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War of words between ACCA and Republican Party Chairperson Terry Lathan

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, August 22, 2017, the Alabama County Commission Association (ACCA) Board of Directors passed a resolution admonishing Alabama Republican Party Chairperson, Terry Lathan, and demanding an apology or retraction about statements she made about the Association’s longtime Executive Director, Sonny Brasfield, and ACCA’s efforts to defeat SB108, a bill that ended crossover voting in primary runoff elections.

The issue came up when the ACCA opposed Legislation during the 2017 Legislative Session banning crossover voting in party primary runoffs.  The Alabama Republican Party and Chairperson, Terry Lathan, were strongly in support of that Legislation, sponsored by State Senator Tom Whatley (R-Lee County) and carried in the House by state Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).  Lathan sent an enail to Republican County Commissioners explaining why the Party supported the Legislation and why she felt the ACCA was wrong in opposing it and claimed that ACCA staff were misrepresenting the facts about the Legislation.  Many in the ACCA disliked the tone of the letter and disputed the assertion that ACCA staff and Director Brasfield misrepresented the facts of the bill.

In Tuesday’s resolution the ACCA charged, “After a thorough review of the assertions and allegations in Ms. Lathan’s correspondence the Association’s Board of Directors – both Republican and Democrat – unanimously concluded the email to be misleading, unprofessional, and written in a spirit of divisiveness. The Association Board of Directors further agree that the blatant misrepresentation in Ms. Lathan’s correspondence about the Association’s Executive Director and his staff warrants either a retraction/and or an apology.”

The resolution was then forwarded to members of the Republican Party Executive Committee, Secretary of State John Merrill (R), Republican County Commissioners, and Republican members of the Legislature.

Following passage of this resolution, ACCA President Bill Strickland sent a letter to Lathan in which he charged: “You drafted and distributed an email filled with inaccuracies and pushes the boundaries of good faith.”

Both the Resolution and President Strickland’s letter to Chairman Lathan were made public and are posted on the ACCA website.

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The Alabama Political Reporter (APR) asked Chairman Lathan about this controversy.  Lathan replied,  “I can confirm that I did alert Republican County Commissioners that their Executive Director misrepresented important facts in an attempt to kill the closed primary crossover voting bill (SB108) in the 2017 Legislative Session.”

Lathan stated, “At the last minute Mr. Brasfield, the ACCA Executive Director, tried to derail this bill so important to the Republican Party. He sent out selected pieces of the process to generate opposition to our bill. Furthermore, he told his membership that they should oppose the bill because it “would” add cost for elections. This was not the case since the poll books were optional and never mandated.”

Lathan showed APR an email in which “the association (ACCA) staff” claim, “The Secretary of State’s amendment that would put the cost of electronic poll books on the county coffers narrowly passed the House this morning.”

Lathan said, “Again, this bill did not mandate the use of electronic poll books. It is totally optional.”

Lathan wrote, “The House and Senate batted away these last minute tactics and strongly supported the bill.  My notification to the GOP County Commissioners was to simply alert them that their Executive Director left out pertinent information. These slanted actions were not appreciated by myself, Senator Tom Whatley or Representative Arnold Mooney.”

Chairman Lathan concluded, “If Mr. Brasfield had accurately reported to his members all of the facts surrounding this bill, there would not have been a response from myself to the Republican County Commissioners. I will not stand idle when anyone misleads voters or elected officials on a situation this important to our Party.”

SB108 passed despite ACCA’s efforts.  As a result, on September 26, Democratic voters who participated in the August 15, Democratic Party Primary are legally barred from participating in the September 26 Republican Party Special Election runoff for US Senate between Judge Roy Moore and Senator Luther Strange.

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Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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