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GOP attorney general candidates address Republicans in Vestavia

Brandon Moseley

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The Republicans running for Attorney General — Chess Bedsole, Troy King, Steve Marshall, and Alice Martin — all addressed the Mid-Alabama Republican Club at their monthly meeting at the Vestavia Hills Public Library on Saturday.

Chess Bedsole said this was his hometown club.

Bedsole said, “I got out of law school in the mid-90s and wanted a job in D.C. so I went to D.C. hoping to get a job and found one with Jesse Helms.” While working with Senator Helms, Bedsole said that they banned federal dollars from being withheld from the Boy Scouts and defeated Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s ban on bullets.

Bedsole said in 2000 he was sent to Florida’s Broward County where he worked for the George W. Bush legal team in the Florida recount. “After that, I came home and went to work and have been here for the last 17 years. I am a 47-year-old lawyer. I got involved in the Jefferson County bankruptcy had some clients who bought the fraudulent vehicles.” Bedsole said that he has been a criminal judge for a municipality in Blount County. The drug dealers started dealing outside of Bedsole’s jurisdiction. He went to Senator Jeff Sessions for help in setting up a drug task force. Sessions told Bedsole, “I need you to work a state campaign for me.” Bedsole agreed. “Being from Alabama I thought that would be a Governor’s campaign. Two weeks later I got a call from Trump Tower.” Donald Trump wanted Bedsole to run his Alabama campaign.

“While working for President Trump, my credit cards were hacked 17 times and the death threats piled up. Eventually, they had me traveling with Mike Pence for protection.”

After the election, Bedsole worked on Trump’s transition team. “I was asked what we are going to do with Obama’s executive orders: we are going to burn them to the ground, and that’s what we did. While there, I got a phone call from Bentley’s office asking me to interview for the Attorney General’s position. I told them, no. They said we thought you were interested in this job. I told them, I do want to do this job, but won’t interview because I am not going to recuse myself from the biggest public corruption case that office is handling. I am the only one on this stage that would not interview with Bentley. I have a passion for this job.”

Bedsole said, “We are number three for murder in the states. We trail Illinois only because of Chicago and we trail Louisiana only because of New Orleans. Birmingham’s murder rate has doubled in three years and that kind of crime has bled over into other areas.”

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Former Attorney General Troy King said, “In 1979 I was a 10-year-old boy growing up in Elba. My dad called us all in for a family meeting. My dad said the real estate business is really bad. There is just nobody buying houses and there is no money for a vacation. Nobody moves to Elba so all the real estate market in Elba is just people in Elba trading houses and there has to be a strong economy for that. I asked whose fault is that and he thought for a minute and said the President’s. Back then, Elba was all Democrats. Well, I sent a letter to volunteer for Ronald Reagan. They sent me some brochures and I went door to door asking people to vote for Ronald Reagan so I can go on vacation. That is when I decided what I want to do. If we are going to send men to Washington and Montgomery that are going to make decisions that are going to affect boys in places like Elba I want to be one. I lived my boyhood dream.”

King was Alabama Attorney General from 2004 to 2011.

King said that for eight years he has watched what went wrong. The top three issues facing our state are corruption, corruption, and corruption. He said that he wants to make us proud to say we are from Alabama. He would like for parents to be able to show a picture of the governor of Alabama to their kids and tell them that if they work hard to study that they can grow up and be like the governor of Alabama. Does anyone say that? It doesn’t have to be that way

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“When I became Attorney General, we had the weakest sex offender law in the whole country. There was no real penalty for sex offenders not registering and most of them did not; so it was worse than not even having one because a parent could go on the internet and search in their area and it would tell them that there were no sex offenders in their area when that was not the case so then they lowered their guard. I sought to change that. Senator ‘Jabo’ Waggoner and Rep. Jim Carns worked with us and we wrote the toughest sex offender law in the country.

