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Attacking the Messenger, Ignoring the Message (And Leaks)

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The Alabama Foundation for Limited Government is under attack for allegedly violating the Fair Campaign Practice Act (FCPA).

Senate President Pro Tem, Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has accused the foundation of breaking the State’s Fair Campaign Practice Act as well as being a front for the Alabama Education Association.

But, in reality, according to its founder, former Republican Senator John Rice, it is the messenger that is being attacked while ignoring the message. Rice says the message is about ending corruption in Montgomery, “…but they purposefully ignore that and attack the messenger as a diversion.”

Many other incumbent Republican lawmakers have made the same assertion as Marsh, saying the foundation is little more than a shill for the teachers organization.

The individual legislators who have found fault with the messenger have yet to address the message, which is an anti-corruption pledge, according to Rice.

“They keep talking about where the money comes from but they never mention the pledge,” says Rice. “What if I am receiving funds from the Catholic Church would that change the message?”

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Rice, says that the foundation is under attack not because of its funding but because it has dared challenge lawmakers to put their name to a document that says they will help end corruption in the State Capital.

“They keep trying to make this about me, as a way to avoid taking responsibility for the terrible pattern of corruption in Montgomery,” said Rice. He points out the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government came about as a result of the 2013 legislation that allowed unlimited campaign contribution from corporations. Rice said, “They opened the door on this and now they don’t like it when someone is playing by their rules while calling them to account.”

Both Marsh and Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) control dark money foundations. Marsh has filed a complaint with the Secretary of State asking for an investigation into the foundation controlled by Rice.

According to Deputy Secretary of State, Emily Thompson, Senator Marsh filed his complaint with their office on March 28. She said that the compliant was forwarded with an accompanying letter to the Attorney General on April 2, which is standard protocol.

On Friday, April 11, the Alabama Political Reporter received a tip that Rice had received a letter from the AG’s office and that they were demanding that he turnover the foundations list of donors. Later, we were to find out that we received that information before Rice had received his certified letter from the Post Office or knew the content of the letter. Rice has still not confirmed the letters content, saying only that he has forwarded the information to his attorneys.

This raises several questions:

1. Did the Attorney General’s Office intentionally leak information about the letter to make sure that the press was on top of the story?

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2. If this was an intentional leak, who leaked it and why?

If so, this means that someone within the AG’s office is using their position to play dirty politics.

Since 2012, the Office of Attorney General Luther Strange has become a black hole of information.  Those inside the office say that Chief Deputy Kevin Turner is keeping Strange away from the press while waging a war within the department to appease Republican power brokers outside.

Several individuals inside the AG’s office have said that Turner is deliberately trying to derail investigations that might be harmful to Strange’s political career, including the investigation into Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn). Could it be that someone is using their office to encourage investigation into anyone who might call out corruption? That is a question that Rice would like an answer to as well.

“The whole purpose of the Foundation for Limited Government is about doing what is right for Alabama and not just for a few that are in power,” said Rice.

According to Rice, The Alabama Anti-Corruption Pledge is a comprehensive, common sense plan for ethics reform in State government that all legislators and candidates should sign. The pledge includes term limits, a ban on pay-to-play schemes, restrictions on gifts like football tickets, and other reforms that will make State government more accountable and transparent.

The Attorney General’s Office had no comment on the letter to Rice.

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Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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