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Republican Senate candidates address forum in Muscle Shoals

Brandon Moseley

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Saturday, February 15 Republican U.S. Senate candidates were in Muscle Shoals for a candidates forum sponsored by the Conservative Leadership Conference.

Former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) was the moderator of the event.

Speaking on the recently failed impeachment effort against the President, Santorum said “All of this was a show and pumped up by the media.” Democrats understood that they would never have the 67 votes to remove the President, “It was all about taking the United States Senate.” 20 Republican seats are up for re-election and they, “Are targeting Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, and Iowa.”

Sen. Santorum said that vulnerable Republicans, “Stood up for the rule of the law and the Constitution but it is going to be tough. That is why Alabama is so important. We have to win back the Senate seat in Alabama. Alabama should have two Senators who support President Donald Trump. We have to have 51 votes.”

“We only have a three-seat majority and there are a number of states we could lose,” Santorum warned. The polling show that Alabama is squarely behind Donald Trump

“The Washington establishment does not want me,” former Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) said.

Moore emphasized a return to God and morality.

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“We have got to have a strong military,” Moore added. “We have got to have someone who understands the constitution.

State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) said that, “The left are attacking our first amendment right.”

“The truth of the matter is that we need to get a vote on term limits,” Mooney added. “We need people to go to serve and not be served.”

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Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) emphasized his efforts in defending the President against the Democrats impeachment attacks.

“Bradley Byrne from Alabama, what a great place, thank you Alabama,” Byrne quoted the President.

“I want a Senator who will fight for Alabama,” Byrne said promising to be that Senator if elected.

Businessman Stanley Adair urged voters to, “Vet the candidates, know the candidates, because if we send the wrong people to Washington we are going to keep getting the wrong results.”

“Everybody here wants their kids and grandkids to have better lives than they did,” Adair said. “This senate race is for six years not for two years.”

“I believe that we need jobs in Alabama,” Adair said emphasizing that Alabama needs more manufacturing. “Put Alabama first.”

“We are 49th in the states,” Adair said. “We are 46th in education and that is not good enough.”

“We need to be able to buy health insurance across state lines and have prescription drug prices low,” Adair said. “We will work on those issues when I go to Washington.”

Byrne said that an Alabama woman was recently killed by a 19-year old illegal immigrant from Guatemala. “We need to build the wall we need to make sure that they don’t get amnesty. Tommy Tuberville is for amnesty. “

“We need a Senator who will stand up for our interests on immigration,” Byrne said.

“Immigration is extremely important,” Mooney said but warned that “Debt is the one thing that is going to destroy this country” if we don’t get a handle on it.

“We have the greatest economy in our lifetime,” Mooney said.

Mooney said that we needed a, “Five year plan to balance the budget. We need to be about solving our problems.”

“We need to stop this illegal alien invasion,” Moore said.

Moore warned that if we don’t return to our moral Christian roots, “We will fall from within.”

“We have got to acknowledge God,” Moore stated. “We have got to stop this socialist movement.”

Byrne said, “My brother Dale died two weeks before my election in Congress.” Dale loved and served our country and he paid a price for that. I strive every day that I have been in Congress to serve to the best of my ability.

Moore said that he has been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court twice because he sought to acknowledge God. I could have just kept quiet and kept my position; but “What led me to become so fervent is when I realized that this nation was turning away from God .”

“None of us want Doug Jones,” Moore said.

“It was Richard Shelby that took away 22,000 votes from a fellow conservative Republican,” Moore said referring to the 2017 special election. “Why, because McConnell said that they did not want a conservative rebel in the Senate.”

Adair said, “I am a 41 year veteran of Business. I got in this because when I hold my grandbaby in my arms and I ask what kind of future you are going to have?”

Adair said that Congress has low approval, “My God, even my pool boy can do a better job than this.”

“I started a manufacturing company and They signed NAFTA and I had to lay off employees<’ Adair said.

“Obamacare has been catastrophic,” Mooney said. “Healthcare can not be micromanaged by the federal government.”

“Healthcare freedom is the only way to deal with the costs,” Mooney said. Patients and doctors should freely interface. Mooney added that he favored healthcare insurance being sold across state lines.

“The federal government has limited powers,” and healthcare is not one of them Moore said. There is a case out in Texas challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. “I am against healthcare nationally,” run. “Healthcare is not in the purview of the federal government.”

Moore said that businesses have not prospered because of Obamacare and that it has interfered with individual’s freedom of conscience. “We need to go back to the form of government we started with.”

“Democrats would love to have socialized medicine, but it will bankrupt the country,” Adair said. “I believe we need to take care of the people with pre-existing conditions.”

