The Alabama Real Estate Commission (AREC) in the past has ignored a standing Executive Order by hiring a high-priced lobbyist to act on its behalf. It appears the Commission is looking to once again employ a lobbyist ahead of the 2019 Legislative Session contrary to Gov. Ivey’s directive.
Governor Kay Ivey on July 13, 2017, issued Executive Order 706 preventing all officials of the executive branch from appointing a registered lobbyist to any related agency. Gov. Ivey’s order works in tandem with Governor Fob James’, January 18, 1995, Executive Order 1 which prohibits the hiring or contracting lobbyists with state funds according to Ivey’s spokesperson, Daniel Sparkman.
“Governor James’ Executive Order also prevents the hiring or contracting of lobbyists,” said Sparkman. “These two Executive Orders work hand-in-hand to ensure that the government in Alabama is a government of the people and that special interests do not have unjust influence over it.”
APR in Aug. 2017, reported that AREC was paying Danny Cooper $450,000 as a registered lobbyist for the Real Estate Commission.
AREC on Dec 12, 2018, issued a Request for Proposal soliciting “Consulting Services,” with RFP 333 19000000059 as recorded on the Alabama Department of Finance web portal.
Two individuals with contact with AREC leadership speaking on background say the “Consulting Services,” proposal is little more than a veiled attempt to skirt the Ivey administration’s crackdown on agencies and commissions using taxpayer funds to hire contract lobbyists.
Gov. James left office in 1999, but the prohibition on hiring contract lobbyists remains in place. According to Sparkman, Governor Ivey will hold all taxpayer-funded departments, agencies, divisions, boards and commissions to the James EO. “Any violation of these Executive Orders would have to be handled on a case-by-case basis, either through administrative action or the court system,” said Sparkman.
The Commission is tasked with the licensing and regulating realtors and related matters it is not an advocacy group. But at times it has acted as a quasi-trade accusation which has led to conflicts within the real estate industry.
According to its website, AREC has over thirty-three employees working in areas of accounting, investigation, public relations, information technology, licensing and education.
Current commissioners according to AREC’s website are Bill Watts, Danny Sharp, Emmette Barran, J. Reid Cummings, Cindy Denney, Joyce Shivers Harris, Carole J. Harrison, Vaughn T. Poe and Susan T. Smith.
AREC did not immediately return APR’s request for comment.