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Emails show Ivey, staff used private Gmail and iCloud accounts in Lieutenant Governor’s Office

Chip Brownlee

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Emails provided to the Alabama Political Reporter show Gov. Kay Ivey and her top advisers used personal email accounts like Gmail and iCloud to conduct official business while Ivey was serving as lieutenant governor.

Dozens of emails released to APR in response to allegations made by Democratic candidate Walt Maddox this morning show Ivey and her staff, including her chief of staff, Steve Pelham, communicated via their personal Gmail and iCloud accounts with top advisers between 2011 and 2014, during Ivey’s second term as lieutenant governor.

The majority of the emails released relate to the then-lieutenant governor’s schedule ranging from campaign events to economic development meetings. A portion of the emails related to Ivey’s campaign for lieutenant governor in 2014 and others deal with personal scheduling issues, both of which would have needed to be sent from personal accounts.

Office holders are prohibited from using state email accounts to conduct personal or campaign-related business.

But several of the emails, specifically those that are dated in 2011, 2012 and 2013, indicate Ivey and her staff were conducting state business through personal emails, including one trip to Washington that appears to have required the use of state aircraft.

Ivey appears to have used several email accounts including a Gmail account, a Charter email account and another unidentified account named “Susan Anthony.” Ivey’s then-chief of staff Pelham, who now serves as Ivey’s chief of staff in the Governor’s Office, also used two different iCloud accounts, the emails obtained show.

The emails released to APR were collected from the Alabama State Archives, where official business is cataloged and saved in accordance with state law requiring emails and other state records be preserved.

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Public officials are not prohibited from using personal email accounts, although it’s generally accepted that official business conducted on private emails must be retained as public record.

“Walt Maddox is so desperate, he’s making accusations even he knows are not true,” an Ivey spokesperson said. “As the emails show, Governor Ivey coordinated with her scheduler to ensure she didn’t double book political or personal events with her official calendar. And as Walt also pointed out, this is not only permissible, it’s standard practice.”

“Given what a huge Hillary Clinton supporter Walt Maddox is, it’s not surprising private email servers are top of mind for him,” the spokesperson continued. “While Governor Ivey is focused on breaking jobs records, we’d like to challenge Walt to break one of his own records by telling the truth for an entire day.”

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Advocates for open government have long expressed concerns that the use of private emails by public officials can shield official business from public records requests because those emails aren’t automatically or immediately captured on state servers that are often searched to fulfill those records requests.

The emails have to be voluntarily submitted to the state archives or voluntarily searched for public records requests.

Maddox said Ivey’s use of a private email, while not illegal, is cause for concern.

“The discovery that Kay Ivey’s staff used private email servers during a period of time when there are so many questions about what actually occurred in Colorado in 2015, is disturbing,” Maddox said in a statement. “These private email servers are not available to be searched when a public records request is made, and that should be very troubling to every Alabamian who wants open, honest government.”

The Democratic candidate said Ivey should release all records from the private accounts found in the archives.

“This continues an unacceptable pattern of secrecy and nondisclosure by Kay Ivey,” Maddox said in a statement. “Accordingly, In addition to the questions I requested Governor Ivey answer regarding allegations of misuse of law enforcement and potential cover-up, she should immediately, in the interest of full disclosure, take immediate steps to release all email records for the following accounts.”

The revelation about Ivey’s purported use of private email accounts in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office comes at a time when Ivey is facing questions about a hospitalization during a 2015 trip to Colorado for an aerospace conference.

As APR reported over the last week, former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier, a former Republican state representative who was appointed to lead Alabama’s unified law enforcement agency by former Gov. Robert Bentley, and his second in command  told APR that Ivey and her staff attempted to cover up the hospitalization.

According to the trooper at Ivey’s bedside, doctors in Colorado said they believed she had suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA). TIAs produce stroke-like symptoms but usually last only a few minutes causing no permanent damage.

When a member of her security detail reported the incident to superior officers after Pelham, Ivey’s chief of staff, told him not to tell anyone, the officer, Thomas “Drew” Brooks, was removed from Ivey’s security detail and his salary was reduced, according to personnel records obtained by APR.

Ivey has denied retaliating against the trooper assigned to her protective detail and her staff has maintained the hospitalization was the result of altitude sickness and nothing more serious.