Adair said that that was a lie when Pres. Obama said, “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.”

“I call it the unaffordable care act,” Byrne said. “I voted for the bill to replace Obamacare.”

“Yes we are going to care for preexisting conditions,” Byrne said.

Byrne warned that with Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for all plan the government, “Will tell you when, where how and if you get your health insurance. That is not America.”

Byrne said, “I support what the President is doing in China,” with renegotiating the trade agreement.

“Our nation was put here three centuries ago to be a light of the world,” Mooney said. “We are faced with a great enemy, obviously in Russia, obviously in North Korea, but the greatest threat that we face is from China.”

Mooney said that the President is making sure that we have trade fairness.

“We are vastly spending too much money,” Adair warned.

“We are not going to stop spending for national defense, Medicare, and Medicaid,” Adair said. We need to take out a sharpie and find places to cut; because we are already $23 trillion in debt.

Byrne said that problem is mandatory spending. $1.2 trillion of that mandatory spending is not Medicare and Social Security. You can not balance the budget just through cuts to discretionary spending. Medicaid, welfare, housing assistance, focus on those programs.

“I am going to vote against any raise in the debt ceiling,” Mooney said. “Neither party has done anything to decrease spending.”

“Planned parenthood gets $50 million a year,” Moore said. Rand Paul has stood up, but not enough have. Right now the spending is going to exceed the national economy.

“You can’t find 51 men who have the courage to sign the Declaration of independence today,” Adair said. Some of these boys have been there for 36 years. We have a Senator who has been there for decades. He is 86 years old. Is he fit to drive a car anymore? and y’all keep re-electing him.”

Santorum chastised the candidates, “Nobody really answered my question. None of the candidates would commit to Santorum’s suggestion about raising the retirement age to 70 or higher to fix Social Security and get federal spending under control either.

“Government is not there to give us rights; but to secure those rights that God gave us,” Moore said.

“Socialism is a great danger,” Moore warned.

Adair said that the Senators, “Are there to serve us we are not here to serve them.”

“Right now, I am a lot more afraid of losing freedoms here than I am of losing freedom in other countries,” Byrne said warning of socialism

“Read the Old Testament,” Byrne said. “Look and see what happens when nations take God out of their lives. Good things don’t happen.”

“Socialism has failed in every country where that it has been tried in,” Mooney said. The only thing that works is how we are founded.”

Mooney said that we have got a decision to make whether to continue to follow our founding principles or not. “It is time for everybody to get in the fight.”

The Republican primary is on Tuesday. Polls open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m.

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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Courts

Justice Ginsburg’s death will supercharge a heated 2020 campaign

The passing of one of the court’s most liberal justices so close to the Nov. 3 general election has set off a political firestorm as to what president should pick the next justice — President Donald Trump or Joe Biden, should he defeat Trump in November.

Brandon Moseley

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President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden, right, are running for president in 2020. (STAFF SGT. TONY HARP/AIR NATIONAL GUARD AND GAGE SKIDMORE/FLIKR)

Just hours after the death of 87-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, conservatives, including the Alabama-based Foundation for Moral Law, said Ginsburg’s passing is an opportunity to reverse the ideological trend of the nation’s highest court.

The passing of one of the court’s most liberal justices so close to the Nov. 3 general election has set off a political firestorm as to what president should pick the next justice — President Donald Trump or Joe Biden, should he defeat Trump in November.

The controversy over when and how to confirm a new justice will likely supercharge an already heated 2020 election campaign. Trump was at a campaign rally on Friday night when he learned about the justice’s death from reporters.

“Just died? Wow, I did not know that,” Trump said. “She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not she led an amazing life. She was an amazing woman. I am sad to hear that.”

Ginsburg, since her appointment by President Bill Clinton, has been bastion of the court’s more liberal wing. The court was divided with four “liberal” justices led by Ginsburg and four “conservative” justices led by Samuel Alito.

Chief Justice John Roberts, though appointed by President George W. Bush, has been the swing vote on a number of major issues since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018. Her death gives Trump the opportunity to appoint her replacement and potentially shape the direction of the court for decades to come.

Conservatives want Trump to select the nominee and the current GOP-controlled Senate to confirm the Trump appointee.

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The Foundation for Moral Law — a conservative legal group founded by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore — released a statement saying that Ginsburg’s passing is an opportunity to move the court in a more conservative direction.

“For many years United States Supreme Court has been a bastion for liberal anti-God ideology,” Moore said. “The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg will be an opportunity to reverse this trend. I’m hopeful that President Trump will immediately nominate a true conservative who understands that our rights come from God and no authority in this country can take those rights from us.”

