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Remembering Rep. Yvonne Kennedy

Brandon Moseley

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House Minority Leader Craig Ford
Alabama Political Reporter

This week, I lost a true friend, colleague, and mentor when Rep. Yvonne Kennedy passed away.

When I first heard the news, I was shocked. It was very unexpected. But as I began to mourn her passing, the thought occurred to me that this shouldn’t just be a time for saying goodbye to a friend we lost. This should also be a time to celebrate her life and to take note of how many other lives she touched while she was with us.

Yvonne served in the legislature for nearly 34 years, making her one of the longest serving members in the legislature. And in that time, she was a tireless advocate for the people of Alabama and an outstanding representative for the people of Mobile.

Over the years, Yvonne was a champion for many causes, including extending the federal Voting Rights Act and allowing ex-felons the right to vote if they were convicted of crimes that did not involve moral turpitude. As a devout Christian, she believed in forgiveness and giving people second chances.

But she also introduced legislation to increase the amount of funding for domestic violence shelters and to prevent companies from price gouging during emergencies. Yvonne was a leader, having previously served as Chairperson of the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and as Chairman of the Mobile County United Negro College Fund Campaign.

She was also one of the strongest advocates in the legislature for education. As a legislator, she introduced legislation to require criminal history checks on college students who entered into teacher training programs to make sure we knew who we were sending into our classrooms.

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Outside of the legislature, Yvonne served as president of Bishop State Community College for 25 years and was a Trustee of Miles College. She was also a member of the Board of the American Association for Higher Education.

As an educator, she inspired students and took the time to listen to them and get to know them. She invested her time and energy into their futures, and those former students will tell you today just how much that meant to them.

But Yvonne’s commitment to community and service was not limited to the legislature and post-secondary education. Yvonne also served as president of the national Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a non-profit organization devoted to economic and educational development, physical and mental health, and political involvement. She also worked with the Junior Miss Scholarship Foundation and served as Youth Director for the Board of Christian Education of the Southeast Alabama Conference of the CME Church.

Yvonne Kennedy touched thousands of lives while she was with us, and those of us who knew her will miss her greatly. It is never easy to lose someone, especially at this time of year. But that is why we need to celebrate their lives, and not just mourn their passing. I am thankful to have known Yvonne Kennedy and for the impact she had on so many lives. She will be missed.

Representative Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden.  He has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since 2000.  In 2010, Representative Ford was elected House Minority Leader by the House Democratic Caucus. He was re-elected Minority Leader in 2012.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Judge refuses to dismiss Roy Moore lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen

A federal judge last week refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime and CBS filed by former Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Brandon Moseley

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Roy Moore, left, and Sacha Baron Cohen, right, on Cohen's now-canceled show "Who Is America?" (Showtime/YouTube)

Federal Judge Andrew Carter last week refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime and CBS. The lawsuit was filed by former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and his wife Kayla Moore, who claim that Cohen slandered Moore as a pedophile on his now-canceled show “Who is America?”

After the judge denied Cohen’s request to dismiss the $95 million lawsuit, the case will now proceed to discovery, where the Moores announced that they intend to take the depositions of and obtain evidence from Cohen and other relevant individuals at Showtime, CBS and their related entities.

The Moores had put the defendants on notice that if they aired the offensive and defamatory interview by Cohen, who posed in disguise as an Israeli Mossad agent, that they would be sued for large damages. When the defendants did not heed the warning and aired the interview anyway, the Moores brought their lawsuit.

The case is being litigated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after it was transferred over a year ago from a federal court in Washington D.C.

“We are gratified that the Court is allowing the Moores’ case to go forward and we look forward to putting Cohen and the other defendants under oath,” said Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, and a former federal prosecutor. “The alleged defamation of Chief Justice Moore was malicious and despicable and it is time that a jury of the parties’ peers allow justice to be done. Great harm has been caused to my clients, which must be addressed and remedied.”