 

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Elections

Doug Jones raises $2.4 million in first fundraising period of 2020

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U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, raised $2.4 million in the first fundraising period of 2020, according to his reelection campaign, which was $500,000 more than he raised during the fourth quarter of 2019. 

Jones has $7.4 million cash at hand, according to his campaign, which released the totals on Thursday. Jones’s latest campaign finance reports weren’t yet posted to the Federal Election Commission website on Thursday. 

“Alabamians across the state are showing their commitment to Doug’s message of One Alabama and his proven track record of standing up for all Alabamians,” said Doug Turner, Senior Advisor for Jones’s campaign, in a statement Thursday. Doug’s work to support working families, fund our HBCUs, modernize our military and expand and protect our health care is resonating with folks throughout Alabama. We are well-positioned to continue to grow our grassroots support and win in November.” 

Jones ended 2019 leading all of his Republican contenders in fundraising, ending the year with $5 million in cash.

 

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Opponents accuse Tuberville of supporting amnesty for undocumented immigrants

Brandon Moseley

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The Senate campaign is heating up as the top three candidates are all going negative. Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville has attacked Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) and former Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions of being career politicians. Both Byrne and Tuberville have attacked Sessions for not having adequately served President Donald J. Trump (R) while Attorney General. Byrne has even attacked Tuberville’s coaching abilities. The latest attacks on Tuberville accuse him of supporting amnesty for illegal aliens. Sessions even accused Tuberville of being a “tourist.”

Wednesday, Sessions announced a new television ad called “Tuberville for Amnesty.”

Byrne and Tuberville point to an August speech by Coach Tuberville when he said: “There are people coming across the border that need jobs… and we want them to come over here… Let em’ come in and become citizens like we all became citizens.”

The Tuberville campaign called the attack “fake news” on Twitter.

Sessions’ campaign manager Jon Jones said, “Tuberville is claiming that his own words are ‘fake news.’ All of them? Tommy Tuberville needs to read the transcript. It is clear that Tuberville supports immigration amnesty, and he is attempting to trick Alabama voters to believe otherwise. In contrast, Jeff Sessions has done more than just say he wants to fix the border – he has already worked alongside President Trump to stop illegal immigration.”

The new Sessions ad reads: “Tuberville is trying to trick you, hiding his support for immigration amnesty.” Then plays an audio clip of the Tuberville comment from August

Tuesday, Byrne told reporters in Trussville: “I can tell you right now this issue about Tommy Tuberville’s position on amnesty is a key issue. And so we’re going to keep telling people about his position on that and let him explain why he doesn’t think that’s amnesty.”

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“Let em’ come in and become citizens like we all became citizens,” Tuberville is quoted in the ad.

Tuberville has denied supporting amnesty and says that he supports President Trump’s immigration agenda.

The Sessions ad further charges: “And Tuberville’s not even from Alabama, he’s a tourist here. He lives, pays taxes and even votes in Florida.”

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On Tuesday, the Tuberville campaign responded with an attack ad of their own.

“The career politicians are desperate to hang on to their paychecks and power, so they have started airing negative ads full of false attacks and baseless distortions,” Tuberville said. “Our new commercial allows us to respond with some hard truths about which candidate wants to drain the D.C. swamp and is tough enough to actually help President Trump get the job done.”

The Tuberville ad has Byrne with former Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sessions with Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California) who led the impeachment effort against President Trump. The ad even connects Sessions and Byrne with Sen. Mitt Romney (the only Republican in either House of Congress who found that the President did anything wrong.)

State Representative Arnold Mooney, former Chief Justice Roy Moore, Ruth Page Nelson, and businessman Stanley Adair are also running for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones (D).

The Republican primary is March 3.

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Republicans criticize Jones over his “stupid question” response to a constituent

Brandon Moseley

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Republicans are criticizing U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, for a flippant response to a constituent asking how he will vote on a bill that would ban late-term abortions.

While Walking into an Alabama Employer Health Policy Discussion in Birmingham today, Jones had this interaction with a constituent:

The constituent asked: “Do you think abortion should be banned after 5 months?”

Sen. Jones responded, “What a stupid question.”

Constituent: “You’re voting on it next week.”