King said that he wanted sex offenders to be required to wear ankle bracelets. To bring attention to that King said that he wore an ankle bracelet. “People could go on their computer and see where I had been. One day we decided to take the kids to a public pool. I came out in my swim trunks and the ankle bracelet. My wife said to go in and take that off. That the point, you can’t take the ankle bracelet off. It was a hot day and the pool it was crowded. They all left by the time we got to the pool because they thought that I was a sex offender. That was the point.”

“We passed a tough child pornography law. We went to Walker County and he had pictures of over 100 children on his computer. We indicted him for every count. We could have just indicted him on five or six; but we indicted him on all of them because we were making an example. “We have to have the will to use the laws the laws that are on the books. We are not going to let you break the law with impunity.”

“If you would like to see the job done right,” King said. “If you would like to make change, if you would like to take a stand there is a way to do that but I can’t do it alone.”

Attorney General Steve Marshall acknowledged longtime Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber. “Thank you for taking an interest, Thank you for teaching me to be a prosecutor.”

“I am an Atmore native. I went to the Birmingham School of law. After graduation, I went to Birmingham and worked for a big law firm, but I am a product of rural Alabama. I went to Marshall County have been there for the last 25 years.”

Marshall said, “I have heard that AG stands for aspiring governor. That is not me. I don’t want to be your Governor and I don’t want to be your Senator.”

“A little over a year ago, I was appointed as Attorney General and I had to evaluate the AGs office,” Marshall said. “I saw that Luther Strange was a champion against the Obama administration. I saw an emphasis on public corruption. We wanted to be able to continue that in my administration. I saw other things that the AG’s office could do better.”

One of those was opioid addiction. “Overdose deaths have quadrupled since 2007. I did not see the AGs office talking about violent crime. There was no leadership coming from the AGs office on that.”

On human trafficking: “Jack Williams started a task force, but the AGs office was not fully engaged.” Marshall said that he changed that. “Luther was a champion of regulatory reform.”

“Unlike the other people on this stage, I am not talking about what I will do as Attorney General but what I have done as Attorney General. As your AG, I have taken a stand with the Trump administration on the travel ban. I took a stand with Jeff Sessions on saying no to sanctuary cities. I have taken a stand with the people of Pensacola who have had a cross in their public park. I have taken a stand with a Christian baker who does not want to make a cake for a gay wedding. When the Mayor of Birmingham tried to put a wall around a Confederate Veterans memorial that has stood for over a hundred years, we acted within 24 hours.”

“Gambling is illegal in Alabama,” Marshall said. “I know that there are people that think it should be legal. I am not a policymaker. If there are institutions in this state that are not following the law and local authorities will not act; it is my responsibility to make that happen. In Morgan County, the local DA helped us to close a facility there. In other counties, local authorities have not cooperated. “We have 9 actions pending against 5 gambling facilities. Luther Strange did not act on that issue but it is incumbent on me to enforce the law.”

“If I see things that we need to change in the law I work with the legislature to change it. A man killed a woman that was pregnant, but he was only charged with one death. We went to Montgomery to change that law and person was defined to include a preborn child. Because of that change in the law, when a man in Marshall County killed a mother that was two months pregnant we put that person on death row for capital murder.”

Marshall promised that if elected that he will continue to push the fight on opioids and on violent crime.

Former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said, “I live in Lauderdale County; but spent 8 years here (Jefferson County) as your U.S. Attorney where I got over 140 convictions in the area of public corruption.”

Martin said that she prosecuted people involved in the two year year college scandal and helped to convict: the Sheriff of Jefferson County, four of seven Jefferson County commissioners in the sewer scandal, including Mayor Larry Langford, and in the Healthsouth corruption where many people were cheated out of their saving because of that fraudulent activities.

“AG stands for Alabama Guardian,” Martin said. “I will fight for you. I am pro life and pro-Second Amendment. In addition to being the former U.S. Attorney, I was Chief Deputy Attorney General. The AG is the tip of the spear against crime and the shield to protect the people from the leftist liberals who are trying to tear this country apart to impose a socialist experiment. They think it’s better for you.”

