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BamaCarry holds legislative conference

Brandon Moseley

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The Second Amendment rights group BamaCarry held their 2019 Legislative Conference on Saturday at the Jasper Civic Center in Walker County. Over 230 people were on hand to promote the expansion of gun rights in Alabama.

“Thank you so much for helping with the campaign,” said Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth.

“I am one of you; I grew up hunting and fishing,” Ainsworth said.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and State Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, are working to get constitutional carry.

“You shouldn’t have to get a permit for something that is a right,” Marsh said.

Ainsworth said that after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, teachers in his district asked him to draft legislation to allow them to carry guns to protect the school.

“I have got twin boys that are 9 and a girl that is 7 that are in public school,” Ainsworth said. “Gun-free zones are killing zones because you can’t shoot back.”

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Ainsworth’s bill did not pass in 2018, but he still believes that it is necessary.

“There are over 400 schools that don’t have a school resource officer,” Ainsworth said. “I am here to serve y’all. It is an honor to be with you today. It is an honor to help fight for your rights.”

Marsh said he supports Allen’s SB4, which would eliminate the requirement that Alabama citizens have to have a concealed-carry permit to carry handguns concealed on their persons or in their vehicles.

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“I want to thank Gerald Allen for sponsoring SB4,” Marsh said. “We will continue to move it through the Senate. It is the House we have to work on.”

Marsh said he was in Washington two weeks ago meeting with the NRA’s Chris Cox.

“They are constantly under attack for fighting for Second Amendment rights,” he said.

“I have more guns than I can count, and I want to keep them,” Marsh said. “I am like you. I grew up hunting and fishing. I still have a gun dog named Ray, and we were hunting last week.”

“I will continue to work with you,” Marsh said and then he gave out his personal cell phone number to the crowd.

On Saturday, Marsh announced that he is seriously looking at running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.

BamaCarry has over 1300 paid “vested members” and 20,279 Facebook group members.

“Great crowd,” Allen told AM 770’s David Pinkelton. “I am a member myself. I am carrying a great bill: Senate Bill four. I encourage everyone to call the House members. We have the votes in the Senate to pass this.”

“Make that phone call to the Speaker’s office,” Allen said. “Fourteen states have passed constitutional carry. Where it has passed the sale of permits has gone up.”

“My rights do not come from people,” BamaCarry President Eddie Fulmer said. “They do not come from government. My rights are ordained by God. If I do not have a right to defend my life, my rights or my property, neither does government. Molon Labe.”

“The left has been making an incredible push for more gun control at the national levels and at the state level,” said Gunowners of America Executive Director Erich Pratt. “They are pushing a manifest destiny of sorts that they are on the right side of history.”

“[The mainstream media] are giving you story after story in order to try to dispirit you,” Pratt said. “With the exception of Florida, we saw the blue states get bluer and the red states getting redder. Gallup does a survey of the most important issues to the American people, and last October, the desire for more gun control was not even in the top 15.”

“The left wants to dispirit you,” Pratt said. “They want you to think that we have reached a tipping point where the majority of Americans want the Second Amendment repealed.”

“The number of school districts arming teachers doubled last year,” Pratt said. “After Parkland, more states passed stand your ground laws; more states passed constitutional carry. South Dakota became the 15th state to get constitutional carry. We need to get Alabama on board and pass that.”

“At GOA we try to make it very easy for you,” Pratt continued. “We alert you when legislation comes down the pike that is a threat to your right, and we notify you when there is good legislation we need to support. The biggest battle we are going to be fighting this year is the red flag gun confiscation orders.”

“They allow your guns to be confiscated even though you haven’t been convicted of a crime or even accused of a crime,” Pratt said. “All it takes is someone, usually a family member, to say that they are dangerous.”

We have already lost one over this, Pratt said. Gary Willis in Maryland said police came to his door and shot him at 5:15 a.m. A distant relative reported him as dangerous because of a family argument at Thanksgiving. The first time you find out that there has been an order against you is at 5:15 a.m. The police banged on his door. He had his cell phone in one hand and his gun in his other like all of us would if someone was banging on the door at 5:15 a.m. The police shot and killed him.

Pratt said that GOA and BamaCarry were together suing the Trump administration over the ban on bump stocks. The ATF is claiming that a bump stock makes an AR-15 into an illegal machine gun.

