Candidates are required to file a Statement of Economic Interests form with the Alabama Ethics Commission. It has been recently reported that certain candidates did not file their 2017 statements by the deadline. Under Alabama law failure to file a Statement of Economic Interests means removal from the ballot. The Republican Party told the Alabama Political Reporter that they will not be removing any candidates from the November 6 ballot.
“There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation disseminated on this topic,” Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan told APR in a statement. “The ALGOP has received compliance clearance for all of our candidates from the Alabama Ethics Commission. There will be none removed by our Party as they have met our qualifications.”
“If an official filed late, after April 30 while they had a form already on file with the Alabama Ethics Commission, it is not ballot removal,” Lathan added. “They may incur a small fine but that is a decision the Commission may or not make. There is also a grace period for filing.”
Brandon Craig Lipscomb, a Gadsden architect, is the Republican nominee for House District 30. Lipscomb filed a Statement of Economic Interest on December 4 for 2016. He then qualified for office and did not file a 2017 Statement of Economic Interest. Neither did he fill out a 2017 statement by April 30 as is required of previous filers. Despite this, the Republican Party and the Secretary of State’s office allowed Lipscomb to remain on the ballot for both the Republican Primary on June 5 and in the July Republican primary runoff, in which he defeated former Ashville Mayor Robert McKay.
House District 30 represents portions of St. Clair and Etowah County.
Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden (R), State Senator Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, and State Representative Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery, also did not file their 2017 Statement of Economic Interests by the April 30th deadline
In Gadsden’s City election three candidates (two council candidates and a mayoral candidate) were recently disqualified because they did not file their Statement of Economic Interests when they qualified. Two of those candidates have gone to court seeking an injunction.
The Alabama Political Reporter has asked Secretary of State John Merrill (R) for additional guidance on this matter.
Sec. Merrill told APR that the candidates turned in Statements of Economic Interest when they qualified, although they were 2016s. The Alabama Ethics Commission approved all of the candidates. They should have filed their 2017 statements by April 30. When state officials became aware of the lapse they sent a letter to the candidates giving them ten days to file a Statement of Economic Interest.
Merrill said that the candidates will remain on the ballot; but may be charged a $5 a day fine for every day that they missed that April 30 deadline. Merrill said that only two state candidates were disqualified for not filing Statements of Economic Interest: a Democratic running for House District 40 and Democratic judicial candidate in Jefferson County, who successfully appealed the ruling.
Montgomery County Judge Johnnie Hardwick ruled that Pamela Cousins can indeed be on the ballot as she followed the spirit and intent of the law. She filed her Statement of Economic Interests with the Alabama Democratic Party when she qualified; but did not realize that she also had to file with the Ethics Commission. She filed when she became aware of the error.
The general election will be on November 6.