By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—What do Payday lenders, trial lawyers and retailers have in common?
They are all giving big bucks to Senate President Pro Tem, Del Marsh (R-Anniston).
In his October FCPA report, Marsh shows he received a total of $43,600 in contributions, the greatest share coming from three groups, all of which have received favorable treatment from the senator.
In the 2013 Legislative session, Marsh supported a bill that would have offered reform to predatory lending in the state. However, in the end, he offered substitute legislation that highly favored the payday lenders.
According to the coalition that supported payday lending reform, Marsh betrayed the effort, giving in to the industry’s high-paid lobbyists.
Marsh, allowed all efforts for predatory lending reform to die in the Senate he controls.
In his recent campaign filing, Marsh has been rewarded for his work on behalf of the payday lenders with a $10,000 campaign contribution from the grandfather of payday lenders, Select Resources Management, LLC, of Atlanta.
In his October FCPA report, he also shows a $10,000 campaign donation from the Retailers of Alabama. The group also gave $10,000 to Marsh’s counter part in the House, Speaker Mike Hubbard. (R-Auburn) during the same period. Alison Wingate, the head of the association, has enjoyed a very cozy relationship with Hubbard and has developed a similar one with Marsh.
In fact, in his vanity book, Storming the State House, Hubbard praises Wingate for giving him the book that would serve as his guide for taking over the Alabama Legislature.
Hubbard says that Wingate sent a gift to his Auburn office when he was Chairman of the ALGOP, with a note saying, “Mike, this is your guide to taking over the House and Senate. Read it as soon as you can, follow what it says, and I am sure you will be successful— Alison.”
The book was The Thumpin’: How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned To Be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution by Naftali Bendavid.
At the time, Wingate was Vice President and Governmental Affairs Director for the Alabama Retail Association in Montgomery. Hubbard states in his book that Wingate, “had long been a supporter and ally in our efforts to elect a pro-business, Republican legislative majority.”
Wingate has capitalized on those relationships with the ascendancy of Marsh and Hubbard.
Another of Marsh’s big donors is the Trust Representing Involved Alabama Lawyers, better known as the “Trial Lawyers” generally a group associated with Democrats. However, Marsh’s brother is a very successful trial lawyer.
These three groups make up the bulk of Marsh’s donations. So, it is, that the special interests in Montgomery still hold sway over the State Senate.
Marsh also received $4000 from SWATEK, AZBELL, HOWE & ROSS LLC who are the top lobbyists for Payday Lenders since Hubbard and Marsh took control of the State House. They are also the political operatives most closely aligned with Speaker Hubbard’s political operations.
The largest expenditure Marsh shows on his October filing is with Majority Strategies, the Florida group linked to the questionable contracts Hubbard entered into during his time as Chairman of the ALGOP.
Hubbard’s Craftmaster Printers received more than $800,000 of business, either directly from the ALGOP or as a subcontractor under the Florida-based Majority Strategies during his tenure as ALGOP Chairman.
In 2010, Marsh, along with Hubbard, promised to clean-up State Government.
After three years, it appears they are really “cleaning-up,” in Montgomery.