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Rift Opens Between State and National Tea Party Groups

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Thursday, May 22, various Alabama Tea Party groups released an open letter to complain about National Tea Party groups throwing their considerable weight behind Dr. Chad Mathis in Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District race.

The Alabama based Tea Party groups wrote, “We object to organizations and groups like yours selecting our candidate. As none of you are located in Alabama, you have neither the background nor the history at the grassroots level with the Tea Party and other conservative groups that reside here.  Alabama Grassroots Members overwhelmingly choose Scott Beason as the conservative Tea Party candidate for Alabama’s 6th Congressional District. Through our tireless “hand-to-hand” engagements we believe that WE are best equipped to choose the most qualified candidate and leader for the AL 6th Congressional District. We have worked closely with Scott for years and we are intimately familiar with the issues affecting our district and state.”

The letter was signed by Zan Green, Roger Hill, Dexter Bland, Danny B. Joyner, Ron Hei, Becky Gerritson, Mary Anne Cole, Brenda Bowen, and Jim Hall who are affiliated with Tea Party groups across Alabama literally from the DeKalb County Tea Party to the Dauphin Island Tea Party.

The signatories wrote that they reject the endorsements of the Tea Party Patriots Conservative Fund, FreedomWorks PAC, Club for Growth PAC Choice, Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks PAC, and Club for Growth PAC many of which are pouring dollars into advertising on behalf of Dr. Mathis.

The letter said that those national organizations, “Rely on the support and actions of local tea party groups across the nation to accomplish legislative and grassroots victories. The individuals you call members and activists are WE, the local people on the ground in our own beats, precincts and districts.”

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The Alabama based Tea Party activists wrote, “Scott Beason has been in the trenches fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with Alabama grassroots, even before the inception of the Tea Party. He has a trustworthy legislative voting record to prove it. During his time in the Alabama legislature he has lead the charge on many issues that were vitally important to us and our state sovereignty. This includes authoring the most comprehensive illegal immigration law in the nation, as well as authoring many robust bills to protect our Second Amendment rights. He fought hard to repeal Common Core and was called a “Tax Hawk” by a national paper in his fight against raising taxes.  Scott Beason was “Tea Party” before there was a Tea Party.  We, the signatory below, from the independent Alabama Tea Party and Conservative groups continue to appreciate the relationship with Scott Beason in our fight to uphold conservative values.”

Red State has been staunchly opposed to Senator Beason’s candidacy.  Red State’s Dan Spencer wrote of Beason, “State Senator Scott Beason, has pitched himself as a true conservative and Tea Party voice. We need to be very wary of him, though. He’s another Dean Young, better at shock value rhetoric than anything that advances the conservative cause. His penchant for embarrassing us is so great that Ken Blackwell directly pointed him out in a recent op-ed, saying we should steer clear of this humiliation in waiting.”

Spencer said that, “Mathis has seen first-hand what ObamaCare is doing to our economy and health care system. Unlike most liberals, and probably his opponents, he’s read the monstrous so-called Affordable Care Act in full. And Mathis has made it crystal-clear that he won’t waver in his fight to send ObamaCare to the scrap heap.”  “In Congress, Chad Mathis’s voice will be a major asset to the Conservative movement. He’s one of us to be sure, and he won’t embarrass us either.”

Spencer in that same column: denounced Rep. Paul DeMarco as a, “Candidate with a litany of issues that makes him an albatross to Conservatives”; Gary Palmer as a ‘non-starter; and suggested that Will Brooke is in the pocket of the D.C. establishment.

Public Service Announcement

To this point Dr. Mathis has been endorsed by: U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R) from Utah, the National Association for Gun Rights, Gun Owners of America, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Honorable Ken Blackwell, FreedomWorks PAC, the Madison Project, Citizens United Political Victory Fund, RedState, Club for Growth, the Alabama Orthopedic Society, Young Americans for Liberty’s PAC, Liberty Action Fund, the Alabama State Society of Anesthesiologists, Congressman Andy Harris (M.D.), the Club for Growth,  the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, Congressman Phil Roe (M.D.), Congressman Michael Burgess (M.D.), and Commander Kirk Lippold, U.S. Navy (Ret.).

The crowded District Six field includes: state Representative Paul DeMarco (R) from Homewood, prominent longtime Harbert executive Will Brooke, state Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale, the owner of Royal Mattress Manufacturing in Pelham mattress Tom Vigneulle, retired attorney Rob Shattuck, Indian Springs orthopedist Dr. Chad Mathis, and Alabama Policy Institute co-founder and longtime President Gary Palmer.