“This is a very critical time for our country and our future and the future of our posterity depends upon our vigilance and direction,” Moore said.

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Judicial Watch, another conservative legal group, echoed Moore’s statement.

“Judicial Watch sends it condolences to the family of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She had a wonderful judicial temperament that will always be remembered,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “President Trump now has a historic opportunity to nominate yet another constitutional conservative who will honor the Constitution and the rule of law across the full spectrum of constitutional issues.”

“And the U.S. Senate should move quickly to work with President Trump to consider and approve a new justice who will faithfully apply the U.S. Constitution,” Fitton said. “There is no reason we cannot have a new justice by Election Day.”

Trump is expected to put forth a nominee to fill Ginsburg’s seat in the coming days, according to ABC News.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, wrote in a statement that, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

But Democratic senators and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, disagree.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” Schumer wrote on social media Friday, parroting a similar quote McConnell used in 2016 when he refused to give then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, hearings and a vote for confirmation to the court. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Republicans in the Senate blocked Obama from selecting Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement. Scalia was the most conservative jurist on the court.

Ginsburg was a staunch supporter of abortion rights and voter protections, and she played a major role in upholding Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision protecting abortion rights. She also voted in favor of same-sex marriage and to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Most political observers expect Trump to appoint a woman to fill Ginsburg’s spot. Political insiders have suggested that Trump believes that appointing a woman to the court could help him with woman, a key swing demographic that will likely decide the next election.

Will the Senate confirm Trump’s appointment before the election or wait until after the public votes? If Republicans lose control of the Senate, could a lame duck GOP majority select the direction of the court on their way out?

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones has been widely criticized for his vote against the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. If the vote comes before the Nov. 3 election, Jones’s decision on whether to confirm Trump’s appointee will be heavily scrutinized.

The questions about the Supreme Court is likely to only further inflame passions on both sides this election cycle.

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Elections

Prisoners quarantined at formerly closed prison kept in unconstitutional conditions, groups say

Conditions are so bad that inmates have been forced to urinate and defacate on themselves because restrooms are not accessible, the complaint alleges.

Eddie Burkhalter

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The male intake area at an ADOC facility. (VIA ADOC)

The Alabama Department of Corrections is violating the constitutional rights of inmates being quarantined in deplorable conditions in the previously decommissioned Draper prison, several civil rights groups wrote in a letter to the state’s prison commissioner.

The ACLU of Alabama, the Southern Center for Human Rights, Alabama Appleseed and other groups in a letter to Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn on Thursday detail those conditions, which include no indoor toilets or running water, repeated power outages, deprivation of regular showers and the requirement of incarcerated men to urinate in “styrofoam cups and plastic water” bottles.

“These conditions fail to meet the most basic constitutional standards and present a substantial risk of serious harm to people already suffering from a potentially fatal disease,” the letter reads. “We therefore request that you immediately cease using Draper to house and/or quarantine COVID-19 patients, and instead house them in medically appropriate settings in accordance with Eighth Amendment standards.”

The groups note that Draper was closed after the U.S. Department of Justice, during its investigation of violence in Alabama prisons, noted Draper as exceptionally “dangerous and unsanitary” with “open sewage” near the entrance, rat and maggot infestations and “standing sewage water on the floors.”

In October 2017, the Justice Department informed ADOC of the department’s shock at the state of the facility and a month later ADOC’s engineer concluded that Draper was “no longer suitable to house inmates, or to be used as a correctional facility,” the letter states.

ADOC reopened a portion of Draper earlier this year to house incoming inmates from county jails being quarantined amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the civil rights groups note in the letter that ADOC failed to indicate plans to also use a classroom without bathrooms, running water or adequate medical care at Draper to house COVID-19 patients from other state prisons.

The groups allege in the letter that approximately 15 cots are located in the approximately 500 square feet former classroom, where at any given time between 5 and 15 inmates are being kept. The only restroom facilities the men can use are portable bathrooms outside, and the men have to “bang on the classroom windows to get officers’ attention.”

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“Though officers sometimes escort the men when asked, they decline at other times and fail to maintain a schedule; thus, the men do not have access to bathroom facilities when needed,” the letter reads, adding that the men aren’t allowed to use the outdoor restrooms between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

“We have further reason to believe that one man was permitted to use the bathroom only three times during a 13-day quarantine. Another man was not taken to the bathroom until his third day at Draper, while another was forced to urinate on himself on multiple occasions after being denied bathroom access,” according to the letter. “One man suffering from diarrhea was forced to wait hours to use the restroom to defecate. Many others could only relieve themselves into styrofoam cups, plastic bottles, portable urinal containers, or trash cans.”

