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Bonner comes up short on election day

Brandon Moseley

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Jim Bonner came within just 1,848 votes of incumbent Jeremy Oden for Public Service Commissioner Place One.

The Alabama Political Reporter and other media outlets had been writing reports for weeks before the primary about arguably anti-Semitic, misogynistic, racist, sexist, and crude comments about PSC candidate Jim Bonner as well as about his troubled finances.

The reporting, by APR editor Bill Britt and others in the media, led to many powerful industry groups increasing their funding for incumbent Jeremy Oden’s campaign. Business leaders said publicly that Bonner’s election would be an embarrassment to the state and put pressure on the Alabama Republican Party to do something.

A week before the election polling by Montgomery-based Cygnal revealed that many Alabama voters believed that Jim Bonner was former Congressman Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, who is widely liked and appeared to be winning the race. Bonner, who had no money to campaign, appeared to be cruising toward a likely victory in the down ballot race.

This motivated ALGOP to act. It was too late to remove Bonner from the ballot as they had already been printed and many Alabamians had already voted on absentee ballots.

Chairman Terry Lathan and the Alabama Republican Party Candidates Committee took the unprecedented step of voting unanimously to censure Bonner and asking Republican voters to not vote for the candidate.

Two days after that the committee decided that they had not gone far enough and voted not to certify Bonner with the Secretary of State’s office if he did win the election. Congressman Bonner even released a statement urging voters not to vote for Jim Bonner, who had been a Trump delegate in 2016.

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“When our state party chooses to take these steps, it is a serious and rare occurrence,” Lathan said of the move. “We strongly believe that this is one of those solemn moments. This vote was carefully considered and was not taken lightly. Due to the ALGOP Candidate Committee’s decision, votes cast in the Republican primary election for Jim Bonner for the Public Service Commission, Place 1 will not be certified.”

The work of reporters, pollsters, business leaders, Lathan, the Republican Party leadership worked and Oden emerged as the victor on election day but just barely.

Oden had 220,744 votes, 50 percent, and Jim Bonner had 217,049 votes, 50 percent of the vote. The difference between the two candidates was ultimately 3,695 voters.

Bonner said on Facebook, “It’s sad that people can be swayed by a headline. I’m not racist or anti Jewish or in trouble with anybody. What is sad is that negative lies work on the weak minded.”

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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Sessions: Tuberville’s fraud scandal “can’t just be swept under the rug”

Jeff Sessions criticized Tuberville’s actions as a “major fraud scheme that bilked large sums of money from hardworking people,” which “can’t just be swept under the rug.”

Brandon Moseley

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GOP Senate candidates Jeff Sessions (left) and Tommy Tuberville (right).

After The New York Times published an investigation into a financial fraud scandal involving Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, his opponent, former Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, criticized Tuberville’s actions as a “major fraud scheme that bilked large sums of money from hardworking people,” which “can’t just be swept under the rug.”

“This is an astounding story,” Sessions said. “Based on the facts already uncovered, it is clear that Tommy Tuberville was one of two partners in a major hedge fund fraud scheme that bilked large sums of money from hardworking people, including Alabamians.”

Tuberville’s partner was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the scheme by the court in Opelika, while Tuberville was sued for fraud, paying out a sum of money in a private settlement that has been kept out of the public eye.

“This can’t just be swept under the rug, and Tuberville can’t just brush it aside by falsely claiming he was some innocent victim,” Sessions said. “Indeed, he was a victimizer and held himself out as the ‘managing partner’ of the firm. Tuberville must give a full and complete accounting of this scandal. The people of Alabama deserve to know the complete truth now, before the election, about the man who is asking to be their senator.”

This scandal has been widely talked about in Republican circles for months or longer, but The New York Times article details the allegations for one of the first times in the national spotlight.

Tuberville became a full partner in a hedge fund with former Lehman Brothers broker John David Stroud. Their ventures included TS Capital Management and TS Capital Partners. The T stands for Tuberville and the S for Stroud.

