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Montgomery attorneys ask DA to investigate AG Steve Marshall

Josh Moon

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Two Montgomery attorneys on Thursday asked Montgomery District Attorney Daryl Bailey to investigate Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s acceptance of campaign donations that appear to violate state law.

Julian McPhillips and Melissa Isaak have submitted a letter to Bailey outlining the $735,000 in donations to Marshall from the Republican Attorneys General Association and illustrating how those donations violate the state’s ban on transfers between political action committees (PACs). They’ve asked Bailey to present the case to a grand jury.

“We believe the violation is clear and someone needs to act or we’re going to be left in the same predicament we were with (Robert Bentley and Mike Hubbard),” said McPhillips, a longtime Montgomery attorney who has been active in the state’s Democratic Party for a number of years. Isaak is best known for her representation in recent years of former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

The issue of the donations from RAGA to Marshall has been a hot topic in the race for AG since the Republican primary, when former AG Troy King, who was challenging Marshall, first filed an Alabama Ethics Commission complaint about them. That was in June, and the Ethics Commission has not taken up the matter.

And at least by the letter of the law, the donations appear to violate Alabama law.

That law, passed by Republicans in 2010, makes it illegal for PACs to transfer money between each other — a method used to obscure the original source of campaign contributions.

Marshall has repeatedly claimed the law doesn’t apply to federal PACs and that enforcing Alabama law on a federal PAC would be impossible.

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However, the PAC-to-PAC ban specifically states that it applies to both in-state and out-of-state PACs, and it puts the responsibility on the candidate to relinquish those funds within 10 days or face criminal penalty.

A similar issue arose with former AG Luther Strange, who accepted RAGA donations in 2014. But Strange returned the money.

Additionally, when the law was challenged in federal court, Marshall argued in court briefs that the ban was “the only legal protection standing between Alabama voters and the reality or appearance of quid pro quo corruption.”

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On Thursday, in response to McPhillips and Isaak asking that he be investigated for violating that law, Marshall, in a statement, called it a “stunt” and oddly blamed everything on “paid bloggers” and “liberal activist lawyers.”

Both Bentley and Hubbard used similar rhetoric before they were convicted of violating state laws. Bentley, specifically, was forced to plead guilty to violations of campaign finance laws — a fate that McPhillips, Isaak and numerous other attorneys around the state have argued that Marshall will ultimately face.

 

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Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.

Wednesday, the Alabama Forestry Association announce that it is endorsing Republican Tommy Tuberville for the United States Senate.

“We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator. Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama.”

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association,” Coach Tuberville stated. “The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success.”

Coach Tuberville recently won the Republican nomination after a primary season that was extended because of the coronavirus global pandemic.

Tuberville is a native of Arkansas and a graduate of Southern Arkansas University. He held a number of assistant coaching positions, including defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and the University of Miami where he won a national championship. Tuberville has been a head coach at Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech, and Cincinnati. In his nine years at Auburn University the team appeared in eight consecutive bowl games. His 2004 team won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl. Tuberville coached that team to a perfect 13 to 0 season.

Tuberville has been married to his wife Suzanne since 1991. They have two sons and live in Auburn.

Tuberville is challenging Democratic incumbent Doug Jones in the November 3 general election.

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Jones campaign says Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously

Brandon Moseley

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Incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Republican challenger Tommy Tubberville, right.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ re-election campaign released a statement critical of Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville, suggesting that he is not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously enough.

“The Washington Post reported today that the stock market plummeted after jobless claims climbed last week by 1.4 million and the economy shrank by 9.5 percent — the biggest decline in most of our lifetimes,” the Jones campaign wrote. “While economists are worried about the permanent damage COVID-19 will do to the economy, and public health experts are pleading for people to abide by state and local mask orders, Tommy Tuberville ‘snickers’ in response to questions about flouting public health orders while in DC to raise campaign cash. The people of Alabama need to know that Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously, raising serious questions about how he would handle this crisis if elected.”

The Washington Post reported that “Tuberville is fundraising and holding ­in-person meetings in Washington this week, defying orders from D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) that visitors from Alabama and other coronavirus hot spots quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.”