Martin said, “I want to fight corruption.” Marshall was appointed by Robert Bentley. He was a Democrat until 2012. Will Brooke, Jimmy Raine were named in the Mike Hubbard trial. “This AG has accepted over $250,000 from people we were investigating as part of the problem. I have worked long and hard over my 25 years to fight corruption.”

“When Gov. Fob James appointed me as a Judge he told me that he would not hold me to being a Republican as no Republican had won an election in Lauderdale County in over a 100 years,” Martin said. “I told him I would rather run as a Republican and lose than win as a Democrat. I am not a party switcher. I am not a party flopper.”

“HB317 has peril in it,” Martin claimed. “There are holes in there that good people like Jabo Waggoneer may not notice. I may not be a policy maker in Montgomery but they are going to hear my voice.”

“In 2015 (as Deputy Attorney General) I met with the Alabama Medical Association,” Martin said. “At the time we were the highest prescribing state for opioids in the country. There were two point four active opioid prescriptions per every man woman and child.” Martin said that she wanted to make the doctors check the database to see how many other prescriptions a patient had before they prescribed opioids; but they said, “That would take too much of my time.” What they did agree to do was mandate that all doctors receive training in drug addiction and narcotics as part of their continuing education requirements.

“I have a bachelors in nursing from Vanderbilt,” Martin said. “I worked as a nurse to pay my way through law school. I have worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Memphis, Tennessee in 1983 for Ronald Reagan. I am proud that I have been endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation. I am proud that I have been endorsed by Bamacarry. I am the only candidate who has been a judge and I have sentenced people to jail.”

Martin said that when Luther Strange became attorney general he killed a plaintiffs attorney agreement that would have paid $114 million to Jerry Beasely’s law firm that Attorney General Troy King had entered in to to handle the BP oil spill. “We worked that case ourselves and sent money back to the Treasury and avoided a staff cut to the Attorney General’s Office because of it. If I am elected I will similarly kill a plantiffs agreement that the current Attorney General has entered into on opioids, saving the state millions.”

The Republican Primary will be on June 5.

The Jefferson County Republican Party is having a banquet honoring Greg Canfield and Byron York as well as Law Enforcement on May 14. Cost to attend the dinner is $150. There are sponsorship opportunities available, including a VIP reception.

The next meeting of the Mid-Alabama Republican Club will be on May 12. Sen. Richard Shelby will be the guest speaker.

 

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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Congresswoman Martha Roby endorses Jeff Coleman

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Congressional candidate Jeff Coleman. (CAMPAIGN)

Congresswoman Martha Roby endorsed Jeff Coleman for Congress Thursday. “I fully support Jeff Coleman to be our next Congressman,” Roby said. “Jeff Coleman is a businessman who supports cutting government regulation and lowering taxes to help grow a strong economy. Jeff strongly supports our men and women serving in uniform, as well as our veterans.”

She continued, “The Second District needs someone who will support our interests right here in southeast Alabama, particularly our farmers. Jeff will do just that. He’ll get results for Alabama.”

“I am humbled and honored to receive this strong endorsement from Representative Roby. She has been a staunch supporter of our military men and women, as well as our farmers. I am looking forward to continuing her legacy of fighting for our conservative Alabama values, protecting the family farm, and fighting to ensure our veterans and active-duty personnel have all the resources they need,” Coleman said of the endorsement.

Coleman has now been endorsed by 10 mayors, multiple business associations in the state, the U.S. Chamber, and Roby. Coleman finished the Republican Primary on March 3 with 38 percent of the vote — 18 points ahead of his closest challenger.

Coleman has never run for public office and touts a 35-year successful business career.

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Secretary of state says office will assist voters in complaints if local authorities punish voters without masks

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told the Alabama Political Reporter that all 1,980 polling places will be open on Tuesday for in-person voting if a voter chooses to cast their ballot in person.

