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Moore campaign fires back at Leigh Corfman

Chip Brownlee



By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

As the sexual misconduct allegations continue to swirl around U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, three of his spokesmen came out Tuesday to push back against the women whose accusations have threatened to capsize his campaign, claiming Moore’s first accuser Leigh Corfman had “pre-existing behavioral issues” and that other specific details from Corfman and other accusers just don’t add up.

Moore’s campaign has maintained and said again Tuesday that Moore has never met Corfman and doesn’t know her but Corfman, in an interview Monday, stood by her accusations that Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14 years old, and he was 32, saying, “I wonder how many ‘me’s’ he ‘doesn’t know.'”

Ben Dupré, a former chief of staff to Moore, attempted to cast doubt on Corfman’s statements that her life spiraled out of control after she had alleged contact with Moore. Dupré said the campaign has proof that the custody hearing the day Corfman says she met Moore was predicated on the fact that, according to court documents, Corfman had “certain disciplinary and behavioral problems.”

“This was the basis for them asking that custody be changed from Leigh Corfman’s mother to her father because the father was better equipped … to deal with the already existing disciplinary problems of Leigh Corfman,” Dupré said.

The press conference Tuesday on the steps of the State Capitol comes after nearly two weeks of near-constant pressure from some Washington Republicans and the media have forced the campaign to come up with a way to discredit the allegations. Before Tuesday, the campaign had largely focused on the allegations of another accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, but the campaign switched gears Tuesday, targeting Corfman — the first of three women to accuse Moore of sexual assault.

“Her story has only been told in the vaguest of terms without any deeper investigation by the media,” Dupré said.

The campaign says Corfman’s mother transferred her custody rights to Corfman’s father on the day Corfman says she met Moore outside of an Etowah County courtroom. The campaign says her account isn’t credible because Corfman went to live with her father in a different town about 30 minutes away after custody was signed over on Feb. 21, 1979, citing court documents — which, if true, would ultimately discredit Corfman’s claim that Moore called her “a few days later,” as she said in the Washington Post report, picked her up and took her back to his home for the first time. Corfman has said Moore took her to his home a second time “soon after” the first visit. That’s when the alleged assault occurred.


“And finally, I would point out that Corfman’s father did not live in Gadsden or even Rainbow City at the time of all of this, he lived farther away in Ohatchee, Alabama,” Dupré said. Dupré also claimed that even if Corfman was with her mother at the time, her alleged pickup spot on Alcott Road and Riley Street was nearly a mile away from her mother’s home and across a major road — more than “around the corner from her house,” as she described in The Washington Post report.

It isn’t clear which home Moore’s campaign is referring to in their rebuttal because they wouldn’t take questions or how that distance changes the legitimacy or credibility of the account. The three spokesmen, Dupré, campaign strategist Dean Young and Stan Cooke, a former lieutenant governor candidate, left the press conference without fielding shouted questions from the press.

”I’ll answer questions later but not right now,” Young said, refusing to specify when “later” would be.

The Alabama Political Reporter has obtained its own copy of the court documents Moore’s campaign cited at the press conference. The documents show that custody was, in fact, signed over on Feb. 21, 1979, but Corfman would not have immediately moved to live with her father like the campaign claimed. Instead, custody didn’t officially transfer until 11 days later on March 4, 1979 — a date outlined plainly in the documents but not mentioned by Moore’s backers Tuesday. It’s a tight timeline, but it would have given Moore more than a “few days later” to call Corfman.

And according to the court documents, Corfman’s mother also had custody every other weekend beginning on Friday, March 16, 1979. The documents do say Corfman had “certain behavioral and disciplinary problems” but goes into no further detail, and the campaign did not say how that would discredit her allegations.

“There is no one here that doesn’t know that I’m not an angel,” Corfman said in the Washington Post report, referring to her home town of Gadsden.

Corfman has said the second trip to his rural Etowah County home, soon after the first, ended with Moore taking off both their clothes and touching her over her underwear. When he tried to get her to touch him over his underwear, she pulled away and asked to go home, she said, and he took her. The age of consent was 16 years old at the time and remains so today.

“I was a 14-year-old child trying to play in an adults’ world, and he was 32 years old,” she said Monday. Since she met Moore, she said she had trouble trusting men and lost her confidence. She acknowledged in the original Washington Post article that she has had some legal troubles since she says she had contact with Moore.

