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Opinion | A breakdown of Ivey’s ever-changing story on her Colorado illness, trooper demotion

Josh Moon

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It’s tough to keep a good lie going.

The problem isn’t so much the original lie, even if it’s a doozy. The trouble comes on the back side, when you have to start piling lies on top of lies to make that original lie hold up. And then you have to keep it all straight.

The Kay Ivey administration knows what I’m talking about.

Unless a whole bunch of other people are lying, Ivey and her staff have been lying all over the place to try and cover up a 2015 incident in which Ivey, then the state’s lieutenant governor, suffered a series of mini-strokes. Or at least something that appeared to be mini-strokes, or TIAs.

They’ve been scrambling ever since.

And over such a dumb lie, too. Who cares if a 70-year-old woman had a mini-stroke, or something that appeared to be a mini-stroke? Hell, 30-year-old men and women who are in decent shape have those things. They’re not necessarily indicative of poor overall health, although they do indicate a higher risk for future strokes.

But still, why lie? I’m guessing a lot more people would vote for a gubernatorial candidate who admitted to having a mini-stroke than for one who everyone knows is lying about a mini-stroke and who wrongly punished a state trooper for simply following the protocols of his job.

It seems Ivey now finds herself in the latter category. And I think it’s important to understand how we got here.

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In this world of abundant news, it’s easy to forget facts and leave entries off the timeline. So, let’s paint this full picture.

Ivey’s “health issue” occurred in 2015 when she was in Colorado Springs for a meeting of the Aerospace States Association. According to her own comments about the incident, she felt lightheaded during the meeting’s opening day, a Friday, and was admitted to the hospital that day. She was released on Sunday.

For the better part of two years, the coverup of the incident was successful, because, let’s be honest, who really cares what’s happening in the personal life of the lieutenant governor. But shortly after Ivey ascended to the big chair following Robert Bentley’s embarrassing demise, whispers about her poor health began.

In May 2017, citing multiple sources close to the governor, APR’s Bill Britt published the first account of the health scare and the coverup, including details of Ivey having a state trooper working her security detail, Drew Brooks, demoted and shipped off to work in a drivers license office in Houston County.

Ivey and her top officials screamed it was fake news.

In multiple settings, including a sitdown interview with al.com’s Mike Cason, Ivey and her chief of staff, Steve Pelham, flatly denied almost all of it.

Ivey said she had actually suffered from “altitude sickness,” which apparently requires a three-day hospital stay now. She told al.com’s Leada Gore that the trooper, Brooks, was “promoted,” because working drivers licenses in Dothan at a 25-percent pay reduction is every cop’s dream assignment.

Pelham told Cason that there was no directive and no punishment.

And for a while, it all died down.

But on Tuesday, the bad lie came back to life, as they have a tendency to do. This time, Britt had a bigger story: Collier, the head of ALEA, was on the record backing up every word of what Britt and APR reported back in 2017.

And we got the receipts too.

Collier, the guy who actually signed Brooks’ transfer order, confirmed that Ivey’s head of security reported to him in 2015 that Ivey was suffering from “stroke-like symptoms” and was being rushed to the hospital in Colorado. Collier reported that information to Bentley and remained in contact with the security detail.

Sometime after Ivey returned from that trip, she summoned Collier to the law offices of Balch & Bingham, because those offices are the Alabama equivalent to the Bada Bing, apparently, where all the bad plans in the state are concocted. At that meeting, she informed Collier that she wanted Brooks demoted and transferred, and claimed Brooks had attempted to hack her email.

Documents obtained by APR show that Brooks — who Ivey and Pelham claimed was promoted — was actually forced off the lieutenant governor’s security detail — a highly sought after position with top pay — and moved to Dothan to give license exams for about $300 less per month in salary.

Does that sound like a promotion?

But you know what’s coming now, right? More lies to cover up the faltering lies.

Later on Tuesday, Ivey’s office released another letter from her doctor to prove that she is in great health and absolutely, 100-percent has never had a stroke. Small problem: in discussing the Colorado incident, Ivey’s doctor stated that she was hospitalized in Denver, which is a little more than an hour from Colorado Springs, where Ivey was when she became ill.

