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Brooks, colleagues propose holding State of the Union address in the Senate Chamber

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, and House colleagues sent a letter to President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposing that the President’s annual State of the Union address be held in the Senate Chamber in after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, uninvited President Donald J. Trump. It is the first time in history that the U.S. House has revoked the President’s invitation to address the American people in his annual State of the Union address in the House chamber.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unprecedented and hyper-partisan move to revoke President Trump’s invitation to address the American people at the annual State of the Union address is nothing more than a childish, partisan, political stunt that undermines bipartisanship at a time America needs it the most,” Congressman Brooks said in a statement. “It is the height of hutzpah for Speaker Pelosi to feign concern for the President’s personal security during the State of the Union Address while callously showing no concern for the thousands of Americans who die each year because of illegal aliens and America’s porous southern border. Speaker Pelosi’s conduct is nothing more than a radical, hyper-partisan and shameless attempt to appease the Democrat Party’s Socialist base and childishly embarrass the President of the United States.”

“Speaker Pelosi’s attempt to muffle President Trump and appease her radical, socialist, open borders base using the false claim of security concerns is shameful,” Brooks added. “Yesterday, Speaker Pelosi’s ‘questionable security’ claim was blown out of the water by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who stated yesterday ‘The Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union. We thank the Service for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland.’[2] What’s more, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats not only never contacted Homeland Security or the Secret Service about this “red herring” security issue, both security agencies confirm they have been preparing for months and are ‘ready’ to secure the event.”

“Perhaps even more absurd is Speaker Pelosi’s claim that President Trump should not address the Congress because of the shutdown even though the State of the Union invitation was issued by Speaker Pelosi to President Trump on January 3rd during the shutdown. Speaker Pelosi’s revocation justification rings hollow and crystallizes the crass political motivations behind this hyper-partisan stunt.”

Brooks continued, “America faces both a crisis at our porous southern border and a federal government partial shutdown that is hurting millions of American citizens. Contrary to Speaker Pelosi’s claims, now is exactly when American people should hear from their President of the United States on these critical issues, and others, in the state of our nation. What is Speaker Pelosi so scared about what President Trump might say? Is Speaker Pelosi fearful of the truth about the dead Americans who lose their lives every day because of Democrat policies that aid and abet illegal alien homicides and overdoses from drugs that leak into America like a sieve across our porous southern border? Does Speaker Pelosi fear that true facts and sound arguments for border security will expose the Democrats’ and national media’s hyper-political rhetoric, outright lies and deceit?”

“I most strongly encourage Vice-President Mike Pence, in his Constitutional capacity as the presiding officer of the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to invite President Trump to report to the American people on the state of the union in the Senate Chamber,” Brooks concluded. “While traditionally these addresses have been held in the House Chamber due to its larger size, inasmuch as House Democrats apparently do not want to hear from the President anyway, overcrowding of the Senate chamber should not be an issue. I urge President Trump, Vice-President Pence (as President of the Senate), and Leader McConnell to maintain January 29, 2019 as the date on which President Trump can address the American people from the Senate Chamber, thus putting President Trump with our first president, George Washington, who also gave his first State of the Union address in the Capitol’s Senate Chamber.”

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Speaker Pelosi denies cancelling the State of the Union address, but rather simply wanted it postponed. The majority leader of the House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer, D-Marylond, stated on CNN that the “The state of the union is off.”

President Trump retaliated on Thursday, by denying Pelosi and a congressional delegation the use of a military airplane to take a Department of Defense trip to Belgium, Egypt, and Afghanistan. The group boarded a U.S. Air Force bus to travel to the Air Force base for their trip when they were then notified that the President was revoking their use of military aircraft. The President said that they can fly commercial. The military is not affected by the shutdown.

“In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” President Trump wrote.

The group was to be gone for seven days. Government workers will not get paid for a second pay period if the government shutdown is not resolved before then. Any deal would be impossible with Pelosi out of the country.

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The partial government shutdown is now into its 28th day. 420,000 government workers are being required to go to work despite not being paid. 380,000 government workers have been told not to report to work.

Fox News is reporting that food banks are being set up for the families of FBI, Coast Guard and other government agency employees who are not being paid during the shutdown. President Trump is requesting $5.7 billion for increased border security. To this point congressional Democrats have refused to negotiate.


Congressman Mo Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Elections

Etowah County Republicans rally for Trump

Brandon Moseley

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The Etowah County Republican Party and the Trump campaign will be holding a Celebrate America rally and prayer meeting on Sunday in anticipation of Tuesday’s general election.

