Bipartisan bill would give retirees a one-time bonus

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Some Republicans in the Senate and at least one Democrat in the State House of Representatives believe certain retired educators should receive a one-time, lump sum payment.

Republican Senator Gerald Dial, who is leading the charge, is joined by Senate colleagues Jimmy Holley, Jim McClendon, Steve Livingston, Tom Whatley and Cam Ward to sponsor SB3. In the House, Rep. Craig Ford is carrying an identical bill that will provide a one-time payment for former educators and beneficiaries who receive retirement benefits from the Teachers’ Retirement Systems (TRS). Read More

Alabama a Sanctuary City for Corrupt Politicos: Opinion

 

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

What are we to make of the fact that Alabama ranks in the top ten for being one of the most religious states, as well as being near the top in public corruption?

Alabama State government is like a sanctuary city for moral turpitude, a safe haven where the guilty are free from punishment; as long as you are in public office. 

Mike Hubbard has been indicted on 23 felony counts of public corruption, but he still sits as Speaker of the House.
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Senate Announces Committee Assignments

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Wednesday, January 14, the Alabama Senate announced its committee assignments for the next four years.

(See full list of committee assignments here.)

State Senator Tom Whatley (R) will chair the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forest Committee.

Sen. Slade Blackwell (R) will be the chairman of the Banking & Insurance Committee.

The Confirmations Committee will by chaired by Senator Clay Scofield (R).

The Constitution, Campaigns, & Elections Committee will be chaired by Bill Hightower (R).
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Police Say Whatley “Forcefully Shoved” Fiancée

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Auburn Police report contradicts Sen. Tom Whatley’s statement about his domestic violence arrest on December 9.

According to the official police filings, Whatley “grabbed the female [his fiancée] by the arm and forcefully shoved her down on the brick steps and concrete porch.” Whatley was then told by officers to drop to the ground and he complied with their demand.

Whatley issued a statement the day after his arrest saying, “I would like to assure the citizens of Senate District 27 that I was not violent with my fiancée.” However, a man “forcefully”shoving a female down on to “brick steps and [a] concrete porch,” would be considered by any reasonable person as an act of violence.
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April Named End Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Presentations Being Made at Schools

Staff Report

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (April 8, 2014) – The Alabama Association for Justice (ALAJ) today announced its partnership with the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation and EndDD in an effort to reduce distracted driving among teenagers in the state. ALAJ member attorneys will give an “End Distracted Driving” presentation at high schools across the state during April. The organization also partnered with Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) and Representative Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) to pass a resolution naming April “End Distracted Driving Awareness Month” in Alabama.
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Hubbard’s “real republican” incumbents include Obama donor and party switchers

By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—At a meeting in Birmingham last week, Representative Mike Hubabrd (R-Auburn) rallied the Young Republicans to protect the GOP supermajorities against fake Republicans trying to take back the power in Montgomery.

“I’m telling you the race will be determined in the primary,”  Hubbard said.

Hubbard called out groups like AEA, who intend to support pro-eduction candidates on both sides of the aisle.

“We cannot let those entities infiltrate and highjack our primary. They are going to try. AEA in their propaganda has made it clear that Republicans are going to have alternatives in the Republican primary,” Hubbard said.
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Beware infiltrators warns Hubbard

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—  Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard warned young republicans gathered in Birmingham last week that infiltrators will be entering “our primary.”

These outsiders will challenge incumbent republicans. “from the right and from the left,” cautioned Diamond Mike.

Hubbard raised the specter of “The Others,” coming to displace our kind. The “others” are the democrats, who will pretend they are republicans. But who is a real republican?
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Legislative Election Watch

By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY–Only two weeks into the official 2014 primary season, many candidates have already filed with the new online reporting system through the Fair Campaign Practices Act.  Many of those who have filed are incumbents, with a one newcomer entering the game.

