By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The Alabama Ethics Commission has issued an opinion that would allow Rep. Randy Davis (R-Daphne) to accept a position with Arc Terminals, a principal with business before the State. State law makes in illegal for a legislator to receive a thing of value from a principal, in this case: a paycheck. Some have questioned why a oil and gas storage facility would hire a music teacher/law maker to be its Information Officer.
Casi Callaway, Executive Director of Mobile Baykeepers says, she has known Davis for over 17 years, and believes he is a good man who would do a excellent job articulating the position of the company while keeping in mind the needs of the community. “Rep. Davis is great to work with,” said Callaway, and he would give the company sound advice.”
Mobile Baykeepers is an environmental group whose mission is to, “provide citizens a means to protect the beauty, health and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed, Alabama’s waterways and coastal communities.”
In its opinion, the ethics commission found, “Arc Terminals, Inc. could not offer and Representative Davis could not accept this position as an offer of future employment as a ‘thing of value,’ unless the job offer and compensation are given under circumstances which make it clear that, “the thing is provided for reasons unrelated to the recipient’s public service as a public official, or public employee.”
Davis, a music teacher, said the job offer was based on his 25 year experience in marketing and public relations related work.
His future employer, ARC confirmed in writing to the Commission that Davis’s previous positions in both the public and private sectors, “give him the marketing and public relations experience Arc desires, as does the length of time he has lived in the community.”
In its opinion, the commission stated, “Public officials cannot use their position so as to provide personal gain to themselves or businesses with which they are associated; and they may not vote on issues in which they have a conflict of interest. Moreover, they may not use public property under their control for the benefit of a business with which they are associated. See Ala. Co(~ § 36-25-5.”
However, they found that in Davis’ case, working for a principal with business before the State did not violate the ethics laws.
Callaway said ARC has been open to the Baykeepers concerns, while acknowledging that ARC has made some bad choices in the past.
In August 2015, it was discovered that the company was storing sulfuric acid without a permit, which led to some heated debates at the Mobile City Council. ARC later confessed it had illegally stored the toxic material beginning in Feb. 2015. This also led to issues with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).
In 2013, ARC purchased Gulf Coast Asphalt Company’s marine terminalling facility with an eye toward expansion. The controversy surrounding the secret sulfuric acid and other environmental concerns has slowed that process. There are insiders who think hiring Davis would grease the wheels of progress for the company, and question how he can keep his role as local representative and information officer compartmentalized.