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Editor who wrote KKK editorial says he sold his paper. One of the new owners has Klan ties

The March 28 front page of The Democrat-Reporter.
Chip Brownlee | The Trace

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The Alabama newspaper publisher who called for a return of the Ku Klux Klan has apparently sold his newspaper to a man with possible ties to the KKK.

C.T. Harless — one of the paper’s two new co-owners, according to a front-page story in the March 28 issue of The Democrat-Reporter — has apparent ties to the American White Knights, a KKK-aligned group based out of Tennessee.

In a phone interview Thursday, Goodloe Sutton, the longtime editor-publisher of the small newspaper in Linden, Alabama, told the Alabama Political Reporter that he sold his newspaper to “C.T. Harless” and “Sabrina McMahan.” The story that appeared on the front page of the newspaper Thursday said the same.

Over the course of the next several days, however, as I dug through records, chased down leads and conducted numerous phone interviews with “C.T.” and his alleged brother “Chuck” — who apparently also goes by “C.T.” — what seemed to be the simple sale of a troubled newspaper to new owners morphed into a strange story.

There were big lies, phony names, an ever-shifting story and lots of threats.

It all started with a tip and a simple question: Are you Chuck Harless, the imperial wizard of the American White Knights of the KKK?

The answer would not be so simple.

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C.T. Harless’s legal name, according to arrest records, mugshots and other public records APR found, is Charles Tyler Harless. On social media and in public records, he has used a variety of names — Charles, Ty, Chuck and, as of last week, Chris.

Over the course of several conversations, his story changed, though he has continued to deny association with the Klan. He shifted from knowing nothing about the allegations to relegating his Klan connections to a brother.

And, once confronted with additional information, he changed his story again to outright deny owning the newspaper at all, despite the story on The Democrat-Reporter’s front page and the staff box on the paper’s second page.

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He deleted social media accounts, changed his voicemail messages, later disconnected his phone number, threatened lawsuits and had someone claiming to be his brother call me.

The Sale

In our first phone interview Thursday, C.T. Harless initially confirmed he bought the paper from Sutton. He said his only goal was to bring back a community newspaper focused on covering community issues.

“I monitor Facebook, and sometimes things come to your attention that you want to do something about,” Harless said. “I had seen where Mr. Sutton had written several, we will call them less-than-stellar, editorials.”

APR has not been able to independently verify the sale of the newspaper, though both Sutton and Harless said it was sold as of last week. The news comes after the Associated Press reported on March 21 that a deal to sell the paper was underway.

No paperwork registering the formal sale or transfer of The Democrat-Reporter had been filed with the Marengo County Probate Court or the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office as of Monday evening.

The story published on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter on March 28 announcing the purchase of the paper by Sabrina McMahan and C.T. Harless.

The sale reported on the front page of the paper comes after weeks of national coverage surrounding Sutton’s editorial, which I first uncovered. The paper’s sale to a man apparently connected to the Klan is another remarkable turn of events.

Sutton published that editorial on Feb. 14 entitled “Klan needs to ride again.” In it, he called for the Klan to “raid the gated communities” of Democrats and “Democrats in the Republican Party” who are “plotting to raise taxes in Alabama.”

In late February, he briefly turned over editorial control of the paper to an African-American woman, Elecia Dexter, but after continued interference, she quit on March 17, leaving 80-year-old Sutton with the paper again.

In a phone conversation, Sutton would not provide any details about why he sold the paper to Harless and McMahan.

‘No, I’m C.T. Harless’

I first learned of the paper’s reported sale on Thursday after following the story for weeks since I first tweeted a photo of The Democrat-Reporter editorial in February.

A formal sale would have been a big development.

C.T. Harless and Sabrina McMahan as they appear in a photo on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter.

I called Sutton on Thursday at The Democrat-Reporter office in Linden. He told me it was his last day at the paper — he’d sold it, a task he’d been trying to accomplish for years since the newspaper began losing advertising, its subscribers, its printing presses and its former offices over the last decade.

Sutton said he sold the paper to “C.T. Harless” and “Sabrina McMahan,” two people from out of the state. Harless would run the day-to-day operations as publisher, and McMahan would handle marketing and distribution, according to the story on the front page of the paper.

When Harless first called me back that evening, he was congenial. We spoke about his plans for the paper, his goals and a little about his background.

