By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Crenshaw County Republicans and some on the ALGOP steering committee are still seething over self-proclaimed Alabama Trump Victory chairman, Perry O. Hooper Jr., inserting himself into a recent local event.
The rift came to a head at Wednesday’s ALGOP Steering Committee meeting according to multiple sources with knowledge of the event but are not authorized to speak on the record. According to these sources, ALGOP Chair Terry Lathan felt there was no need to address Hooper’s unrelenting self-aggrandizing political activities, but the rest of the committee disagreed. After some discussion, the committee unanimously approved that Lathan would send Hooper an official reprimand.
For over a year, Hooper has posed first as the Alabama Trump Campaign co-chair, which has been soundly disputed by Republican State Rep. Ed Henry who was Trump’s co-chair, Chess Bedsole and others who held official positions. Even though Hooper was repeatedly warned not to use the title, he’s continued to market himself as a Trump Campaign co-chair. He has also referred to himself as Alabama Trump Victory chairman, which he says is a title bestowed on him by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son.
In the recent press notice that started the brouhaha in Crenshaw County, Hooper again refers to himself as Trump campaign co-chair, which is false and misleading according to Henry, who first exposed Hooper. In the press release, he also uses the title of Alabama Trump Victory chairman. A search of FCC filings show a Trump Victory Committee, which doesn’t list Hooper in any capacity. According to the RNC, there were 22 members on the committee; Hooper’s name doesn’t appear in the official documents. In July 2016, the State Victory Finance Chairs names were released without a mention of Hooper. Bedsole earlier confirmed Hooper was the Trump Montgomery River Region Committee chair. A far cry from the lofty titles he claims.
In response to APR’s request for clarification, Lathan said, “My understanding is that Ed Henry and Jim Carns were the Alabama Trump Campaign Co-Chairs. I have seen Mr. Hooper say he is the chair for a Trump Victory Campaign but I have no knowledge one way or the other. Those are two different entities per my understanding.”
Hooper’s latest adventure began on Oct. 4, when under an official-looking logo, he sent a press release stating that he was emceeing an event where, “Two Crenshaw County Commissioners will become the latest in a long list of Alabama elected officials to switch from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party.”
The event was canceled after Crenshaw County Republican Party Chairman William Morgan Rayborn Jr. sent a letter to ALGOP Chair Terry Lathan asking her to put an end to Hooper’s practice of seeking headlines to further his political profile. “Perry has pulled this same publicity seeking stunt before in other areas,” wrote Rayborn.
But Hooper, undeterred, held the party-switching event even though Lathan notified the press it was canceled and told Hooper the same.
Over the last several days, APR received several calls and emails from committee members who are tired of Hooper’s grand-standing. APR also received a copy of a letter sent to Lathan and her reply.
Republican stalwart and Crenshaw County resident, Judge Terry Butts, who serves as a pro bono legal adviser to the county party, confirmed to APR that he wrote a subsequent letter to Lathan, ALGOP’s legal counsel and the steering committee questioning what it would do about Hooper holding an unauthorized party event.
“In spite of the event cancellation, ‘Perry Hooper and the Party Switcher’s’ (not to make light of it, but it does sound comically like some kind of Juvenile Band), went on with their apparently pre-planned event and agenda to the exclusion of the Local GOP,” Butts wrote. He also points out that Hooper used the name, mantle and banner of the GOP to do so, thereby simply ignoring the directions, authority and rules of the GOP.
Butts also questions if ALGOP rules matter any longer, or are they ignored for favorite-sons?
Lathan responded to Butts’ letter saying, “Hey Judge. I have spoken with the county chair twice and had very good supportive conversations on this issue. I also warned Mr. Hooper and asked him to cancel his event. He said he would, however it went on.”
Lathan’s email shows that Hooper, who sits on the ALGOP executive committee, ignored the chair’s directive by carrying out the unauthorized event. She said Hooper “plans to apologize for his ‘press release’ to the chairman and the county party.”
She further says, “Good news is these incidences are few and far apart. It is hard to control another’s choices. I did note that the ALGOP logo or name was not used in Mr. Hooper’s release. He mentioned I was attending which was accurate although I was a guest of the Crenshaw County GOP.”
For Lathan, it seems in her response to Judge Butts that she placed more emphasis on what Hooper had not done than the fact that he held an unauthorized event under the ALGOP banner.
However, Lathan responded to the incident saying she believes internal party matters should not be handled with leaks to the press. “Internal party matters happen time to time. I prefer to handle these matters firmly behind closed doors,” said Lathan. “Any party member that anonymously shares inside organizational bumps or espouses their opinion with a lack of information to the press should be ashamed of themselves.”
Perhaps taking a page from President Donald Trump’s play book, Lathan sees little value in anonymous sources, labeling them cowards. “Hiding behind anonymity is cowardly,” she said. “That’s not a team player and their motives are highly suspect.” She added that she had admonished Hooper privately and felt it was an internal matter, even after Hooper publicly ignored her stern advice.
Writing about the event on social media, Hooper said, “I’m not a politician! I’m a businessman…I got involved with the Trump campaign because I knew we had to change the direction of America. I am very loyal to President Trump, and I’m proud of it.” However, it is widely known that Hooper is seeking the senate seat being vacated by Republican lawmaker, Dick Brewbaker, at the end of his term.
Hooper, also on social media, posted several pictures of him with various Trump children to validate his relationship with the president.
One of Hooper’s supporters called APR’s story, “Fake news.” Angela McClure on Facebook wrote, “This article is fake news!! How do you think Mr. Hooper sat in the front row when the President came to Huntsville?? It’s because he is Chairman of Trump’s Alabama Campaign.”
But contrary to McClure’s thinking, seating arrangements do not change the fact that public records and statements from the campaign dispute Hooper’s claims.
In his letter to ALGOP, Judge Butts asks:
“Does one have the right to use by usurping the Mantle and Banner of the Republican Party by:
(1) Either expressly and/or impliedly, holding oneself out falsely, including falsely creating personally enhancing “Titles” (perhaps comparable to the shame of wearing military medals never earned)
(2) Profanely “cuss out” an Honorably serving Republican State Representative & Member of the State GOP Executive Committee (Ed Henry), plus have it published/heard all over the internet, Facebook, etc., with no repercussions from the State Party as if one (Perry) was apparently a sanctioned (or perceived to be sanctioned) spokesman for the Republican Party, in the manner in which Perry Hooper, Jr., has done and is continuing to do, at political events?”
Butts concludes by asking, “Just how far will our Party allow Ethical Hypocrisy to extend?”
The ALGOP steering committee decides in Hooper’s case that enough is enough.
The headline of this story was changed after ALGOP chair Lathan shared more material with APR.