He said the measure is too broad, violates previous ATF rulings on the matter and could be written in such a way as for a future more liberal administration to rewrite the rules so that AR-15s could be outlawed as being illegal machine guns under the National Firearms Act of the 1930s.  Pratt said that in the best case scenario the court would just rule the NFA unconstitutional.

Pratt said that they are also challenging New York’s restrictive gun laws.

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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SEC college football season begins Saturday

Brandon Moseley

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The delayed Southeastern Conference college football season is underway Saturday as Auburn University hosts Kentucky in Auburn. The University of Alabama will be playing the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Kickoff for the Kentucky vs. Auburn game is 11 a.m. and the kickoff for the Alabama vs. Missouri game will be at 6:00 p.m.

In August, it appeared that there would be no college football season. The Ivey League, the SWAC, the University of Connecticut, the MAC, the Big 10, the PAC 12, and the Mountain West Conferences all announced that they would postpone the 2020 football season to spring. The unlikely prospect of playing two shortened college football seasons in one calendar year seemed to be the best hope of there even being a college football season. But college football is not likely other sports and there is no central governing authority. Each conference makes decisions for itself. The Atlantic Coast Conference and SEC both met and each decided that they would play this fall, whether or not any of the other conferences were playing. The Big 12 eventually joined the SEC and ACC.

The SEC will play a ten-game conference only football season that ends with an SEC Championship game on December 19. Both Alabama and Auburn will have fans in the stands, but both schools are limiting capacity, at least for their home openers. Attendees must wear masks or cloth face coverings and social distancing rules will apply.

Many states, including Alabama, are playing high school football and the NFL is in its third week of play. Last week the Big 12 reversed their earlier decision to sit out this fall and announced an 8-week conference only season starting in October. On Thursday, the PAC 12 voted to play a seven-game conference only season starting in November followed by a Dec. 19 championship game. The Mountain West has also voted to play a fall college football season and the MAC (Mid-American Conference) is voting today where the colleges are expected to greenlight an abbreviated fall football season.

President Donald J. Trump (R) had strenuously urged the colleges to play this football season.

UAB, South Alabama, and Troy University have already begun their Conference USA and Sunbelt Conference football seasons. UAB defeated South Alabama 42 to 10 on Thursday night.

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While few young people have actually died from COVID-19, some university presidents in the Big 10 had expressed concerns about the long term health affects on COVID survivors, including incidents of heart inflammation.

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Congress

Republicans blast Jones for refusal to even consider Trump nominee

Brandon Moseley

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Republicans criticized U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Friday for saying that he would not vote to confirm any nominee by President Donald Trump before the Nov. 3 election.

Alabama Republican Party chair Terry Lathan called Jones’s announcement “disgraceful.”

“It’s disgraceful that Senator Jones is dismissing his duties when he announced he would not support the confirmation of any Supreme Court justice nominee put forth by President Trump prior to the November election,” Lathan said in a statement. “The Constitution of our country clearly states that the President ‘shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…judges of the Supreme Court…’”

“At the very least, Senator Jones owes Alabamians the simple courtesy of meeting with the nominee regardless of what he already plans to do,” Lathan continued. “It’s time for him to do his job, at least until November 3rd.”

“The people of our great state have spoken,” Lathan concluded. “The majority support President Trump and his policies which includes the conservative judges he has nominated for the federal bench. However, Doug Jones continues to ignore the wishes of the majority of his constituents and falls in line with his liberal party bosses, Hollywood supporters and New York fundraisers. On Election Day, Alabamians will give their advice and consent to remove Doug Jones from office. Tommy Tuberville will represent the majority’s values when he is elected as our next U.S. Senator.”

On Friday, Jones was asked if he would even meet with the nominee. His response was, “I don’t think my vote’s going to count, so I doubt they’ll even want to.”

“The President’s nominee hasn’t even been announced but anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones has already made up his mind against the person,” said NRSC spokesperson Paige Lindgren. “Refusing to take part in a consequential Supreme Court confirmation process is the latest example that Jones has one foot out the door. He’s clearly no longer focused on representing the people of Alabama.”

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Former State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr., a Trump supporter, said that Jones votes against “everything that the people of Alabama believe in.”

