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Pro-Jones PAC is not disclosing its donors, the FEC has been asked to investigate

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Baldwin County businessman Kevin Spriggs has asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate a Super PAC that is spending large amounts against Republican senate candidate Roy Moore but is not showing any donations.

Spriggs made the request to FEC Chairman Mathew Peterson Monday.

“Mr. Commissioner – As a resident of Alabama, I have noticed a Super PAC titled ‘Highway 31’ running numerous campaign commercials in the Mobile Al television market, including an ad during the SEC Championship football game.  A search of the FEC website shows hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses without any donors. I also checked the irs.gov website for forms 8871 and 8872 required to be filed by 527 organizations. No filings are shown for donors and expenses. If donations and expenses exceed $50,000, the IRS requires an electronic filing of form 8872.

“I am asking you to please investigate this matter as it appears that this Highway 31 organization is evading campaign finance law by not disclosing their donors.”

Spriggs owns a gas station, restaurant and other businesses in Baldwin County.  In 2015 he led a campaign against a massive tax increase for Baldwin County.  The Baldwin County school system retaliated by ordering their bus drivers to stop using Sprigg’s gas station. After Spriggs complained, the school system rescinded the order.  The tax increase was soundly defeated by voters.

Spriggs said that he has not received any reply from the FEC but says he hopes for action before the December 12 special election for an Alabama U.S. Senate seat.

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Republican nominee Judge Roy Moore faces Democrat former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones for the seat formerly held by Jeff Sessions.

The financial irregularities were first reported on Friday by the ‘Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markey

Highway 31 has spent millions to defeat the Moore; but voters don’t know who is donating to the shadowy group because they have refused to reveal who the donors are behind its $multi-million ad buy.

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Highway 31 has reported spending almost $2 million worth on ads in the race, making it the single largest independent spender in the special general election. The group filed its finance report on Thursday but said it had received and spent no money.

According to original reporting by Breitbart News’ Michael Patrick Leahy, the venders both have close ties to former President Barack Obama. Bully Pulpit Interactive is based in Washington and was founded by former Obama campaign official Andrew Bleeker, they have provided more than $800,000 in online advertising services to Highway 31 between November 6 and November 22.  Waterfront Strategies, also based Washington, is reportedly a wholly owned subsidiary of GMMB Consulting, which was founded by former Obama campaign official Jim Margolis. It has spent more than $309,000 in media buy services during that same period.

Neither report being paid for any of this, which could mean that donors will come forward to pay for all of their efforts after the people vote, too late for the voters to see who is the puppet masters behind the scenes before they cast a ballot or the two venders could just provide the expensive services themselves to Highway 31 out of their own civic interests.  That is probably unlikely.

The same Highway 31 PAC has been chastised as purposely misleading voters by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s office. Secretary of State Spokesman John Bennett wrote, “Reports from several sources indicate a targeted effort to misinform and confuse voters regarding whether an individuals’ voting record would be available to the public. No individual voting record is made available to anyone at any time, including the voter who cast the ballot.”

“When voters cast a ballot the State of Alabama’s voter registration system is updated to document the election that a voter participated in but no record is ever made documenting the candidate for whom the ballot was cast,” Bennett said. “In the Alabama Primary and Primary Run-off Elections a record is made which would indicate whether a voter had voted in either the Democrat or Republican party race but the name of the candidate for whom the voter cast their ballot is never recorded.”

“In Alabama, voters do not provide political party affiliation when they register to vote because the state does not track that information,” wrote Bennett.  “We have communicated with the individual(s) that created the video and have expressed to them the misinterpretations presented in this political commercial. At the time of this release follow-up communication had not yet been received.”

The group has been, according to the Secretary of State’s office erroneously, telling voters, “If you don’t vote and Roy Moore—a child predator—wins, could you live with that? Your vote is public record and your community will know whether or not you helped stop Roy Moore.”

Moore has accused the Jones campaign of blatantly lying in ads about his time as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.  On Friday, Moore said in a statement, “In all three Supreme Court cases mentioned in Doug Jones’s latest campaign ad, he blatantly misrepresents the facts and my judicial record. I did not disagree with the convictions of the defendants in those cases.”

