MONTGOMERY—It has been said that one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
To which might be added, try covering those in politics and see how you feel
It is traditional for news organizations to put together a list of top stories of the year. Yet, it is often difficult to parse out the good from the bad, the insane from the inane and the down right ugly truth. Politics is the art of war played with the mind and wit, a battle of ideas and will.
In Alabama three things seems to dominate the culture: God, football and politics. Not always, in a particular order.
Likewise, the practice of religion, the adherence to a political ideology or the reason one is an Alabama or Auburn fan is not as clear as an anthropologist might wish.
Certainly, weather has been a big story, as has Airbus and many other things, while even the weather is political. We have chosen to focus on story in which we took the lead or at least expanded the coverage. We are a new media organization and while we play by the same rules as the rest of the media, we are not bound by the length of the broadcast, the size of the news hole or the fear of an editor or a publisher.
We are journalist-driven and therefore it is all about the story, nothing else. So, with that in mind we humbly submit our top ten stories for 2012. Not necessarily in any meaningful order.
Senator Cries Rape
A bill that would have required a physician to perform and trans vaginal ultrasound, and displaying the images to any woman seeking an abortions saw shot down in 2012.
The bill meet it demise after Senator Linda Coleman (D-Birmingham) reframed the issue in terms of the FBI’s definition of rape.
Senator Coleman, taking issue with the bill said, “The problem that I have with this..is the legislature getting into medical profession in that sense that [we are] making a determination as to what happens to women’s bodies. There are other ways that we can do this.”
She then said, “The FBI described rape as penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or the anus or any other part of the body such as oral penetration, but basically it is rape. I am talking about the probe that this instrument that is used.”
The bill’s sponsor Senator Clay Scofield (R-Blount, Madison, Marshall), said that the bill is designed “to let the mother know that this is not just a clump of cells. That this is a living being. Studies have shown that women who are shown these images beforehand, about 95 percent of the time in clinics that do this, the mother chooses to keep the child.”
Coleman fired back saying, “The point is that the state is legalizing rape on women by passing this legislation,” said Coleman. “I understand what you are trying to do as far as the sanctity of life but then again, I don’t think that we need to go to these types of measures. We are stepping into the shoes of making the decision that should be made between that woman and her physician.”
The result was women both democrat and republican from all over the state descended on the State House to protest the bill. In the end the bill did not see the light of day with the sponsor keeping his power dry for another day.
“Storming the Statehouse” and the game of quid pro quo
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).
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.
Gambling Money Linked to 2010 GOP Takeover of Alabama Senate
Gaming money solicited by GOP Leadership in 2010 reached new levels with the revelation that GOP senate candidates appear to have received over $200,000 in laundered gambling money.
After it came to light that Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) requested and received at least two campaign contributions from the Poarch Creek Band of Indians (PCI) in Atmore, Alabama. In June, Marsh, who served as the Chairman of the Alabama GOP Finance Committee, solicited $100K from the tribe (although it wasn’t reported by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) until July 15, 2010) and on October 8, 2010 Marsh requested and received $250K from the PCI. These facts have been confirmed by Robert McGhee, who serves on the Tribal Council and Governmental Relations for the PCI. The Tribe was told that the funds they contributed would be used to finance state senate races.
These funds were then funneled through the RSLC then to the ALGOP before being handed out to candidates.
The GOP leadership used the PAC-to-PAC transfers to disguise the real contributors from the public and its party members.
By hiding the money’s source, the GOP could rail against Democrats for taking gaming money while doing the same thing behind the voter’s back.
Senator Marsh Solicits Money from Poarch Creek Band of Indians
During the 2010 elections cycle then ALGOP finance director Senator Del Marsh paid two visit to Poarch Creek Band of Indians for ask for funds to finance Senate campaigns for the GOP.
Marsh received on one occasion received $100K and $250K on the next, “We gave the money in the spirit of bi-partisan support for Alabama government,” said Robert McGhee, who serves on the Tribal Council and Governmental Relations for the PCI.
Marsh has never publicly acknowledge the story but has tried over the last few months to spin.
Meanwhile, Marsh’s Chief of Staff Phillip Bryan and Communications Director Derek Trotter, made hostile threats against the Alabama Political Reporter.
Since reporting the story on Marsh and subsequent stories on Speaker Mike Hubbard, all communications from their offices to the Alabama Political Reporter have been discontinued. Even press release are deny our new organization.
AEA Defeats Amendment 4, passes Amendment 1 and remains the 800lbs Gorilla
“Nobody ever defended anything successfully. There is only attack and attack and attack some more,” these are the words of General George S. Patton.
Anyone who paid attention to the defeat of Amendment 4 should have come away knowing that Dr. Henry Mabry Executive Secretary of the AEA is a force to be reconed with.
The AEA defeated Amendment 4 in a 61-to-39 percent landslide, it was the only constitutional amendment that was defeated in during the General Election.
There were those who counted the AEA out after the retirement of Paul Hubbert. No one believed Mabry was going to be able to fill the big shoes of the past Secretary, however he has proven the critics wrong even on this one.
Congratulation Dr. Mabry, I was wrong
Mabry and company has beaten the GOP like a rented mule not only on this occasion but on chatter schools and other legislative issues. While Governor Bentley can be given some credit for the passage of Amendment One. It was the AEA and the work of Dr. Joe Perkins and Matrix that pushed Amendment One over the finish line.
Governor Bentley Triumphant
The “Yes” vote on Amendment One was a stunning victory for Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s (R) administration and a crushing defeat for anyone who had ambitions of unseating the popular Governor in 2014.
Both of the previous two Alabama Governors: Don Seigelman (D) and Bob Riley (R) staked their governorship on highly controversial referendums to shake up Alabama and were woefully defeated. Bentley, has succeeded in stirring up popular support for his agenda where other more flamboyant chief executives have failed miserably.
Bentley low key, folksy style has is favored by the people of Alabama almost ensuring his reelection in 2014.
Roy Moore Returns Triumphantly
Roy Moore, arguably Alabama’s most famous living jurist, is back and back in a big way. The ‘Ten Commandments’ Judge defeated incumbent Chief Justice Chuck Malone and presiding Mobile County Judge Charlie Graddick in the republican primary and then went on to handily beat Democrat Judge Robert Vance, Jr. in the general election.
The unflappable Moore proved pundits and GOP establishment wrong, winning back the set he was denied just a few years ago. His easy return to the Chief Justice bench should remind the political elite of Alabama that the Christian right’s voice is not diminished.
Democratic Candidate for Supreme Court Suffers Facebook Meltdown
In what was to prove to be the most bizarre event of the political season, Democratic candidate for Supreme Court Justice Harry Lyon suffered a complete meltdown on Facebook.
Lyon waged a war of words with his own Alabama Democratic Party Chairman, Mark Kennedy on the social media site but also attacked gays and demonic democrats.
Lyon was later removed from the race using his diatribe on Facebook as proof of his unfitness. Judge Robert Vance Jr. replaced Lyon but failed to beat back Alabama’s Ten Commandment Judge Roy Moore.
Rapid Justice Department Approval of Legislative Redistricting was a Surprise
An end of democratic party reign may have come in 2010 but is was the 2012 redistricting plan that sealed the fate of the republicans and democrats alike.
The reapportionment commission headed by republican Senator Gerald Dial and Representative Jim McClendon, redrew the state’s legislative map in the GOP favor for the first time in over one hundred years.
Dial and McClendon work tirelessly to find the balance needed to meet the requirements of the US Justice Department and also insure an advantage for the GOP. As it is said, “To the victors go the spoils,” and the map of Alabama has never looked more Red.