By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—On November 17, an illegal election was held to replace the Executive committee of the University of Alabama College Republicans, (UACR), according to the ousted President.
Maverick Flowers, who served as president of the UACR until he was replaced in a surprise election said, “I’m used to these people personally attacking me…but I didn’t think they would go and try to illegally pull some stuff, but they did.”
Flowers said the illegal elections that led to the replacement of the UACR leadership was orchestrated by members of the College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA), with aid from the Alabama State Republican Party, (ALGOP).
This is not the first time that party Chairman Bill Armistead and members of the ALGOP Executive committee have tried to control college leadership, even though ALGOP has no authority over college groups.
In 2013, Stephanie Petelos, then chairwoman of CRFA, was reprimanded by Armistead after speaking out in support of marriage equality. So adamant were some members that a proposed by-laws change to remove anyone from the ALGOP steering committee who expressed views contrary to those of the Republican National Committee was proposed.
Petelos reached an agreement with the party leadership as long as she stayed publicly quiet. “If I didn’t talk to any more press, or post on Facebook, or use any of my influence to talk about gay marriage, then they would not try to continue removing me from the steering committee,” she said.
In the case of Flowers and his fellow members of the College’s Executive Committee, the solution was removal, not negotiations.
Flowers said he and the UACR Committee first became aware of the coup attempt when Dalton Dismukes, College Republican Central Vice Chairman, and Robert Crocker, Treasurer of the CRFA, along with members of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, paid a surprise visit to their November 3, meeting.
According to Laura Carr, Secretary of the UACR, she and others were overwhelmed when over 20 college students showed up at the November 3, meeting wearing ALGOP stickers, wanting to join the club that night, and pay their $10 membership so they could vote.
“There was nothing to vote on that night, we were trying to sign-up volunteers to work on campaign the following day,” said Flowers, “we were trying to get people on the campaign to do last minute flag waving…and all of a sudden 25 new people randomly show up…saying they wanted to vote. It was at this point that Flowers said he, “smelled something kind of fishy.”
Flowers and Carr later found that the “fishy” part began with an email sent by the Alpha Chi Omega sorority entitled “Happy Election Day Eve! BONUS POSITIVE POINTS.”
The email read, “Hello again lovely ladies!
I’ve been in contact with Taylor Dawson, AXO alumn who graduated in May, and we have some lovely information for everyone!
It is Election Day Eve! In the spirit of Election Day, I am offering bonus positive points to anyone who goes to the College Republicans meeting tonight and pays membership dues ($10 in cash) to join. The CRs have a lot of great things coming up in the next few months, and they’re looking for a boost in membership. Taylor Dawson now works for the Alabama Republican Party, and she reached out to me about getting Alpha Chi involved! She will be at the meeting tonight and hopes to see a lot of you there!
The meeting will be in Bidgood 365 at 7:30 pm! I hope y’all can make it! This is a great opportunity for a few extra positive points here at the end of the semester!
Remember to go vote tomorrow no matter which party you are for!
Happy Election Day Eve!”
At the time, Dawson was working closely with the State Republican Party. It is also believed that ALGOP communication Director, Britney Garner, reached out to her former sorority Kappa Delta Alumni, to motivate them to turnout for the college republican meeting as well.
Flowers said that he and Carr began to except the checks for membership from those who came to the meeting, but that the whole event was strange, “We start taking money and writing names down on a sheet. We had girls paying $60.00 for multiple people in cash. One girl is saying, “I’m paying for these 6 people.”
“I’m with this group. They’re paying for me.” it was really awkward, Flowers recalls, “I had never seen anyone pay someone else’s dues……then we get a check from Don Wallace, one of ALGOP’s executive committee members out here in Tuscaloosa County, and that struck me as weird because Don’s never been a fan of the county republicans here.”
According to Flowers and Carr the official meeting was over when things took a very bad turn. CRSA’s Dalton Dismukes and Robert Crocker tried to commandeer the meeting, with Dismukes saying loudly,”We’re gonna hold elections tonight.”