COVID-19 has been a paramount concern for people across the state and citizens have to deal with a number of business, Church and government office closures since March, but Merrill insisted that voters will be able to vote in either the Republican or Democratic Party runoffs on Tuesday at the polling place they are assigned.

A number of cities and counties are requiring masks whenever anyone goes out in any public place and government offices and businesses are refusing service to persons who do not have a mask or who refuse to wear one.

Merrill told APR that the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Scott Harris and other public health authorities are suggesting that you should wear a mask when you go out. Many polling places will provide them to voters that need them, but wearing a mask is not required to vote.

“There are only five requirements to vote in Alabama: You have to be 18 years of age. You have to be a citizen, You have to be a resident of Alabama, You must not have been convicted of an act of moral turpitude that has taken away your voting rights, and you must have a valid photo ID,” Merrill told APR. “When you meet those requirements you can vote in the state of Alabama.”

When asked whether voters in those jurisdictions with face mask requirements have to wear masks when at the polls, Merrill said, “I don’t think anybody at the local level is trying to prevent people from voting.

Merrill said if localities place police or other law enforcement outside polls and attempt to ticket those who try to enter or exit without the required mask his office would get involved.

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“If they want to try to do that, we will assist the voter in filing a lawsuit on infringement of their civil rights,” Merrill said.

Public health authorities are urging that everyone wear masks or cloth face coverings to protect themselves from becoming infected with the coronavirus and to avoid spreading the virus to others. Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Alabama press corps Tuesday that 20 to 40 percent of people infected with the virus have no symptoms and don’t event know that they are infected.

Thursday is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot to participate in the Tuesday, July 14 party primary runoff election. The close of business Thursday is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot. The last day to return those completed absentee ballots is the close of business on Monday.

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Voters with a health concern due to the possibility of getting or transmitting the coronavirus may obtain an absentee ballot. The voter will still have to check a reason for asking for the absentee ballot. If the reason is fear of the coronavirus, mark that there is a health reason for the application. You will be allowed to vote absentee. Remember to fill out all the paperwork completely and to mail or return the ballot on time.

In the Republican primary runoff, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions are running for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate. Judge Beth Kellum faces challenger Will Smith for the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.

There is no statewide Democratic primary runoff races, but in the 1st Congressional District, James Averhart and Kiani Gardner are running for the Democratic nomination for Congress.

On the Republican side, former State Sen. Bill Hightower, R-Mobile, and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl are running for the Republican nomination for Congress.

In Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, former State Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, faces Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman. There are also a number of local races being decided in primary runoffs on Tuesday.

Notably in Etowah County, the revenue commissioner’s race is a runoff between State Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, and Jeff Overstreet for the Republican nomination.

In Jefferson County, State Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, faces Eyrika Parker in the Democratic primary runoff for county treasurer.

If either Nordgren or Scott win the local offices they seek, that will lead to a special election for what would become open seats in the Alabama House of Representatives.

The polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. A valid photo ID is required to participate in any Alabama election.

Absentee ballot applications are available online.

On Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported that 25 more Alabamians have died from COVID-19, raising the state death toll from the global pandemic to 1,032. Also, on Wednesday, another 1,162 Alabamians learned that they were infected with the novel strain of the coronavirus, raising the number of cases in the state to 46,424.

Only about 9 percent of the state has been tested at this point in time.

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Sessions says that he will never stop fighting for law enforcement officers

Brandon Moseley

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Jeff Sessions testifies before a Congressional committe. (CSPAN)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Sessions said on social media that he will “never stop fighting” for law enforcement officers. This was in response to the Saturday slaying of Ohio police officer Anthony Dia.

“We must end the violence against police,” Sessions said. “The last words of Officer Anthony Dia before he died on Saturday was ‘Tell my family I loved them.’”

“The disrespect and even attacks on our courageous law enforcement officers have reached a totally unacceptable level,” Sessions continued. “It is immoral and insane.”

Sessions prioritized good relations with law enforcement while he was U.S. attorney general.

