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Opinion | Will a final display of arrogance be Worley and Reed’s undoing?

Josh Moon

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Nancy and Joe messed up. 

A few days before a breakaway group of Alabama Democrats held their “official meeting” of the State Democratic Executive Committee on Saturday in Montgomery, Nancy Worley and Joe Reed dismissed the whole affair. 

They called it an illegitimate meeting. Said it didn’t mean anything. Chuckled at the silliness of the people trying to pull this coup. 

Basically, they said, “pfft,” and shooed away an imaginary fly with their hands. 

And that was probably a mistake. 

Now, to be clear here, I am not an attorney. I have talked to lots of attorneys. And I know how to read. But still, not an attorney, so consider that when you weigh what I’m about to say. 

That decision to dismiss Saturday’s meeting so casually might end up being Worley’s and Reed’s undoing. 

The reason for that is because their power lies with the positions they currently hold in the Alabama Democratic Party. And they willingly relinquished those powers without a fight. 

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Before we get too deep into this, let’s briefly recap where we are. 

At Saturday’s meeting, a breakaway group of Dems, led by Rep. Chris England, voted to approve new bylaws — the same bylaws that the Democratic National Committee approved a couple of weeks ago. Those bylaws create a new diversity caucus and put in place other rules about approving at-large members. 

Those new rules and the new caucus would seriously weaken Reed’s power within the party, since, as ADP vice-chair for minority affairs, he has the power to appoint numerous at-large members under the old bylaws. 

These new bylaws would likely cut his appointed members by at least half, and would force the SDEC members to approve any at-large members nominated. 

Since Worley won re-election in 2018 thanks largely to those at-large members appointed by Reed, that’s bad news for her. And for him. 

That power Worley holds as chairwoman is significant — perhaps the single most significant piece to her maintaining power throughout this year-long fight. The DNC rules never envisioned a scenario in which a state party chair would fight against the national party and a large chunk of the state party. So, there are no rules to move Worley out of the way. 

That’s why the last year has taken so long and been such a spectacle. They had to come up with a means to remove Worley and lessen Reed’s power on the fly. 

And quite a few attorneys doubted that they could. 

Then Worley and Reed opened the door on Saturday. By never walking through it. 

Oh, I get why they didn’t go to the member-called meeting organized by Sen. Doug Jones: They were setting up their later legal argument that the meeting was so illegitimate that they, and a majority of SDEC members, didn’t even bother attending. 

And that might be a good strategy, except for one thing: The DNC is a private entity that can set its own rules and bylaws, elects its own leadership and controls how those elections work. 

That’s why Nancy Worley isn’t subject to the authority of the Alabama Secretary of State’s office over the fact that she doesn’t reside in the district that she represents in the SDEC. John Merrill has no authority, because the ADP and the DNC aren’t subject to state election laws. 

Likewise, courts are particularly leary of matters involving political parties, and they tend to take a hands-off approach to internal fights and any matter that don’t involve criminal allegations.  

I can’t imagine any court in America taking a look at Saturday’s ADP meeting, where several DNC officials were present and all of the national leadership seemed satisfied that all rules were followed, and disallowing the results. It’s just not what they do. 

That was, according to the DNC and ADP bylaws, a properly called meeting that was approved by the signatures of more than half of the SDEC membership. 

The one thing that could have stopped it all, that could have blocked the new bylaws and sent the disgruntled SDEC members home disappointed was Worley showing up to the meeting and serving as chair. Because that was her right. 

The moment she walked through the door at any SDEC meeting, she is the chair. She decides what gets to the floor for a vote. She determines how the meetings will be conducted, or if there will be any votes at all. 

Worley could have shut it all down. 

Instead, she and Reed laughed at them and sat at home, perhaps one final display of the I-know-better-than-you arrogance that has rubbed so many people the wrong way the last few years. 

Wouldn’t it be ironic if that hubris was ultimately their undoing.