“What people in America are missing today is information and reporting about their hometown and their community,” Harless said. “I watched the newspaper and did a lot of research. At one time, when his father owned it, it was a very stellar publication.”

He told me he was from a small town in Indiana — Mooresville, just outside of Indianapolis — and that he’d joined the military. He worked in the timeshare business, had most recently lived in Key West, Florida, and would be moving to Tuscaloosa to run the newspaper, he told me.

At the end of our conversation, I asked him about the tip I received — that he was connected to the Klan.

“No, I’m C.T. Harless from Key West, Florida,” he said with a slight laugh.

I didn’t have anything else to go on at that point, so we ended the conversation there. He later called back, and in a quick conversation, he again denied being involved with the Klan. This time he was angry.

He asked me who sent the tip and said that his lawyers would be involved. He attempted to place blame on the former editor of The Democrat-Reporter, Elecia Dexter, alleging she was the one who was saying he was in the KKK.

That was untrue. I did not get the tip from Dexter.

He told me his name was “Christopher Thomas Harless,” and that he wasn’t in the Klan. We ended the conversation again, but my suspicions remained. That night, I began digging again.

I plugged the phone number he used to call me into Google.

Harless’s number was also used to register the domain for a website of the American White Knights, the Tennessee-based KKK group. The website’s registration email is also listed as [email protected]

We found Facebook pages for a “Ty Harless” with pictures of a person who looked just like the Harless on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter.

Posts from the page of “Ty Harless.” The page was deleted over the weekend after the conversations with Harless. We blurred the face of a child in the bottom right photo.

 

That page was deleted after we confronted Harless about it, but we have screenshots. Statuses on the page said things like “Good morning to all members of the American White Knights,” and in another status, he said he was the “imperial wizard” of the American White Knights.

A “Sabrina Vaughn” is also mentioned on the “Ty Harless” Facebook page.

When I first attempted to call Harless back Friday morning after making those discoveries on Thursday, his phone went to voicemail. The voice message on the line said the phone belonged to Chuck Harless, the same name used in the email address registered to the American White Knights domain and the same name listed in several newspaper articles about the American White Knights.

That voicemail has since been changed — twice. Once to “C.T. Harless” and later to “The Democrat-Reporter.”

That cell phone number he was using was disconnected on Monday.

The Chuck Harless name has appeared in numerous newspaper articles, and it’s the name he used when he spoke to Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes in 2014.

We found no public records matching a “Christopher Thomas Harless” of the same age in Tennessee or Florida.

The story changes

When I finally reached him Friday and confronted him with what I’d found, he told me he bought the phone number from a flea market eight months ago. I asked him about the voicemail saying Chuck Harless, and he hung up.

I called back a short time later.

“I am going to contact my attorney,” Harless told me. “I don’t know what you guys are trying to pull; however, I am going to contact my legal counsel this morning.”

He surprisingly stayed on the line, and his story changed again as we continued to talk.

Harless told me he wasn’t actually the owner of the paper. Instead, he said, it was owned by a limited liability corporation that he was employed by. Then he threatened to tell the LLC about my questioning regarding his identity and association with the Klan.

“I’m sure they’ll be pleased to contact you,” Harless said. “No, I do not [own it].”

He continued to deny association with the Klan, questioning the methods I used to contact him.

He wanted to know why I called Sutton instead of emailing the paper’s new email address or contacting him through the number listed on the front page of the paper. In reality, he was the one who called me after I left a message with Sutton at the paper’s office.

His story about the ownership of the paper continued to change, conflicting with what was printed on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter and conflicting with what he had initially told me in previous phone calls.

“The LLC that owns the newspaper — I do not know anything about them,” Harless said. “But they contacted me and asked me to do the advertising for the newspaper, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. There’s another lady involved, Sabrina McMahan, who actually, if you want to know the letter of the law, actually 100 percent owns the newspaper. Okay?”

He said she was 29-years-old and knew “absolutely nothing” about newspapers or advertising, so she (or the LLC, he was never clear) brought him on.

“What I am saying is that Sabrina McMahan is the owner of The Democrat-Reporter. All I’m doing is working with her as an employee, basically, to acquire some advertising for her and to help her get the circulation back up to where it was,” he said. “Once that’s done and over with, my employment with them will be terminated.”