The conservative website Breitbart has repeated many of these same allegations, attempting to disprove what they say are “key details” of Corfman’s story. The website quoted Corfman’s mother as saying that Corfman did not actually have a phone in her bedroom, as she said in the Post story. But later in the same story, she says the phone could have easily reached her room.

Moore’s campaign has been focused on the media and the accusers since the allegations surfaced nearly two weeks ago in The Washington Post, chopping the allegations up to nothing more than a Washington establishment, liberal media attack on his conservative campaign. The Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and national Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, have yanked support from Moore. The state party, on the other hand, aside from the Alabama Young Republican Federation, has chosen to stand by him — believing his denials over his accusers’ accusations.

President Donald Trump — who remained silent on the topic until Tuesday — gave Moore some reprieve from national abandonment when he cast doubt on the timing of the accusations and attacked Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones for being “soft on crime.”

Moore has avoided direct questioning from the press, including local press, ducking reporters after the few press events he’s held since the allegations surfaced, and he didn’t attend the press conference his campaign called Tuesday afternoon.

The other spokesmen went on to repeat claims from the Moore campaign that Beverly Young Nelson’s story doesn’t add up, either — a task they’ve been embarked on for more than a week. The campaign has called for Nelson to turn over her only piece of hard, physical evidence, a yearbook she says Moore signed in December 1977, just days before he allegedly assaulted her. The campaign says the inscription on the yearbook is “altered,” and they want it reviewed by an analyst.

Nelson’s attorney, Gloria Allred, who herself is a lightning rod among conservative circles, has refused to turn over the yearbook, and instead called for Moore to testify before a Senate ethics committee.

Nelson told reporters at a press conference that she was 16 in 1977 when Moore assaulted her in his car behind a restaurant she worked at in Gadsden. The assault, she says, left her bruised and lying on the ground near a dumpster by where Moore parked in an unlit area.

Cooke, one of the Moore spokesmen, read statements at the press conference from two women who said they worked there from 1977-1979. The two women, Renee Kiser Schivera and Rhonda Kiser Ledbetter — who appear to be sisters from public records and obituaries for some of their family members — told the campaign they don’t remember Nelson ever working at the restaurant and don’t remember seeing Moore there as a regular customer.

The two women, whom the campaign has billed as “key witnesses,” also say Nelson would have needed to be 16 to work at Olde Hickory House. Nelson said she was 15 when she started working there, was 16 when the assault occurred and she quit the next day. In a written statement included in an email Moore’s campaign sent to the press Monday night, the women go on to dispute the closing time of the restaurant, whether it was dark out back, where the dumpsters were located, and if there would have been room for Moore to park where she says he parked. The men who spoke Tuesday said disagreements between the women’s recollections of the restaurant were “major contradictions,” which cast doubt on Nelson’s claim.

“Only now have these accusers come forward,” Cooke said. “This is an effort by these people, the liberal media, the Republican establishment, to malign the good name of Judge Moore.”

The two women weren’t present at the press conference, and the press couldn’t ask questions about their accounts.

Nelson and Corfman’s accusations are two of the most salacious among those of several women who have said Moore pursued them when they were in their teenage years. Some say Moore took them on dates and kissed them with their consent, but others allege Moore pursued them more persistently — calling their schools and showing up at their places of work when they were between the ages of 16-18. One said Moore forcibly kissed her. Another said Moore bought her alcohol when she was underage on a date.

One accuser, Tina Johnson, told she was in her late 20s when Moore grabbed her buttocks in 1991.

The three spokesmen categorically denied the allegations against Moore and said he never acted inappropriately around them. They also cited a former Gadsden police officer who disputed the New Yorker’s report that Moore had been banned from the Gadsden Mall, though they didn’t specifically respond to any other allegations except for the two more salacious from Corfman and Nelson.

“Allegations are words; they are not facts,” Cooke said. “Allegations are words; they are not indictments, and they are not charges.”

Moore is facing off against Jones in a special election that’s only three weeks away. Jones, for most of the past two weeks, has attended events and tried to stay under the radar on the Moore accusations. But a new ad-buy from his campaign focuses predominantly on the accusations against Moore, citing statements from Ivanka Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Shelby, all three of whom are among the Republicans who have broken with Moore’s campaign in the last two weeks by saying they believe the accusers.

Moore’s spokesmen said he will still win, despite the accusations.

“Fox News can put out their fake polls, and everybody else can too, but he’s still winning and he’s never been losing because the people of Alabama don’t go for what y’all are trying to sell,” Young said.