In 2017, Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme court, was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. The Washington Post released an investigation that alleged Moore sexually abused young women in the 1970s. Moore denied the accusations.

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Elections

Sessions: Tuberville’s fraud scandal “can’t just be swept under the rug”

Jeff Sessions criticized Tuberville’s actions as a “major fraud scheme that bilked large sums of money from hardworking people,” which “can’t just be swept under the rug.”

Brandon Moseley

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GOP Senate candidates Jeff Sessions (left) and Tommy Tuberville (right).

After The New York Times published an investigation into a financial fraud scandal involving Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, his opponent, former Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, criticized Tuberville’s actions as a “major fraud scheme that bilked large sums of money from hardworking people,” which “can’t just be swept under the rug.”

“This is an astounding story,” Sessions said. “Based on the facts already uncovered, it is clear that Tommy Tuberville was one of two partners in a major hedge fund fraud scheme that bilked large sums of money from hardworking people, including Alabamians.”

Tuberville’s partner was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the scheme by the court in Opelika, while Tuberville was sued for fraud, paying out a sum of money in a private settlement that has been kept out of the public eye.

“This can’t just be swept under the rug, and Tuberville can’t just brush it aside by falsely claiming he was some innocent victim,” Sessions said. “Indeed, he was a victimizer and held himself out as the ‘managing partner’ of the firm. Tuberville must give a full and complete accounting of this scandal. The people of Alabama deserve to know the complete truth now, before the election, about the man who is asking to be their senator.”

This scandal has been widely talked about in Republican circles for months or longer, but The New York Times article details the allegations for one of the first times in the national spotlight.

Tuberville became a full partner in a hedge fund with former Lehman Brothers broker John David Stroud. Their ventures included TS Capital Management and TS Capital Partners. The T stands for Tuberville and the S for Stroud.

Tuberville did not pick which stocks to buy or sell, and as the head football coach at Texas Tech University and later at the University of Cincinnati, he was not even a frequent presence in the office. Tuberville introduced Stroud to potential investors and even had business cards identifying himself as managing partner. He also leased a BMW and got his health insurance through the company.

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The firm’s offices in Auburn were filled with his coaching memorabilia. In 2010, he traveled to New York with Stroud to meet potential brokers, and was kept in the loop on decisions about hiring. A source told APR that a number of SEC coaches were among the people defrauded by TS Capital.

When the money was all lost, Stroud was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Tuberville was sued by the investors for fraud and failure to carry out his fiduciary duties. Tuberville reportedly lost $450,000 of his own money and then had to pay out more than $1 million to the investors. The New York Times reported that his total losses were more than $2 million.

The financial scandal has many Republicans concerned about the viability of Tuberville’s general election campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.

“I think that Tuberville did not do anything wrong,” said Rev. John Killian, a conservative activist. “He is a good man, but the Doug Jones campaign, they would use this to the ninth degree.”

“They will shoot Tuberville up in 30 second and 60 second TV spots,” Killian added. “I don’t think Tuberville is crooked, but Doug Jones has $10 million to spend. I think they are lying in wait for Tuberville like they were for Roy Moore.”

Killian said that he will support Tuberville if he wins the Republican nomination, but that he is supporting Jeff Sessions in the primary because he is the strongest general election candidate to face Jones.

Tuberville supporter and Trump Victory National Committee member Perry Hooper Jr. was dismissive of assertions that Tuberville could be vulnerable.

“Coach has a commanding lead. He will win the run-off, and he will crush Doug Jones in the general election in November,” Hooper told APR.

Tuberville maintains that he was a victim of the fraud — not a perpetrator.

“They sued me because I invested in it, and he used my name to get other people to put money in,” Tuberville said. “There was nothing ever implicated by anybody that I’d done anything wrong. I felt bad that he used my name.”

The New York Times has asked Tuberville to release the plaintiffs from their confidentiality agreement. Tuberville to this point has declined. Stroud has been released from prison but has not commented on his relationship with Tuberville. Tuberville faces Sessions in the July 14 Republican runoff.

