A field director working for Democratic hopeful and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb resigned from Cobb’s campaign Friday after being arrested Thursday and charged with violating the state’s sex offender law.
Paul Littlejohn III, 55, was convicted in 1985 of the rape and sodomy of a 30-year-old woman, according to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency records. He was released in 2014 and was placed on Alabama’s sex offender registry.
Littlejohn had been serving as Cobb’s Jefferson County field director before his arrest, which stemmed from his employment at a church that both operates a day care and sits across from an elementary school — two violations of sex offender employment restrictions.
Cobb told AL.com on Saturday that she “accepted” Littlejohn’s resignation but continued to defend him while alleging that his arrest by Jefferson County’s Republican sheriff was “politically motivated.”
“It’s as politically motivated of a charge as I’ve seen,” Cobb told AL.com, noting Sheriff Mike Hale’s party affiliation. “Why? The Republicans don’t want to run against Sue Bell Cobb. Governor Ivey doesn’t want to run against Sue Bell Cobb. They found that as an opportunity to take advantage of information that had been sent out into the public forum.”
Cobb’s campaign did not respond to APR‘s request for comment over the weekend.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office denied the arrest was politically motivated. Randy Christian, chief deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said sheriff’s investigators arrested the former Cobb campaign field director only for “breaking the law.”
“He [the investigator] was doing his job, plain and simple, and doing it well,” Christian said in a statement to AL.com. “How sad that a candidate for governor supports a convicted sex offender over sexual assault victims.”
Christian said Cobb doesn’t support law enforcement doing the difficult job of ensuring through compliance of the sex offender registration law that no other victim comes in harm’s way.
“It’s not just shameful, it’s disgusting desperation on her part,” he said in the statement. “If I’m reading this right, she wanted us to just look the other way. If she has any integrity left, she will apologize to law enforcement, sexual assault victims and ask for forgiveness.”
Alabama’s sex offender laws prohibit sex offenders from working or living near an elementary school or a day care, and a violation of the law is a felony.
The Sheriff’s Office said Littlejohn did not report his employment at the church. After the office’s Sex Offender Unit verified his employment at the church, officers issued a warrant for his arrest, alleging he violated the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act’s employment restrictions.
Littlejohn, who has maintained his innocence in the 1985 case, later turned himself into the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, where he was booked at 6:41 p.m. Thursday and was held on an $11,000 bond.
Though he has said he did not rape and sodomize the victim, Littlejohn said he was waiting in his car in the parking lot and did not stop the incident when it happened.
Cobb’s campaign has repeatedly said that recent reports about Littlejohn’s sex offender status and his employment on her team are political attacks aimed at derailing her campaign for governor.
“There is so much we still don’t know and like any good judge would tell you: it would be unethical to make a decision without having all the facts of the case,” Cobb’s campaign manager Landon Nichols said Thursday before Cobb accepted Littlejohn’s resignation. “When we have the facts, we will make a decision. What I can tell you is that it’s an absolute shame for Paul and his family to be victims of targeted political attack. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
News of Littlejohn’s arrest Thursday came just hours after Cobb called a press conference in Birmingham during which she defended Littlejohn as a victim of political antics and accused APR of violating journalist ethics.
The former Alabama chief justice said Littlejohn does not knock on doors and has instead managed a team charged with organizing outreach and get-out-the-vote operations for her campaign.
Cobb said everyone on her campaign was made aware of Littlejohn’s sex offender status.
“It’s about redemption, guys. I’ve been a judge for 30 years. I’ve seen people do horrendous things. Paul was convicted of a horrendous crime, but that was 35 years ago,” Cobb said. “Since then, he is literally the picture of redemption. He has truly reformed his life.”
Cobb said she personally made the decision to keep Littlejohn on her campaign staff knowing that other campaigns could use his sex offender status against her campaign, calling its surfacing in recent reports an effort to appeal to “fear mongering.”
“Paul actually offered his resignation, and I wouldn’t take it because he’s done an amazing job. He’s done an amazing job,” she said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the job that he’s done, I’m just saddened that his reputation has had to be — you know, he’s been defamed.”
