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Spencer Collier lawsuit against former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley settled

Jessa Reid Bolling

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Former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier has settled his lawsuit against former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Bentley’s alleged mistress Rebekah Mason and the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Stan Stabler and others.

The lawsuit alleged wrongful termination and defamation after Collier was dismissed from his position with the ALEA.

Collier was chosen by Bentley to lead the Alabama Department of Homeland Security in 2010 and the ALEA in 2013. Collier led the ALEA for three years before Bentley fired him in 2016. The Montgomery Advertiser first reported that the lawsuit had been settled.

After Collier was fired by Bentley, Collier held a press conference where he publicly accused Bentley of having an affair with Rebekah Mason, who was Bentley’s top adviser at the time. Bentley denied having a sexual relationship with Mason.

However, text messages released by Bentley’s former wife Dianne, who had filed for divorce two years prior, provided evidence of the affair.

The accusation sparked an impeachment investigation as well as probable cause findings by the Ethics Commission that led to Bentley’s resignation in 2017 after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor campaign finance charges.

Collier filed the lawsuit in 2016, claiming Bentley fired him because he cooperated with an investigation into Mike Hubbard, the House Speaker at that time, after Bentley directed him not to cooperate with the investigation. Bentley denied the accusation and said Collier was fired because of the possible misuse of funds and leadership issues at the ALEA.

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Collier denied Bentley’s accusations and was later cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury.

 

Jessa Reid Bolling is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter and graduate of The University of Alabama with a B.A. in journalism and political science.

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Courts

Kellum holds onto Court of Criminal Court of Appeals seat

While there is still a general election on Nov. 3, Tuesday’s victory effectively re-elected Kellum to her third term as no Democrat or independent qualified to run for the race.

Brandon Moseley

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Judge Beth Kellum

Incumbent Alabama’s Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Beth Kellum won the Republican primary for her seat on the court, likely assuring that she will return to the general election.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting unofficial results, Beth Kellum had 56 percent while challenger Will Smith received 44 percent.

“Thank you to everyone who made the effort to vote in today’s “pandemic election,“ Kellum said in a statement. “It has been one of the great honors of my life to represent you on the Court of Criminal Appeals for the past 12 years. It was a hard fought race, and I am thankful for the people of Alabama and for the trust you put in me to serve the great State of Alabama. I look forward to serving you for another six years!”

Smith conceded the race in a statement.

“This Sunday, one of the hymns we sang in church was Have Faith In God. The chorus of the song has played in my mind ever since. So first and foremost, I want to thank God for giving me faith and provision along the way of this campaign journey,” Smith said. “I want to thank the Republican voters who braved the unusual circumstances of this time to vote for me today. These conservative grassroots supporters have supported my campaign, defended my character and championed our sacred beliefs of faith and family and our American ideals of liberty, freedom and constitutional government.”

“I am forever grateful to my wife, Laura,” Smith continued. “She has been my rock and encourager. She has always been so supportive and understanding throughout the demands of this campaign journey. I love her and I am blessed to have her as my wife.”

“I enjoyed traveling to the four corners of our great state and meeting so many of her wonderful people,” Smith added. “This race was one of grassroots conservatives against the big money interests of Montgomery which contributed over $80,000 to the incumbent. The results of the March 3rd Republican Primary showed me trailing the two-term incumbent by a margin of 43% to 37%. It was amazing we were within 6 percentage points of the two-term incumbent despite being outspent over 15 to 1 during the primary. Today, the voters spoke and re-elected the incumbent to her third term. I congratulate Judge Kellum on her victory tonight.”

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Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan issued a statement following Kellum’s win for the GOP nomination for the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals.

“While we had two exceptional candidates for the Criminal Court of Appeals, Alabama Republican voters have selected a highly qualified legal mind to be their nominee for the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals,” Lathan said. “Beth Kellum has proven herself to a be a strong judge during her previous two terms on the bench. Combined with her extensive legal career, we are confident Judge Kellum will win re-election and return to this seat on November 3rd. We look forward to her continued service with the upmost integrity and seriousness she has shown Alabama as a judge.”

