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Sessions says that Christians are under attack in America

Brandon Moseley

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Last Wednesday, Senate candidate and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) issued a response to what he called the latest attack from Ron Reagan’s national atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

“Christians and people of all faiths are under attack in America,” Sessions said. “Ron Reagan’s atheist group is spending millions of dollars attacking Christians in the name of religious liberty. I can promise you that we will not be intimidated by some leftists from Hollywood. My message to people of faith is this: ‘I HAVE YOUR BACK.’ I have spent my whole life fighting to make sure that Christians and people of all faiths can boldly live out their faiths. That is what religious liberty means.”

“The Constitution explicitly guarantees the right for every American to freely exercise their religious beliefs,” Sessions stated. “They don’t have to ask the FFRF for permission. The FFRF were constant critics of me and our work at the Department of Justice to protect religious liberty, using unjustified and extreme arguments that have no basis in the Constitution.”

“This group, and others, continually write threatening letters to public institutions to frighten and intimidate them from allowing Constitutionally-protected expressions of faith,” Sessions continued. “They have gotten away with it for too long. I will never back down from this fight.”

On January 14, the FFRF sent a letter to Sessions accusing the former Attorney General of making disparaging and inaccurate statements about the group.

Ron Reagan Jr. is the son of former President Ronald W. Reagan (R) and former First Lady Nancy Reagan. He has long ago denounced both his father’s Republican political philosophy and his Christian faith. Reagan was featured in a commercial for the FFRF that played during Tuesday’s Democratic debate.

“Hi, I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist, and I’m alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government,” Reagan says in the opening of the advertisement. “That’s why I’m asking you to support the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest and most effective association of atheists and agnostics working to keep state and church separate, just like our Founding Fathers intended. Please support the Freedom From Religion Foundation.”

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He concludes the advertisement by saying, “Ron Reagan. Lifelong atheist. Not afraid of burning in hell.”

The Wisconsin based FFRF has frequently attacked people of faith in Alabama, most recently a school in Tallapoosa County for allowing baptisms before football practice,

Sessions is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones (D). Sessions previously served in the Senate from 1997 to 2017.

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Original reporting by the Washington Examiner contributed to this report.

 

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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Elections

Jones introduces bill to encourage investments in minority-serving banks

“One of the biggest hurdles for minority entrepreneurs is access to capital,” Jones said.

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Sen. Doug Jones

Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Tuesday introduced legislation that would encourage investments in banks that serve minority communities.

“One of the biggest hurdles for minority entrepreneurs is access to capital,” Jones said in a statement. “That’s why this bill is so important. Increasing access to capital at the banks that serve minority communities will help expand financial opportunities for individuals and business owners in those communities.”

Jones, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, in April urged the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury to support Community Development Financial Institutions and minority-owned banks disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and he threw his support behind more federal funding for small community banks, minority-owned banks and CDFIs during the recent Paycheck Protection Program replenishment.

According to a press release from Jones’s office, the bill would attract investments to those financial institutions by changing rules to allow “minority-owned banks, community banks with under $10 billion in deposits” and CDFIs to accept brokered deposits, or investments with high interest rates, thereby bolstering those institutions and encourage them to invest and lend in their communities.

It would also allow low-income and minority credit unions to access the National Credit Union Administration’s Community Development Revolving Loan Fund.

“Commonwealth National Bank would like to thank Senator Jones for his leadership in introducing the Minority Depository Institution and Community Bank Deposit Access Act. As a small Alabama home grown institution, this proposal will allow us to accept needed deposits without the current limitations that hinder our ability to better serve the historically underserved communities that our institutions were created to serve. We support your efforts and encourage you to keep fighting the good fight for all of America,” said Sidney King, president and CEO of Commonwealth National Bank, in a statement.

“The Minority Depository Institution and Community Bank Deposit Access Act is a welcomed first step in helping Minority Depository Institutions like our National Bankers Association member banks develop the kinds of national deposit networks that allow our institutions to compete for deposits with larger banks and to better meet the credit needs of the communities we serve. The National Bankers Association commends Senator Jones’ leadership on this issue, and we look forward to continuing to engage with him on the ultimate passage of this proposal,” said Kenneth Kelly, chairman of the National Bankers Association, in a statement.

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A recent report by the Brookings Institute highlighted problems minority-owned businesses had accessing federal COVID-19 relief aid from PPP loans. Researchers found that it took seven days longer for small businesses with paid employees in majority Black zip codes to receive PPP loans, compared to majority-white communities. That gap grew to three weeks for non-employer minority-owned small businesses, the report notes.

The report also states that while minority-owned small businesses, many of which are unbanked or under banked, get approximately 80 percent of their loans from financial technology companies and online lending companies, fintechs weren’t allowed under federal law to issue PPP loans until April 14.