That story conflicts with what was printed on the front page of the newspaper and what is listed on the staff box on the second page, which says he is the editor-publisher. It also conflicts with Harless’s initial account on Thursday, when he told me he bought the paper.

When asked why the article in the newspaper said he was a co-owner, Harless said it was a marketing maneuver.

“Well, because that’s what they wanted it to say,” Harless said. “I don’t have the credit to buy a new car, how do you think for a minute that I would have the financial ability to buy a newspaper for $75,000? … They wanted to bill it as a co-ownership because of the difference in age of the actual owner and myself.”

We weren’t able to confirm who formally owns the newspaper without official documentation, which both McMahan, who contacted us by text message, and Harless have refused to provide. McMahan said she officially bought the whole newspaper on Friday.

‘I’ll get the KKK to call you’

While he initially denied any association with the Klan, Harless’ story continued to evolve.

During our phone conversation Friday morning, he changed his story about where he got his phone number and his connection to the Klan. He told me that he has a brother, a “Chuck Tyler Harless,” who is the imperial wizard of the American White Knights.

“Here’s the truth — sucks for my brother. My name is Christopher Thomas. This was my brother’s phone for a while,” Harless said. “Like I told you, he sold it to me at a yard sale. … I bought it from him. I’ve been using it, and I have not bothered to change the voicemail because usually, I catch all the calls that come through here.”

Then he said he would have “his brother” call me.

“If you would like for Chuck to call you, then I will give him your phone number today,” Harless said with a laugh. “If you want to talk to an idiot about the Ku Klux Klan, alright, then you talk to Chuck,” Harless said, referencing the Chuck Harless name used in connection with the grand wizard of the American White Knights.

“I will give him your phone number, and I am sure, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he will call you and tell you everything you want to hear,” Harless said. “After I get through talking to Chuck this morning, he’s going to be very less than polite to you.”

His threatening tone continued.

“I can’t wait to talk to Chuck this morning,” Harless said. “I’m going to tell him, ‘Little young Chip wishes to talk to the Ku Klux Klan.'”

As the conversation continued, he said he was present at his brother’s house when “Chuck” registered the American White Knights domain along with another individual, Randy Musgrove, whose name also appears on the domain registration.

Harless said no one in Linden was concerned about the real identity of the new owners of the newspaper.

“For you to sit here and tell me that the residents of Linden are concerned about who owns the newspaper, you’re a f—ing liar,” he said. “You’re talking out of both sides of your face here.”

Harless continued his threats.


A portion of my phone conversation with Harless.


“If I do not receive an apology phone call from you today, guess what next week’s article is going to be on in the newspaper?” Harless said. “You and your harassment. … When it goes into print and it talks about the harassment of a competitor’s newspaper, I can at least get you some fame and notoriety.”

He said he wouldn’t as long as I called and apologized.

‘My name is C.T. Harless — Chuck Harless’

About 15 minutes after I hung up with Harless on the phone Friday, I got a call from someone who said he was his brother.

“My name is C.T. Harless — Chuck Harless,” the man said, apparently stumbling between C.T. Harless and Chuck Harless. “I’m the one that’s in the Klan.”

He said his name was Chuck Tyler Harless. I asked why he said he was C.T. Harless if that was the nickname his brother used. Apparently they were as confused as I was.

“His is Chris Thomas Harless. He’s named after our grandfather,” the man said. He said he gave him the phone a month or two ago after an aunt died. “The phone is mine — in my name and everything, and the website is all mine. I’m the bad guy of it.”

Of course, only part of that adds up to what The Democrat-Reporter Harless told me earlier in the day.


My conversation with the man who said he was C.T. Harless’s brother, Chuck.


And, the man’s voice — the man claiming to be C.T.’s brother “Chuck” — was noticeably different from the voice of the man who appeared as “Chuck Harless,” imperial wizard of the American White Knights, on the Alan Colmes show on Fox News Talk Radio in 2015. Their tone, speech patterns and inflection were markedly different.


Watch the latest video at foxnews.com

Chuck Harless’s appearance on Fox News Radio with Alan Colmes.


I’m not sure who called me Friday claiming to be “Chuck” but it wasn’t the same Chuck from the KKK who appeared on Colmes’ show.

The reality is that the answer to this whole confusing family tree appears to be a lot simpler.