Flowers said he responded saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, we’re not holding elections here tonight.” According to his account there was a “huge confrontation…we kept saying you’re making a scene, let’s meet in private but they continued to call for an election even though the meeting was adjourned.”
Flowers says that according to the chapters constitution, elections are held in the Spring. He also notes that the constitution states that the chapter’s executives are the only officials that may call for elections.
Dismukes has asserted that the UACR were operating under the 2005 constitution and not the current 2014-2015. However, as Flowers points out, both documents state that it is the executive committee of UACR that must call for an election.
But, the takeover attempt did not end on November 3. On November 18, Dalton Dismukes called a meeting of the UACR to hold elections. Dismukes said on Facebook that the meeting was initiated by the groups sponsor, Jamey Clement and the Source, which is the governing agency for student organizations.
Flowers said that Clement had been replaced as the groups sponsor when he ran for a seat in the State House of Representatives. His replacement was Dr. George Hawley, a political science professor at UA. However, the change was never never recorded by the Source.
Flowers said that certain leaders at ALGOP became irritated with him and the UACR when the group conducted a survey of its members which showed they had moderate views on Gay Marriage, Legalizing Marijuana and the Education Lottery. Flowers said everyone was welcome as long as they identified with some part of the national platform, but not everything. “These are today’s kids voting and they have less hang-ups about social issues.” Flowers said, “…when they say you’re liberal or moderate that means you don’t agree with them, that’s all they really mean.”
“Clement spoke with Flowers the day before the coup election warning him that no matter how the executive committee felt about it, the leadership would be changed that night regardless,” said Carr. “This is completely unconstitutional an adviser is not allowed to call an election, let alone a past adviser.”
However, on November 18, Dismukes and Clement sponsored a meeting at which Flowers and the others members of the UACR were replaced. “The only people who showed up to their meeting were the people ALGOP incentivized; the 23 they had gotten before…none of our members were there, with the exception of Scott Whitehouse, who was UACR’s Vice President.” Said Flowers, “…he was only there to keep us informed on what was happening.”
Flowers and the other members of the original UACR have filed with the Source and hope to bring this illegal action to light.
Flowers says, while he will be graduating soon, he doesn’t want to see just an injustice left unanswered. “They are teaching kids that it is o.k. to act like this, and that is not the way it should be,” said Flowers.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Alabama continue surge
On Monday, 1,335 patients with COVID-19 were being cared for in hospitals statewide, the most to date.
Alabama on Monday saw the highest number yet of COVID-19 patients in hospitals since the start of the pandemic, and the second-highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases on record.
On Monday, 1,335 patients with COVID-19 were being cared for in hospitals statewide. That was 172 more COVID-19 patients than were hospitalized the previous day — and the largest single-day increase in hospitalization numbers reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The last record number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alabama was on Friday, when 1,201 people were being treated statewide. The increase Monday is also 134 more patients than were being care for on Friday.
Friday was the sixth straight day of record-breaking COVID-19 hospitalizations in Alabama. Friday also saw the second-highest number of deaths in a single day in the state, when ADPH confirmed 35 new deaths as a result of COVID-19, nearly breaking the previous record of 37 set on May 12.
On Monday, the state also added 1,860 to Alabama’s total case count, bringing the cumulative total now to 54,768 confirmed cases. That’s the second-highest single-day increase in cases since the start of the pandemic. With 25,783 people presumed to have recovered from the virus, and at least 1,096 dead, more than half of the state’s cases, or 27,889, are presumed to be active.
Testing has ticked up slightly in the last few weeks — Alabama’s seven-day average of tests conducted was 9,176 on Monday, 93 more than the previous high set on July 5 — but the percentage of tests that are positive continues to increase as well, a sign that new cases aren’t just due to more testing.
The seven-day average positivity rate Monday was 16.18 percent, which was almost 30 percent higher than it was a week ago. Taking into account the Alabama Department of Public Health’s incomplete testing data on July 9 and in early April, which threw off the positivity rate, Monday’s seven-day average was the highest on record for Alabama.