“We the People plan to peacefully assemble at our town square Tomorrow, November 1st at 2:00 PM to rally around President Trump and pray for our nation, our first responders, and for our President,” organizers said.

Remarks will be made by special guest Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville.

Singer songwriters Camille and Haley will perform.

Pastors Mark Gidley, Joey Jones and Bruce Word will be speaking.

“Bring your friends and family as we pray, celebrate and rally for America!” organizers said. “Our outdoor program and rally will be an amazing hour that you will not want to miss! Please mark your calendars and please share.”

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Patriotic attire, American flags, and Trump flags are welcome. The event will be in the Rainbow City Town hall parking lot.

Robert Aderholt is in his twelfth term representing Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District. Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District is where Trump had his greatest margin of victory in the entire country in 2016.

President Trump and Congressman Aderholt both face Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s general election.

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Crime

Inmate assault injures two St. Clair prison correctional officers

The assaults happened at approximately 7:30 p.m. and both officers were taken to a local hospital and treated for those non-life-threatening injuries.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Two correctional officers at St. Clair Correctional Facility were injured in an inmate-on-officer assault on Monday, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed to APR.

Among the two officers who sustained non-life-threatening injuries was a basic correctional officer (BCO), a position created in May 2019, who are not Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (APOST) certified and who cannot transport inmates, work perimeter fencing or in towers.

The other officer injured was a full correctional officer, Alabama Department of Corrections spokeswoman Samantha Rose told APR in a message Friday. The assaults happened at approximately 7:30 p.m. and both officers were taken to a local hospital and treated for those non-life-threatening injuries and subsequently released, according to Rose.

“The ADOC condemns all violence in its facilities, and the actions taken by the inmate against ADOC staff are being thoroughly investigated,” Rose said. “As the investigation into this incident is ongoing, we cannot provide additional detail at this time. More information will be available upon the conclusion of our investigation.”

The ADOC created the new basic correctional officer position to bolster the state’s woefully understaffed prisons. The creation of the position was also at the suggestion of experts ordered by a federal court to study the department’s staffing problems, ADOC attorneys wrote to the court in a filing in 2019.

The ongoing lawsuit is over the state’s handling of mental health in prisons.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disability Advocacy Program filed the 2014 suit arguing the state was indifferent to the health of inmates dying by suicide in greater and greater numbers.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in June argued that ADOC was far behind on the court-ordered hiring new additional officers. It has been more than two years since U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ordered the Alabama Department of Corrections to hire an additional 2,000 correctional officers by 2022.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson in a previous opinion wrote that prison understaffing “has been a persistent, systemic problem that leaves many ADOC facilities incredibly dangerous and out of control.”

“Taken together, ADOC’s low correctional-staffing level, in the context of its severely overcrowded prisons, creates a substantial risk of serious harm to mentally ill prisoners, including continued pain and suffering, decompensation, self-injury, and suicide,” Thompson’s previous opinion continued.

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The SPLC in court filings late last year expressed concern over the use of basic correctional officers in Alabama’s overcrowded and understaffed prisons. ADOC attorneys have argued to the court, however, that BCO’s are adequately trained to do their jobs and are needed for the department to hire the necessary number of officers per the court’s timeline.

In a court filing on Thursday, attorneys for the plaintiffs asked the court not to again delay site visits to Alabama prisons by two experts who are tasked by the court to determine which positions should be filled by correctional officers and which by BCO’s and which by another new position, called cubical correctional officers, who are to have no direct interaction with inmates.

Those visits were to begin in May, but both parties in the suit agree to wait due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat it posed to the experts, who are particularly vulnerable to the disease due to “age and other factors,” according to court records.

Both parties again agreed to postpone those visits in June for those same reasons, those records show. ADOC seeks a third extension but attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that the experts can visit the prisons while keeping themselves, prison staff and inmates safe from harm of COVID-19 and that thousands of employees and contractors enter Alabama prisons daily.

The plaintiff’s attorneys argue in the court filing that the expert guidance is needed because ADOC wishes to use BCO’s and cubical correctional officers to comply with the court-ordered hiring of additional staff by Feb. 20, 2022.

“Ensuring adequate staffing is of upmost importance to address the constitutional violations underlying mental health care within ADOC,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote to the court Thursday.

ADOC in May was employing 494 BCO’s, a 57 percent increase in the number of BCO’s employed in Oct. 2019, according to ADOC’s staffing numbers. The number of correctional officers working in Alabama prisons fell by two percent during that time, dropping from 1,319 to 1,287.

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Elections

Slow absentee voting in Tuscaloosa sparks outrage, possible legal action

Among the issues were incredibly long lines that left some voters waiting more than five hours and an inefficient process that managed to take in fewer than 100 absentee ballots in six hours. 