President Donald Trump has endorsed Tuberville, and Tuberville is leading Sessions in most available polling.

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Lauderdale Republicans pass resolution defending Florence Confederate monument

Lauderdale County Republicans responded to calls to take down a local monument by passing a resolution urging elected leaders to oppose its removal.

Brandon Moseley

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Confederate statue in Florence, Alabama. (via Library of Congress)

The Lauderdale County Republican Executive Committee passed a resolution Thursday, by a unanimous vote, urging the Lauderdale County Commission and Florence City Council to take a stand and defend the Confederate monument in Florence.

The monument was erected to Alabamians who fought and died for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. A growing number of people today say that they fought to defend slavery and that Confederate monuments instead are symbols of white oppression over Black Americans and should be removed from public places.

The Lauderdale County Republicans responded to these calls to take down their local monument by passing a resolution urging elected leaders to oppose removing the monument.

The Lauderdale County GOP said in a statement that they are taking “a stand against the ‘cancel culture’ Marxists and passed this resolution.”

“We are urging the Lauderdale County Commission and Florence City Council to honor their oaths of office and follow the law! We are also calling on all of our elected officials to declare their position on the matter,” the statemeant read.

The resolution states that, “The Lauderdale County Monument to the men of the County who served in the Confederate Army in the War between the States 1861-1865 fought against oppressive taxation and for states’ rights in an army that included African-Americans in support and combat roles, was dedicated in 1903 and has stood in front of the county courthouse for 117 years.”

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The resolution alleges that: “There is a movement of liberal and radical organizations, not representatives of the majority of citizens of Lauderdale County which currently are attempting to destroy the  record of the courage and sacrifice of our ancestors in the United States.”

The cities of Birmingham and Mobile have already taken down their Confederate monuments in open defiance of existing state law in the state’s Memorials Preservation Act.

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Elections

Prichard Mayor Jimmy Gardner to run for reelection

Brandon Moseley

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Prichard Mayor Jimmie Gardner.

Prichard Mayor Jimmie Gardner said Monday in a statement that he will run for re-election. Gardner announced that he will deliver the letter announcing his intention to seek re-election, along with all qualifying documents, to the Prichard city clerk today at 10 a.m.

Gardner will hold a press conference after qualifying. He is promising to provide additional information about the campaign next week.

Gardner’s qualifying letter simply reads: “To Whom It May Concern: I, Jimmie Gardner, on this date, July 6, 2020 do humbly submit this letter to affirm that I will be seeking the office of Mayor for the City of Prichard, Alabama in the 2020 election.”

Gardner was elected mayor in the 2016 municipal elections, defeating incumbent Mayor Troy Ephriam.

“I have spent my entire career over 35 years protecting and serving the community in which I love,” Gardner stated. “My mission as Mayor is to ensure that the City of Prichard receives the recognition that it deserves. We are a strong, resilient people who care about their neighbors and want to see our city move in a positive direction.”

“As your Mayor, I pledge to give 100% to ensure that the progress this city deserves will begin,” Gardner continued. “I am not promising an overnight fix, but in time through prayer, hard work and dedication from everyone, The Change Will Come! Please patiently work with us as we make critical decisions for the betterment of the City of Prichard.”

The city of Prichard is in Mobile County and had a population of 21,531 in 2018. The city of Prichard had a population in 1993 of 38,410, but like much of Alabama, outside of pockets of prosperity, has been in decline in recent decades.

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Prichard was incorporated in 1925. The city boomed from ship building and the paper industry in the 1940s and 1950s, peaking like Mobile in 1960, but since then, the city has been negatively impacted by the decline in American shipbuilding and the closure of the International Paper and Scott paper mills in the 1980s.

Improving roads made it easier for people to commute to work so much of the city’s middle class has moved to new developments outside the city limits.

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