State Auditor Jim Zeigler was elected in 2014 on a shoe string campaign budget. Zeigler, who contemplated a run for governor, has struggled to raise money. April however was a really good month for the Zeigler re-election campaign.
Zeigler said that the agenda he has pushed during his three years as Auditor is “opposing mismanagement and waste in government.” That issue initially put him at odds with much of the Montgomery political establishment.
Now, Zeigler says a “small but growing number of business political action committees are starting to see the value of what I am doing.”
Zeigler’s just-filed April campaign finance report showed that Zeigler picked up support from five PACs for a total of $25,000.
“I am not going to pretend that a majority of the businesses interests and PACs are now supporting me – that would not be true – yet,” Zeigler said. “But some are starting to understand that we do need a watchman against waste and mismanagement.”
The report shows five PACs contributing $5,000 each to Zeigler’s election campaign for a second term as State Auditor. Zeigler received contributions from BIZPAC, MAXPAC, SAVEPAC, TELPAC, and NEWPAC.
Earlier, Zeigler picked up the endorsement of ALFA affiliate FARMPAC and an additional $5,000 contribution.
“I am gratified that the business community is starting to understand what I am doing and that a watchman for taxpayers is sorely needed in state government,” Zeigler said. “I believe I have turned the corner and will get growing support from business. This is just the start.”
“I have always been underfunded in my campaigns. This time, I will have adequate funds to get my message out.”
Zeigler said that the funding will enable him to continue his social media messaging, which is already running, and to go up with TV spots from May 15 through election day.
“A supporter of mine asked me, ‘Ain’t that tainted money?’ I told him, ‘Taint near enough,’” Zeigler joked.
Zeigler was a vocal critic of the now deposed Bentley administration. His repeated efforts to investigate the allegations swirling around the Bentley Administration eventually led to an Ethics Commission finding that Bentley probably broke Alabama ethics and campaign finance laws. Bentley resigned on the first day of impeachment hearings by the legislature and pleaded guilty to campaign finance law violations.
Gov. Bentley and his allies in the legislature punished the Auditor’s office with deep general fund budget cuts. Zeigler’s office is up-to-date on all audits despite suffering cuts of 28.5 percent to his budget in the last two Bentley budget bills. The cuts whittled Zeigler’s staff from eleven to 5 ½. The Ivey administration has not restored any of that lost funding. Two weeks ago, Zeigler’s auditors were told to move out of the Alabama Statehouse, where they have been housed since 2007. He is now seeking space for the auditors.
“Under adverse circumstances, we have continued to get things done for the taxpayers of Alabama,” he said.
In 2016, Zeigler’s wife Jackie won election to the State Board of Education from the seven counties of southwest Alabama’s first district. She had challenged a Bentley-appointed incumbent who raised over $200,000 in outside campaign donations, most of it from pro-Common Core business interests allied with Bentley and BCA. Mrs. Zeigler raised only $20,000 but won 62 percent to 38 percent. She was an elementary school principal and had won the National Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence; while her opponent had no experience working in the public schools.
The Zeiglers have two children.
Jim Zeigler is a retired elder law attorney, having represented Veterans and senior citizens in obtaining nursing home benefits. He is term-limited to two terms as State Auditor.
Pastor Stan Cooke and Elliott Lipinsky are also running in the Republican primary on June 5. The eventual winner of the GOP Primary will face Democrat Miranda Karrine Joseph in the November 6 general election.