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Analysis | First legal challenge in ongoing ADP fight is a weird one

Nancy Worley

The first legal filing in the ongoing fight among Alabama Democrats is officially on the books. 

Alabama Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy Worley and vice chairman Randy Kelly filed a complaint on Wednesday with the Montgomery County Circuit Court asking for a temporary restraining order to block a scheduled meeting this Saturday, and also asking for an injunction against the breakaway ADP group. 

Judge Greg Griffin has set a hearing for Thursday morning on the matter. 

He will rule on possibly the oddest lawsuit in some time — one that asks the court to prevent a group of people from meeting in order to elect new ADP leadership, despite Worley and Kelly neither recognizing the legitimacy of the breakaway group nor the power of the Democratic National Committee to authorize the meeting.  

That’s what Wednesday’s filing states about the current ADP situation. That the breakaway group has no authority to act and that the DNC has no authority to recognize that group or to force the ADP to rewrite its party bylaws. 

That’s at the heart of what started this mess in the first place. After Worley was re-elected in September 2018, several State Democratic Executive Committee members filed a challenge claiming that various issues should make the elections invalid. Among the complaints was an allegation that the ADP’s bylaws were seriously out of line with the DNC’s and failed to provide proper voices to a number of minority groups, including LGBTQ people, Hispanics, Asians and youth. 

The complaint also stated that because of those flawed bylaws, the party was being controlled by vice chairman for minority affairs Joe Reed. 

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The DNC took up the matter and agreed with the complaint. It ordered new elections and a rewrite of party bylaws. 

Worley and ADP leadership resisted, ducked calls, missed deadlines, turned in half-hearted rewrites and generally dragged their feet for nearly a year. 

The DNC leadership finally had enough and stripped Worley’s and Kelly’s credentials, and it threatened not to seat a single Alabama delegate at next summer’s national conference. 

Concerned about these threats — and, frankly, fed up with the pitiful state of the party — a breakaway majority of SDEC members called their own meeting — a move allowed under ADP’s bylaws. Worley, Kelly and Reed shrugged, called that meeting illegitimate and refused to attend. 

At that meeting, on Oct. 5, the breakaway group, with DNC leaders present, approved new bylaws that had been pre-approved by the DNC. And it set a new meeting at which elections for new leaders would be held — Nov. 2. 

In the meantime, Worley and her group held their own meeting, which was a circus, and adopted a different set of bylaws and set a different meeting for elections. The DNC wrote Worley and told her that the national party wouldn’t be recognizing the bylaws or any other leadership elections. 

And so, now, Worley has sued to stop the Nov. 2 elections.  

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It will make for an interesting bit of legal … limbo. 

After all, how can Worley state emphatically that the meetings aren’t legitimate, and then sue to stop those meetings from occurring? Hell, how can you stop people from meeting just in general? 

How do you explain that the DNC doesn’t have authority over the ADP, yet Worley still appeared before a DNC committee at its request, has accepted thousands of dollars of DNC money and has enjoyed credentialing certified by the DNC for decades? 

In addition, Worley essentially will ask a Montgomery Circuit Court judge to insert himself in place of the DNC, asking that he overrule the DNC on which meeting it validated, on which set of bylaws it accepted and on its interpretation of party rules and bylaws. 

And again, all while claiming that the DNC has no authority over the ADP, as she asks the DNC to credential ADP members and delegates. 

What a weird lawsuit.


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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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