“We extend our gratitude to Will Smith for his willingness to serve — not just in this position but in his previous post as a Lauderdale County Commissioner,” Lathan added. “He is a great example of a true statesman.”

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Kellum is an Alabama native who grew up in Vance in Tuscaloosa County. She graduated from Brookwood High School in 1977. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.

Kellum was hired in 1985 by Attorney General Charles Graddick as an assistant attorney general. She worked in the criminal appeals division where she primarily prosecuted appeals before the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court.

She later worked as a staff attorney for the Court of Criminal Appeals from 1987 until 1990. Kellum went into private practice with the Montgomery law firm of Robison & Belser, P.A., working on a wide variety of civil and criminal cases in state and federal courts.

In 1997, she went back to the Court of Criminal Appeals to work as a senior staff attorney for the newly-elected Judge Jean Brown. She worked as a senior staff attorney for the Alabama Supreme Court from 1999 until 2001, before returning to the Court of Criminal Appeals as the senior staff attorney for then newly-elected Judge Kelli Wise.

Kellum was elected to the Court of Criminal Appeals in November 2008 and was re-elected in 2014. While there is still a general election on Nov. 3, Tuesday’s victory effectively re-elected Kellum to her third term as no Democrat or independent qualified to run for the race.

Alabama is one of the few states to elect its judges in partisan elections.

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Health

Alabama governor issues statewide face mask order amid COVID-19 surge

Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision came the same day the state saw its highest single-day increase in reported COVID-19 deaths and the day after the previous record.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(VIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE)

Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday issued a statewide face mask order to begin Thursday at 5 p.m. and to remain in effect for the rest of the month. 

Face masks are to be worn while in public when within six feet of another person outside of one’s own household, while outside around groups of ten or more, and inside in a public spaces and on public transposition, with exceptions, according to the order.

Ivey said there were 2,141 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and said with continued increases in cases, deaths and hospitalizations she made the decision to require masks to be worn statewide. 

There have been 1,183 deaths from COVID-19 statewide, Ivey said, and nine of the first 13 days in July saw daily case increases of more than 1,000. 

Ivey said despite the best efforts, we’re seeing increased cases every day “and we are almost to the point where hospital ICUs are overwhelmed.” 

Ivey has been reluctant to issue a statewide mask order in previous weeks, and has said such an order would be difficult to enforce. 

“I still believe this is going to be a difficult order to enforce, and I always prefer personal responsibility over a government mandate,” Ivey said Wednesday. “And, yet, I also know with all my heart that the numbers and the data over the past few weeks is definitely trending in the wrong direction.” 

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Ivey said there are more drastic options to slow the spread, including a return to shutdowns, but said, “I don’t want to go there unless there are absolutely no other options available.”

Ivey’s decision came the same day the state saw its highest single-day increase in reported COVID-19 deaths and the day after the previous record. Forty deaths were reported Tuesday as having been caused by the virus, and 47 deaths were reported Wednesday.

At least 151 deaths have been reported in the last week, the most in any seven-day period since the state’s first confirmed death in late March. At least 236 have been reported in the last fourteen days, the most of any two-week period.

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On Tuesday, the total number of current hospitalizations of coronavirus patients again reached another all-time high. COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased more than 61 percent since July 1. ADPH hadn’t updated COVID-19 numbers as of Wednesday morning. 

The seven-day average statewide positivity rate Wednesday was roughly 16 percent, the highest since the start of the pandemic, taking into account incomplete testing data in April that threw off figures. That’s according to APR’s tracking of state data.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said during the press conference that a full third of the state’s cases have been added within the last two weeks. 

“That’s not a reflection of testing, because our percentage of tests that are positive continues to go up. The most recent completed data, leading up to the Fourth of July showed about 14 percent of all tests are positive,” Harris said. 

More than 2,000 people across the state were hospitalized for confirmed or suspected coronavirus on Wednesday, Harris said, and about 30 hospitals statewide have very limited intensive care beds availability. At least 1,477 are hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 while 541 are under investigation.