 

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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DOJ defends Alabama absentee voting law

Josh Moon

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The U.S. Department of Justice isn’t using its vast powers to ensure the country’s most vulnerable people can exercise their right to vote, but is instead focusing its efforts on defending laws that clearly violate the spirit of the Voting Rights Act, an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center said Tuesday. 

The comments, from SPLC senior staff attorney Caren Short, came in response to a DOJ filing in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of several plaintiffs by SPLC, The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program. That lawsuit seeks to implement curbside voting for at-risk citizens during the current pandemic and also to remove requirements for certain voter IDs and that witnesses sign absentee ballot requests. 

The DOJ filed a brief on Tuesday stating that it is the agency’s position that Alabama’s law requiring witnesses for absentee ballots does not violate Section 201 of the Voting Rights Act, because it is not a test or device as referenced in the Act. 

“It is not a literacy test, it is not an educational requirement, and it is not a moral character requirement,” Jay Town, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said in the brief. “Nor, contrary to Plaintiffs’ position, is it a voucher requirement prohibited by Section 201’s fourth and final provision.”

Plaintiffs in the case have argued that the requirement for a single person with a pre-existing condition could pose a grave risk and reasonably lead to them being unable to safely cast a vote. In fact, they point out in the lawsuit instances in which the DOJ, prior to the Trump administration, also had argued against states requiring witnesses. 

“Our complaint demonstrates how Alabama’s witness requirement violates Section 201 of the Voting Rights Act,” said Deuel Ross, senior counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. “In the past, the DOJ itself has objected to witness requirements, but since February 2017, it has brought zero new voting rights cases.”

The “voucher” requirement was one of many tactics utilized by whites to prevent black citizens from voting. In practice, it required that any black person wishing to vote must first obtain the signature of a white person. 

Towns argued in the brief that there were differences between voucher requirements and the witness signatures, including that the witness doesn’t have to be a registered voter and the witness is merely signing that he or she witnessed the absentee voter filling out the ballot.

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Sessions slams Tuberville for saying China has “a better military” than the U.S.

Brandon Moseley

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“On the day after Memorial Day, Tommy Tuberville is exalting the Chinese Communist Party’s military over our own,” GOP Senate candidate Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

This was in reaction to Tommy Tuberville’s Tuesday comments on the Jeff Poor Radio Show when he said China has a “better military” than the United States.

“We’ve got China that’s got a better military, and things, than we have,” Tuberville said.

Sessions responded with this statement:

“Mr. Tuberville should immediately apologize,” Sessions said. “His views further prove that he’s not fit to be a United States Senator. His comments are an affront to the thousands of American military members who constitute the best fighting force the world has ever known.”

“I have been to Afghanistan and Iraq and visited with our troops numerous times and have been to every one of Alabama’s military bases countless times, and let me tell you, there is no better friend and no worse enemy than the United States military,” Sessions stated. “This is personal to me. I served proudly in the armed forces as a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve for over a decade. What Tommy Tuberville said is objectively wrong and reveals a lack of real understanding.”

Tuberville has said that he favors free trade.

Sessions has called China a threat to the United States and has suggested that Tuberville’s attitude is passive “appeasement” towards the Chinese Communist Party.

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In an April radio interview on the Matt & Aunie Radio Show, when asked what should be done about China’s cover-up of the details about the coronavirus, Tuberville said, “We can’t worry about China right now.”

The host then followed up: “You say you don’t need to worry about China, but this came from China and our economy depends on China. Specifically, how to overcome some of that dependence on Chinese goods and specifically in the pharmaceutical industry because right now we’re dependent on the country that covered this up.”

“Now we’re seeing firsthand the results of letting everything go to China,” Tuberville responded. “The good thing about this is we’ll have manufacturing come back and drugs and all those things….we’re headed in that direction, just the simple fact that we can’t control our own destiny. Everything’s controlled by China. But that’ll take care of itself.”

