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Dark money, dark times in Alabama

By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter

In the wake of the Titanic revelations in the Gov. Robert Bentley/Rebekah Mason affair, there’s all sorts of movement in the Legislature to make things “right.”

Yeah, “right.”

Except, none of the proposals are likely to go forward. Some Republicans (and Democrats) are calling or Bentley’s impeachment. Strange, they haven’t tried to demote or expel House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who is under 23 corruption indictments and continuing to put off his trial as long as possible.

There’s plenty of salacious stuff surrounding Bentley’s (at a minimum) phone sex scandal with top adviser Mrs. Rebekah Mason. But is there any fire in that smoke? Bentley is 73. Probably not much fire.

Hubbard, meanwhile, is in real trouble. It’s sad that the top three Alabama elected officials — all Republicans — are under dark clouds that should start dropping rain any time. They’ll get drenched, all the time declaring they’re dry.

Don’t give Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston) a pass. He’s all for other folks revealing their dark-money contributions, but not his own. In a normal year, Marsh’s hypocrisy would be big news. This year, we have Bentley’s breast- and butt-cupping of a woman young enough to be his daughter, and Hubbard fighting the very ethics law he supported, then trapped him.

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Marsh refusing to reveal donors to his 501(c)(4) dark money group would certainly gain the attention it deserves, if there weren’t those storms surrounding Bentley and Hubbard.

When is Alabama going to do it right? These Republicans said they could govern. They clearly can’t. Some can’t even govern their own nasty desires. Or their greed. Or their want that their critics reveal who’s giving money to them, but refusing to do the same.

Alabama, frankly, is a mess. It won’t be cleared up in one election or two.

As Alabama Political Reporter’s Brandon Moseley reported, state Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) has introduced a constitutional amendment giving Alabama voters the power of recall. Strange he didn’t do this more than two years ago when Hubbard stepped in the flowing manure.

Meanwhile, Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), well known for proposing crappy, self-serving legislation, has proposed a constitutional amendment to “regulate the disclosure, raising and spending of moneys to influence elections and governmental actions.”

Yeah, Orr wants to do that when it’s about somebody else, like Bentley and his concubine, who was getting paid from who knows where. Well, that’s not true, really. Mrs. Mason knows where the money was coming from. So does Bentley. So do others in state government, but they’re not saying.

As reported by APR Editor in Chief Bill Britt, “Orr said the people of Alabama deserve to know who funds such groups, but when asked about 501(c)4s, led by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston), Orr did not directly answer the question.”

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Yeah, because it’s about Marsh and Orr, not about giving the people of Alabama, who employ these “Republicans who can govern” true transparency. That would certainly leave the emperor with no clothes, and I simply can’t think of Bentley like that. I’m surprised Mrs. Mason apparently can.

Yes, we’ve got a mess on our hands, and it’s not going away soon. Alabama, once again and as usual, is the laughingstock of the nation. Bentley can’t apologize it away. Mrs. Mason can’t hide from it. Mike Hubbard can’t delay it forever. And Del Marsh can’t just have it his way.

We need a cleansing. A good, old-fashioned, deep soul cleansing of the mind and spirit of Alabama. But it doesn’t look like we’re going to get it.

The mud simply won’t wash off with a few words and apologies. Bentley said he’s asked God for forgiveness. God is grace, that’s for sure. Bentley, Hubbard, Mrs. Mason and Marsh need all the grace their 501(c)(4)s can afford.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every Wednesday for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

 

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Joey Kennedy
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Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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