“I understand how difficult their job is and how important it is for the peace and safety of our people,” Sessions said. ”I will never stop fighting for them. Let us remember Officer Dia and pledge that we will not forget his sacrifice.”

Toledo Police Officer Anthony Dia was 26-years old when he responded to a call about an intoxicated man in a store’s parking lot. When he “approached the male to check his safety,” the man turned around and fired a single bullet from a handgun, police said, citing witnesses account.

“He bled out, pretty much. They did what they could with lifesaving measures, but there was nothing they could do,” Dia’s widow Jayme told the Toledo Blade newspaper. “The last thing he said over the radio was, ‘Tell my family I love them.’ He lived for his family, and he loved, just loved, being a police officer.”

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American law enforcement has come under heavy criticism by politicians, the media and the public alike following the death of George Floyd during an arrest by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Sessions served in the Senate from 1997 to 2017, when he was confirmed as U.S. attorney general in the Trump administration. Sessions is also a former U.S. attorney, Alabama attorney general and assistant U.S. attorney.

Following his service as U.S. attorney for both the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, Sessions was chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. Sessions is a former U.S. Army reserve officer. He has a bachelor’s degree from Huntingdon College in Montgomery and a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.

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Sessions and his wife, Mary Blackshear Sessions, started the first college Republican club at Huntingdon College. They have three children as well as grandchildren. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was born outside of Camden in Wilcox County in 1946. Sessions is a native Alabamian. He is 73 years old.

Sessions is running in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff. His opponent is former Auburn University head football Coach Tommy Tuberville. The winner of the GOP nomination will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, in the Nov. 3 general election. Defeating Jones is considered critical for Republicans efforts to try to retain control of the Senate.

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Hightower for Congress announces “Doctors for Hightower” coalition

Brandon Moseley

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Bill Hightower (VIA CAMPAIGN)

Bill Hightower campaign for Congress said this week that it has received the endorsement of over 30 prominent South Alabama physicians who will serve as the leadership for Hightower’s new “Doctors for Hightower” Coalition.

The pro-Hightower doctors wrote a letter to voters in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

“We have committed our careers to supporting the south Alabama community and we know first-hand the struggles that medical professionals, providers, and institutions face in addressing the healthcare needs of our community,” the Hightower doctors wrote. “These are challenges that have been magnified in the face of the global pandemic that has ravaged our country and community, and will have ramifications for years to come.”

“South Alabama and the entire Gulf Coast needs strong leadership in Congress that will stand up for our ability to provide accessible and affordable care for our community,” the doctors claimed. “Leadership that understands the needs of medical professionals and patients, an effective voice who will be able to deliver for our community, and an ear we know will be there to listen when future challenges emerge…”

The doctors endorsed Hightower because, “Bill Hightower knows and understands the medical community and healthcare sector. He is the son of Dr. Billy M. Hightower, a healthcare pioneer in open-heart surgery for the Gulf Coast. As a state Senator, Bill Hightower stood up for not only doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, but for patients and their rights. And as a congressman, Bill Hightower will work with the medical community to improve our medical funding and services to help the people of coastal Alabama. He will work to innovate and develop better ways to deliver affordable and accessible care, so we can better serve our patients. We know Bill Hightower is committed to working to ensure we are better able to work to support our patients, to provide the care they want and deserve.”

Hightower served in the Alabama Senate. He ran for the Republican nomination Governor in 2018 but lost to Gov. Kay Ivey, who went on to win her own term. Hightower has owned several small businesses in the South Alabama area. He worked for several large multi-national corporations before moving back to Alabama following 9-11. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama and a master’s from Vanderbilt University. He and his wife Susan have children and grandchildren.

Bill Hightower is running against Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl for the Republican nomination in the July 14 Republican primary runoff. The winner of the Republican nomination will face the winner of the Democratic Party primary runoff between Kiani Gardner and James Averhart.

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Incumbent Republican Congressman Bradley Byrne is not seeking reelection.

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