“In the Tate and Pittman cases, two of the most conservative justices on the Court—Tom Parker and Glenn Murdoch—joined me in dissenting from the Court’s refusal to review the case, a procedure known as ‘certiorari,’” Moore wrote, “Justice Douglas Johnstone, who served on the Court during Judge Moore’s first term, has stated: ‘My impression was that he genuinely wanted to apply correct law to accurately distilled facts.’  We are demanding that Doug Jones immediately retract his blatant lies and apologize for misrepresenting Judge Moore’s judicial record. All stations should immediately remove this deceitful ad from their rotations.”

Moore is being outspent ten to one by Jones and his out of state allies.

The special election will be on Dec. 12 for the Senate seat formerly held by Jeff Sessions.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Economy

Alabama weekly unemployment claims dip below 10,000 for first time since March

It is the lowest number of initial claims filed in a week since the number first spiked in the third week of March, when it jumped from 1,824 to 10,982 — though still much higher than before the pandemic began.

Micah Danney

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(APR GRAPHIC)

There were 9,468 unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, down from 11,692 the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

It is the lowest number of initial claims filed in a week since the number first spiked in the third week of March, when it jumped from 1,824 to 10,982 — though still much higher than the normal before the pandemic began. The most weekly claims filed during the pandemic was 106,739 in the week ending April 4. In 2019, an average of 2,500 people per week filed unemployment claims.

65 percent of the claims — or 6,110 claims — from Aug. 2 to Aug. 8 were related to COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. That compares to 76 percent the week before.

New claims dropped sharply in May and declined fairly steadily, then increased over the first half of July as cases resurged in Alabama but began declining again in the second half of July. Average daily COVID-19 cases peaked on July 19 before beginning a new decline.

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News

Mazda, Toyota invest additional $830 million in joint Huntsville plant

The additional investment into the plant, which is to produce new SUV’s for both car companies, is for new manufacturing technologies to the production line and additional training for the 4,000 or so expected workers.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday announced an additional $830 million investment in Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp.’s joint manufacturing venture, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, in Huntsville. 

The additional investment into the plant, which is to produce new SUV’s for both car companies, is for new manufacturing technologies to the production line and additional training for the 4,000 or so expected workers, according to a press release from Ivey’s office. 

“Toyota’s presence in Alabama continues to build excitement about future opportunities that lie ahead, both for our economy and for the residents of our great state,” Ivey said in a statement. “Mazda and Toyota’s increased commitment to the development of this manufacturing plant reiterates their belief in the future of manufacturing in America and the potential for the state of Alabama to be an economic leader in the wake of unprecedented economic change.

The additional $830 million brings the total investment in the project to $2.311 billion and will allow for production line modifications for both of the new models. Once complete, the facility is slated to be able to produce up to 150,000 of a future Mazda crossover model and up to 150,000 of the Toyota SUVs annually. 

The joint venture has already hired approximately 600 of the planned 4,000 new workers, and the companies expect to begin accepting applications again later this year.

“Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is proud to call Alabama home. Through strong support from our state and local partners, we have been able to further incorporate cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, provide world-class training for team members and develop the highest quality production processes,” said Mark Brazeal, vice president of administration at MTM, in a statement. “As we prepare for the start of production next year, we look forward to developing our future workforce and serving as a hometown company for many years to come.”

Construction on the Huntsville plant is ongoing, with 75 to 100 percent completion on roofing, siding, floor slabs, ductwork, fire protection and electrical, according to the press release. 

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“This newest investment by our partners at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing shows the company’s continued confidence in the ability of our community to provide a strong, skilled workforce to meet the demands for quality and reliability,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said in a statement. “We look forward to the day when the first vehicles roll off the line.”

“We are excited to learn of this additional investment being made by Mazda Toyota Manufacturing,” Limestone County Commission Chairman Colin Daly said in a statement. “We continue to be grateful to MTM for their belief in our community and look forward to our partnership with them for many years to co

Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the new investment will magnify the economic impact of a project that is poised to transform the North Alabama region.

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“With this enhanced investment, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA is adding new technology and capabilities to a manufacturing facility that was already designed to be one of the most efficient factories in the automotive industry,” Canfield said in a statement. “We’re confident that the groundbreaking collaboration between Mazda and Toyota will drive growth not only for the companies but also for North Alabama for generations.”

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National

Jones calls for fixes to USPS delays and reduced costs for election mail

“Like voting itself, the U.S. Postal Service is vital to our democracy,” wrote Sen. Doug Jones and 46 other senators to the U.S. postmaster general.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and 46 Senate colleagues in a letter to the U.S. postmaster general on Thursday expressed serious concerns over changes that will increase the cost of citizens to vote.