“Tuberville spent at least some of his time at the Trump International Hotel, according to a photo posted to Facebook by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) showing the two men in the hotel lobby on Tuesday night,” the media reports stated. “Neither man was masked.”

Tuberville told AL.com that he has been called “everything in the world” so the last week is nothing new.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday the former Auburn coach broke Washington D.C. policy requiring “non-essential” visitors from states with high coronavirus case counts to self-quarantine for 14 days when he attended fundraising meetings in the city this week. In addition, a photo of Tuberville with Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington showed neither man wearing a face covering.

Tuberville addressed the controversy in comments to the Alabama Republican Executive Committee on Saturday. Tuberville said that he followed all the rules and wore his mask everywhere he went. When he was at events he would take his mask off to dine and people would come over to his table to shake his hand and get their picture taken. The press has seized on those moments to attack him, he claimed.

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The COVID-19 global pandemic has killed 707,158 people worldwide including 160,833 Americans since it first was discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in late 2019. Absent an effective treatment or a vaccine, social distancing and masks are the only tools that we have to slow the spread of the virus.

The Tuberville-Jones race for U.S. Senate is going to have an important role in whether or not Republicans are able to hold on to their narrow Senate majority.

Tuberville is an Arkansas native. He is best known for his tenure as Auburn University’s head football coach, which includes an undefeated and untied team that won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl. He also coached at Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Mississippi.

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The general election is Nov. 3. Tuberville has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.

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Jones campaign director blasts Tuberville for saying $600 “too much” for out-of-work Alabamians

Eddie Burkhalter

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Incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Republican challenger Tommy Tubberville, right.

The communications director for U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’s re-election campaign on Wednesday called out Tommy Tuberville for saying that $600 in emergency unemployment aid was too much for Alabamians. 

“Tommy Tuberville once again proves he’s out of touch with Alabama. When he ‘resigned’ from his job as a football coach he took a $5.1 million payout for himself. To this day, he receives $800 a week in State Retirement funds for a coaching job he ‘quit’ in 2008,” said Owen Kilmer, communications Director for Jones’s Senate campaign, in a statement Wednesday. 

“But he says $600 in emergency benefits is ‘way too much’ for people in Alabama who lost their jobs in this crisis through no fault of their own. Tuberville says $600 is ‘way too much’ to help people put food on the table and pay utilities,” Kilmer continued. “No wonder, when asked about how to handle this crisis, he said ‘I wouldn’t have a clue.’ It’s true. He doesn’t.”

Tuberville, the Republican Senate nominee, is trying to unseat Jones in the November general election. Jones has called the former Auburn football coach and first-time political candidate an unprepared hyper-partisan.

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Mimi Penhale, Russell Bedsole advance to GOP runoff in HD49

Brandon Moseley

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Miriam "Mimi" Penhale, left, and Russell Bedsole, right, are vying for the vacant Alabama House District 49 seat.

Republican voters in House District 49 went to the polls Tuesday to nominate their next representative. Miriam “Mimi” Penhale and Russell Bedsole received the most votes and will advance on to the special Republican primary runoff scheduled for Sept. 1.

“What an incredible day!” Bedsole said. “Thank you friends and family for your love, support, and prayers. We had a great showing today and we are on to a runoff. Looking forward to getting back out and winning this thing on September 1st.”

“THANK YOU Bibb, Chilton and Shelby County!” Penhale said on social media. “I’m looking forward to earning your vote, again, on September 1 in the runoff.”

The election was very tight between the two. Mimi Penhale received 829 votes, or 31.4 percent of the votes. Russell Bedsole received 919 votes, or 34.8 percent.

The rest of the votes was split among the other four candidates. James Dean received less than 1 percent, Chuck Martin received 24.3 percent, Jackson McNeely received 2.16 percent and Donna Strong received 6.71 percent.

There were 2,639 votes cast on Tuesday. Voter turnout was 8.88 percent.

Bedsole serves on the Alabaster City Council, Pemhale is the director of the Shelby County Legislative office.

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The eventual winner of the Republican nomination will face Democrat Cheryl Patton in the special general election on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The vacancy in House District 49 was created when State Rep. April Weaver, R-Briarfield, announced her resignation to accept an appointment as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties. The winner will serve the remainder of Weaver’s term, which ends in late 2022.

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