Joseph Siegelman is right.
You know he’s right. Even if you’re a Republican and hate Democrats with all your being, you still know he’s right about Steve Marshall and the $735,000 in campaign contributions.
Troy King brought it up first, even filed an ethics complaint against Marshall back in July.
Before that, the executive director of the state’s Ethic Commission went on the record saying that he had told other campaigns that donation such as the ones Marshall accepted were a violation of Alabama law.
Because what Marshall did — no matter whether there’s a D or an R beside his name (and Marshall’s had both in his time) — is illegal in this state.
The law is clear.
He accepted money from a political action committee (PAC) that participates in PAC-to-PAC transfers in order obscure the identities of original source of donations.
That’s illegal here.
Even if it is done by an out-of-state PAC, it’s still illegal. The law says so.
Even if it’s done by a 527 group, such as the Republican Attorney Generals Association, it’s still illegal. The law says so.
So, when Steve Marshall, over the course of his re-election campaign, took in $735,000 from RAGA, he violated the law.
Marshall’s camp, of course, disputes this. It says federal PACs, such RAGA, don’t fall under Alabama reporting laws, and that PAC-to-PAC transfers at the federal level are legal.
That’s true. But Alabama law specifically states that an out-of-state PAC must register if it plans to donate to a candidate running for state office, and that PAC must follow Alabama laws.
On Thursday, Siegelman followed King’s lead and asked the Alabama Ethics Commission to do its job. At a press conference in Huntsville, Siegelman called on the Commission to issue a ruling on King’s complaint — a complaint the Commission has so far failed to take up.
The Commission, which meets monthly, won’t take it up prior to the November elections, unless a special meeting is called. There is no November meeting on its schedule.
Siegelman noted that the state has lost its top three officeholders in the last election cycle, with Speaker Mike Hubbard, Gov. Robert Bentley and majority leader Micky Hammond all being booted out of office or resigning over corruption issues. And he said Marshall would be next.
That’s probably not true. Only because holding Marshall accountable would be up to the current incarnation of the Ethics Commission, and well, it’s too busy knocking down fines and legalizing corruption.
But Siegelman is right about everything else.
This is an utter embarrassment for the state — to have its top law enforcement officer so blatantly and willfully skirting ethics laws like this.
Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that a guy who accepted donations from Hubbard’s attorney (oh, for real, that happened) and tens of thousands from one of the guys who bribed Hubbard (yep, that’s real too) would take illicit money. But it is. At least to me.
I’m sorry, I know I’ve been around this state for some crazy nonsense, but it’s still a bit shocking to me that the highest law enforcement agent in a state would blatantly and intentionally violate the law.
And it’s even more shocking that he would violate a law that is intended ONLY to make elected officials, such as himself, more accountable to the voters and citizens. And more shocking still that he wouldn’t, once his transgression was pointed out to him, correct himself.
Instead, Marshall attacked King for filing the complaint and attacked Siegelman for “running a negative campaign.” That last criticism came after Marshall’s campaign took a jab at Siegelman’s age and called him a “liberal.”
This is the State of Alabama’s Attorney General.
Think about that.
The state’s top law enforcement agent has, at the absolute best, violated the spirit of a law designed to keep the voting public more informed about who’s buying elected officials. And when this transgression was pointed out, the AG started attacking people for ridiculous things and refused to correct anything.
At a point, you have to ask: If Steve Marshall is willing to do this, what else is he willing to do?
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.