“Doug Jones has consistently voted against the President and everything the good people of Alabama believe in.” Hooper said. “Jones is against the 2nd Amendment, he is for government funded abortions and he is a globalist. Alabama needs to send a strong pro-life, pro-business, pro-Trump and pro-American to Washington DC. And that man is Coach Tommy Tuberville.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has vowed to bring the president’s pick to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

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“Thank God for Senator Mitch McConnell,” Hooper said. “Senator McConnell has 51 votes to confirm the President’s nominee to the US Supreme Court.”

Conservatives are hopeful that a more conservative court will vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court precedent that prevents state governments from banning abortions.

“Senator Doug Jones betrayed Alabamians when he voted against Justice Kavanaugh and has betrayed them again today, before President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has even been named,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. “During his short time in office, Jones has proven to be an extremist, repeatedly siding against constituents and voting with the most radical members of his party – like Kamala Harris – in favor of abortion on demand through birth, paid for by taxpayers. Asked about his stance on limiting late-term abortions more than halfway through pregnancy, Senator Jones laughed and called the issue ‘stupid.’ Jones is unfit to represent the pro-life, pro-Trump state of Alabama and will be held accountable at the ballot box.”

Many media sources are reporting that Trump will appoint Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Comey Barrett to fill the vacancy on the court left by the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Josh Moon

Redemption not revenge drives Tuberville supporter

Josh Moon

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Edgar McGraw speaking at a Tommy Tuberville event.

It would make for a great political story if Edgar McGraw hated Jeff Sessions. In fact, it would be the kind of legendary story of revenge that TV movies are built around.

This man, Edgar McGraw, is arrested on drug distribution charges in 1986 and prosecuted by then-U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions. Sessions takes everything from McGraw and gives gleeful media interviews bragging about the arrest and seizures of McGraw’s property.

McGraw gets out of prison, rebuilds his life and becomes a respected, successful business owner. All the while, biding his time until the day he can exact revenge upon Sessions.

One day in 2020, he sees his chance: A former college football coach in a football-crazed state is running against Sessions for U.S. Senate. McGraw throws some money to the coach, hosts a fundraiser for him.

And the coach does the unthinkable. He upsets the 30-year politician. With McGraw’s help, Jeff Sessions’ career is over.

McGraw smiles.

But real life ain’t like the movies.

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And in real life, Edgar McGraw has none of these dreams of revenge. He holds no ill will. He wasn’t gleeful the night Sessions lost, instead he was glad his friend Tommy Tuberville won. And he didn’t back Tuberville because he was running against Sessions, but because McGraw and Tuberville were friends long before Tuberville dipped a toe into politics.

That’s life, I guess. You go looking for a revenge story and end up with a redemption story.

“(The conviction) is water under the bridge to me,” McGraw said. “I made my fair share of mistakes, I paid the price, and I have moved on with my life. I believe every single person makes mistakes in life, but how you respond to those mistakes and live life afterward is what really matters. As Dr. Tony Evans says ‘everyone is going to get knocked down in life in one way or another, what’s important is how you get back up.’

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“I never look back, that is just my personality. Just like you don’t drive a car looking in the rear-view mirror, I am always looking forward.”

I first heard about McGraw’s history a week ago, when someone sent me photos of Tuberville speaking at an event, McGraw standing by his side. McGraw was labeled a “felon” in a description with the picture, and that piqued my interest.

I read through a few newspaper articles about his arrest in the 1980s on drug distribution charges, and I thought it was possibly one of the craziest things I’ve come across in quite some time.

Basically, the story is this: McGraw, who was a successful businessman in Camden even in the 1980s, conspired with a handful of people to fly about $2 million worth of marijuana from Jamaica to a private air strip in Camden. The weed was going to McGraw’s farm, according to court records, where it would have been distributed and sold.

It never made it.

Drug dealers apparently aren’t great at physics, and $2 million in 1980 bought a lot of marijuana — approximately 1,400 pounds — that needed to be equally distributed around the small plane. Instead, according to media reports, the guys in Jamaica — McGraw wasn’t one of them — failed to secure the load and it all shifted to the tail of the plane. The plane crashed into a marsh on takeoff.