Public health officials say that the percent of tests that are positive should be at or below 5 percent or there’s not enough testing being done and cases are going undetected.
Madison County continues to see a surge in new cases. The county added 267 new coronavirus cases on Monday, and over the last week added 1,044 new cases, which was 70 percent more than were added the week before. Madison County’s positivity rate this week has been roughly 16 percent.
Jefferson County followed closely behind Madison County, adding 266 new cases Monday and 1,602 cases within the last week, which was a 30 percent increase from the week before.
In Mobile County, there were 157 new cases Monday.
Mobile County’s weekly total of new cases for the last week was 23 percent higher than the previous week.
Extra $600 in COVID-19 unemployment benefits ends July 26
The extra weekly unemployment payment of $600 ends later this month.
Despite surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Alabama and in many other states, an extra $600-per-week in unemployment compensation through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program is expected to expire July 26.
That extra money, meant to help those whose jobs were displaced by coronavirus and through no fault of their own, was made possible through the CARES Act, the federal aid program that is to continue through Dec. 31, 2020, but the extra weekly payment of $600 ends later this month.
“At this time, the federal government has not changed or extended the FPUC program. States do not have the ability to extend FPUC,” the Alabama Department of Labor said in a press release on Monday.
The end of the extra assistance will impact more than 25 million Americans, during a time when COVID-19 continues to spread actively through communities.
More than $1 billion has been pumped into Alabama’s economy through the extra $600-a-week payments to Alabamians, according to the New York City-based think tank The Century Foundation.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments make up 60 percent of total unemployment benefits paid during the pandemic.
In Alabama, 35,760 people are receiving the extra $600 a week, which totals approximately $91.7 million weekly into the state, according to The Century Foundation, which estimates that benefits to Alabamians receiving unemployment assistance will decrease by 70 percent once the extra $600 a week dries up.
The average current combined unemployment benefits in Alabama is $854.95 and after the end of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments, the remaining unemployment benefit will be roughly $254.95.
There are also racial justice implications in the end to the extra $600 a week in aid, according to the think tank.
“Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina all have average unemployment benefits below $300 per week, as a result of both low wages and unemployment insurance rules that simply offered less protection to predominantly black workforces,” The Century Foundation’s report notes.
In Alabama, 57 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic from March to April were women and 50 percent were white, while 43 percent were Black, while Black people make up only 27 percent of the state’s population.
The report states that the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit was intended to be a public health measure, helping workers while they stay home until it is safe to go back to work.
“Just as rushed reopenings put families at risk, eliminating FPUC now will force people to rush back to work before it is safe,” the report reads.
Job seekers can visit their local Career Center or search jobs online without cost at alabamaworks.alabama.gov.
Barry Moore receives two key endorsements
Barry Moore, candidate for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, received two key endorsements from the Alabama First Responders Association and the Veterans Leadership Fund. Both groups made the decision to endorse Moore because of his pro Veteran, pro Law Enforcement, and Pro First Responders stance.
“We at the Veterans Leadership Fund, an initiative at GatorPAC, are proud to endorse Veteran, Barry Moore for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. At VFL, we have a rich history of supporting candidates who best represent true conservative values and have served our great country. As a self term-limiting representative, a devout conservative, and a true man of the people, Barry Moore is the ideal representative for veterans and conservatives alike,” said Rob Maness, founder of GatorPAC and the Veterans Leadership Fund.
“The Alabama First Responders are proud to endorse Barry Moore for Alabama’s second Congressional district. Alabama’s heroes put their lives on the line every day. We must protect their jobs, and make sure that their families will be covered if something tragic happens in the line of duty. Barry always voted in support of first responder legislation while he served in the Alabama Legislature. We are confident that Barry Moore will continue his support while serving in Congress,” said interim Director Brett Trimble.
Moore responded with the following statement:
“I am very honored to receive both of these endorsements. I am a Veteran and having the support of the Veterans Leadership fund is quite an honor. I have always worked to support and defend our Veterans. When I served as the Chairman of Military and Veterans Affairs in the Legislature, I always made sure our servicemen and women were a top priority.
