By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
At its October 7 meeting, in a spectacle more reminiscent of a Soviet-era Troika, the Alabama Ethics Commission dismissed the request by the State’s Attorney General Luther Strange, and all of the State’s District Attorneys, to reconsider its opinion which effectively allowed Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) to lobby for her paying employer.
With AG Strange and the President of the District Attorney’s Association sitting in the front row, the Ethics Commission not only denied their request to reconsider, but past a revised opinion without consultation from the AG or the DAs as they had requested.
While the new opinion would seem to make it clear that Todd cannot lobby the legislature, or local authorities, on behalf of her employer it leaves lawyerly openings for mischief and abuse.
The revised opinion is confusing and vague, which in Montgomery invites obfuscation and trickery. Ethics opinions were designed to be simple, so the people of Alabama wouldn’t need to become lawyers to read and understand what they meant. However, these opinions are written by lobbyists and lawyers with intentional ambiguities.
Edward A. “Ted” Hosp of Maynard, Cooper and Gale and an HRC lobbyist was on hand representing Todd.
Augusta S. Dowd and Phillip E. Adams, Jr. were present on behalf of Speaker Mike Hubbard, who is charged by the state with 23 felony counts of public corruption. Hubbard’s criminal lawyers are trying to use the Todd opinion as an argument to have the case against him dismissed. Hosp and Todd were seen meeting in Hubbard’s office during the last Special Session.
The opinion issued on Wednesday is more clear, but just as misleading and loop-holed, and leaves plenty of room for Hubbard’s team to use the opinion to their advantage.
The fact that the the Attorney General and the DA’s were left out of the process speaks volumes as to the commission’s arrogance and disregard for law enforcement.
So petty was the Ethics Commission that representatives of the attorney general and district attorneys had to stand in line with the press to receive a copy of the opinion.
The Ethics Commission has now issued another flawed opinion, written more to cover the commission’s first mistakes than adhere to the letter of the law. The latest refusal by the commission to address this fatally flawed opinion that allows lawmakers to skirt State laws begs for intervention by the legislature.