By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
At 10:00 AM on Monday, December 17th the Alabama Republican Party released the results of an audit of the 2010 election campaign. The Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee would not allow members of the press to actually have a copy of the audit; but the Committee did agree to allow press members to view the audit. Of course, ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ was quick to accept their invitation.
Alabama Republican Party Chief of Staff Harold Sachs said that the audit has been subpoenaed by a state of Alabama Grand Jury. Sachs did not know what exactly that the Grand Jury is investigating and did not know for certain if the Grand Jury has already been enpaneled. Sachs did say that he suspects that the reason for the investigation likely concerns the use of Craftmasters Printing as a contractor for the Republican Party. Craftmasters is a printing firm that is owned by Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) from Auburn, former Auburn football coach Pat Dye, and Barry Whatley, cousin to State Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn). In 2010 Rep. Mike Hubbard was also the Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. In accounting terminology, that made him a “related party.” For a business (and particularly a non-profit) to award contracts to a “related party” can potentially be a conflict of interest.
According to the auditor in: “Note C, The organization incurred direct printing expenses from Craftmasters Printing, a related party in the amount of $83,524 in 2010. Total indirect printing, postage, mail service, and shipping costs paid to Majority Strategies (non-related party) and remitted to Craftmasters Printing was $725,262.
In addition the Organization paid $132,000 to Southern Insights, a related party, for consulting services during 2010.”
Chief of Staff Sachs told ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ that under Chairman Bill Armistead’s leadership the Republican Party only awards contracts on a competitive bid basis from a preferred vender list. Sachs said that Craftmasters Printing is still one the preferred vender. Sachs said that he did not know if the party used competitive bidding in 2010 or not.
The other related party mentioned in the audit was Southern Insights, a political consulting firm founded by Chris Brown and Paul Glass. Brown is a former Alabama Republican Party Executive Director and Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman. Paul Glass is a former Alabama Republican Party Finance Director.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead had no comment about the audit; but on Friday the Chairman informed the Steering Committee that Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s office was investigating the Party’s finances and had subpoenaed the audit.
Chief of Staff Sachs said that the party has never done an audit before the audit of the 2010 campaign.
Speaker Hubbard, Governor Robert Bentley, and Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey have all expressed support of Matt Fridy over Bill Armistead as new the Alabama Republican Party Chairman.