“We really don’t have a  lot of other options at this time,” Harris said. “We’re frequently asked, does the economy need to be shut down, and the answer is no. Not if people will cooperate with the orders that we have in place.” 

Failing to wear a mask as per the order could result in a $500 fine and arrest, Ivey said. There are some exceptions to the mask order, including children aged six or younger, those with certain medical conditions, while eating or drinking, exercising so long as a person maintains six feet from others, while competing in athletic events and while swimming. 

Prior to Ivey’s statewide order, numerous local municipalities and county governments were issuing local mask orders. Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said Tuesday that he’d prefer a statewide order coupled with local orders as a more effective way to convince the public to wear masks. 

Beginning Monday, July 20, Walmart and Sam’s Club will require masks to be worn at stores nationwide. 

“While we’re certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities. According to the CDC, face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, it’s critically important for everyone to wear a face covering in public and social distance,” said Dacona Smith, chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., and Lance de la Rosa, chief operating officer at Sam’s Club, in a blog post. 

Graphics for businesses to download, print and display for customers on the mask order can be found here.

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Elections

Alabama GOP chair Terry Lathan congratulates Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

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GOP Senate candidates Jeff Sessions (left) and Tommy Tuberville (right).

Former Auburn football head coach Tommy Tuberville soundly defeated former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, on Tuesday in the Republican primary runoff. Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan issued a statement congratulating Tuberville on the victory.

“It’s great to be an Alabama Republican! Our voters have spoken and they have chosen an outstanding U.S. Senate nominee for the November 3rd General Election, Coach Tommy Tuberville,” Lathan said. “Even under difficult circumstances with the COVID-19 situation, Alabamians were deeply engaged and determined to participate in our voting process.”

With 100 percent of the boxes reporting, Tuberville won 60.74 percent compared to Sessions with 39.26 percent. Tuberville won 64 of Alabama’s 67 counties.

“Tommy Tuberville is a true Washington outsider and has gained the trust of Alabama Republican Party voters to represent them and help President Trump ‘Drain the Swamp’” Lathan continued. “He will fight for the will of the majority who have been ignored since 2017. His conservative positions on the issues and support of our president will be welcomed when he defeats Doug Jones in November. Alabama is the highest approval rated state for President Trump. The combination of Coach Tuberville and President Trump’s popularity in our state puts us in a very strong position to flip this seat back to the GOP.”

Tuberville’s win effectively ended the 27-year political career of former Attorney General Sessions. Sessions left this Senate seat in 2017 to become U.S. attorney general. Sessions was fired from that post by the man who appointed him to it, President Donald Trump, over strong disagreement with Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russian collusion scandal investigation in the 2016 election.

A still angry Trump denounced Sessions as “the biggest mistake” of his presidency and endorsed Tuberville. Sessions could never overcome the president’s disapproval with Alabama Republican voters. As recently as Saturday, Trump said of Sessions: “Washington doesn’t want him back.”

Sessions is also a former Alabama attorney general and chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.

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“We are greatly appreciative of Jeff Sessions and his lifetime of commitment to conservative policy and service – not just to Alabamians but to all Americans,” Lathan said. “He is a true patriot in every sense of the word and our nation is stronger because of his willingness to take a stand on the issues and fight for the will of Alabamians. Senator Sessions has earned his place in history as a true conservative warrior.”

“We would also like to thank Secretary of State John Merrill and the election teams around the state who worked so diligently in providing heath care protection to the voters in today’s elections,” Lathan added. “Together, we are unstoppable on November 3rd. Alabamians have that date circled in red and plan to end the tenure of liberal Doug Jones. While we know a battle is ahead, his voting record will be in the spotlight – voting to impeach our president and not to seat Justice Kavanaugh, voting against building our nation’s security walls and tax cuts just to name a few. We look forward to doing to Doug Jones what he and his left wing buddies failed to do to President Trump – end his time in office.”