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Tuberville campaign: Democrats’ criticism on Hurricane Sally was false

Brandon Moseley

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Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville (TUBERVILLE CAMPAIGN)

Alabama Democratic Party executive Director Wade Perry last week released a statement criticizing GOP Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville for being silent on Hurricane Sally. In response, Tuberville’s campaign manager, Paul Shashy, slammed the ADP, saying that their statement was untrue.

Shashy pointed to a recording from a radio interview with Jack Campbell on 93.1 FM in Montgomery that Tuberville made the morning after Hurricane Sally.

“Before we go any farther I want to say this, our prayers go out to the people down south, because I am telling you, we don’t really understand what they are going through,” Tuberville said. “I went through a hurricane when I was down in Miami coaching. We went through Hurricane Andrew and it was devastating for months.”

“I have talked with some mayors there. I have called them. I actually just texted them,” Tuberville said. “They are real busy. I want to let them know that we are here for them. I would go down there and work if I could; but I probably would just be in the way.”

“People are now going in from the power companies, the National Guard these people going in checking houses that are flooded,” Tuberville continued. “I have got people down there whose homes are gone. They literally washed them out.”

“It was kind of like Michael a couple of years ago, the one that hit Panama City,” Tuberville said. “Right before it gets to the land it picked up speed. It went from a one to a two. The wind is a problem, but it is really the rain that gets you in a hurricane. They got a double punch from that.”

“People don’t realize this, but it really is the county commissioners who are really in charge, and they get it all going along with the mayors, and they also have an emergency person in charge who works along with the commission,” Tuberville explained. “This is not their first rodeo down there. They know what is coming. You can’t prevent it. You just hope people get out of harm’s way.”

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“There are actually more people killed after it,” Tuberville warned. “They get out too early. They try to do too much. They get on a roof and fall off. You have got to be careful.”

Hurricane Sally came ashore before dawn on Wednesday on Sept. 16 as a category two hurricane near Gulf Shores. FEMA and President Donald Trump have declared Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile Counties a disaster area.

Tuberville is a former college football coach, best known for his tenure as the Auburn University head coach. Tuberville also had stops as the head coach of Ole Miss, Texas Tech and Cincinnati as well as stops as defensive coordinator at Miami and Texas A&M.

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Tuberville is challenging incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, in the Nov. 3 general election. Republicans are hopeful that Tuberville can unseat Jones, the only Democrat currently holding a statewide office in the state of Alabama.

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Elections

Tuberville: Election is about Americanism against anti-Americanism

Brandon Moseley

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Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville (TUBERVILLE CAMPAIGN)

Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville said Tuesday that this election is about what he views as Americanism versus anti-Americanism. Tuberville’s comments were made to the influential St. Clair County Republican Party at their September meeting in Pell City.

“America is about capitalism, not socialism,” Tuberville said. “I think we are going to decide which direction we are going to go in the next few years.”

Tuberville claimed that schools have not been educating children but have instead become about indoctrination.

“Everybody needs an education,” Tuberville said. “But not everybody needs a four-year degree. For some people, they need an associate’s degree, trade school, an apprenticeship program, or other skilled training. Too many people think they can get a sociology degree and then a job that pays a $1 million a year without working. It doesn’t work like that.”

“We need to get back to working with our hands,” Tuberville said. “We need to restore a work ethic in this country.”

“I am not a Common Core guy. I believe in regular math,” Tuberville said. “We need to get back to teaching history.”

Tuberville is a former Auburn University head football coach.

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“I was lucky to have a job that I loved,” Tuberville said. “Every day I got up with a smile on my face even if we got beat on Saturday, because I enjoyed teaching young men.”

Tuberville said that we need to get family back in this country. Half of the young men who are playing for Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn have one or no parents. It makes it harder to teach discipline, he said.

Tuberville said that 76 years ago, his father was 18 years old when he fought at D-Day and then drove a tank all over Europe in World War II.

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Tuberville said that he supports President Donald Trump and has gotten quite close to the president in the morning, saying that the president has even called him at 2:34 in the morning. Tuberville asked if they had clocks in the White House. Trump responded, “Sleep is over rated.” Tuberville praised the president’s work ethic.

Tuberville said that he supports following the Constitution and appointing a replacement for Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died Friday.

Tuberville said that we have experienced a loss of some of our liberties during the pandemic and that everybody was eager to see their lives return to normal.

Tuberville added that he visited Orange Beach and the Alabama Gulf Coast impacted by Hurricane Sally. Many have lost homes. Some people have lost everything. Farmers who have been working for six months to grow a crop have seen it all destroyed — a total loss.

Tuberville promised that, if elected, he would work every day to bring God, the Bible and Christianity back into schools.

Tuberville is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.