Cobb’s campaign has paid Unity Group Solution, a company in which Littlejohn is a partner, about $40,000 over the last two months for “cultivating and delivering the African-American vote in the Birmingham region,” according to an AL.com piece.
Littlejohn, who in recent years has made a name for himself in Alabama Democratic politics, also worked on Sen. Doug Jones’ campaign and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s campaign.
Insiders say former Rep. April Weaver is “frontrunner” for Senate District 14
Multiple GOP insiders say former Alabama State Rep. April Weaver is a frontrunner to replace State Sen. Cam Ward.
The surprise announcement on Tuesday that State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, had been tapped by Gov. Kay Ivey to serve as director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles sent the political chattering class into overdrive with speculation of who would replace him in the state Senate.
“April Weaver is a clear frontrunner if she jumps in the race,” said a prominent Republican.
Multiple insiders echoed the same sentiment while asking not to be identified in this report to avoid the appearance of trying to influence party politics.
“I think she’s the top contender should she decide to run,” said another.
Replacing Ward, a third-term Alabama senator representing Senate District 14, requires that Ivey announce a special election to fill the vacant seat.
Weaver was a member of the Alabama House representing the 49th district from 2010 to 2020 when she resigned in May to take a position as regional director for Region IV of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration.
If elected to the upper chamber, she would be the only Republican woman currently serving in the Senate. There are four women serving in the Senate’s Democratic caucus, all of them Black, while the Republican caucus is dominated by white men.
A career nurse, Weaver, in 2015, became the first woman in state history appointed chair of the House Health Committee. In addition to serving as chair of that committee for five legislative sessions, she also chaired the Shelby County House Delegation and as a member of the Rules, Internal Affairs, and State Government committees.
As a federal employee, Weaver cannot engage in political affairs and had no comment on the rumors.
Upon her appointment by President Donald Trump, she said: “Serving in the Alabama House of Representatives has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to represent the people of House District 49 for the past ten years.”
She continued, “I am forever grateful for the trust and confidence they have placed in me as their Representative, and I am deeply honored to have been chosen to join the Trump Administration. I am excited to be able to use my skills and experience at a national level during this unprecedented time, and I look forward to supporting President Trump’s initiatives and serving the people of our nation.”
Weaver lives in Senate District 14.
Voters once again heading back to the polls in Montgomery
For the sixth time in three years, Democratic voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to select a Democratic nominee.
Don’t complain about election fatigue to the voters in Alabama’s 26th senate district. For the sixth time in three years, Democratic voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to select a Democratic nominee.
They will vote at least once more to ultimately fill the seat, and will likely be forced to do so twice more if none of the six candidates receives at least 50 percent of the vote. Should a primary runoff be needed, it will be held on Dec. 15. The general election to fill the seat will be held on March 2.
The never-ending string of elections for the seat began in late 2017, when former state Sen. Quinton Ross resigned to accept the job as Alabama State University’s president. That began a string of elections won by now former Sen. David Burkette.
Burkette won three elections in 2017 (a primary, a primary runoff and general election) and two more in 2018 to earn the seat.
Things did not go well.
Before he served a day, Burkette suffered a debilitating stroke that left him in a wheelchair. Then, earlier this year, he was indicted on charges of misusing campaign funds. He ultimately reached a plea deal with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office that saw him resign his seat and be charged only with a misdemeanor.
And now, the cycle starts all over.
The six Democrats vying for the position are: Linda Burkette, the wife of David Burkette; current Montgomery Rep. Kirk Hatcher, who recently sponsored the count property tax increase; former longtime Rep. John Knight, who was Burkette’s top foe in the five previous elections; Janet May, the former chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Conference; current state Rep. Tashina Morris; and Deborah Anthony, a retired research analyst who’s never held public office.
Former Montgomery City Councilman William Green is the only Republican running and will face the ultimate winner in March.
Barring a shift in the universe, the winner of the Democratic primary will ultimately win the seat. Burkette received about 80 percent of the vote in his general election wins.
Opinion | A question for Alabama Republican voters
You won last Tuesday. But let me ask you this: What did you win?
Let’s chat, Republican voters. Now that the election is over and emotions have returned to just short of a five-alarm fire, I’d like to lay a few things out for you. Things just to consider. Things that maybe you’ll carry with you in the future. And then, I have a question for you.