Tuberville did not pick which stocks to buy or sell, and as the head football coach at Texas Tech University and later at the University of Cincinnati, he was not even a frequent presence in the office. Tuberville introduced Stroud to potential investors and even had business cards identifying himself as managing partner. He also leased a BMW and got his health insurance through the company.

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The firm’s offices in Auburn were filled with his coaching memorabilia. In 2010, he traveled to New York with Stroud to meet potential brokers, and was kept in the loop on decisions about hiring. A source told APR that a number of SEC coaches were among the people defrauded by TS Capital.

When the money was all lost, Stroud was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Tuberville was sued by the investors for fraud and failure to carry out his fiduciary duties. Tuberville reportedly lost $450,000 of his own money and then had to pay out more than $1 million to the investors. The New York Times reported that his total losses were more than $2 million.

The financial scandal has many Republicans concerned about the viability of Tuberville’s general election campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.

“I think that Tuberville did not do anything wrong,” said Rev. John Killian, a conservative activist. “He is a good man, but the Doug Jones campaign, they would use this to the ninth degree.”

“They will shoot Tuberville up in 30 second and 60 second TV spots,” Killian added. “I don’t think Tuberville is crooked, but Doug Jones has $10 million to spend. I think they are lying in wait for Tuberville like they were for Roy Moore.”

Killian said that he will support Tuberville if he wins the Republican nomination, but that he is supporting Jeff Sessions in the primary because he is the strongest general election candidate to face Jones.

Tuberville supporter and Trump Victory National Committee member Perry Hooper Jr. was dismissive of assertions that Tuberville could be vulnerable.

“Coach has a commanding lead. He will win the run-off, and he will crush Doug Jones in the general election in November,” Hooper told APR.

Tuberville maintains that he was a victim of the fraud — not a perpetrator.

“They sued me because I invested in it, and he used my name to get other people to put money in,” Tuberville said. “There was nothing ever implicated by anybody that I’d done anything wrong. I felt bad that he used my name.”

The New York Times has asked Tuberville to release the plaintiffs from their confidentiality agreement. Tuberville to this point has declined. Stroud has been released from prison but has not commented on his relationship with Tuberville. Tuberville faces Sessions in the July 14 Republican runoff.

President Donald Trump has endorsed Tuberville, and Tuberville is leading Sessions in most available polling.

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Prichard Mayor Jimmy Gardner to run for reelection

Brandon Moseley

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Prichard Mayor Jimmie Gardner.

Prichard Mayor Jimmie Gardner said Monday in a statement that he will run for re-election. Gardner announced that he will deliver the letter announcing his intention to seek re-election, along with all qualifying documents, to the Prichard city clerk today at 10 a.m.

Gardner will hold a press conference after qualifying. He is promising to provide additional information about the campaign next week.

Gardner’s qualifying letter simply reads: “To Whom It May Concern: I, Jimmie Gardner, on this date, July 6, 2020 do humbly submit this letter to affirm that I will be seeking the office of Mayor for the City of Prichard, Alabama in the 2020 election.”

Gardner was elected mayor in the 2016 municipal elections, defeating incumbent Mayor Troy Ephriam.

“I have spent my entire career over 35 years protecting and serving the community in which I love,” Gardner stated. “My mission as Mayor is to ensure that the City of Prichard receives the recognition that it deserves. We are a strong, resilient people who care about their neighbors and want to see our city move in a positive direction.”

“As your Mayor, I pledge to give 100% to ensure that the progress this city deserves will begin,” Gardner continued. “I am not promising an overnight fix, but in time through prayer, hard work and dedication from everyone, The Change Will Come! Please patiently work with us as we make critical decisions for the betterment of the City of Prichard.”

The city of Prichard is in Mobile County and had a population of 21,531 in 2018. The city of Prichard had a population in 1993 of 38,410, but like much of Alabama, outside of pockets of prosperity, has been in decline in recent decades.