C.T. Harless has a Facebook page, which I found Monday, and on the page, he is friends with his brother, Bradley Todd Harless, from Mooresville, who appears to have no connection to the Klan. A search of Charles Tyler Harless and the brother’s name yielded the obituary of their late mother, published by an Indiana funeral home in Indianapolis just miles from Mooresville — the location matching up perfectly with Democrat-Reporter Harless’s origin story.

In that obituary, Charles Tyler Harless is listed as only having that one brother of the same last name. The rest of the siblings are sisters, which also matched up with Harless’s account during our phone conversation.

The wife of Charles Tyler Harless, according to the mother’s 2017 obituary? “Sabrina.”

We also found arrest records in Mississippi, Indiana and North Carolina for Charles Tyler Harless with mugshots matching the photos of the Harless published on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter last week.

(Left) The photo published on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter. (Right) Mugshots found under the name Charles Tyler Harless in Mississippi.

Continued denials

When I tried to reach Harless again Monday after taking the weekend to do more research, I reached a dead line on the phone we used to contact one another Thursday and Friday of last week.

It was disconnected.

I tried calling The Democrat-Reporter’s newsroom, where I left a message for Harless with someone working the phone. About 15 minutes later, I got a text message.

“I am relaying a message Mr. Harless does not wish to receive any further calls from you if this persists he will file harassment charges he said do not call our office again,” the text read.

We kept trying to give Harless an opportunity to comment on our report.

Josh Moon, another reporter at APR who has helped with this story, attempted to contact them, too.

In text messages between Moon and a woman who said she was McMahan, McMahan claimed that Harless was a contract employee and that she did not look into his background before hiring him.

She said she would sue if this story was published.

“Run the f—ing story I will see your a– in court,” she said.

APR investigative reporter Josh Moon contributed to this report.

Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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Elections

Coalition of attorneys general file opposition to Alabama attempt to ban curbside voting

The AGs argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.” 

Eddie Burkhalter

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A coalition of 17 state attorneys general have filed an opposition to Alabama’s attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to ban curbside voting. 

In a friend-of-the-court brief, led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, the attorneys general argue to that curbside voting is safer for those at greatest risk from COVID-19, and that a ban on the practice would disproportionately impact the elderly, the disabled and Black Alabamians.

They also argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.” 

“The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, established by President Trump following the 2016 election, ‘uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,’” the brief states, adding that there is no evidence that curbside voting in the many states that allow it invites fraud. 

“The practice is longstanding and widespread—as noted, more than half of states have historically offered curbside voting in some form,” the brief continues. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Oct. 13 said the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a federal appeals court ruling allowing curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election. 

A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 ordered ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand. 

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The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, was brought on behalf of several Alabamians with underlying medical conditions. 

“Curbside voting is a longstanding, secure voting option that local jurisdictions have made available to protect the health of vulnerable voters, including elderly, disabled, and voters with underlying health issues,” Racine said in a statement. “Curbside voting minimizes the risk to persons who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, and local jurisdictions should be able to offer this common-sense accommodation to voters. State Attorneys General will keep fighting to ensure that voters can safely make their voices heard at the ballot box this November.”

The brief filed by the coalition of state attorneys general comes as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Alabama has been ticking upward.

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Racine is joined in the brief by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

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News

Alabama revenues grew despite COVID pandemic, analysis shows

Tax revenue into the state’s General Fund was 7 percent higher this year the Education Trust Fund brought in an additional $209 million in 2020 compared to 2019. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama’s strong economy going into the COVID-19 pandemic, and billions in federal aid to address the health and economic crisis, has helped the state’s two largest budget funds to grow this year, according to a study released Thursday. 

According to an analysis by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, tax revenue into the state’s General Fund was 7 percent higher this year than it was in 2019, and Alabama’s Education Trust Fund brought in an additional $209 million in 2020 compared to 2019. 

“According to Finance Department officials, Alabama ended 2020 with $330 million balance in the ETF and a $315 million balance in the General Fund,” wrote PARCA’s Tom Spencer in the report. “That was result both of revenues that exceeded the budgeted amounts and expenditures that were lower than what was appropriated.”

The growth came despite the spike in unemployment that began in March and hasn’t yet abated, and despite mandatory business closures in March and April and the restrictions still in place to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. 