Secretary of State John Merrill said that Alabamians who are concerned with the coronavirus can vote absentee. Merrill said that voting by mail would be too costly and would increase the risk of voter fraud.

Merrill said that 96 percent of Black Alabamians who are eligible to vote are registered, 91 percent of eligible white Alabamians are registered and 94 percent of Alabamians are registered.

Merrill said that the state has set records for voter participation under his tenure and predicted record participation in November.

St. Clair Republican Party chair Ren Wheeler thanked Tuberville and Merrill for speaking to the over 90 St. Clair Republicans gathered at the courthouse.

Wheeler said that the steering committee recommended the party transfer $500 to the St. Clair Young Republicans. The executive committee voted in favor of the motion.

St. Clair Young Republican Chairman Logan Glass thanked the executive committee for the support and invited everyone to an election night victory party at the Pell City Steakhouse on Nov. 3.

St. Clair County vice chair Deborah Howard said that the St. Clair GOP bass tournament will be next month and it is time for boat sponsors to pay their money. The party is also looking at adding a crappie tournament.

Judge Phil Seay announced that the party had lost two of its longtime members. St. Clair County Commissioner Jimmy Roberts died on June 24. Roberts had been in office since 1994.

Former St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Mike Fricker passed away on Sunday after a long illness. Seay said that when Fricker took over the St. Clair GOP there was only one Republican officeholder, County Commissioner Bruce Etheredge, in the county. By 2010, every St. Clair County officeholder was a Republican.

Wheeler asked the party members to keep former St. Clair Republican Party Chairman Paul Thibado in their prayers as he is suffering from kidney disease.

Howard said that the next meeting of the St. Clair Republican Party executive committee would be on Oct. 15 at the courthouse in Pell City.

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Lilly Ledbetter speaks about her friendship with Ginsburg

Micah Danney

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Lilly Ledbetter spoke during a virtual campaign event with Sen. Doug Jones on Sept. 21.

When anti-pay-discrimination icon and activist Lilly Ledbetter started receiving mail from late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ledbetter’s attorney told her to save the envelopes. That’s how unusual it is to get personal mail from a member of the nation’s highest court.

Ledbetter, 82, of Jacksonville, Alabama, shared her memories of her contact with Ginsburg over the last decade during a Facebook live event hosted by Sen. Doug Jones on Monday.

Ginsburg famously read her dissent from the bench, a rare occurrence, in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. decision in 2007. The court ruled 5-4 to affirm a lower court’s decision that Ledbetter was not owed damages for pay discrimination because her suit was not filed within 180 days of the setting of the policy that led to her paychecks being less than those of her male colleagues. 

Ledbetter said that Ginsburg “gave me the dignity” of publicly affirming the righteousness of Ledbetter’s case, demonstrating an attention to the details of the suit.

Ginsburg challenged Congress to take action to prevent similar plaintiffs from being denied compensation due to a statute of limitations that can run out before an employee discovers they are being discriminated against. 

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was passed by Congress with broad bipartisan support and signed into law by President Barack Obama. It resets the statute of limitation’s clock with each paycheck that is reduced by a discriminatory policy.

Ledbetter said that her heart was heavy when she learned of Ginsburg’s death on Friday. The women kept in touch after they met in 2010. That was shortly after the death of Ginsburg’s husband, tax attorney Marty Ginsburg. She spoke about her pain to Ledbetter, whose husband Charles had died two years before.

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“So we both shared that, and we shared a tear,” said Ledbetter.

Ginsburg invited her to her Supreme Court chambers to see a framed copy of the act, next to which hung a pen that Obama used to sign it.

Ginsburg later sent Ledbetter a signed copy of a cookbook honoring her husband that was published by the Supreme Court Historical Society. Included with it was a personal note, as was the case with other pieces of correspondence from the justice that Ledbetter received at her home in Alabama. They were often brochures and other written materials that Ginsburg received that featured photos of both women.

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Ledbetter expressed her support for Jones in his race against GOP challenger Tommy Tuberville. The filling of Ginsburg’s seat is a major factor in that, she said.

“I do have to talk from my heart, because I am scared to death for the few years that I have yet to live because this country is not headed in the right direction,” she said.

She noted that Ginsburg was 60 when she was appointed to the court. Ledbetter said that she opposes any nominee who is younger than 55 because they would not have the experience and breadth of legal knowledge required to properly serve on the Supreme Court.

She said that issues like hers have long-term consequences that are made even more evident by the financial strains resulting from the pandemic, as she would have more retirement savings had she been paid what her male colleagues were.

Jones called Ledbetter a friend and hero of his.

“I’ve been saying to folks lately, if those folks at Goodyear had only done the right thing by Lilly Ledbetter and the women that worked there, maybe they’d still be operating in Gadsden these days,” he said.

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