Seven of the 35 incumbent senators have filed with the Secretary of State. No new candidates have filed, however Representative Todd Greeson has filed to run for the Senate.
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Jimmy Parnell Elected As President of Alabama Farmer’s Federation

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

After 14 years of service leading Alabama’s largest agricultural group, the Alabama Farmer’s Federation, Jerry Newby has retired as the group’s President. Fifth generation Chilton County farmer Jimmy Parnell was elected on Monday to be his replacement.

Jimmy Parnell (48) from Stanton said in a statement released by the Farmer’s Federation,

“I’m humbled by the support I received from farmers across Alabama. I look forward to representing them as we work with elected officials, government agencies and other farm organizations to protect the families who grow our food and fiber. Alabama is blessed with a rich agricultural history and abundant natural resources that allow us to grow everything from cotton and cattle to poultry and peanuts. But its greatest strength is our people. For 91 years, the Alabama Farmers Federation has worked to improve the way of life for all Alabamians. I’m excited about the opportunity to build on the foundation established by farmers who started this organization.”
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Storming the Statehouse: The Game of Quid Pro Quo

 

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Quid pro quo, Latin for “this for that,” is better understood as I give you something and you give me something. This “something for something” appears to be a key strategy used by the man who led the GOP takeover of the Alabama Statehouse in 2010.

By following the money trail from then-Chairman of the ALGOP Mike Hubbard to candidates running for office in 2010 a seemingly careful pattern and practice emerges. 

A study of campaign finance records for the 2010 election cycle shows that Hubbard’s business interests were paid over $1,000,000 in campaign expenditures from at least 18 GOP candidates and at least 4 Political Action Committees (PAC).

This does not include the almost $800,000 spent with Majority Strategies for GOP printing that was sub-contracted to Hubbard’s Craftmasters as reported by AL.com.

Perhaps the most worrisome fact is that much of the money spent with Hubbard-owned businesses can be traced back to PACs controlled by Hubbard, the self-proclaimed “Architect” of the GOP takeover. 

According to the promotional material for Hubbard’s book “Storming the Statehouse,” it says, “In his two terms as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, Hubbard and his team set fundraising records and brought a new level of aggressiveness to political gamesmanship.”

The question to be answered is did this new level of fundraising and aggressiveness lead to potential ethical conflicts?

In February 2010 Hubbard said of ethics reform, “PAC-to-PAC, that’s going to end. I’m not someone who wants to limit what people or groups can spend supporting the people who they want in office, but whatever anybody contributes should be known. I think we want transparency. I know the word gets used a lot. But that’s really what we’re talking about, pulling the curtain back and seeing where the money comes from and where it goes.”

A recent report at AL.com said that, “In 2010, the Alabama Republican Party negotiated a deal with a Florida company to design hundreds of glossy and colorful campaign flyers for GOP candidates seeking seats in the Legislature. (Read story).

The contract with Majority Strategies of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, was for $848,687. 

“Once the deal was signed, Majority Strategies then subcontracted out the printing, shipping and postage costs of the flyers to another company: Craftmasters Printing of Auburn.”

Craftmaster is owned, in part, by Hubbard where he serves as a company director. This deal was contracted during the time he served as Chairman of the ALGOP. 

This money exchange came to light due to a leaked report conducted by the current ALGOP Chairman Bill Armistead. Armistead had the report compiled upon his election as the state GOP head. The audit covered at least, in part, Hubbard’s tenure as Chairman of the ALGOP. Hubbard has denied any wrongdoing saying, “I have nothing to hide and that, whatever it is – and it’s not an audit – shows we did nothing improper. Nothing.” 

In letter from Hubbard to the GOP Executive Committee dated June 28, 2012, (see letter) Hubbard denied any impropriety, pointing out that he had been open “about my desire to place an added emphasis on running our state party operation like a business.” He reminds the GOP leadership how he “raised and spent over 5 million on behalf of Republican candidates with overwhelming success.” The internal audit conducted by the GOP only seems to address the  money coming into Craftmaster from Majority Strategies but does not appear to address the other million plus dollars that came directly to Hubbard-owned businesses from campaigns and PACs. 

