Commission for “Ethics Reform and Clarification” is pure fantasy

January 26, 2018

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

A Senate joint resolution creating The Code of Ethics Reform and Clarification Commission sponsored by Republican Senators Arthur Orr, President Pro Tem. Del Marsh and Majority Leader Greg Reed has been submitted to the Rules Committee and could be making it’s way through the Senate soon.

Creating a commission to reform and clarify current ethics laws sounds like a reasonable undertaking until it’s understood that the underlying premise is to weaken much of existing laws.

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Tankersley Exit Interview Part 2: No rules, no order

August 1, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

“Our State needs so much help. There is such a lack of confidence in our elected leaders. The Ethics Commission can help restore that lost confidence,” said Dr. Stewart Hill Tankersley in a recent interview with the Alabama Political Reporter.

Tankersley Exit Interview Part 1: Success, collusion, and dismay

While he sees the Ethics Commission’s Executive Director, Tom Albritton, as a champion for a more efficient organization, he worries that the Commission could undercut Albritton’s determination to run an honest shop.

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Tankersley Exit Interview Part 1: Success, collusion, and dismay

July 31, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

As a soldier, physician, and man of faith, Dr. Stewart Hill Tankersley holds firm to his beliefs on right and wrong. As he ends his five-year service on the State’s Ethics Commission, he’s convinced there has been progress, but there are still many obstacles to restoring public confidence in the State’s elected leaders. In just two years, the State has seen the fall of Mike Hubbard, the Speaker of the House, convicted on 12 felony counts of public corruption, and Governor Robert Bentley, resigning in disgrace after accepting a plea to campaign finance violations.
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Senator Dial’s Joint Legislative Committee sends report to the State Bar Association

July 26, 2017

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

An internal Alabama State Department of Education report will now head to the Alabama State Bar Association following a Joint Legislative Committee meeting.

The committee, headed by State Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) and Quinton Ross (D-Montgomery), met Tuesday to review new materials in a report by ALSDE Attorney Michael Meyer regarding the state superintendent selection process last year.

Meyer’s report implicates ALSDE General Counsel Juliana Dean, Interim State Superintendent Phillip Cleveland, Board Member Mary Scott Hunter and two other staff attorneys in a scheme to undermine the candidacy of State Superintendent Candidate Dr. Craig Pouncey.
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Will the Ethic Commission’s political parlor tricks doom Bentley?

April 7, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

What the public learned from the Ethic Commission hearing surrounding accusations against Gov. Robert Bentley, is that he may have violated the Ethics Code and the Fair Campaign Practice Act (FCPA). What observant politicos witnessed was an Ethics Commission that is political, ineffectual, and has long outlived its sell-by-date.

Let’s take the cute little nod and wink between Commissioner Stewart Tankersley and Tom Albritton.
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The irony of righteous indignation

December 16, 2016

Education Matters
By Larry Lee

When State Superintendent of Education Mike Sentance told the State School Board Dec. 8, that the Office of Inspector General of the US Department of Education had determined that the State’s high school graduation rate was inaccurate, reaction was swift and true to form.

Members of the Legislature who consistently oppose public education were quick to tell media that there should be consequences for deceiving the public. (Would this include the 22 senators and 51 house members who voted for the Alabama Accountability Act in 2013 and told the public that this was all about “helping poor kids stuck in failing schools by their zip codes?”)
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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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Doing it for the kids

November 14, 2016

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

“I did not know the rules.”

These words won’t leave my head. Round and round, “I did not know the rules.” The reply given by state school board member Mary Scott Hunter to State Senator Gerald Dial when asked in a Nov. 10 committee meeting if she knew the Ethics Committee does not investigate anonymous complaints.
The words hung over the room like an anvil.
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Dial Committee Meets Again as The Plot Thickens

November 11, 2016

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

The committee set up by Senators Gerald Dial and Quinton Ross held their second session Nov. 10 to question State school board members and others in the on-going effort to determine how an anonymous “smear sheet” discrediting Jefferson County school superintendent Craig Pouncey became public knowledge.

Pouncey, a former chief of staff for retiring superintendent Tommy Bice, was one of six applicants vying for Bice’s old job. Mike Sentence of Massachusetts was hired on Aug. 11. However, both Dial and Ross would like to find out how a breach of confidential info occurred so they can take steps to prevent it from happening in the future.
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Ethics Commission: Not Subject to Ethics Laws

October 12, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Here’s a little-known fact: The Alabama Ethics Commission is not governed by the laws it is charged with enforcing.

That was made abundantly clear when Commissioner Judge Charles Price voted with a conflict of interest at an Oct. 5th Commission meeting. The conflict arose when he voted yes on an Advisory Opinion that permitted the City of Montgomery to give money to the local Chamber of Commerce. Price, a retired Montgomery Circuit Judge, is a board member of the chamber and will shortly become its president.
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