Let’s begin here: You won last Tuesday. Convincingly.
No two ways about it, the Republican candidates in this state mostly crushed their Democratic competition, a few statehouse races in Dem strongholds notwithstanding. In the all-important statewide race at the top of this state’s ticket — Sen. Doug Jones vs. Republican Tommy Tuberville — there was a convincing Tuberville win.
But let me ask you this: What did you win?
Not, “what did the party win,” but what did you win personally? These elections aren’t about the team winning. They’re about public representation that best reflects your interests and values.
That’s what a representative government is about, right? Electing people who will go to D.C. or Montgomery or your local courthouse and get the things done that are important to you.
So, did you get that?
Well, let’s take a look.
According to a 2018 Public Affairs Research Council study completed in Alabama, these were the top five issues for state voters: 1. Public education, 2. Healthcare, 3. Government corruption and ethics, 4. Mental health and substance abuse, and 5. Poverty.
Obviously, a few things have happened since then, so I think it’s safe to say we can include the economy and global health crises in the top seven.
And I also know from the campaign ads and constant comments on social media sites that replacing justices on the Supreme Court (mostly in an effort to overturn the legalization of abortion) is high on the list. In fact, it was most often the single topic listed by voters and the single reason many said they were voting against Jones.
So, there’s your list of important issues. Did your elected officials have a plan to address any of those things?
In short, no. I checked. And you can too.
Go to the websites for Tuberville, Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Mike Rogers, Barry Moore and Jerry Carl — those are the U.S. senator and representatives elected in Alabama last week — and see if you can locate their specific plans for any of those things.
Hell, half of them don’t even list education — your No. 1 priority — on their websites.
On your No. 2 issue, healthcare, the responses are so laughably stupid, it’s frankly hard to believe that adults wrote them. Every single one of them wants to “repeal and replace Obamacare.” None of them specify exactly what they plan to replace it with.
Let me put that another way: They want to take healthcare away from hundreds of thousands of Alabamians, in the middle of a pandemic, and just hope that insurance companies and hospitals behave appropriately and don’t mistreat anyone.
Let’s be real here. These guys got elected because they’re on the R team, and because you’ve been led to believe that the most important vote that can be cast is one for the people who will choose our next Supreme Court justice.
And you believe that because you have the misguided notion that the Supreme Court will one day overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortions, which will magically eliminate all abortions. You also believe the high court will do other things, like repeal Obamacare or overturn precedent allowing gay marriage.
Bad news: None of those things are going to happen. Just this week, the court, despite a 6-3 conservative majority, sent strong signals that the latest attempt to kill Obamacare will be unsuccessful.
In June, the court upheld an opinion that blocked a Louisiana law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals before they can perform an abortion. The law was designed to limit abortion clinics in the state.
In October, the court declined to even hear the case of a former Kentucky clerk who was jailed for failing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Now, we could get into the technical legal reasons behind those decisions, but they all essentially boil down to this: The rulings in the major cases on abortion, Obamacare and gay marriage weren’t made flippantly. And once they were made, they became precedent for the court and incredibly hard to overturn.
But don’t take my word for it. Go read the opinions in the cases I mentioned. Read the analysis from legal scholars. Read the words of the justices.
And when you finish, ask yourself this: If these conservative judges are going to behave like responsible judges then what exactly am I getting out of all these Republican votes?
Our schools are in bad shape. Our health care system is failing. We’re going to have to open a new prison just for convicted Republican lawmakers and elected officials at the rate we’re going. We’re at the top of the charts on poverty. And we have one of the highest death rates in the world for COVID.
What else do we need to fail at before you’ll consider voting for someone who has some idea what they plan to do? No, really, I’m asking.
Gov. Kay Ivey meets with Congressman-elect Jerry Carl
Carl won his seat to the U.S. House in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District garnering 61 percent of the votes.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday met with Congressman-elect Jerry Carl, to discuss the current hurricane season and trade policy, Ivey’s office said in a statement.
“The governor looks forward to working together with Congressman Carl for the people of Alabama’s 1st district,” the statement read.
Carl, a Republican and a Mobile County Commissioner, won his seat to the U.S. House in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District garnering 61 percent of the votes.