In the Al.com report by Chuck Dean, Hubbard says that “the contract with Majority Strategies was negotiated by then GOP executive director John Ross.” Ross was Hubbard’s second-in-command, here Hubbard seems to attempt to deflect any potential conflict of interest away from himself and onto Ross. 

Ross is now a partner in the high-powered lobbying group Swatek, Azbell, Howe & Ross. According to Hubbard’s book “Storming the State House,” “[Ross] continues to work closely with the members of newly-elected Republican majority and is assisting with the efforts to help preserve those majorities in 2014.” 

Ross along with Dax Swatek, and David Azbell are key lieutenants of Speaker Hubbard and have been reported as receiving lucrative contracts from state government.

Mr. Hubbard has tried in the past to distance himself from any accountability for questionable activities by pointing to members of his staff or confederates.  

The Craftmaster’s pay-for-play story began to surface in October 2010 in a report by the Opelika-Auburn News. 

Reporter Joe Mcadory asked then-GOP Chairman Hubbard about $47,633 in campaign money spent by two GOP candidates with Craftmaster Printing and Network Creative Media (another Hubbard-controlled company).

To McAdory’s inquiry, Hubbard said, “Out of 80 candidates, you’ve got two using Craftmaster? And one is from Auburn and his cousin is the president of the company, and they do really good work. Is this really a story?” Hubbard further dismissed the idea that he would profit from the transactions saying, “I‘ve never made a penny off of Craftmaster. My job is to get people elected.” 

However, in the final total, around 16 GOP candidates used Hubbard-owned companies, not just the two reported by the Opelika-Auburn News.

Hubbard did “Get people elected,“ as he said, but did he profit from these elections? 

In the story on AL.com, by Chuck Dean, reports that Hubbard did make money from Craftmaster. (Read story)

Furthermore the money reported by AL.com is only the tip of the iceberg.

When the money from Majority Strategies of Florida, is added to the money directly spent by GOP candidates with Hubbard-controlled companies the total reaches nearly 2 million dollars.

Much of the direct money flowed into Network Creative Media which is a Hubbard-owned advertising agency. According to the company’s website they specialize in radio, TV, print, outdoor, direct marketing and web strategies. 

Candidates who spent money with Hubbard-owned businesses in the 2010 campaign cycle include, Jim Patterson, Paul Lee, Richard Baughn, Mike Hubbard, Lynn Greer, Wayne Johnson, Mark Tuggle, Bryan Taylor, Tom Whatley, Quinton Hanson, DuWayne Bridges, Koven(K. L.) Brown, Terri Collins, Kerry Rich, Luther Strange, Dan Williams, Bradley Byrne and Congressman Mike Rogers. 

Most of these same candidates who spent money with Hubbard owned-businesses also received significant contributions from PACs controlled by Hubbard. 

PACs directly controlled by Hubbard or influenced by him that spent money with his companies were: 136 Years PAC, NETPAC, Alabama Republican Party and Alabama Republican Party (Federal PAC).

For full report click here

PAC-to-PAC transfers were made between the four Hubbard-controlled PACs involved in these transactions to include:

The 136-Year PAC received $50,000 from ALGOP PAC and $100,900.00 from NETPAC, then spent $15,334.55 with Hubbard-owned companies.

NETPAC received $158,000.00 from ALGOP PAC; $150,000 from Friends of Mike Hubbard; and $85,000 from 136 Year PAC. This PAC spent $16,020.29 with Hubbard-owned companies.

AL Republican Party PAC received $0.00 from the other PACS but spent $109,912.61 with Hubbard-owned companies.

AL Republican Party (Federal PAC) received $0.00 front the other PACs and spent $32,285.69 with Hubbard-owned Companies.

The following GOP candidates used the services of Hubbard-controlled companies Craftmasters Printing and Network Creative Media. 

Below is a list of total monies the candidates received from Hubbard-controlled PACS and total monies spent with Hubbard companies followed by the percentage of funds received that were spent with these companies.