Josh Moon

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Long lines and slow absentee ballot processing in Tuscaloosa County have left voters outraged and incumbent Sen. Doug Jones’s campaign threatening legal action. 

On Wednesday, Jones’s campaign attorney, Adam Plant, sent a letter to Tuscaloosa County Circuit Clerk Magaria Bobo, outlining a number of issues with ongoing absentee voting and promising to take legal action if Bobo doesn’t improve the process on the final day, Friday. Among the issues documented by Plant were incredibly long lines that left some voters waiting more than five hours and an inefficient process that managed to take in fewer than 100 absentee ballots in six hours. 

Additionally, Plant noted that Bobo has hired her family members to help process absentee ballots and at least one family member had made disparaging remarks on social media about voters. 

“You and those acting on your behalf are suppressing the vote of qualified Alabama voters,” Plant wrote in the letter. “If you are unable or unwilling to execute your duties competently, and allow Tuscaloosa voters to exercise their voting rights without undue burdens, we will take further action.”

In an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser on Wednesday, Bobo noted that her office had received more than 13,000 requests for absentee ballots — a remarkable uptick from the 3,000 or so her office usually receives — and there had been problems in managing that number of ballots while also adhering to social distancing guidelines within the office. 

However, as Plant’s letter notes, the massive increase in absentee ballots for this election shouldn’t have been a surprise. Also, Secretary of State John Merrill had made additional funds available to absentee managers to facilitate hiring extra staff, purchasing additional computers and staying open for longer hours to accommodate the anticipated increase. 

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In a press release on Wednesday, the Alabama Democratic Party criticized Bobo and her family members, and the release included screenshots of Facebook posts from Bobo’s daughter lashing out at voters who complained about the long wait times. 

“No voter should have to wait in line for hours to exercise their rights,” said ADP executive director Wade Perry. “We should leverage every tool we have to make voting easier, not harder. Also, it should go without saying that election workers should not insult the very people they are employed to serve. If Ms. Bobo is incapable of processing voters quickly, someone else needs to do the job.”

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Elections

Jones campaign calls Tuberville a “coward” after no-show at Auburn forum

“Tuberville is hiding because he knows that on every front — policy, experience, character, competence — he loses to Doug Jones. Hands down,” Jones’s campaign said.

Brandon Moseley

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Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

There are only four days left before election day, and incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’s re-election campaign is slamming Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville, accusing him of “hiding” and calling him a “coward.”

On Wednesday, Jones addressed an Auburn University forum. Tuberville did not attend.

“Tonight, the College Democrats and College Republicans at Auburn University co-hosted a debate between Doug Jones and Tommy Tuberville, offering students a chance to ask the candidates about the issues that matter most to Alabama,” the Jones campaign said in an email to supporters. “But Tuberville never showed up – he’s too scared to face Doug… even on his own home turf. Tuberville has repeatedly refused to debate Doug Jones. He’s consistently refused to be interviewed by the press. He’s refused to tell Alabama the truth about who and what they’re voting for – and it’s clear why.”

“Tuberville is hiding because he knows that on every front — policy, experience, character, competence — he loses to Doug Jones. Hands down,” the campaign continued. “If he won’t tell the truth, we will. Tuberville expects to win this race off of his blind allegiance to the President and his party affiliation. But Alabamians know better.”

“People deserve to know who they’re really voting for if they vote for Tuberville: someone who … won’t protect our health care, doesn’t believe in science, has no idea what the Voting Rights Act is, and doesn’t care about the lives and livelihoods of Alabamians,” the Jones campaign concluded. “Alabama will never elect a coward. Pitch in now and help us spread the truth about the man hiding behind the ballot.”

“I am disappointed that Tommy Tuberville is not here,” Jones said. “I think it is important that people see two candidates side by side answering the same questions.”

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Tuberville meanwhile is canvassing the state, speaking to rallies and Republican groups to turn out the Republican vote for himself and President Donald Trump. Tuberville spoke at Freedom Fest in Madison County on Thursday and at the Trump Truck Parade rally in Phenix City.

“It’s time Alabama had a U.S. senator who represents our conservative beliefs and traditional values,” Tuberville said in Phenix City. “It’s time Alabama had a U.S. senator who supports the Second Amendment, the right to life, and putting God back in the classroom.”

Polling consistently shows Tuberville with a commanding lead over Jones. Real Clear Politics lists the race on their current board as a likely Republican win. FiveThirtyEight’s election model gives Tuberville a 79 percent chance of defeating Jones.

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