By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
After Governor Ivey signed Executive Order 706 on July 13, preventing all officials of the executive branch from appointing a registered lobbyist to any related agency, The Alabama Political Reporter asked the Ivey Administration about Governor Fob James’ Executive Order forbidding any State entity from hiring lobbyists.
Governor James, on January 18, 1995, signed Executive Order 1 which prohibits the hiring or contracting lobbyists with State funds. Governor James explained in his Executive Order that agencies hiring lobbyists caused interagency fighting over scarce public resources, causing public money to be wasted.
James’ order reads in part, “I order and direct that the various departments, agencies, divisions, boards and commissions of the State of Alabama are prohibited from employing, hiring, or contracting with a lobbyist or any person, corporation, partnership, association, or other entity for the purpose of promoting or opposing the introduction or enactment of Legislation before the Legislature, or a Legislative committee or the members thereof, or promoting or opposing Executive approval of Legislation.”
Daniel Sparkman, Governor Ivey’s press secretary, responded to APR’s request saying, “Governor James’ Executive Order also prevents the hiring or contracting of lobbyists. These two Executive Orders work hand-in-hand to ensure that the government in Alabama is a government of the people and that special interests do not have unjust influence over it.”
Since James left office in 1999, it appears the prohibition on hiring lobbyists is a forgotten relic, broadly ignored. However, according to Sparkman, Governor Ivey will hold all taxpayer-funded departments, agencies, divisions, boards, and commissions to the James EO. “Any violation of these Executive Orders would have to be handled on a case-by-case basis, either through administrative action or the court system,” said Sparkman.
Article V: Section 113 of the 1901 Constitution declares, “The Supreme Executive power of this State shall be vested in a chief magistrate, who shall be styled ‘The Governor of the State of Alabama.'”
Governors in recent years failed to either understand or fully apply Executive Orders issued by their predecessors. Gov. Ivey, however, is taking all matters under the purview of the executive branch as inviolate, if not otherwise amended.
Several boards and commissions are employing lobbyists. The most recent example is the $450,000 contract with Danny Cooper, who is a registered lobbyist for the Real Estate Commission.
According to State statute and the Ivey Administration, James’ order is still in effect and will be enforced.