By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, July 14, State Representative Allen Farley (R-McCalla) spoke to the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans at their regular monthly meeting at Sidebar on Birmingham’s Southside. When asked about the Speaker of the House race to replace disgraced former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, Rep. Farley said, “I cannot vote for Mac McCutcheon.”
Rep. Farley said that Rep. McCutcheon (R-Capshaw) was Mike Hubbard’s Rules Committee Chairman. Farey said that there needs to be change in the legislature and there won’t be if McCutcheon is Speaker. He will keep all the same committee chairman and nothing will change.
Rep. Farley warned that there are forces in Montgomery who are spending a lot of money to maintain their power and control. Farley said that the GOP caucus needs to go in a room together, shut the doors and then just air all of the issues.
Farley said that McCutcheon tried to cut off funding for the State attorneys in order to stop them from prosecuting Hubbard. Farley said that he did not know whether the next Speaker would be McCutcheon, Steve Clouse, Barry Moore or Lynn Greer or somebody else.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked: We have heard reports that Alabama Governor Bentley is going to call a special session in the first of August to raise gas taxes for roadwork; raid the BP oil money to prop up Medicaid; borrow to build new prisons; and pass the lottery. Is that what you are hearing as well?
Rep. Farley said that he had heard that they wanted another $150 million for Alabama Medicaid. “Senator Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) was just telling me about the other part of that.”
State Representative Farley said that they have been told that Medicaid will need even more money in fiscal year 2018 on top of the $150 million they are asking for fiscal year 2017.
Farley said that the areas with the failing schools are also the areas where most of the State’s prison population lives and it is also the area where much of the Medicaid recipients are from.
In his 31 years in law enforcement in Jefferson County, he got to know the people that were often in trouble with the law. In many cases over the years he also know their fathers and grandfathers and their uncles.
Rep. Farley said that when we release a prisoner he goes back to live in that same environment. He can’t get a job. He is dependent on social services. Eventually the drugs or alcohol cause a relapse and he commits a burglary. He is a repeat offender so he goes back to jail.
Farley said that he is opposed to Gov. Bentley’s plan to build $800 million in new prisons. Tutwiler needs to be replaced but the other prisons can all be repaired. Farley favors adopting a plan used in New Jersey to cut recidivism.
Rep. Farley also favors un-earmarking the budget. He said that the State General Fund (SGF) is only $1.8 billion and the education trust fund budget is $6 billion. When you count federal dollars and earmarked money that is off the books, the state of Alabama really spends $30 billion. Gov. Bentley proposed un-earmarking $100 million. I increase that to $500 million; then the bill went to the State Senate where it could not get support.
Farley said that he was the first legislator to write to Attorney General Luther Strange to call for an investigation of Bentley. Gov. Bentley then phoned him and denied having an affair. Bentley told Farley, “I have a very jealous wife.” Farley said that the gambling interests had convinced Diane Bentley and their son that he was cheating on Mrs. Bentley. The Governor claimed that gambling interests did all this to keep the governor from negotiating a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians (PCI).
Farley said that he sent the letter to Strange anyway but never got any response.
The former Sheriff’s deputy turned legislator said that the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member would meet on Friday to consider hiring a special prosecutor to investigate Bentley.
Afterward Farley wrote on Facebook, “After having the privilege of speaking to the Greater B’ham Young Republican’s, it’s time to sit back with The Love of My Life and enjoy a cup of coffee. It was great to have Senator Bill Hightower, wife Susan, and son Benjamin join us for the monthly GBYR meeting. And, a very special thank you is in order for my friend Barry Matson, the next Executive Director of Alabama’s District Attorney’s Association, for being there.”
Attorney Joel Blankenship asked Farley if the 2010 ethics law was a failed law? Blankenship was concerned that attorneys like Rep. Matt Fridy would not be able to serve in the legislature and have businesses for clients that do business with the State. Blankenship suggested that chicken farmer Senator Clay Scofield could not vote on poultry related legislation because it would be an ethics violation.
Farley said that the ethics law is a good law. Farley said that he has 30 years of law enforcement experience and he could go to one of these companies and ask for a consulting job to improve security. Farley said that he does not do that and instead lives on his legislative pay and his deputy’s pension so that there is no appearance of a conflict of interest.
Matson replied that Scofield would not be violating the law by voting on legislation that affected every chicken farm; his farm and his competitor’s farm alike. It would only be legislation that applied strictly to his company where he would have to recuse himself.
Rep. Farley said that every part of the ethics reform package that was passed in 2010 was approved by Mike Hubbard, Senate Protem Del Marsh, and then Governor Bob Riley. The reason that they pushed this in front of us and said we had to vote for this in 2010 was that they wanted to “destroy AEA” (Alabama Education Association). Farley said that the ethics bill also ended up convicting Mike Hubbard was “collateral damage” the legislature had not anticipated.
The Alabama Federation of Young Republicans Chair Jackie Curtiss invited everyone to attend the state YR convention which is in Florence this year over the weekend of August 12 and 13.
GBYR Chairman Justin Barkley encouraged more persons to join the group and thanked everyone for coming.