Secretary Merrill: Ethics Commission undermined campaign finance law

December 6, 2017

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The law doesn’t matter if you try harder not to break it the next time, according to the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Earlier this week, the five-person commission voted 4-1 to dismiss fines levied by the Alabama Secretary of State’s office for the late filing of required campaign finance reports by six political action committees (PACs) and candidates.

In those cases, the fact that the reporting law had been violated was not in question — one had missed the deadline by more than a month, another took nearly a month. The PACs and candidates who appealed their fines to the Commission were clearly in violation of the reporting deadlines.

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The Alabama Ethics Commission is failing us

August 1, 2017

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama Ethics Commission has become a joke.

Let’s all stop pretending that this five-man panel, along with its Executive Director and legal counsel, are any sort of a defense against corrupt public servants or a means to punish public corruption.

They’re not.

Not consistently.

And not without an air of corruption and good-ol’-boy backroom dealing surrounding nearly everything they do.

Need examples?

Well, first off, read Bill and Susan Britt’s interview with outgoing commissioner Stewart Tankersley. Secondly, consider all of the problems this bunch has created when a simple, straightforward interpretation of law was all anyone expected.
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What’s the going rate?

July 27, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

What are we to make of an Attorney General who takes campaign donations from a lawyer/lobbyist who would gut the State’s Ethics laws?

In the political world, friends give campaign donations, but political action committees, lawyers, lobbyists, and businesses invest; and they expect a return on their investment.

So, it is with our State’s Attorney General Steve Marshall. He has taken campaign contributions that can be linked to people and industries with a special interest in matters before the Attorney General’s Office. And now, he has taken two contributions from a PAC led by Edward “Ted” Hosp who has aggressively lobbied to roll back Ethics reform. Marshall received two contributions from Hosp’s GoodPac: one for $2,500 on June 12, and another one for $2500 on June 13.
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Some are using a stalking horse to undermine ethics laws

January 10, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The greatest challenge before the Alabama State Legislature when it returns in February is not the budget, schools or Medicaid. It is the slight of hand chicanery used to undermine the State’s ethics laws.

Since the conviction of former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard on 12 felony ethics violations, a coordinated effort has been underway to weaken those laws, with particular focus on how they identify a “principal.” Read More

Ethics Commission withdraws McCalla opinion after charities line-up

December 8, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In a unanimous vote on September 1, 2016, the Alabama Ethics Commission issued advisory opinion 2016-24, which it believed clarified the question regarding public officials soliciting lobbyists and principals for contributions to a charitable organization, operating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

The issue was raised by the nonprofit group, Friends of McCalla.

After approving the opinion in a 5-0 vote, the Commission gave a 30-day window for public comment; however, it was extended past the 30 days to December 7.
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Roy Moore Bolts Hearing; Judges to Hear Appeal Selected

October 28, 2016

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

It didn’t take long for the Alabama Supreme Court judges lottery to turn contentious.

Before the court clerks even began to draw the names of the retired judges who will be asked to hear Chief Justice Roy Moore’s appeal of his suspension from the bench, Moore’s attorney interrupted to point out that a motion to continue the proceedings hasn’t yet been heard. That motion challenges the Supreme Court justices’ authority to select the judges, since the judges have recused themselves from the case.
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