By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
MADISON COUNTY – A harsh primary season this year in Alabama Senate District 2 has culminated in a post-election legal complaint by a losing candidate in the GOP race alleging improper spending by an outside group during the campaign against him.
In a letter addressed to Attorney General Luther Strange and forwarded to the Governor, the Secretary of State, and ALGOP Chairman Bill Armistead, former Senate candidate and current State GOP Executive Committee member George Berry claims that a group called Republican Refresh spent large amounts of money against him in the race but failed to report them as legally required, having neither filed as a political action committee or filed any contribution or expenditure reports.
“Without question, they broach the $1 thousand limit above which certain reports are required by the Fair Campaign Practices Act,” the letter reads,
saying the group “indulged in a wide scattering of yard signs.. and funded prolific advertising in the media.”
The letter also takes direct aim at who Barry says is “the leader of Republican Refresh,” Brent Beal, saying that as “a lawyer, and one presumably knowledgeable of the laws of Alabama, a plea of ignorance is certainly not an acceptable excuse here.”
Barry, who lost his seat on the Madison County Republican Executive Committee on primary day, was indeed the subject of a video on Republican Refresh’s website.
In the video, Barry and two former State Republican Executive Committee members Dean Johnson and Hugh McInnish speak about their efforts to seek ALGOP’s participation in a lawsuit that would have forced the Alabama Secretary of State to request a birth certificate from President Obama.
Johnson and McInnish also attended the press conference Barry had to announce his complaints against his the GOP group. “Can they get away with attacking candidates with money no one knows were it came from?” Johnson asked during the conference.
The content of the video on Refresh’s website, says Beal, who has responded to Barry’s complaint, is certainly one factor authorities should consider, saying that the group did no attack ads, but focused on changing leadership.
The main reason Beal says he isn’t worried, however, is because he tried to file campaign finance paperwork – and found out he didn’t have to, according to the Secretary of State. “The part [Barry] has wrong is there is no filing mechanism for Republican Executive Committee races,” he said, “You can’t even file [a report] if you want to.”
Indeed, the Secretary of State’s office has confirmed that filings are not required for these races, thought the Attorney General has yet to comment on the matter.
Barry concluded his letter by asking that Strange “investigate and effect whatever prosecutorial measures are appropriate,” adding that he “would be pleased to cooperate… in any way” he might be helpful.
Barry lost his Senate bid to GOP incumbent Senator Bill Holtzclaw.