By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—A gathering storm of suspicion may very well sink what a republican senator calls “clarifications” to the Fair Campaign Practices Act.
SB445, sponsored by Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville), quietly passed the Senate on April 30, with 24 Yea and 6 Nay votes. Then, on the next to last day of the legislative session, a substitute was hurried through the House by Rep. Mike Ball (R-Huntsville) in a 68 to 33 approval.
However the bill has received negative press throughout the state, and it now appears that Gov. Robert Bentley is having serious concerns about the unintended consequences of Taylor’s so-called “clarifications.”
Even with Ball and Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard defending the bill, a private and public backlash is mounting.
It is unknown who had a hand in writing Taylor’s bill, but it appears that his eagerness and what one senator called “arrogance” may have torpedoed it becoming law.
According to the Senate synopsis from the Special Order calendar the law would, “clarify PAC to PAC limits, allow certain transfers,”
A careful reading to the bill seems to make it clear that Taylor and the GOP supermajority wanted a backdoor to reinstate PAC to PAC transfers, as well as providing a means whereby 501 (c) (4) non-profit, “social welfare,” organizations could transfer funds without limit and without disclosing its donors.
Groups such as Hubbard’s Alabama House Republican Conference, Inc., who raised approximately $100,000 from lobbyist and big business just the day before the House passed SB445, would be one of the primary beneficiaries of Taylor’s law.
This, along with the fact that the legislation is larded with numerous other ambiguities, has Team Bentley concerned.
A republican senator who spoke on background said, “If you want a bill to fail, give it to Taylor.” Many of Taylor’s colleagues in the Senate have expressed similar remarks.
Taylor is almost universally disliked in the upper-chamber for his air of self-importance and his obsession with gambling. Insiders have suggested that Taylor inadvertently sabotaged the bill by trying to be “too cleaver.”
What ever the case, it now appears that the Governor is casting a wary-eye toward the so-called reform.
While some parts of SB445 might be considered proper and needed reforms, it is prudence that seems to be driving the Governor’s office.
Republican’s took over both chambers of the Alabama legislature in 2010 —promising to bring reform and transparency. Many voters are now beginning to realize that the new bosses like Taylor are as bad as the old ones.
Look for Bentley later this week to take a stand for the promises he made in 2010.