The author of the report said the growth is due in part to the state’s strong economy before the pandemic hit. Unemployment was at a historic low between October and March, and prior to the pandemic, income tax receipts were up approximately 7 percent over the same period in 2019. 

Additionally, $4.1 billion in federal COVID-19 aid has been committed to individuals and municipalities in Alabama, and consumer spending shifted but didn’t stop, the author notes. 

The federal Paycheck Protection Program preserved payrolls, and unemployed workers received $600 per week in a supplement to unemployment insurance, which both helped prevent the state’s tax revenue from taking a bigger hit. 

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“Sales taxes dropped, then recovered and have been up and down in the months since. At the same time though, tax on internet purchases surged, offsetting the erosion in sales tax. Unlike some other states, Alabama’s sales taxes apply to groceries and medicine and thus it tends to be more stable,” Spencer wrote in the report. 

Several sectors of Alabama’s economy have done well during the pandemic, including the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board, which contributed an additional $17 million to the General Fund, an increase of 14 percent. 

But still other sectors suffered, including lodging tax. The tax on hotels and vacation rentals was down 15 percent for the year, and collected almost $9 million less for the General Fund.

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“For the current fiscal year, FY 2021, Finance officials are relatively confident that revenues will more than cover the budgets. Lawmaker scaled back spending plans in light of the pandemic,” Spencer wrote in the report. “As long as there aren’t additional unforeseen shocks to the economic system, the Alabama economy should generate the revenue needed to make the budgets as adopted this spring.”

If the state’s economy were to take a larger hit, Spencer noted, the state still has rainy day funds for both funds. 

RESERVE FUND BALANCES

  • ETF Budget Stabilization Fund – $373,269,077
  • ETF Rainy Day Account – $465,421,670
  • GF Budget Stabilization Fund – $27,297,483
  • GF Budget Rainy Day Account – $232,939,781

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Opinion | Electing Tuberville could cost Alabama billions

If your conscience or decency isn’t enough, vote your wallets.

Josh Moon

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

Money matters in Alabama. Oh, I know that we’re not supposed to say that out loud. That we’re supposed to promote our image of southern grace and hospitality, of churchiness and care, of rich people never getting into heaven. 

But the truth is greed is our biggest character flaw in this state. 

Every problem we have can be traced back to our unending thirst for dollars. Our ancestors didn’t keep slaves because they hated black people. They did it because they loved money and the difference in skin color gave them an excuse — a really, really stupid excuse — to mistreat other humans to take advantage of the free labor. 

Our rivers and lakes and dirt aren’t filled with poisons from factories because we’re too dumb to understand how this works. They’re that way because our politicians are paid off to turn a blind eye to the dumping of toxic waste. 

Our schools aren’t terrible because we have dumb kids or bad teachers. It’s because we’re too cheap to pay for them. 

You see what I mean? It’s our lust for the almighty dollar. Every time. 

We love money. 

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Which makes me seriously wonder why so many people in this state are going to vote for a man who will cost us all — and especially our biggest businesses — so much of it. 

Tommy Tuberville will be like a money vacuum for Alabama. Billions of dollars will vanish for this welfare state that relies so much on federal contracts, federal programs and federal dollars. 

If you doubt this, don’t simply take my word for it. Just Google up the press releases from Sen. Richard Shelby’s office from the last, say, six years — the most recent span in which Republicans have controlled the Senate. 

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Almost every single release is about Shelby securing millions or billions of dollars in federal funding for this project or that project, getting the state’s share of dollars from a variety of different programs and initiatives implemented by Congress. 

Shelby and I obviously have different political viewpoints, but it’s hard to argue that the man has been successful in securing money for Alabama. Lots and lots of money. 

Money for airports and roads. Money for defense contractors in Huntsville. Money for the port in Mobile. Money for car manufacturers. Money for farmers. 

Money. Money. Money. 

Shelby can do that because of three things: He’s on the right committees, he’s a member of the party in power and he’s liked by the right people.

Tuberville will be none of those things. 

Most pundits are predicting that Democrats will take over the Senate, tipping the balance of power and giving the party control of both houses and the White House. 

That automatically means that a first-time senator in the opposition party will have little to no say in any decisions. 

But what’s worse for Tuberville, and for Alabama, is that other Republicans don’t like him either. 