It’s tough to imagine a three-day hospitalization at a large hospital an hour away for altitude sickness. But then, this isn’t my (fictional) story.

So far, the Ivey camp hasn’t addressed Collier’s allegations about Brooks. Instead, Ivey tried to blame the whole thing on Walt Maddox, which, if true, really confirms that we should all be voting for Maddox because that dude’s a wizard.

It’s a sad state of affairs. But that’s usually the case when lies start to unravel.

 

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Elections

DOJ defends Alabama absentee voting law

Josh Moon

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The U.S. Department of Justice isn’t using its vast powers to ensure the country’s most vulnerable people can exercise their right to vote, but is instead focusing its efforts on defending laws that clearly violate the spirit of the Voting Rights Act, an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center said Tuesday. 

The comments, from SPLC senior staff attorney Caren Short, came in response to a DOJ filing in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of several plaintiffs by SPLC, The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program. That lawsuit seeks to implement curbside voting for at-risk citizens during the current pandemic and also to remove requirements for certain voter IDs and that witnesses sign absentee ballot requests. 

The DOJ filed a brief on Tuesday stating that it is the agency’s position that Alabama’s law requiring witnesses for absentee ballots does not violate Section 201 of the Voting Rights Act, because it is not a test or device as referenced in the Act. 

“It is not a literacy test, it is not an educational requirement, and it is not a moral character requirement,” Jay Town, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said in the brief. “Nor, contrary to Plaintiffs’ position, is it a voucher requirement prohibited by Section 201’s fourth and final provision.”

Plaintiffs in the case have argued that the requirement for a single person with a pre-existing condition could pose a grave risk and reasonably lead to them being unable to safely cast a vote. In fact, they point out in the lawsuit instances in which the DOJ, prior to the Trump administration, also had argued against states requiring witnesses. 

“Our complaint demonstrates how Alabama’s witness requirement violates Section 201 of the Voting Rights Act,” said Deuel Ross, senior counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. “In the past, the DOJ itself has objected to witness requirements, but since February 2017, it has brought zero new voting rights cases.”

The “voucher” requirement was one of many tactics utilized by whites to prevent black citizens from voting. In practice, it required that any black person wishing to vote must first obtain the signature of a white person. 

Towns argued in the brief that there were differences between voucher requirements and the witness signatures, including that the witness doesn’t have to be a registered voter and the witness is merely signing that he or she witnessed the absentee voter filling out the ballot.

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Sessions slams Tuberville for saying China has “a better military” than the U.S.

Brandon Moseley

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“On the day after Memorial Day, Tommy Tuberville is exalting the Chinese Communist Party’s military over our own,” GOP Senate candidate Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

This was in reaction to Tommy Tuberville’s Tuesday comments on the Jeff Poor Radio Show when he said China has a “better military” than the United States.

“We’ve got China that’s got a better military, and things, than we have,” Tuberville said.

Sessions responded with this statement:

“Mr. Tuberville should immediately apologize,” Sessions said. “His views further prove that he’s not fit to be a United States Senator. His comments are an affront to the thousands of American military members who constitute the best fighting force the world has ever known.”

“I have been to Afghanistan and Iraq and visited with our troops numerous times and have been to every one of Alabama’s military bases countless times, and let me tell you, there is no better friend and no worse enemy than the United States military,” Sessions stated. “This is personal to me. I served proudly in the armed forces as a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve for over a decade. What Tommy Tuberville said is objectively wrong and reveals a lack of real understanding.”

Tuberville has said that he favors free trade.

Sessions has called China a threat to the United States and has suggested that Tuberville’s attitude is passive “appeasement” towards the Chinese Communist Party.

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In an April radio interview on the Matt & Aunie Radio Show, when asked what should be done about China’s cover-up of the details about the coronavirus, Tuberville said, “We can’t worry about China right now.”

The host then followed up: “You say you don’t need to worry about China, but this came from China and our economy depends on China. Specifically, how to overcome some of that dependence on Chinese goods and specifically in the pharmaceutical industry because right now we’re dependent on the country that covered this up.”