During the Matt & Aunie interview, Tuberville also characterized the Wuhan Virus as “just a virus.”

Sessions has suggested that Tuberville’s comments show that he lacks a depth of understanding of the issues and has challenged Tuberville to a series of five debates.

“Mr. Tuberville, It is time for you to stop running away, and face me and the voters of Alabama,” Sessions said. “No candidate who is scared to debate, or unable to defend our values, is worthy of support from the people of Alabama. I challenge you to a series of five debates before the voters of Alabama, one for each major media market in our state. This will allow us to discuss the unique issues of each geographic area, as well as national and international issues.”

“Being a United States Senator is more than just casting the occasional vote,” Sessions continued. “Effective senators must be ready to debate Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others on many issues and away from the safety of talking points scripted by Facebook’s chief open-borders lobbyist, who you’ve hired to help lead your Senate campaign. And anyone representing Alabama needs to be fully vetted before they are trusted to represent Alabama Republicans in a race against Doug Jones.”

Sessions also charged that Tuberville’s character would be exposed in a national campaign against Doug Jones, by Democrats.

“The Alabama voters need to hear you answer questions about the time you were sued for more than a million dollars in fraud at the failed hedge fund you started,” Sessions said.

Tuberville’s alleged partner went to prison for securities fraud and several prominent football coaches lost money investing in that hedge fund.

Sessions even attacked Tuberville’s football coaching prowess.

“They need to hear you answer questions about the suspicious circumstances of the unceremonious end to your Auburn coaching career—where you took millions of additional dollars beyond the buyout for which you weren’t even eligible,” Sessions charged. “They need to hear about the times you walked out on college recruits or quit jobs just days after promising you wouldn’t do so. They need to know everything. Because there is no question that the Democrats and Doug Jones already do, and they will spend millions using the skeletons in your closet against you.”

“If you won’t debate me now before the voters of Alabama, with two months to go until the election, there is no doubt that you would be eaten alive by Doug Jones, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer,” Sessions said. “You like to call me weak because I follow the law, and call yourself strong as you hide behind Silicon Valley’s talking points and clips from coaching jobs that you quit. Ok. Time to man up. Say it to my face. You are either strong enough to debate, or weak and scared.”

Tuberville maintains that he is endorsed by Donald Trump and that Sessions failed the President as Attorney General. As of this date, Tuberville has not agreed to any debates.

Sessions will face Tuberville in the July 14 Republican primary runoff. The winner will represent the Alabama Republican Party on November 3 against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones.

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Mimi Penhale is running as a Republican in State House District 49

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, Miriam “Mimi” Penhale announced today that she is seeking the Republican nomination for District 49 of the Alabama House of Representatives.

District 49 is vacant due to former Rep. April Weaver’s leaving to accept a position with the Trump administration. A special primary election scheduled for August 4, 2020, if needed.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to serve House District 49 in Montgomery,” Penhale stated. “In my role as Legislative Director of Shelby County, I’ve spent the last nine years working with Representative April Weaver and Senator Cam Ward, helping local governments, schools, businesses, and the people of our community to navigate the complexities of state government. I have been blessed to get to know and serve the people of this district.”

“I’ve talked to people all over Bibb, Chilton and Shelby counties,” Penhale said. “They want a representative in Montgomery who will promote conservative Republican principles. These hard-working families want better access to healthcare, quality schools for their children, and improved infrastructure to support our growing communities. I’ll fight to make sure we protect the high quality of life we already enjoy across central Alabama, and I’ll work with Legislative leaders to deliver on issues where we fall short.”

Penhale has a bachelor’s degree in Biology, and a Master’s in Public Health from UAB, with a focus on Healthcare Organization and Policy. Penhale serves as the Vice Chair of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Work Group. She is a member of Shelby County’s Women’s Business Council, where she serves as a member of the Outreach Committee.