Senate candidate Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said, “Doug may find the sanctity of life funny now, but he won’t find it funny when we fire him in November. I’m running for Senate to ensure we have a Pro-Life, Pro-Trump fighter representing the people of Alabama in the U.S. Senate.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser is the President of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List).

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“Senator Doug Jones has proven once again that he is no moderate when it comes to abortion on demand through the moment of birth. Alabama’s Democratic senator may think it is ‘stupid’ to question his abortion extremism, but rest assured, his constituents take respect for human life very seriously,” President Dannenfelser said. “With a record of voting in favor of late-term abortion more than halfway through pregnancy and forced taxpayer funding of abortion, Sen. Jones has repeatedly betrayed Alabamians, siding with the radical abortion lobby and fellow extremist Democrats in Congress. Their agenda is dramatically out of step with the people of Alabama and the strong majority of Americans – including 55 percent of Independents and 43 percent of rank-and-file Democrats – who support compassionate limits on abortion after five months of pregnancy, when science clearly shows unborn babies can feel excruciating pain. If Senator Jones refuses to protect innocent unborn children, he won’t be laughing come Election Day.”

Alabama voters have approved a constitutional amendment that will ban abortion in the state when the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the controversial Roe vs. Wade decision.

Trump Victory National Finance Committee member Perry O. Hooper Jr. said in a statement, “This is a broken record with Doug Jones. It appears he bends over backwards to slap
Alabamians in the face. Always ignoring what Alabamians believe. We are Pro-Life. He is pro-abortion, it is that simple. He is a broken record. Never standing for Alabama values; He is a died in the wool leftist its that plain and simple. Abortion upon demand until birth is his mantra. He has no regard for human life unless they are on death row confected of multiple homicides. These are his victims not innocent children killed in the womb.”

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Defeating Doug Jones and taking back the Senate seat is a top priority of Alabama Republicans.

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Hasdorff calls for “out-of-touch” Mike Bloomberg to visit an Alabama Farm

Brandon Moseley

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Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Terri Hasdorff challenged billionaire Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg to come visit an Alabama farm.

Hasdorff’s comments followed the re-release of Bloomberg statements dismissing farmers as lacking the “grey matter” to do other jobs.

In a 2016 speech at Oxford University in England, the former New York City Mayor said that he “could teach anybody, even the people in this room” to be a farmer. “You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”

“I am appalled at how out-of-touch Mr. Bloomberg is about how much work goes into successful farming,” Hasdorff said. “I’m personally inviting him to Alabama’s Second District where I would be happy to take him to one of our nearly 10,000 farms and give him a tour maybe we can even get him to roll up his sleeves and put in a little bit of real work!”

Alabama has a long, storied history as an agricultural states Even now, agriculture and forestry remains the largest industry in the state of Alabama.

“Alabama’s farmers are the backbone of our state,” Hasdorff continued. “The fact that someone like Michael Bloomberg feels he is entitled to belittle their hard work is appalling – but this is what the far left really thinks of real America. This is what out of touch Democrats and coastal elites believe. Mr. Bloomberg was just the one caught on tape.”

Hasdorff is part of a crowded Republican primary field on March 3. The Alabama Democratic presidential primary is also on March 3.

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“This is why I’m running for Congress,” Hasdorff added. “We need leaders who understand the needs and struggles of hard-working Americans – farmers, manufacturers, people who keep our country fed and moving. We need real leaders who will fight for our people, not leaders who would have government replace true hard work and the American spirit.”

Hasdorff worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison in the George H.W. Bush (R) Administration. There she worked with faith leaders across the country. She worked on Capitol Hill for six years where her most meaningful assignments focused on keeping the government and Washington, D.C. elites from discriminating against churches and faith-based organizations. Hasdorff worked on the Ten Commandments Defense Act, defending the right of states to display the Ten Commandments in courthouses and public places. She served as a senior advisor on the Charitable Choice language, which put the Faith-Based initiative into law and still protects faith based organizations from discrimination when accessing federal funding. Hasdorff has worked on pro-life, pro-family legislation. Terri also worked in the George W. Bush Administration as America’s faith-based representative to the world. Hasdorff graduated from Samford University.

Second Congressional District incumbent Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is not running for another term.

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