“Now we’re seeing firsthand the results of letting everything go to China,” Tuberville responded. “The good thing about this is we’ll have manufacturing come back and drugs and all those things….we’re headed in that direction, just the simple fact that we can’t control our own destiny. Everything’s controlled by China. But that’ll take care of itself.”

During the Matt & Aunie interview, Tuberville also characterized the Wuhan Virus as “just a virus.”

Sessions has suggested that Tuberville’s comments show that he lacks a depth of understanding of the issues and has challenged Tuberville to a series of five debates.

“Mr. Tuberville, It is time for you to stop running away, and face me and the voters of Alabama,” Sessions said. “No candidate who is scared to debate, or unable to defend our values, is worthy of support from the people of Alabama. I challenge you to a series of five debates before the voters of Alabama, one for each major media market in our state. This will allow us to discuss the unique issues of each geographic area, as well as national and international issues.”

“Being a United States Senator is more than just casting the occasional vote,” Sessions continued. “Effective senators must be ready to debate Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others on many issues and away from the safety of talking points scripted by Facebook’s chief open-borders lobbyist, who you’ve hired to help lead your Senate campaign. And anyone representing Alabama needs to be fully vetted before they are trusted to represent Alabama Republicans in a race against Doug Jones.”

Sessions also charged that Tuberville’s character would be exposed in a national campaign against Doug Jones, by Democrats.

“The Alabama voters need to hear you answer questions about the time you were sued for more than a million dollars in fraud at the failed hedge fund you started,” Sessions said.

Tuberville’s alleged partner went to prison for securities fraud and several prominent football coaches lost money investing in that hedge fund.

Sessions even attacked Tuberville’s football coaching prowess.

“They need to hear you answer questions about the suspicious circumstances of the unceremonious end to your Auburn coaching career—where you took millions of additional dollars beyond the buyout for which you weren’t even eligible,” Sessions charged. “They need to hear about the times you walked out on college recruits or quit jobs just days after promising you wouldn’t do so. They need to know everything. Because there is no question that the Democrats and Doug Jones already do, and they will spend millions using the skeletons in your closet against you.”

“If you won’t debate me now before the voters of Alabama, with two months to go until the election, there is no doubt that you would be eaten alive by Doug Jones, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer,” Sessions said. “You like to call me weak because I follow the law, and call yourself strong as you hide behind Silicon Valley’s talking points and clips from coaching jobs that you quit. Ok. Time to man up. Say it to my face. You are either strong enough to debate, or weak and scared.”

Tuberville maintains that he is endorsed by Donald Trump and that Sessions failed the President as Attorney General. As of this date, Tuberville has not agreed to any debates.

Sessions will face Tuberville in the July 14 Republican primary runoff. The winner will represent the Alabama Republican Party on November 3 against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones.

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Mimi Penhale is running as a Republican in State House District 49

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, Miriam “Mimi” Penhale announced today that she is seeking the Republican nomination for District 49 of the Alabama House of Representatives.

District 49 is vacant due to former Rep. April Weaver’s leaving to accept a position with the Trump administration. A special primary election scheduled for August 4, 2020, if needed.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to serve House District 49 in Montgomery,” Penhale stated. “In my role as Legislative Director of Shelby County, I’ve spent the last nine years working with Representative April Weaver and Senator Cam Ward, helping local governments, schools, businesses, and the people of our community to navigate the complexities of state government. I have been blessed to get to know and serve the people of this district.”

“I’ve talked to people all over Bibb, Chilton and Shelby counties,” Penhale said. “They want a representative in Montgomery who will promote conservative Republican principles. These hard-working families want better access to healthcare, quality schools for their children, and improved infrastructure to support our growing communities. I’ll fight to make sure we protect the high quality of life we already enjoy across central Alabama, and I’ll work with Legislative leaders to deliver on issues where we fall short.”

Penhale has a bachelor’s degree in Biology, and a Master’s in Public Health from UAB, with a focus on Healthcare Organization and Policy. Penhale serves as the Vice Chair of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Work Group. She is a member of Shelby County’s Women’s Business Council, where she serves as a member of the Outreach Committee.