In Case You Missed It

House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley



By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”

Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.


The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.


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In Case You Missed It

Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison



By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.

The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.


Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

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In Case You Missed It

Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison



By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.

Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.


Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

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In Case You Missed It

House OKs bill to clarify consulting contracts by state legislators

Brandon Moseley



By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to try to clarify how legislators accept consulting contracts under Alabama’s 2010 ethics law. Some pundits have suggested that House Bill 387 is actually designed to weaken the existing ethics law.

Sponsor state Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, argues that the legislation is merely a clarification and is intended to prevent legislators from inadvertently crossing the line into illegality.

Wingo said that his bill would require legislators to notify the Alabama Ethics Commission that they have entered into a consulting agreement in an area outside of their normal scope of work.

State Rep. Paul Beckman, R-Prattville, said, “I have never understood why members of this body were allowed to take contracts as consultants or counselors.”

Wingo said, “Never do I use the word counselor in my bill; it is consulting.”

Beckman asked, “Are we going to be getting into an area where  every time we turn around we create a bureaucratic nightmare where we have to go get an opinion. These opinions whether it is orally or written don’t hold up in a court of law.” Beckman said, “We are serving the people here but we get this admonition that we can still be a consultant if we get an opinion.”

Wingo said, “This does not apply to professions where a member is currently licensed.”


Beckman said, “I would like to see more opinions coming out of the Ethics Commission. Right now we have the Ethics Commission competing with the Attorney General’s office over who has more authority.”

State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said,”This happened to a friend of mine. He just got out of prison. He was a state senator and had a written letter from the Ethics Commission which his lawyer read at trial and the jury convicted him anyway.”

Rogers never named his friend, but reporters think he was talking about former state Sen. Edward Browning ‘E. B.’ McClain who spent over 22 years in the legislature until he was convicted on 47 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, bribery, and money laundry in 2009.

A federal jury found that McClain and the Rev. Samuel Pettagrue were guilty in a scheme where McClain would secure public funds for Pettagrue’s community programs and then receive a kickback once the funds were in hand. McClain was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison. McClain was not prosecuted under the Alabama ethics law as the state has a much weaker ethics statute then. The current ethics law was passed in 2010.

Rogers said, “If they offer me a consulting contract for a field like aerospace engineering that I know nothing about they are trying to pay me off. If you can already be a consultant for something you know about why would you seek a consulting contract for something you don’t know about.

Rogers this is how they can pay you off for your vote.”

State Rep. Artis “A.J.” McCampbell said, “I don’t like making changes to things like this because we get into things called unintended consequences.”

McCampbell was reading from the bill and Wingo said, “You are reading from the original version it has completely changed.” “We worked tirelessly on this bill with the Ethics Commission this is not a fly by night bill.”

“If a member of the legislature enters into a contract to do a consulting contract outside of their normal field of work this bill requires that they consult with the Ethics Commission first,” Wingo said. “It is up to the member to notify the Ethics Commission not to the company or person offering them the money.”

State Representative Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said, “Everybody but legislators are allowed to do contract work up to $30,000.”

Rep. Wingo said, “This is not intended to be a roadblock.”

State Representative Arnold Mooney, R-Indian Springs, said, “The whole purpose of this is not to prevent members from doing work in your field.” “What you are doing is offering to protect me.”

State Representative John Knight, D-Montgomery, asked Wingo what the Alabama Attorney General said about this legislation.

Wingo replied, “I have not contacted the Attorney General.”

Knight responded, “Something from the Ethics Commission does not carry a lot of protection from the Attorney General. We have seen that in the past. I think the Attorney General and the Ethics Commission should be in agreement in the working on this.”

Wingo answered, “Maybe this is a first step.”

Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, asked, “Do we have anybody doing work outside of their regular scope of work?”

Wingo answered, “Yes I think so.”

Wingo said, “If we had had this bill four or five years ago maybe we could have been spared the embarrassment that this body experienced with the former Speaker.”

Wingo was referring to former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard who was convicted of 12 counts of felony ethics violations in June 2016. Ironically, Hubbard is largely responsible for creating the ethics law that he was found guilty of violating 11 times in his relentless pursuit of outside contracts and personal wealth.

Unlike McClain, however, Hubbard has not yet served any of this sentence.

House Bill 387 passed 67-0 with 26 legislators abstaining.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

(Original reporting by the Alabama Media Group’s Lisa Osborn in 2009 was consulted in this report.)

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