Establishment Republicans essentially openly campaigned against Tuberville in the primary, tossing tens of millions of dollars behind his opponent, Jeff Sessions. They even favored third-place finisher Bradley Byrne over Tuberville. 

It’s not hard to understand why — he’s clueless. 

I know that’s a Doug Jones talking point, but this one happens to be true. Let me give you an example: On Thursday, Tuberville tweeted out what was meant to be a shot at Jones, claiming that Alabama’s current senator wouldn’t meet with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee because Jones knows “he won’t have much time in the Senate to work with her.”

If you’re unaware, the Senate doesn’t “work with” the Supreme Court. They’re separate entities. 

Combine that with his other nonsensical answers on COVID relief, school reopenings, the Voting Rights Act, senate committee assignments, education, foreign affairs — really, the list is almost endless — and it shows how little work he’s put in over the last two years to understand this job he’s applying for. 

Now, that might be just fine with Alabama voters who care more about the party affiliation and owning the libs, but it’s not OK with grownups who take the job of running the country seriously. 

And those people — both Rs and Ds — don’t like Tuberville or his here-for-an-easy-check-like-always approach to one of the most serious jobs in the world. 

He will be frozen out of the most sought after committee assignments. His voice will carry zero weight. His presence will be all but forgotten. 

And in the process, so will Alabama. Especially in two years, when Shelby retires and his senior status is lost. 

In the meantime, Jones is highly respected by senators on both sides of the aisle. He already has a presence on top committees, and is so well liked within the Democratic Party that he’s on the short list to be Joe Biden’s AG, should he not be re-elected. 

The choice seems pretty simple. On the one hand is a competent, prepared and serious statesman who knows how to maneuver his colleagues to get the most for the state. On the other hand is an unprepared, uncaring, lazy carpetbagger who doesn’t understand any process. 

If your conscience or decency isn’t enough, vote your wallets.

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Health

At least 248 COVID deaths reported in Alabama in October

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

Brandon Moseley

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We’re a little more than halfway through the month of October and the Alabama Department of Public Health has already reported at least 248 deaths from COVID-19.

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

At least 378 deaths were reported in the month of September, a rate of 12.6 deaths per day over the month. In the first 17 days of October, the rate has been 14.6 deaths per day, a 15.9 percent increase from September.

Deaths were higher in July and August. The cumulative death toll increased by 582 in August and 630 in July, the worst month of the pandemic for the state.

On Saturday, ADPH reported that 1,288 more people in the state were confirmed positive with the coronavirus, and on Sunday the count increased by 964. The number of confirmed cases in Alabama has risen to 172,626.

There have been 17,925 new cases Alabama in October alone. The state is averaging almost 996 cases per day in October, which is up from September.

The state had 28,643 new coronavirus cases in September, 38,335 cases new cases in August, and 49,678 cases in July. Public health officials credit Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask order on July 15 with slowing the spread of the virus in the state, but the virus has not gone away.

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ADPH reported 823 hospitalizations for COVID-19 on October 17, the most recent day for which we have data. While hospitalizations for COVID-19 are down from the peaks in early August in Alabama have risen from Oct. 1 when 748 Alabamians were hospitalized, a 10 percent increase from the first of the month.

The state of Alabama is continuing to struggle to protect its most vulnerable citizens. At least 6,497 residents of long term care facilities in Alabama have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, 247 of them in October.

There have also been 3,362 cases among long term care workers in Alabama, including 197 in the month of October. Some 9,819 Alabama health care workers have also contracted the coronavirus.

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Most people who test positive for the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, are asymptomatic or have only minor symptoms, but in about one out of five cases it can become much more severe.

For older people or people with underlying medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, asthma, cancer, diabetes or HIV, COVID-19 can turn deadly. COVID-19 is the abbreviated name for the medical condition caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Some 1,115,600 people worldwide have died from COVID-19 worldwide, including 224,284 Americans. There are 8,972,704 known active cases in the world today.

Public health officials warn citizens that coronavirus remains a present danger in our community. Social distancing is the best way to avoid spreading the virus. Avoid venues with large groups. Don’t shake hands or hug persons not living in your household.

Avoid leaving your home as much as possible and wear a mask or cloth face covering when you do go out. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands with soap frequently. Hand sanitizer is recommended.

A coronavirus vaccine may be available in the coming months, but we don’t yet know when or how effective it will be.

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