By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Over the weekend, the Executive Committee of the Alabama GOP began hearing challenges to candidates who are seeking elected office as Republicans. Numerous petitions have been submitted to the ALGOP. As of yet there is no official word from the party. The final rulings will come at next week’s winter meeting.
The overwhelming majority of protests are based on the fact that certain ALGOP candidates have received campaign contributions from the Alabama Education Association (AEA). If taking money from the AEA is a disqualifying offense, then much of the current Republican Legislature, as well as the Governor, would be ineligible.
Thomas J. Scovill, a Huntsville resident and political activist, has filed petitions to deny ballot access to William Garreth Moore, Representative Todd Greeson (R-Ider) and Tim Sprayberry. Scovill also filed a petition against Steve Flowers, but Flowers has decided not to seek office at this time.
Scovill has accused Moore, Sprayberry and Greeson of “conducting a false flag campaign for the Republican nomination.” His sole reason is that these men have taken money from AVOTE, the Teacher’s Associations Political Action Committee. The money for AVOTE is given by teacher and education support personal to elect candidates that are favorable to the State’s teachers and education workforce.
Jack Campbell, a 30-year veteran Republican campaign consultant, said of the challenges, “The Alabama Republican Party has experienced tremendous growth in my lifetime. With growth comes competition and diversity of ideas. The notion that our leadership gets to pick and choose who should be on a ballot because of someone’s donation history is absurd.
Campbell answered these complaints by filing a partition to deny access to any candidate who has received AEA money over the years.
“When I researched AEA’s contribution record to Republicans, I found that thirty-three current elected officials in our Party have taken AEA money in past elections. I then filed a blanket challenge against them for two reasons. First, the idea that we impose rules on some candidates and not others is unfair. Second, I believe the litmus tests we make candidates perform to be on the ballot or in Party leadership is oppressive,” said Campbell.
If the Executive Committee excepts Scovill’s logic that any candidate who has received funds from the AEA should be disqualified as running as a Republican, then Campbell’s petition would deny over 30 GOP candidates; all of whom are currently sitting lawmakers.
For example, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) has received $12,000 (Principal Campaign Committee) and $131,500 (As Chair/Treasurer of NETPAC) in donations from the AEA.
Scovill’s petition against Tim Sprayberry, states that he has taken $30,000 in donation from the AEA. Sprayberry, is running against Sen. Gerald Dial to represent Senate District 13. Dial has received $50,000 in campaign contributions from the AEA.
Sprayberry, who helped organize Republicans as a college student, is a long time member of the Cleburne County Republican Party Executive Committee. He is presently the Cleburne County Republican Party Chairman and a current member of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee. He was formerly the Third District Chairman and had a seat on the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee.
Dial, on the other hand, held office for 8 years as a Democrat until losing in 2006. He only won reelection after switching parties to run as a Republican in 2010.
Likewise, the petition to deny William Garreth Moore an opportunity to run against sitting Senator Jimmy Holley, is based on the same premise. The complaint against Moore is that he received $150,000 from the AEA. However, Moore running as a Republican seeks to challenge a man, who for over a decade and a half, served as a Democrat and has taken $75,000 from the AEA.
Lastly, Scovill has lodged a petition against Representative Todd Greeson (R-Ider) for accepting campaign donations from the AEA.
In his complaints, Scovill sees men like Greeson in “political opposition to Republicanism.” However, Greeson became involved in his county party in the early 1990s and continued to attend meetings and events and stay involved, even while in college. In 1996 he founded Young Republicans and began the first local Young Republican newsletter. The State YR Federation named him Chairman of the Year in 1997.
Greeson is running to fill the Senate Seat vacated by Shadrack McGill.
There has been no such petition filed against Senator Jerry Fielding, who has served for 27 years as a Democrat only to switch parties last year. He has also taken campaign contributions from the AEA.
In 2010, the Republican Party spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a failed attempt to defeat Democrat Fielding, only to welcome him into the Party once it suited the needs of Fielding and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston).
“It wasn’t my intention to have anyone denied ballot access, but to make a point that we have to have an equal application of the rules,” Campbell said of his petition.
If the ALGOP disqualifies every candidate who has received donations from the AEA, there will be very different political body in Alabama in 2014.