Tuberville in his speech came out swinging against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, blasting him for voting to impeach Trump and for voting against Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

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“Democrat Doug Jones is running for reelection with the slogan of One Alabama,” Tuberville said. “Well, you can make no mistake about it: what Doug really means is, One Liberal Alabama.”

Tuberville accused Jones of taking “marching orders from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and bartender AOC.”

Tuberville thanked Trump for his support and called him: “The greatest President of my life.”

Tuberville said he will vote to defend Alabama’s Second Amendment rights: “By God, they’re not taking our guns.”

Tuberville faces stiff competition from Jones, who has raised close to $10 million to spend by Nov. 3 and was not bloodied in a primary contest.

Tuberville is an Arkansas native and a career football coach; best remembered for his tenure at Auburn University. He was also the head coach at the University of Mississippi, Cincinnati, and Texas Tech. He won a national championship as a defensive coordinator at the University of Miami.

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Elections

Barry Moore wins 2nd Congressional District GOP primary runoff

With 100 percent of boxes reporting, Moore received 60 percent to Coleman’s 40 percent.

Brandon Moseley

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Republican nominee Barry Moore. (MOORE CAMPAIGN)

Alabama Republican voters went to the polls Tuesday and selected former State Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, as the Republican nominee for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore defeated Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman.

“With God all things are possible,” Moore said, quoting scripture. “This was a prayerful campaign it was a grassroots campaign.

“We just wanted to run a clean race and give God the glory,” Moore continued. “At the end of the day there is a God and we are not him.”

“We spent $300 or $400,000 on our race and they spent $2 or $3 million,” Moore said. “Winning this is the easy and campaign is the part. Going to Washington and facing this issues that we face is the hard part. It is a spiritual battle for the future of America.”

Moore thanked campaign consultant Jonathan Barbee. “Jonathan I love you. You were my armor bearer in this. … This guy did not charge me hardly anything, but he and his wife were incredible,” Moore said. “It did not matter whether it was social media or driving a truck through the night to a campaign event.”

With 100 percent of boxes reporting, Moore received 60 percent to Coleman’s 40 percent.

“Barry Moore worked extremely hard and ran an outstanding campaign,” Republican Executive Committee Member Perry O. Hooper Jr. told APR. “He deserved this victory! I am mightily proud of Barry and his sweet family.”

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Moore had to overcome a Republican primary field with seven other candidates, the fact that Coleman is one of the wealthiest people in Alabama and a 2014 criminal case where he was indicted for perjury but was found not guilty by a jury. He also dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, which made campaigning these past four months almost impossible, and the fact that he ran for this seat two years ago and failed to even make the Republican primary runoff.

Coleman had the support of the powerful Business Council of Alabama, of which he is a past chairman. He also was supported by the Alabama Farmers Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Moore had the support of two powerful D.C. super PACs, which blunted Coleman’s personal wealth advantage. Moore was supported by the House Freedom Caucus and Club for Growth.

Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh issued a statement congratulating Barry Moore the win.

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“We send our congratulations to Barry Moore for running a great campaign and look forward to supporting him through victory in the General Election so he can bring his vision for lower taxes and fewer regulations to Washington,” said Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh.

Club for Growth Action spent $706,068 on the race, and Club for Growth members contributed $95,708 directly to Moore’s campaign through the Club for Growth PAC the group announced.

“The voters of Congressional District 2 had outstanding candidates for their open House seat,” said Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan. “I am confident their choice for nominee – Barry Moore – will go to Washington and do an exceptional job representing his district. Barry Moore has a proven conservative track record in the Alabama House of Representatives, one he will take to Washington and use to pass the Trump agenda. His love for the Second Congressional District, combined with his pattern of hard work, will be a great asset in Washington for our state.”

“We are grateful for businessman Jeff Coleman who wanted to serve in this district,” Lathan added. “Jeff’s willingness to join in this public servant position is greatly appreciated by many. His desire to help Alabama is highly commendable.”

Incumbent Republican Congresswoman Martha Roby endorsed Coleman just days before the election, but it was not enough to sway 2nd Congressional District voters.

Moore will face Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall in the Nov. 3 general election.

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