In what may be the most consequential political race of 2018, interim Attorney General Steve Marshall was bested in fundraising in April. According to the latest campaign finance reports, former Attorney General Troy King raised around $500,000 to end the month while Marshall received just under $250,000 during the same period.
Of the four Republican contenders, Marshall still holds an overall fundraising advantage with only long-shot candidate, Chess Bedsole, having more cash on hand with nearly $600,000 in the bank heading into the campaign’s final stretch.
Former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin’s fundraising for April topped Bedsole nearly 10 to one, but she failed to break $100,000.
Bedsole, a former Trump campaign finance chair, is mostly self-financed, while Martin continues to struggle after alienating key fundraisers early in the campaign cycle.
Currently, King is favored to take the Republican nomination but not without a runoff unless his recent financial windfall proves decisive in the final days leading to the primary on June 5.
Marshall’s campaign is primarily fueled by donations from the Business Council of Alabama, its allies and the Washington D.C.-based Republican Attorney Generals Association that considers Marshall an incumbent even though he was appointed to the position by disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley.
Marshall’s appointment was secured after he agreed to investigate the attorney general’s Special Prosecutions Division led by crime fighter, Matt Hart. Since his appointment, Marshall has systematically sought to dismantle the elite unit, according to former attorney general staffers. In April, Marshall received $125,000 from BCA’s Progress PAC with the rest of his campaign haul coming from those who are working to undermine the state’s Ethics Act. BCA’s CEO, Billy Canary, is Marshall’s chief advocate because Marshall has assured Canary that Hart’s unit will be scrapped if he wins the attorney general’s race in November.
Like others in the business haut monde, Canary wants payback for Hart hauling him in front of a Lee County jury for his part in corruption schemes executed by former Speaker of the House and convicted felon Mike Hubbard. Marshall has made it clear that he is ready to do the bidding of some aspects of the shadowy business class for campaign cash.
Even now, Hart’s future hangs by a thin thread as Marshall jockeys to curry favor with upper-class business leaders who have felt the sting of Hart’s public corruption investigations.
King’s career as attorney general ended after a vicious smear campaign led by former Gov. Bob Riley, and Hubbard proved successful in placing Luther Strange in the attorney general’s office. Strange became an enemy of the Rileys when he wouldn’t halt Hart’s investigation into Hubbard. Marshall has shown himself a friend of Riley’s after successfully crippling several investigations of Riley-supported candidates, according to insiders. Marshall’s deceptive support of HB317, which allows principals to circumvent ethics laws by posing as economic development professionals, is seen as a major win for Riley’s empire. After its passage, according to several sources, Riley was bragging that for $50,000, he could pass any legislation with Marshall on his side.
Even now, Riley’s machine fears King’s return, having found Marshall a reliable toady. They fear that King or Martin will upend their newfound success under Marshall.
Canary is saying that Marshall’s election is the single most important win he must have in 2018, and he’s putting BCA’s money on the line.
In April, seven of the state’s most successful corporations insisted that Canary be replaced at BCA. Also, Alabama’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Richard Shelby, has expressed the same desire. Still, Canary holds on with the help of BCA Chair Perry Hand, the chairman of Mobile-based engineering firm, Volkert Inc.
As June grows near, a battle rages over who will fight for the people and who will defend the state’s corrupt glitterati. Who will stand for law and order instead of politics as usual?