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Incumbents hold fundraising leads in Alabama congressional races

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama’s congressional incumbents continue to outraise and outspend their challengers. New Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports are in for the second quarter. Campaign finance reports for the second quarter which ended on September 30 were due on Monday, October 15. State government candidates have to report to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, which requires much more frequent reporting.

In Alabama’s First Congressional District Republican incumbent Bradley Byrne, of Montrose, reported raising $1,235,766.41 having $645,973.06 in disbursements and cash on hand at the end of September of $1,036,111.68. Byrne is a former State Senator, former member of the state school board, former head of the state two year college system and an attorney. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010.

Democratic challenger Robert Kennedy of Mobile reported raising $151,091.03, spending $106,564.26, and cash on hand on September 30 of just $44,526.77. Kennedy is a former U.S. Navy officer who previously ran for U.S. Senate in 2017.

In Alabama’s Second Congressional District, Republican incumbent Martha Roby reported raising $2,486,656.21, disbursements of $2,072,197.18 and cash on hand coming in to the months of just $459,909.75. Rep. Roby faced stiff competition in the Republican primary that forced her to spend a large amount of resources just to get the Republican nomination for the office she has held since 2010. Roby is an attorney and former Montgomery city council woman.

Democratic challenger Tabitha Kay Isner has total receipts of $407,525.03 total disbursements of $269,981.02 and a September 30 cash balance of $137,544.01. Isner is a pastor’s wife who is active in her community.

In the Third Congressional District, Republican incumbent Mike Roger of Saks raised $1,185,305.10, reported disbursements of $610,575.77 and a September 30 cash balance of $1,100,276.29. Rogers is an attorney, a former Senator, and a former Calhoun County Commissioner. Rogers is seeking his ninth term in the United States Congress.

Democratic challenger Mallory Hagan reports receipts of $178,348.86, expenditures of $154,280.16, and a September 30 cash balance of $24,068.72. Hagan is a former Miss America, former Miss New York, and a former television news reporter in Columbus. She is 29 years old.

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In the Fourth Congressional District, Republican incumbent Robert Aderholt of Haleyville reported receipts of $1,258,842.08, disbursements of $725,461.54, and a September 30 cash balance of $998,892.80. Aderholt is a subcommittee chair on the powerful House Appropriations committee. Aderholt is second only to U.S. Senator Richard Shelby among the Alabama delegation in tenure. He is seeking his twelfth consecutive term in the House of Representatives.

Democratic challenger James Lee Auman has raised only $55,673. Auman has expenditures of $45,634 and a September 30 cash balance of just $10,238. Lee Auman left his job as a camp manager to run for Congress.

In the Fifth Congressional District, Republican incumbent Mo Brooks of Huntsville reports receipts of $1,436,814.81, disbursements of $1,839,847.63, and a September 30 cash balance of $767,904.50. Brooks ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2017. Rogers is a former state representative, county commissioner, and prosecutor. Brooks, like Roby, faced a fierce primary opponent.

Democratic challenger Peter Joffrion reported receipts of $315,758.65, disbursements of $213,843.16, and a September 30 cash balance of $101,915.49. Joffrion is a retired Huntsville City Attorney.

In the Sixth Congressional District, Republican incumbent Gary Palmer of Hoover reports receipts of $1,117,014.12, expenditures of $791,187.02, and a September 30 cash balance of $978,007.43. Gary Palmer formerly headed the influential Alabama Policy Institute, a thinktank focused on conservative free market solutions to Alabama and America’s problems.

Democratic challenger Danner Kline reports receipts of $256,383.23, expenditures of $161,621.12, and a September 30 cash balance of $94,762.11. Kline has worked managing business telephone systems and most recently managing the craft beer portfolio for a beverage distributor. He is best known as an advocate for beer deregulation.

In the Seventh Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Terry Sewell of Selma reports total receipts of $1,593,438.47, total disbursements of $869,786.01, and a September 30 cash balance of $1,688,178.22. Sewell is an attorney who grew up in Selma, She is seeking her fifth term in the U.S. Congress. Sewell has no opponent.

Most congressional incumbents carry over a balance from previous election cycles that they can use if necessary or roll over to the next election cycle.

Democrats are hopeful that dissatisfaction with the administration of President Donald J. Trump (R) will result in a “blue wave” that will sweep out Republicans and give Democrats control of the U.S. Congress again. If they pick up seats in the Alabama delegation, it will be despite being outspent. The six GOP incumbents have a combined $5,601,051. Their Democratic challengers only have $318,293 in cash for the remaining 37 campaigning days from October 1 to November 6: over a 17 to 1 advantage.

The general election will be on November 6.

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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Tuberville should release fraud victims from NDAs, Sessions says

Brandon Moseley

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GOP Senate candidate Jeff Sessions.

GOP Senate candidate and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions on Monday called on his primary opponent, former Auburn football head coach Tommy Tuberville, to release victims of a fraud scheme from non-disclosure agreements they signed as part of a court settlement.

“If Tommy Tuberville has nothing to hide, why does he continue to refuse to release the victims from the secrecy agreements that he made them sign, so that they could share exactly what happened?” Sessions said. “Tuberville and his lawyers must release the victims immediately, so we can get the full truth about this issue. Tommy’s hedge fund scheme bilked investors out of large sums of money, and now he’s trying to gag the victims to keep them quiet — and hope that Alabama voters don’t notice.”

Following the end of his coaching tenure at Auburn, Tuberville and former Lehman Brothers broker John David Stroud formed a hedge fund, which later went broke, costing the investors to lose their investments. Stroud went to prison and some investors sued Tuberville, who maintains he was the biggest victim of the fraud.

“If Tuberville was truly just an innocent investor and victim of the fraudulent hedge fund, as his campaign handlers now claim, why did he hand out business cards calling himself the ‘managing partner’ of the firm?” Sessions asked. “Why did the hedge fund’s offering documents that he gave to potential investors say that he was personally ‘responsible for the investment direction, capital raising, and the day-to-day oversight of business decisions’ of the fraudulent hedge fund? We need to know exactly what happened, and Tuberville must immediately give a full accounting of his scandals.”

Sessions has made the case that he is the known and vetted candidate and will be best able to withstand an onslaught of negative ads from Democrats who want to hold on to Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ Senate seat, which some analysts view as the most vulnerable seat in the 2020 election and a key pickup if Republicans hope to hold their narrow Senate majority.

“If this is just coming out now, we have to wonder what other skeletons are hiding in Tommy Tuberville’s closet,” Sessions said. “The truth is that he’s an unvetted candidate, and Alabama voters can’t afford to send a question mark into the race against Doug Jones and the millions of dollars of out-of-state money at his disposal.”

According to The New York Times’ reporting and court documents, the victims include a married couple from Wetumpka, a bookkeeper and a retired teacher, who invested $800,000 with TS Capital. The other victims include a married couple from Auburn, who transferred over $100,000 from their retirement accounts to invest with TS Capital.

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After more than a year of fighting the lawsuit, Tuberville settled the case by paying a secret amount. All the parties involved signed non-disclosure agreements that prohibit them from speaking about the fraud allegations.

The Sessions campaign claims that it appears that none of the victims were made whole. “Meanwhile, Tuberville filmed videos for ESPN, bragging about his house on the white, sandy beaches of Florida,” the Sessions campaign said in a parting shot.

Tuberville and Sessions are running in the Republican primary runoff on July 14. The winner will then face Jones in the Nov. 3 general election. Tuberville had the most votes in the March 3 Republican primary and has led Sessions in polling throughout the runoff race.

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Elections

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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