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Prichard was incorporated in 1925. The city boomed from ship building and the paper industry in the 1940s and 1950s, peaking like Mobile in 1960, but since then, the city has been negatively impacted by the decline in American shipbuilding and the closure of the International Paper and Scott paper mills in the 1980s.

Improving roads made it easier for people to commute to work so much of the city’s middle class has moved to new developments outside the city limits.

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Jefferson County GOP pens letter to governor complaining of Democrat appointed as probate judge

Brandon Moseley

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Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at a press conference. (via Governor's Office)

The members of Jefferson County Republican Party Steering Committee last week sent a letter to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey bitterly complaining about her recent appointment of Jim Naftel, a Democrat, as a Jefferson County probate judge.

“We, both as elected officials and leaders of the Jefferson County Republican Party Steering Committee, on behalf of the entire Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee wish to express our displeasure in your appointment to Jefferson County Probate Judge, Place 1,” the letter reads.

“Our main objection is we had one request and that was one request only – the appointment of qualified Republican to this post,” the Jefferson County GOP continued. “In recent history, your pick for this position was given the opportunity to participate in the Republican Primary, he chose to vote as a Democrat. In 2018, when you were running for Governor in the Republican Primary, he chose to vote a Democrat ballot. Even this past March of 2020, when he had a chance to cast his vote for President Donald Trump, he again chose to vote in the Democrat primary.”

“Secondly, this position runs all elections for Jefferson County,” the Steering Committee added. “On June 30th, Secretary of State John Merrill was quoted in Alabama Today as stating, ‘The probate judge has a significant level of influence. I cannot emphasize how important it is that this person is involved, interested, and informed on all things related to elections.’ We have no knowledge of your appointee’s experience in this area. We are not aware of his previous expertise in the election process at the county level or having been involved with any level of ballot security activities in our County.”

In the letter, the members said all of the Republican legislators and commissioners recommended a specific qualified Republican to be appointed to this post.

“This Republican had been recommended and mentored by a former ALGOP General Counsel who you personally hired to be your legal counsel during your last campaign,” the letter reads. “This choice was clearly experienced in the elections area of the Probate position and was best prepared to serve as our chief elections officer. Rarely, if ever, do all of these people agree on one thing and they agreed on this. These above stated reasons are why we, both as elected leaders in Jefferson County and members of the Jefferson County Republican Party, would like you to be aware of our displeasure for your selection of Probate Judge, we request a clear explanation of why this choice was selected despite the request as outlined above, and we hope you will listen to our counsel on future appointments in Jefferson County.”

The letter was signed by Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman Paul DeMarco and the other officers and members of the steering committee.

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Naftel was appointed to fill the position previously held by Judge Alan King, who has retired after 19 years of service.

“As one of my appointees, you will be making important decisions that directly affect the citizens of Alabama,” Ivey wrote to Naftel. “I have made honesty and integrity a priority in my Administration, and I know that you will embody these two virtues while serving the people of Alabama. Please plan to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ money and work in your position to instill trust in state government. The responsibility that comes with this appointment is not to be taken lightly. I trust that you will rise to the occasion and set a standard for others to follow.”

Naftel was an attorney with Maynard, Coooper & Gale, where he has worked since 1998.

“Jim is a shareholder and member of the Firm’s Estate, Trust and Business Planning Practice, Fiduciary Advisory Services Practice, and the Fiduciary, Trust and Estate Litigation Practice groups,” the firm wrote in his bio on their website. “In his Fiduciary Litigation practice, Jim advises and represents both individuals and corporate fiduciaries in their capacity as trustees and executors, including pre-litigation, mediation, trial and appellate proceedings. Jim also represents beneficiaries of estates and trusts. In addition, Jim represents clients in proceedings related to financial abuse of the elderly, conservatorships, guardianships and other protective proceedings.”

Naftel is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, has been recognized as one of The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of Trust and Estates and Litigation: Trusts and Estates. He earned a law degree from the University of Alabama law school in 1998. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi in 1994.

