By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Despite the attack by his predecessor, Secretary Mabry insists that former AEA Executive Secretary Hubbert is still his friend and mentor. Marby insisted that the AEA will handle its business internally and not in the press. Sec. Mabry said in a written statement, “The issues raised in that letter are matters internal to our association and we have policies and procedures in place for dealing with such matters,” the statement said. “I respect Dr. Hubbert as a mentor and a friend. But these issues must be handled by the elected leadership of AEA, not in the press.”
Retired Sec. Hubbert, however, told The Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman, that he wrote the letter to get the governing board of AEA to look at the finances of the organization prior to it’s scheduled vote on next year’s budget this coming Friday.
According to original reporting by Brian Lyman, Hubbert said, “I have been hearing that the Association’s financial situation was deteriorating, I didn’t think a whole lot about it, but I did look at the public records available. I saw the Association was actually spending more than it was taking in.”
There clearly is a very real faction within the AEA staff and power structure that is dissatisfied with Sec. Mabry and his leadership style.
The Alabama Political Reporter has spoken with sources within AEA on both sides of this issue and at this point no one seems to know how the Board will rule on the proposed budget or which side has the votes on the leadership issue.
Secretary Mabry is scheduled to make his budget presentation to the AEA Board of Directors on Friday at 6:00 pm. The Executive Secretary of the AEA is considered, by virtue of his organization and the millions of campaign dollars it controls, to be one of the top ten most powerful people in the State of Alabama. At this point, it is likely that even Executive Secretary Mabry does not know if he will still be in that position on Monday.
So far, 2014 has been a challenging year for the AEA and Mabry.
Secretary Mabry went into the year hoping to get a modest pay raise for Alabama Education Employees and retirees. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) supported a very modest raise, as did Alabama School Superintendent Tommy Bice. The education budget submitted by the Governor and State education officials, however, was dead on arrival in the Republican controlled Alabama legislature. The State legislature passed their own budget with no raise for teachers and education workers and no raise for education retirees, easily sweeping aside any opposition from desperate Democrats and the handful of Republicans who were willing to oppose the Republican leadership.
In June, Secretary Mabry hoped to make the GOP take notice in the future. The AEA targeted Republicans who had been hostile to AEA goals in the last term with endorsements of their primary opponents. In some races, the AEA backed Tea Party activists. In other races, the AEA supported former Democrats or GOP moderates. Most AEA endorsed candidates lost. The Chairman of the Alabama GOP Bill Armistead took the unprecedented step of getting involved in a GOP Primary and came out against the list of candidates who received AEA funds. The candidates backed by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston all won their State Senate races. Secretary Mabry did knock off seven members of the House, possibly making it easier to block a cloture motion in the Alabama House of Representatives next year.
Participation in the election process costs money. State elections are every four years in Alabama. This is an election year and the AEA has been spending money…a lot of money. Some in the AEA, including former AEA Executive Secretary Paul Hubbert, say the Association has spent too much money. Critics in the association claim that Dr. Mabry spent too much money on the wrong candidates and Democrats in the AEA claim more money should have been saved to fund Democratic challengers in November’s general election. These voices have been given new life by the rare public statement from the 78 year old retired Secretary Hubbert.