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Opinion | The sad tenure of Larry Stutts

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Larry Stutts is being sued for medical malpractice.

Again.

The state senator from Sheffield and practicing OB/GYN was sued last month following the death of twin babies. The lawsuit, filed by Raymond and Julie Ann Shultz, claims Stutts’ negligence was to blame. Stutts was Julie Ann’s OB/GYN.

Specifically, the lawsuit says Stutts dismissed Julie Ann’s complaints of pain and bleeding, along with other signs of preterm labor, resulting in the Shultzes’ twins being born at just 24 weeks.

In an answer to the complaint, Stutts denied any wrongdoing.

But he can’t deny being an absolute disaster as a state senator.

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Since the day Stutts set foot in the Alabama Legislature, he has experienced one problem after another — almost all of them of his own making — and rarely found himself on the good end of a news story.

Seriously, think about Stutts’ tenure.

It started with the third bill he introduced — to repeal a law created when one of his patients died following childbirth. (Oh, and just a BTW here: he was sued over that death too, and eventually settled with deceased’s husband.)

That bill, which repealed a law that required insurance companies to cover a minimum two-night hospital stay following childbirth,  drew the ire of Stutts’ colleagues who had signed on to co-sponsor the bill. Many of those co-sponsors claimed Stutts never informed them of the history of the law or his involvement in the creation of that law.

At the same time, and with the same bill, Stutts also drew the ire of the breast cancer lobby, because his bill also repealed a law requiring that women be notified by letter if a mammogram indicates dense breast tissue. Longtime state Sen. Roger Bedford, who Stutts beat in 2014 to become a senator, had fought for the original law. Many legislators said privately at the time that the move was a sort-of middle finger from Stutts to Bedford.

But Stutts wasn’t done.

In 2015, he was also a named party in another medical malpractice lawsuit, which stretched on for two years before a settlement was finally reached. Stutts was dismissed from the suit in mid-2017.

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In 2016, an al.com investigation of campaign finance records found that Stutts, just days before his election upset of Bedford, loaned himself $125,000 — most of which remained in his campaign account — and then used donations that flooded in AFTER the election from big-dollar PACs to repay himself. It’s a legal move, but it’s mighty shady, and not exactly the best look for a guy running on the “aw shucks, I’m just a hometown boy lookin’ out for ya” line.

But all of that turmoil and hatefulness pale in comparison to the way Stutts finished up the 2017 legislative session, and the pain his actions brought.

That legislative session was mostly dominated by two bills: the autism therapy bill and the daycare regulation bill. The first passed, sort of, and the second failed.

That daycare bill would have forced church-affiliated daycares, which currently face ZERO regulations from DHR, to adhere to the same standards that non-church daycares currently face. And the final version of the bill would have excluded all existing church daycares.

Larry Stutts killed it.

He wasn’t exactly alone, until the end. A couple of Republican representatives and another senator held up the negotiations and left the bill’s sponsors and supporters scrambling to get it passed. But at the end, when it mattered most, Stutts blocked its passage.

And less than three months later, one child in Muscle Shoals had been burned with a cigarette at a church daycare and another child, 5-year-old Kamden Johnson, had died after being left in a van by a convicted felon who never should have been driving kids.

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Already, in 2018, Stutts, speaking on the Senate floor, compared people not recognizing him when he’s not wearing a suit to police profiling and wrongfully stopping black lawmakers who are driving through the nice neighborhoods where they live.

Cluelessness. Callousness.

That is the four-year senate legacy of Larry Stutts.

Let’s hope that’s the end of it.

Written By

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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