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Attorney General’s alleged illegal acts make national news

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall speaking during a congressional hearing in 2018.

Alabama’s Republican Attorney General has drawn national attention over controversial campaign contributions he received from the Republican Attorneys General Association.

“Alabama’s Attorney General Steve Marshall may coast to victory on Nov. 6, but not without the help of some powerful friends from up north,” reads a report published over the weekend in USA Today.

The report focuses on $735,000 in alleged illegal contributions Marshall received from RAGA that enabled him to win the Republican nomination for attorney general.

Even though Marshall was appointed attorney general by disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley, RAGA treated him as an incumbent.

The Washington-based nonprofit stopped its donations to Marshall after a complaint was filed with the state’s Ethics Commission.

RAGA operates as a political nonprofit regulated by Section 527 of the IRS, often referred to as “dark money,” because sources of the original donors are masked.

At issue is Marshall receiving these funds unlawfully because RAGA accepts PAC-to-PAC transfers, which are illegal in Alabama.

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According to the USA Today report, 527s like RAGA, “must report all donors who give $200 or more per calendar year. But they don’t indicate which donors’ money goes to which candidate they support, so the original source of the cash helping a specific candidate is often unclear.”

RAGA’s largest funder is the Judicial Crisis Network, which, according to USA Today, has given the group $7.2 million since its founding. “As a 501(c)(4) ‘social welfare’ group, Judicial Crisis Network doesn’t disclose its donors,” said USA Today. “[B]ut IRS documents show it has received around $4 million from the Wellspring Committee, another conservative ‘dark-money’ group.”

USA Today also reports that RAGA receives significant donations from a corporation who are, “targets of large-scale multi-state lawsuit.” Among RAGA’s donors are Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the drug OxyContin, who gave the nonprofit over $600,000 since 2014.

IRS filings show RAGA accepts contributions from super PACs such as the General Electric PAC and JP Morgan PAC, according to USA Today’s report, which is at the heart of the ethics complaint hanging over Marshall.

Alabama’s Ethics Commission has failed to act on the complaint against Marshall ahead of the elections, leaving voters in doubt as to the legal consequence Marshall could face after election day.

Montgomery District Attorney Darryl Bailey has been asked to present Marshall’s case to a grand jury.

Marshall has argued that PAC-to-PAC transfers are illegal while maintaining he has done nothing wrong.

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Marshall faces Democrat candidate Joe Siegelman on Tuesday.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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