By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY— Signaling a different leadership style, Acting Speaker of the House, Victor Gaston (R-Mobile), announced on Monday that he had declined his State security detail.
In the first press release this publication has received from the Speaker’s Office in over three years, Gaston said, “Allowing law enforcement officers to dedicate their time to more important duties than chauffeuring me between Mobile and Montgomery will save scarce taxpayer dollars and conserve valuable state resources.” He further added, “I have always worked to be an unpretentious man, and walking around with a security detail in tow would draw attention that is simply unnecessary.”
Gaston’s decision to forego the trappings of his office appears to be a deliberate move to draw a sharp contrast between his leadership style and that of former Speaker Mike Hubbard, who used the mantle of his office for personal gain. Recently, a jury of Hubbard’s peers in Lee County handed down a guilty verdict of 12 felony counts of public corruption.
Gaston was also entitled to a security detail when he was originally elected House Speaker Pro Tempore in 2010, but he opted to decline the offer, as well.
“As a legislator, I am well aware that our State law enforcement agency has too few officers and too many responsibilities,” Gaston said. “The officers that would have been assigned to my protective detail may now devote their attention to more pressing concerns and priorities.”
Representative Randall Shedd R-Cullman commended acting speaker Victor Gaston for declining state trooper security detail, which includes a driver.
Shedd issued the following statement: “I am proud to see the beginning of change in Montgomery by acting speaker Victor Gaston declining security and a state paid driver. This one decision is a small step that sends a big message of change in Montgomery.”
Shedd also said he firmly believes legislators must change the way they do business “or the voters will.”
A permanent Speaker is expected to be elected in July. Gaston and Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R- Huntsville) are said to be the leading contenders.