An email was sent to lobbyists and others with business before the state on Aug. 29, with an attached invitation to a fundraising event supporting first-time state Senate candidate Andrew Jones. The email asked that each recipient reply all, “letting Leadership know you got this.” It also requests that in their reply, all respond they indicate, “the level at which you will participate to help them?”
The “them” that political consultant Brent Buchanan is asking lobbyists and business interests to “help” is Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed.
The help Buchanan is asking from lobbyists and business interests is cash contributions ranging from $2,500.00 for an attendee to $12,500 for a host.
The seemingly heavy-handed email is uncharacteristic for Marsh and Reed according to those close to the pair. However, many of the individuals who received the email complained to APR that this is a tactic to pressure them into giving since the email asked that they reply all so that Marsh and Reed would know immediately who was making contributions and how much they would be offering.
“You can call it participation, but what it really amounts to is a shakedown — plain, old political extortion,” said an exasperated lobbyist. “If you give, you end up on one list. If you don’t, you’re on another. If you want to get anything done in the Senate, you’d better be in the column with dollar signs next to your name.”
Other lobbyists and business representatives expressed similar frustration but say it’s the cost of doing business with Republicans in Montgomery. No business owner or lobbyist would speak on the record for fear of retaliation.
Jones, age 34, is the Republican nominee for Alabama Senate District 10, which came open with the retirement of Sen. Phil Williams whose consulting business attracted attention from law-enforcement over the last several years. Jones is single and appears to still live with his parents.
On his campaign website, Jones says he is running on his experience as a small business owner. He is the owner of Deep South Coffee Factory, a coffee roasting business that was founded in 2017. Current records from the Secretary of State show that his company, Deep South Coffee Factory, is not formally registered as a business entity.
On Jones’ Statement of Economic Interest filed with the Ethics Commission, he reports various investment income and $1-$10,000 from salary at two churches in Centre. He reports making $0-$10,000 from his coffee business.
Jones’ fundraiser is being held today at the Montgomery law offices of Maynard Cooper & Gale, which is currently being paid by the state to represent disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley in several lawsuits.