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.”
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
“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.