“Like voting itself, the U.S. Postal Service is vital to our democracy. Since you assumed the role of Postmaster General, there have been disturbing reports regarding changes at USPS that are causing significant delays in the delivery of mail. Under normal circumstances, delayed mail is a major problem – during a pandemic in the middle of a presidential election, it is catastrophic,” the senators wrote in the letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. 

President Donald Trump on Thursday repeated statements he’s made that the U.S. Postal Service won’t be able to process mail-in ballots in the November election without the needed federal funding, which he is withholding. 

“They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion—billion—for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo Thursday morning. “Those are just two items. But if you don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting. Because they’re not equipped to have it.”

DeJoy in recent days has ordered major reshuffling in the Postal Service’s management ranks, ordered a hiring freeze and made other cuts. Secretaries of state nationwide were also notified that instead of the 20-cent bulk rate for election mail, as has been used for decades, now it would cost 55 cents to send such mail via first-class postage. 

The Postal Service in previous elections treated all election mail, no matter how much was spent on postage, as first-class and as such expedited delivery. The recent announcement signals that election mail not sent first class will not receive the same expedited delivery times, worrying many that DeJoy, appointed by the Postal Service’s majority-Republican board in May, is attempting to exert political influence into mail delivery just before the presidential election. 

Trump has repeatedly said, without factual cause, that mail-in ballots are ripe for fraud. Mail-in voting has surged across the country in recent elections and even more so amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states — including California, Colorado and Washington — conduct all elections almost entirely by mail.

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Mail-in voting fraud is incredibly rare, according to The Brennan Center for Justice, which noted that in Oregon, a state that votes primarily by mail, only about a dozen cases of voter fraud were proven out of 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000. 

“As Postmaster General, you have a duty to our democracy to ensure the timely delivery of election mail. Millions of Americans’ right to vote depends on your ability to get the job done. We urge you not to increase costs for election officials, and to direct all Postal Service employees to continue to prioritize delivery of election mail,” the senators’ letter continues.

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Elections

Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police endorses Russell Bedsole

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama House District 49 Republican candidate Russell Bedsole.

The Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Republican candidate Russell Bedsole in the special election in Alabama House of Representatives District 49. Bedsole is a Captain with the Shelby County sheriff’s Department and currently serves on the Alabaster City Council.

“There is no doubt that our country, state, and communities are facing extreme challenges,” said Everette Johnson, the president of the Alabama State FOP. “These challenges have caused stress, divisiveness, and concern for the future of our country. Now more than ever, we need strong, yet compassionate, leaders to guide us through these turbulent times. We need leaders who understand how important the safety of our communities should be and the willingness to work together for all. Russell Bedsole is that leader.”

Bedsole said it is an honor to be endorsed by the Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police.

“As a representative of District 49, I will work to protect law and order in our communities and stand up for our conservative Christian values in Montgomery,” he said.

Bedsole and competitor Mimi Penhale were the top two vote-getters in the Republican primary runoff. Chuck Martin, who came in third, has also endorsed Bedsole.

“I wanted to again thank those that voted for me, supported me by putting up signs and making phone calls,” Martin said in a statement on social media. “I also want to thank those who also made donations to fund my campaign. Since I came in third, Russell Bedsole and Mimi Penhale have both ask for my endorsement. I want to ask those that supported me to support Russell Bedsole. Both candidates are great people, but Debbie and I made the decision to support Russell.”

Bedsole has been elected twice by the citizens of Alabaster to represent the city’s fifth ward on the Alabaster City Council. Bedsole’s campaign said that during his time of service, Alabaster has benefited from positive economic growth, a first-class school system and a high quality of life. He has also received endorsements from the Shelby County Fraternal Order of Police, Alabama Association of Nurse Anesthetists and Conservation Alabama.

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A runoff election for the District 49 seat will be held on Sept. 1.

“I humbly ask for your vote on September 1 to grant me the opportunity to serve District 49,” Bedsole said.

The special election is being held to fill the seat left vacant when Rep. April Weaver, R-Briarfield, joined President Donald Trump’s administration as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services. House District 49 includes portions of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties. The eventual Republican nominee will face Democratic nominee Cheryl Patton in the Special General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The winner will serve the remainder of April Weaver’s term, which ends in late 2022.

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