Penhale is a native of Troy, AL, where she was raised on her family’s bison ranch. She is married to Matt Penhale, of Alabaster. They have two daughters and are members of Kingwood Church.

Rep. Weaver was appointed by President Donald J. Trump (R) as the region IV director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties.

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The special primary election for House District 49 will be held on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. If a runoff election is needed, it will be held on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

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Sessions, Tuberville build campaign war chests headed toward runoff

Brandon Moseley

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Former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) is running in the July 14 Republican Party primary runoff against former Auburn head football Coach Tommy Tuberville. Both turned in Federal Elections Commission reports showing campaign activity through the end of April when Alabamians were still under shelter in place orders to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Sessions was able to transfer over his previous campaign account and he has slightly more cash on hand than Tuberville, but Tuberville had the most votes in the March 3 Republican primary and has led throughout in most of the polling.

Former Auburn football Coach Tommy Tuberville in his filling with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) reports that the campaign has collected total contributions of $2,299,292.20. Tuberville has loaned his campaign $1,000,000. The campaign reports operating expenditures of $2,074,302.74 and has refunded $15,525 in contributions to individuals. Tuberville has repaid $750,000 of the loan that he made to himself. His campaign reports other disbursements of $1,000. .

The Tuberville campaign is reporting a cash balance of $458,819.40 with debts and loans owed by the committee of $393,043.23.

Tuberville’s largest contributors include: Terry Young of Birmingham, AL $10,000. He is the CEO of Southern Risk Services. Douglas Gowland of Gates Hills, Ohio $10,000. He is retired. Stiles Killett of Atlanta, Georgia $10,000. He is the Chairman of Killett Investment Corporation. Marcus Calloway of Atlanta, GA $10,000. He is self employed real estate attorney. Connie Neville of King’s Hill, Virginia $8,400. Connie is a self employed designer. William Neville of King’s Hill, VA $8,400. He is a manager with U.S. Viking. Sandra Hicks of Rainsville, AL $8,000. Sandra is a homemaker. Dennis Hicks of Rainsville, AL $8,000. Dennis is the CEO of Colormaster. M.S. Properties LLC of Wellington, AL $7500. Austin Brooks of Vestavia Hills, AL $6,400. Brooks is a senior associate with Highpoint Holdings.

Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III reported total receipts of just $1,740,194.28. Of that $1,619,657.39 came from contributions. Sessions’ total individual contributions were $1,237,923.39. Sessions also raised $381,73 from other campaign committees. Sessions reported other receipts of $114,759.89. Sessions had total disbursements of $3,815,148.56 of which $3,709,022.56 were operating expenses. The Sessions’ campaign reports ending cash on hand of $749,235.59.

Sessions has received a number of contributions through the WinRed platform. WinRed is an American Republican Party (GOP) fundraising platform endorsed by the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump. It was launched to compete with Democrat’s success in online grassroots fundraising with their platform ActBlue. Contributors to the Sessions campaign include: Scott Forney of San Diego, California $5,600. He is the President of General Atomics. John Gearon Jr. of Atlanta, GA $2,800. John is an executive with the Gearson Foundation. Jean Penney $2,600 of Gurley, AL is retired. Steven Thornton $7,600 of Huntsville is the CEO of Monte Sano Research. Susan Braden of Washington D.C. $2 800 is retired. Betty Ann Stedman $5,600 of Houston, TX is an investor. Hans Luquire $5,000 of Montgomery, AL is self employed in the HVAC business. Dr. Carl Gessler Jr. $2600 of Huntsville, AL is a heart specialist. Samuel Zell $2,800 of Chicago, IL is the Chairman of Equity International. Leon Edwards $2,800 of Mountain Brook, AL is the owner of Edwards Chevrolet.

The Alabama Republican Party primary runoff was originally scheduled for March 31, but was moved to July 14 due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus.

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The winner of the Republican primary runoff will have just a few short months before going up against incumbent Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) in the November 3 general election.

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