Longtime Sixth Congressional District incumbent Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia is not seeking re-election.  Rep. Bachus has served the Sixth District for 11 terms in the U.S. Congress.

The Republican Primary is June 3.

The eventual Republican Party nominee will still have to face Democrat Avery Vice in the November General Election.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Health

Alabama hospitals nearing COVID-19 summer surge levels

Wednesday was the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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UAB Chief of Hospital Medicine Dr. Kierstin Kennedy.

Alabama hospitals reported caring for 1,483 people infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of patients since Aug. 11, when the state was enduring its summer surge. Wednesday was also the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19. 

The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 1,370 on Wednesday, the 36th straight day of that average rising. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,453 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day average of new cases was — for the eighth day in a row — at a record high of 2,192. 

Across the country, more than 80,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high and the 15th straight day of record hospitalizations nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking website.

The CDC this week recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

“The only way for us to successfully get through this pandemic is if we work together,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a message Tuesday. “There’s no one subset of the community that’s going to be able to carry the weight of this pandemic and so we all have to take part in wearing our masks, keeping our distance, making sure that we’re washing our hands.” 

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Kennedy said the best way she can describe the current situation is “Russian Roulette.” 

“Not only in the form of, maybe you get it and you don’t get sick or maybe you get it and you end up in the ICU,” Kennedy said, “but if you do end up sick, are you going to get to the hospital at a time when we’ve got capacity, and we’ve got enough people to take care of you? And that is a scary thought.” 

The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported an increase of 60 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. Deaths take time to confirm and the date a death is reported does not necessarily reflect the date on which the individual died. At least 23 of those deaths occurred in November, and 30 occurred in other months. Seven were undated. Data for the last two to three weeks are incomplete.

Public Service Announcement

As of Wednesday, at least 3,532 Alabamians have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health. During November, at least 195 people have died in Alabama from COVID-19. But ADPH is sure to add more to the month’s tally in the weeks to come as data becomes more complete.

ADPH on Wednesday announced a change that nearly doubled the department’s estimate of people who have recovered from COVID-19, bringing that figure up to 161,946. That change also alters APR’s estimates of how many cases are considered active.

ADPH’s Infectious Disease and Outbreak team “updated some parameters” in the department’s Alabama NEDSS Base Surveillance System, which resulted in the increase, the department said.

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Corruption

Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence

The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was booked into jail to begin serving his four-year sentence for ethics violations in September. (VIA LEE COUNTY DETENTION CENTER)

Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday reduced former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to just more than two. 

Walker in his order filed Wednesday noted that Hubbard was sentenced to fours years on Aug. 9, 2016, after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges for misusing his office for personal gain, but that on Aug. 27, 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed convictions on one counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another five counts.

Hubbard’s attorneys on Sept. 18 filed a motion to revise his sentence, to which the state objected, according to court records, arguing that “Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency.”   

Walker in his order cited state code and wrote that the power of the courts to grant probation “is a matter of grace and lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.” 

“Furthermore, the Court must consider the nature of the Defendant’s crimes. Acts of public corruption harm not just those directly involved, but harm society as a whole,” Walker wrote.

Walker ruled that because six of Hubbard’s original felony counts were later reversed, his sentence should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months. 

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Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday said Walker’s decision to reduce Hubbard’s sentence was the wrong message to send.

“Mr. Hubbard was convicted of the intentional violation of Alabama’s ethics laws, the same laws he championed in the legislature only later to brazenly disregard for his personal enrichment,” Marshall said in a statement. “Even as he sits in state prison as a six-time felon, Mike Hubbard continues to deny any guilt or offer any remorse for his actions in violation of the law.  Reducing his original four-year sentence sends precisely the wrong message to would-be violators of Alabama’s ethics laws.”

Hubbard was booked into the Lee County Jail on Sept. 11, more than four years after his conviction. On Nov. 5 he was taken into custody by the Department of Corrections.

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News

Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, has “mild symptoms”

It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.

Eddie Burkhalter

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University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Iron Bowl and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the university on Wednesday. 

“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allan, associate athletic director, in the statement. “He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.” 

Saban had previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia but was asymptomatic and subsequently tested negative three times, a sign that the positive test could have been a false positive. He returned to coach that game. 

It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn, given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for quarantining after testing positive and with symptoms. Neither Saban nor the university had spoken about that possibility as of Wednesday morning.

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National

Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83

The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

Brandon Moseley

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Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton

Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”

Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.

Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.

The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.

While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.

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Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”

His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.

Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.

This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.

Public Service Announcement

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