Still, Sessions and the U.S. Attorney’s Office were able to build a case with several informants and by flipping witnesses. And they went hard after McGraw, who maintained that he had a limited role. The federal jury that convicted McGraw of conspiracy to distribute also acquitted him of conspiring to import the weed, so there was obviously some gray area.

Regardless, Sessions went after McGraw’s property, utilizing recent and broad changes to asset seizure laws in the late-1980s that allowed prosecutors to tie virtually any property to drug money and then seize it. The federal government, with little evidence, took McGraw’s motel, the Southern Inn in Camden. It was one of the biggest asset seizures in the country at the time.

McGraw ended up being sentenced to 15 years in prison. He served less than half of that and prison records show he was released in 1992.

When I learned of McGraw’s history, I tweeted a couple of the newspaper clippings and speculated that McGraw had thoroughly enjoyed Tuberville ending Sessions’ political career. Because, I mean, Sessions took the guy’s motel — for marijuana that didn’t even get here.

He has to hate him, right?

Then I emailed McGraw to ask if he’d be willing to talk to me about it. I expected one of two things to occur: Either he would ignore me altogether or he’d accept the interview and express his great personal satisfaction.

He did neither.

Instead, McGraw told me the same story that he’s been telling at the Christmas party for Camden work release inmates. He volunteers with a Christian ministry that works with the prisoners. And each year, McGraw, who now is best known as part owner of the McGraw-Webb Chevrolet dealership in Camden, stands up in front of those inmates and lets them know that there is a pathway to redemption. To a better life. To a happy life.

“What happened coming up on almost 35 years ago, seems like a lifetime ago,” McGraw said. “My faith grew immeasurably during those years and the Lord has blessed me immensely since. I have been happily married for 27 years and I have three wonderful children; 26, 25 and 21 years old. I would want people to know to not let the past mistakes in life mold you. Brokenness can be a breakthrough.

“I feel like I am one of the most blessed people in the world and I give God all the credit. I would hope that I would be thought of as someone who came back home, worked very hard and served his community, church, and family to the absolute best of my God given ability.”

As far as his dealings with Sessions, McGraw said he’s had very little. While he clearly disagrees with Sessions’ decisions in his case — all McGraw would say is that he’d leave that up to Sessions to answer for — he said he’s spoken to the former U.S. AG just once in the past three decades. That meeting came at an Auburn basketball game, where McGraw introduced himself and reminded Sessions of their past. McGraw said the conversation was cordial and lasted only a few minutes.

He swears he holds no ill will towards Session at this point. His support of Tuberville had nothing to do with his history, or even politics really. Records show McGraw has donated to only one campaign in his life — Tuberville’s. And that came about because the two are old friends.

“My relationship with Tommy Tuberville began sometime while he was coaching at Auburn,” McGraw said. “We became friends with the Tubervilles as our sons became close friends while attending Auburn University and our friendship has grown since. Our family made our first contribution to Tuberville in April of 2019. I want to be very clear that my support of Tommy Tuberville was only influenced by our friendship and his political views and had nothing to do with Jeff Sessions.”

And maybe that’s for the best.

2020 has more than its fair share of nasty political stories, revenge stories and just plain ol’ dirtiness. Maybe a good story of redemption is something we could all use at this point. Maybe what we need to hear is the message that McGraw gives to those 100 or so inmates each year at Christmas.

“I strive to give (them) the hope that whatever they have done in the past does not have to limit their future,” McGraw said. “I learned to take nothing for granted and that every single day is a gift from above.”

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Elections

Merrill gives guidance on straight party, write-in voting

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill issued guidance Wednesday on straight party and write-in voting.

“Voters who wish to vote straight party for all of the Democratic or Republican candidates on their ballot may do so by filling in the bubble next to their party preference at the top of their ballot,” Merrill explained in a statement.

“If a voter wishes to vote for any candidate outside of the selected party, however, he or she may do so by filling in the bubble next to the preferred candidate’s name. In doing so, the candidate(s) voted on outside of the voter’s designated party ballot will receive the vote for that particular race.

In addition, if a voter wishes to write-in a candidate, he or she may do so by filling in the bubble next to the box marked ‘Write-in’ and then printing the name of the preferred candidate on the designated line.

Write-in votes must be hand-written and not stamped or otherwise artificially applied to the ballot.”

Sample ballots for the Nov. 3 general election are available online.

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