“First Responders are the backbone of our communities. They serve the citizens and put their lives on the line each day. When a disaster happens we can always count on these brave men and women to respond with courage and empathy. President Trump has shown great care in protecting and defending our law enforcement officers. We can’t let the Democrats attempt to defund the Police. When I’m serving in Congress, I will stand strong with the President and DEFEND our Police and first responders.”
Moore is a small businessman, Veteran, former member of the Alabama Legislature, husband, and father of four from Enterprise.
Sessions says Alabama doesn’t take orders from Washington after Trump inserts himself in race again
GOP Senate candidate and former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, released a statement pushing back against President Donald Trump’s endorsement of his opponent, former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, in which he said “Alabama does not take orders from Washington.”
The blunt comments were in response to a Twitter post from Trump once again inserting himself in the Alabama Senate race.
“I’ve taken the road less travelled,” Sessions said. “Not sought fame or fortune. My honor and integrity are far more important than these juvenile insults. Your scandal ridden candidate is too cowardly to debate. As you know, Alabama does not take orders from Washington.”
This was after Trump tweeted, “Big Senate Race in Alabama on Tuesday. Vote for @TTuberville, he is a winner who will never let you down. Jeff Sessions is a disaster who has let us all down. We don’t want him back in Washington!”
Trump has called his decision to appoint Sessions as U.S. attorney general his “biggest mistake” as president.
The rift between the two former friends began in 2017 when Sessions, newly appointed as attorney general, recused himself from the Russian collusion investigation. Sessions has steadfastly defended the decision and continues to maintain that he was forbidden by U.S. Department of Justice policy forbidding anyone who was part of a campaign from investigating that campaign.
Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump in the 2016 presidential election and worked tirelessly throughout 2016 as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.
Sessions maintains that had he not recused himself from the Russian collusion investigation things would have gone worse for Trump. As it was, his duties in the matter fell on fellow Trump appointee Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel.
The special counsel investigation successfully prosecuted a number of close Trump associates for various failings in their personal and professional lives, but ultimately never was able to indict the president or a member of the Trump family, and it never was able to produce tangible evidence that the 2016 Trump campaign was involved in collusion with Russian intelligence agencies to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Sessions is running for the Senate seat he gave up to be attorney general.
Tuberville has been avoiding the media since a New York Times report detailed how Tuberville’s business partner David Stroud cheated investors out of their savings and was sentenced to ten years in prison. The two had formed a hedge fund, managed by Stroud, a former Lehman Brothers broker. Tuberville maintains that he was Stroud’s biggest victim, but the investors sued Tuberville, who settled out of court.
Sessions’ campaign maintains that incumbent Sen. Doug Jones’ campaign will capitalize on the scandal during the general election similarly to how they capitalized on allegations against former Chief Justice Roy Moore to win the 2017 special election to win the Senate seat vacated by Sessions to be attorney general.
Sessions was a late entrant into the Senate campaign. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, has endorsed Sessions.
“Jeff Sessions is a good friend and a respected former colleague,” Shelby wrote. “I believe he is well-suited to return to his role as United States Senator for the state of Alabama, where I served with him for more than 20 years. He has my full support and endorsement.”
Sessions was Senator from 1997 to 2017. He was U.S. Attorney General from 2017 to Nov. 2018. Prior to his Senate service, he served the state as Alabama Attorney General, Republican Party Chairman, and U.S. Attorney under Presidents Ronald W. Reagan (R) and George H. Bush (R). Sessions was also a former assistant U.S. Attorney and a U.S. Army reserve officer. He is a native of Alabama who grew up outside of Camden in rural Wilcox County.
The Republican primary runoff is on Tuesday. In order to vote in any Alabama election you must: be registered to vote, vote at your assigned polling place, and have a valid photo ID. It is too late to register to vote in this election or obtain an absentee ballot; but if you have an absentee ballot today is the last day to return it either through mail or by hand delivering it to your courthouse absentee ballot manager’s office.