Penhale is a native of Troy, AL, where she was raised on her family’s bison ranch. She is married to Matt Penhale, of Alabaster. They have two daughters and are members of Kingwood Church.

Rep. Weaver was appointed by President Donald J. Trump (R) as the region IV director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties.

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The special primary election for House District 49 will be held on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. If a runoff election is needed, it will be held on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

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Sessions, Tuberville build campaign war chests headed toward runoff

Brandon Moseley

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Former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) is running in the July 14 Republican Party primary runoff against former Auburn head football Coach Tommy Tuberville. Both turned in Federal Elections Commission reports showing campaign activity through the end of April when Alabamians were still under shelter in place orders to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Sessions was able to transfer over his previous campaign account and he has slightly more cash on hand than Tuberville, but Tuberville had the most votes in the March 3 Republican primary and has led throughout in most of the polling.

Former Auburn football Coach Tommy Tuberville in his filling with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) reports that the campaign has collected total contributions of $2,299,292.20. Tuberville has loaned his campaign $1,000,000. The campaign reports operating expenditures of $2,074,302.74 and has refunded $15,525 in contributions to individuals. Tuberville has repaid $750,000 of the loan that he made to himself. His campaign reports other disbursements of $1,000. .

The Tuberville campaign is reporting a cash balance of $458,819.40 with debts and loans owed by the committee of $393,043.23.

Tuberville’s largest contributors include: Terry Young of Birmingham, AL $10,000. He is the CEO of Southern Risk Services. Douglas Gowland of Gates Hills, Ohio $10,000. He is retired. Stiles Killett of Atlanta, Georgia $10,000. He is the Chairman of Killett Investment Corporation. Marcus Calloway of Atlanta, GA $10,000. He is self employed real estate attorney. Connie Neville of King’s Hill, Virginia $8,400. Connie is a self employed designer. William Neville of King’s Hill, VA $8,400. He is a manager with U.S. Viking. Sandra Hicks of Rainsville, AL $8,000. Sandra is a homemaker. Dennis Hicks of Rainsville, AL $8,000. Dennis is the CEO of Colormaster. M.S. Properties LLC of Wellington, AL $7500. Austin Brooks of Vestavia Hills, AL $6,400. Brooks is a senior associate with Highpoint Holdings.

Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III reported total receipts of just $1,740,194.28. Of that $1,619,657.39 came from contributions. Sessions’ total individual contributions were $1,237,923.39. Sessions also raised $381,73 from other campaign committees. Sessions reported other receipts of $114,759.89. Sessions had total disbursements of $3,815,148.56 of which $3,709,022.56 were operating expenses. The Sessions’ campaign reports ending cash on hand of $749,235.59.

Sessions has received a number of contributions through the WinRed platform. WinRed is an American Republican Party (GOP) fundraising platform endorsed by the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump. It was launched to compete with Democrat’s success in online grassroots fundraising with their platform ActBlue. Contributors to the Sessions campaign include: Scott Forney of San Diego, California $5,600. He is the President of General Atomics. John Gearon Jr. of Atlanta, GA $2,800. John is an executive with the Gearson Foundation. Jean Penney $2,600 of Gurley, AL is retired. Steven Thornton $7,600 of Huntsville is the CEO of Monte Sano Research. Susan Braden of Washington D.C. $2 800 is retired. Betty Ann Stedman $5,600 of Houston, TX is an investor. Hans Luquire $5,000 of Montgomery, AL is self employed in the HVAC business. Dr. Carl Gessler Jr. $2600 of Huntsville, AL is a heart specialist. Samuel Zell $2,800 of Chicago, IL is the Chairman of Equity International. Leon Edwards $2,800 of Mountain Brook, AL is the owner of Edwards Chevrolet.

The Alabama Republican Party primary runoff was originally scheduled for March 31, but was moved to July 14 due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus.

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The winner of the Republican primary runoff will have just a few short months before going up against incumbent Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) in the November 3 general election.

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