By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, May 4 State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) released the civil suit to stop school boards from spending taxpayer funds on referendum campaigns for tax increases.
The Baldwin County School Board spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on propaganda promoting a recent referendum that would have dramatically raised the property taxes of homeowners in Baldwin County. Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) asked Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) for the AG’s office to intervene, instead Strange issued an Attorney General’s opinion that the School Board did nothing illegal.
Since an Attorney General’s opinion is legal precedent until a court says differently, Zeigler (an attorney himself) is filing suit to overturn that AG’s opinion. Auditor Zeigler said in a press statement, “The suit is the legal remedy to overturn an incorrect attorney general’s opinion.”
Zeigler said, “Luther Strange says it’s legal to spend taxpayer funds on referendums for tax increases. Jim Zeigler says it is illegal. Here is the 2010 law: Improper use of state property, time, etc., for political activities Code of Alabama 17-17-5(a): No person in the employment of the State of Alabama, a county, a city, a local school board, or any other governmental agency, whether classified or unclassified, shall use any state, county, city, local school board, or other governmental agency funds, property, or time, for any political activities.”
AG Zeigler announced that he is filing suit in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Zeigler filed his suit himself and on behalf of two Alabama taxpayers from Baldwin County.
The defendants are Attorney General Luther Strange, Baldwin County Superintendent Robbie Owen and school board members Norman Moore, Angie Swiger, David Tarwater, and Shannon Cauley.