“It is an honor to be appointed and I look forward to serving Jefferson County in this role,” Naftel told AL.com.

Republicans, including Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan, had been urging the governor to appoint a Republican to the position.

Former Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead wrote hours ahead of the appointment, “For the life of me, I cannot understand why we are even having a conversation about our Republican governor appointing a Democrat as the top election official in Jefferson County. If we have to lobby our Republican governor to appoint a Republican to this important position we have a real problem!”

While Republicans continue to dominate Alabama politics, the party has grown increasingly uncompetitive in Jefferson County, where Republican Sheriff Mike Hale was defeated in 2018 and the last two Republican district attorneys were both defeated in general elections.

While Hillary Clinton was trounced statewide in 2016, she carried Jefferson County, as did Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008.

The last time that a Republican presidential nominee carried Jefferson County was incumbent President George W. Bush back in 2004. Naftel’s appointment could perhaps be interpreted as meaning that the governor’s office believes that Jefferson County is a lost cause for Republicans moving forward given recent demographic changes and that the best a Republican governor can hope for is to pick the best Democrat for countywide office as a Republican would lose reelection.

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Brooks encourages Americans to celebrate independence, foundational principles

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Mo Brooks

Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, urged Americans to celebrate the Fourth of July, our independence, and the foundational principles that have made America the greatest nation in world.

“On July 4th, 1776, America’s Founding Fathers launched history’s greatest experiment,” Brooks said. “The Founders sought to answer a question no one had asked before. Can a nation prosper under a system of self-government based on freedom and liberty? The answer, YES!”

“Soviet Union & German style communism & socialism have been relegated to the dustbin of history, leaving tens of millions dead in their wake,” Brooks continued. “In contrast, America’s experiment with liberty and freedom has excelled, making us the greatest nation in history. Today, America faces its greatest internal threat in history, excepting the Civil War. Evil revisionism and dangerous doctrines are being advanced by those who wish to undermine and suppress individual freedom and liberty and replace them with government dictates and Communist China-style slavery, where the masses are forced to work for the financial benefit of elitist party members. I urge all American patriots to remember the sacrifices of our ancestors that have combined to give us the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Further, I urge patriotic Americans to fully use and exercise all our rights and powers to protect the foundational principles that have combined to make Americans who we are. Too many Americans are not taught or have forgotten that freedom and liberty are our rallying cry. It’s important to remember freedom, liberty, and our other foundational principles this Independence Day.”

“Over a million Americans have fought and died to bless us with liberty and freedom,” Brooks concluded. “I ask that we, on July 4th, remember their sacrifice and dedicate our efforts to their memory and the freedom and liberty we are so fortunate to enjoy.”

President Donald Trump spoke on Mount Rushmore Friday.

“Today we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt,” Trump said. “I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world, this monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defamed, their legacy will never ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.”

“Our founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity,” the president continued. “No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America and no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation. It was all made possible by the courage of 56 patriots who gathered in Philadelphia 244 years ago and signed the Declaration of Independence. They enshrined a divine truth that changed the world forever when they said, “All men are created equal.” These immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom. Our founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights, given us by our Creator in Heaven, and that which God has given us, we will allow no one ever to take away ever.”

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“1776 represented the culmination of thousands of years of Western civilization and the triumph of not only spirit, but of wisdom, philosophy, and reason,” Trump added. “And yet, as we meet here tonight, there is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure. Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities. Many of these people have no idea why they’re doing this, but some know what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive, but no, the American people are strong and proud and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them.”

“One of their political weapons is cancel culture, driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees,” Trump continued. “This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and to our values and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America. This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty must be stopped and it will be stopped very quickly. We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children from this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life. In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. It’s not going to happen to us.”

“Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” Trump said. “In so doing they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.”

Trump is trying to fire up his base headed into the 2020 presidential elections. Brooks represents Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

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