Of these $2,156,107.18 donations made to these particular campaigns and PACs $916,855.98 (38.57%) was spent with Hubbard-owned companies. (Taylor and Whatley spent an additional $117,910.36 above the amounts donated to their campaigns from these PACs.)

For full report click here.

Jim Patterson is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 21. (Received$66,618.73/Spent $20,000/30.02%)

Paul Lee is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 86. (Received $188,947.29/Spent $1,823.36/0.97%)

Richard Baughn is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 14. (Received $180,106.39/Spent $26,165/14.53%)

Lynn Greer is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 2. (Received $100,612.72/Spent $70,516.25/70.09%)

Wayne Johnson is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 22. (Received $123,853.08/Spent $24,567.12/19.84%)

Mark Tuggle is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 81. (Received $127,340.65/Spent $37,056.00/29.10%)

Koven(K. L.) Brown is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 40. (Received $60,150.33/Spent $10,337.00/17.19%)

Terri Collins, is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 8. (Received $44,454.15/Spent $6,429.07/14.46%)

Kerry Rich, is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 26. (Received $53,717.35/Spent $14,425.78/26.85%)

Dan Williams is currently serving as a State Representative for House District 5. (Received $57,725.51/Spent $11,005.00/19.06%)

Mike Hubbard, currently serves as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. (Received $10,000/Spent $4,026.14/40.26%)

DuWayne Bridge first elected to the Alabama House September 2000 and his serving his third term representing House District 38. (Received $32,985.90/Spent $7,746.10/23.48%)

Quinton Hanson was a Republican candidate for District 1 of the Alabama House of Representatives but was defeated in the 2010 General Election by Democrat Greg Burdine. (Received $64,411.47/Spent $59,192.37/91.90%)

Bryan Taylor is currently serving as a State Senator for Senate District 30. (Received $140,426.75/Spent $226,640.24/161.39%)

Tom Whatley is currently serving as a State Senator for Senate District 27. (Received $210,856.86/Spent $242,553.73/115.03%)

Luther Strange, currently serves at the Attorney General for the State of Alabama. (Received $150,000/Spent $29,172.60/19.45%)

Bradley Byrne, was defeated in the GOP runoff for Governor by Dr. Robert Bentley. (Received $0.00/Spent $45,966.48)

U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers, has severed in to the U.S. House of Representatives since January 2003 and represents East Alabama’s Third Congressional District. (Received $0.00/Spent $23,590.96)

Of the 13 GOP candidates that ran for the Alabama State House of Representatives and received campaign contributions from Hubbard-controlled PACs that also used a Hubbard-owned business for their campaign only one lost their bid for election. 

The two senatorial candidates that received campaign contributions from Hubbard-controlled PACs that also used Hubbard’s services both won their elections. 

Hubbard has repeatedly said he did not prosper from his dealings during his tenure GOP Party Chairman or in the 2010 election cycle.

However, the amount of money flowing through these companies presumedly paid salaries, overhead and more. 

Plus, Hubbard’s own State Ethics filing shows he made money from these companies. 

Several politicos who have used Craftmaster Printing and Network Creative Media said that they knew that they were paying higher rates to Hubbard’s companies but were told that they needed to use “Mike’s companies.” None were willing to speak on the record because they fear retaliation from Hubbard and his operatives. 

Hubbard says in his book that he gave $40,000 of his own money to the takeover of the Alabama Statehouse. It would appear that a lot more flowed into Hubbard’s banking accounts than flowed out.

In October 2010, Hubbard wrote on his website, “Democrats have controlled the Alabama Legislature for the past 136 years, and it is obvious they created an atmosphere that breeds corruption, invites abuse and gently punishes those who are caught.” He also said that the GOP was, “more qualified to clean up the corruption and bring a new ethical standard to Montgomery.”

While Hubbard, continues to say he did not benefit from his position in the GOP, there appears to be abundant evidence that a culture of “something for something” was created as well as controlled by Mr. Hubbard and his confederates in the GOP.

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