an opinion on this matter,” it concluded.

Notably, Representative Hubbard brought to the forefront an earlier contribution to Attorney General Strange that appeared to be funneled through a charitable nonprofit, a charge Strange denied, though the money was returned out of an “abundance of caution” by the Strange campaign.

Strange will face Hubbard in the November elections.

 

Bonner Bonuses: Campaign Cash Transfers May Violate PAC-to-PAC Ban

August 28, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY – From January until days before this year’s June 3 primary, the political campaign committee – the campaign war chest – of now retired Congressman Jo Bonner began to empty. Bonner, however, was not spending the money himself, as he is no longer running for public office, but working at the University of Alabama. Instead, Bonner’s campaign committee transferred its contents to the coffers of GOP candidates across the state, causing what has become a political and possible legal firestorm.
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Lowell Barron Responds to Official Dismissal of Charges

August 28, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

This week, after unanimously losing an appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court over evidentiary matters in the case, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange formally moved to drop all charges against former State Senate Pro Tem Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, and a judge has now certified that decision.

Barron had originally been indicted with several charges stemming from alleged campaign violations perpetuated by himself and his former campaign aide Jill Johnson.
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Study Shows LGBT Youth in Alabama Face Enormous Challenges, Remain Optimistic

August 27, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY – A new study released by the nonprofit organization Human Rights Campaign shows that LGBT youth in Alabama face particularly persistent challenges. Despite this, though, the statistics revealed in the survey show Alabama’s LGBT community is an optimistic one.

According to the survey, in which over ten thousand LGBT youth participated, members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender communities in the Yellowhammer State face prejudice and both overt and covert discrimination at staggeringly high rates.
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AG Strange Drops All Charges Against Former Sen. Lowell Barron

August 26, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

After a court battle lasting since April 2013, all criminal charges against former State Senator Lowell Barron have been dropped. Barron, a Fyffe Democrat, was indicted last year along with his campaign staffer for alleged misuse of campaign funds.

AG Strange and former Senator Barron’s attorney, Joe Espy, have, since the arrest, participated in a back and forth legal flurry over the case.
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Minda Riley Secures Client $72K State Contract to Find Alabama’s Median Income

August 26, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY – Minda Riley Campbell, daughter of former Governor Bob Riley and current lobbyist, just secured her client Baker Donelson Berman, a $72,000 one year contract for determining the median Alabamian household income.

Despite this pricey State government contract, the Federal government collects such data through the US Census Bureau. (It was about 42,000 for an Alabamian family last year, an easily searchable fact).
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AAA-Like Program in NC “Fails Children,” Judge Rules it Unconstitutional

August 25, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

RALEIGH, NC – A State Superior Court judge in North Carolina has held a program strikingly similar to the Alabama Accountability Act unconstitutional, saying it “fails children,” and is unlawful on at least half a dozen different legal grounds.

The law, called in North Carolina the “Hope Opportunity Scholarship,” was ruled unconstitutional at the end of last week in what some new media outlets reported as a “smack” of the State’s legislature.
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Ducking the Debate? Bentley, Griffith Meet at Candidate Forum (FULL VIDEO)

August 22, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

ORANGE BEACH – Candidates for Alabama’s highest elected offices met yesterday at Perdido Beach Resort for the first, and so far, only candidate forum this election cycle. The event was held at the annual convention of the Association of County Commissioners of Alabama on Thursday in Orange Beach.

Speaking for twenty minutes each with no interaction or debate, candidates from both parties for Alabama Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General took the stage in turn, beginning with the gubernatorial candidates.

Parker Griffith (D)

Speaking first, Dr. Parker Griffith, the Democratic nominee for Governor, delivered an articulate and impassioned – but apathetically received – indictment of Alabama’s incumbent Governor Robert Bentley. Griffith labeled Bentley’s administration “aimless,” going as far as to say that if Alabama were an African country, many would be tempted to call it a “failed state.”

Dr. Griffith voiced his support for medicaid expansion, calling it a “no brainer,” criticizing Bentley for not expanding the program. Griffith did point out that he voted against Obamacare in Congress, however, saying that despite that, some provisions of the law have helped Alabamians.

The Democrat also criticized the Governor for his silence on the Lee County Grand Jury investigation surrounding Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, a theme that reemerged with comments by Joe Hubbard later in the day.

At one point, Griffith implied that the Bentley campaign had “changed its mind” about the format for the Orange Beach forum, opting out of a debate at the last minute. The President of the ACCA, however, said the forum format has always been the same, allowing no debate and only twenty minutes per candidate.

Griffith has challenged Bentley to a series of seven debates in Alabama’s largest cities, but at least until now, the Governor has refused. In fact, the Griffith campaign had a 20 foot tall inflatable duck planted outside the resort where the forum took place – plastered with a poster: “Gov, Bentley’s Ducking the Debates.”

Watch Griffith’s speech in full here.

Robert Bentley, (R)

Going second, Republican Governor Robert Bentley’s address to the convention was not nearly as fiery as that of Griffith, the incumbent seemed to have formed a relationship with those in the audience, allowing for a more realistic connection.

Bentley began by saying he’s announced more than 60,000 “new, future jobs,” pointing to new manufacturing facilities in Wilcox County, the new Remington move, and the like.

The Governor then shifted to a discussion of the unemployment rate in the state. For the last to months, Alabama has had the only increase in unemployment nationwide, a statistic Bentley seemed to address in a roundabout way, telling the crowd that while unemployment goes up and down, the state has seen year over year job growth, not lost jobs, from July 2013 to July 2014, for example.

State Senator Tammy Irons (D) took to Twitter almost immediately to refute the Governor’s claims, saying “Shoals has lost 2,200+ jobs in 1 year.”

Bentley also touted beginning what he has said will be the “largest road and bridges program” in State history, and being what other State leaders call “the natural disaster Governor.”

Many heads cocked, however, when Bentley made the comment, “Y’all already know me. I don’t need to campaign.” Things got more routine when he said, “I get up and I work hard, and I don’t take a penny for it.”

While it may have sounded harsh to the ears, it seems true. Despite the haphazard speech, Gov. Bentley received the longest applause of any candidate, even receiving a short standing ovation from some.

Bentley’s comments can be seen in full here.

The Alabama Political Reporter will be uploading full comments by candidates for Lt. Gov and AG over the weekend. Check back on Monday for full updates.

 

Division in the House: AL Democrats Hold Tense Reorganizational Meeting (W/Video)

August 19, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY – The State Democratic Executive Committee, the governing body of the Alabama Democratic Party, met last Saturday at the Crump Center in Montgomery. With this being the party’s quadrennial reorganizational meeting, many thought change was sure to surface. Not much did, and a vocal minority of the committee’s members had no problem pointing that out.

Beginning at eleven and lasting several hours, the SDEC meeting had what previously-interim party chair Nancy Worley said was the longest agenda since her involvement in the party began. On it: the filling of 56 committee seats left vacant after the Democratic primary on June 3, the election of executive board members, including Chair of the Party, and resolving unfilled candidacies for public office.
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