“They had to hold onto urine-filled bottles for hours at a time until they were allowed to leave the classroom to empty them. It is also our understanding that some men held in these conditions did not receive bottles at all; correctional officers simply told these men that they were ‘out of luck,’” the letter continues.

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The letter also details instances of alleged inadequate medical care, including a man who was sent to a local hospital with heart attack symptoms after not receiving his heart medication for several days.

The groups are also unaware of any Inmates leaving Draper who were tested for COVID-19 before being returned to Elmore and Staton prisons, the letter also states.

“We also have reason to believe that many of the symptomatic men at Staton and Elmore have not reported their symptoms to prison staff for fear of being held at Draper in the deplorable conditions described above,” the letter continues.

APR has learned from several sources in recent weeks, who asked not to be identified because they have loved ones in Alabama prisons and are fearful of retributions for speaking out, that many inmates who have symptoms of COVID-19 aren’t reporting those symptoms to prison staff for fear of being quarantined. Those family members are concerned that the disease is spreading much more broadly in Alabama prisons than is known as a result, putting their loved ones at greater risk of contracting the deadly disease.

Many of the concerns expressed in the letter were first reported by AL.com reported on Sept. 13, which found that access to medical care in Draper is limited and the conditions unsanitary.

In a response to AL.com’s questions for that article, an ADOC spokeswoman wrote that inmates at Draper have access to “medical and mental health care, telephones, law library, mail services, and showers.”

“Please remember — Inmates remanded to our custody have been convicted of a crime and handed a sentence to serve time as determined by a court. The unfortunate reality is that he or she, as a result of the crime committed and subsequent conviction, loses his or her freedoms,” ADOC said in the responses.

“This response is unacceptable as a matter of principle, and inadequate as a matter of law,” the letter from the civil rights group states.

“As ADOC knows, the fact of a criminal conviction does not strip incarcerated people of their rights under the Eighth Amendment, nor does it relieve ADOC of its constitutional obligations to the people in its custody, which are to provide them with ‘humane conditions of confinement,’ ‘adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care,’ and ‘reasonable safety,’” the letter continues.

On Sept. 16, ADOC reported that there have been 403 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates, 21 deaths of inmates after testing positive for COVID-19, and 375 cases among prison staff. Two prison workers have died from COVID-19, ADOC previously said.

As of Sept. 14, there had been 1,954 inmate tests for coronavirus, out of the approximately 22,000 state inmates, according to ADOC.

ADOC on Sept. 16 said that on Thursday the department was to begin rolling out a plan to provide free COVID-19 tests to ADOC staff and contracted healthcare staff using fixed and mobile testing sites.

“In addition, we will test all inmates in facilities that house large numbers of inmates with high risk factors as an enhancement to our current testing protocols,” ADOC said in a press release.

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Alabama Democrats: Tuberville doesn’t have a plan or experience

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville (VIA TUBERVILlE CAMPAIGN)

The Alabama Democratic Party on Wednesday released a statement slamming Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville for not commenting on Hurricane Sally.

Tuberville is challenging U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, in the Nov. 3 general election.

“Tommy Tuberville said he didn’t have a clue how to address the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, so it isn’t surprising that he hasn’t offered a single word for the Gulf Coast in the face of a life-threatening storm,” said Wade Perry, the executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party. “He doesn’t have a plan or the experience to tackle an actual crisis. Unlike our own U.S. Senator Doug Jones.”

The Jones campaign has seized on the “Tommy Tuberville does not have a clue” narrative, trying to make the argument that Tuberville, a career football coach who has never held a public office before, lacks the experience necessary to represent the people of Alabama in the U.S. Senate.

Jones used that line several times at a Labor Day appearance in Leeds.

“Senator Jones was on the ground in Lee County after devastating tornadoes and worked across party lines to secure emergency relief for farmers and families in the Wiregrass,” Perry said. “He will always be there to help Alabamians navigate a crisis and save lives— he always has, and always will.”

The Tuberville campaign disputed the ADP narrative.

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Hurricane Sally devastated Dauphin Island in Mobile County as well as Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan in coastal Baldwin County when it came ashore as a category two hurricane with 105 miles per hour winds.

Sally then inundated South Alabama, West Florida and Georgia with heavy rain, leading to localized flooding. Several roads were closed on Thursday across South Alabama due to flooding including in Troy, Andalusia and Opp.

Almost 200,000 Alabama homes lost power due to the storm. Alabama Power crews are still working to restore power to customers who lost power.

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Jones defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore in a 2017 special election. This was the only time that a Democratic candidate had won any statewide race in Alabama since 2008.

Jones and his allies led an effort to topple the then-existing leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party in 2019. The new chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, State Rep. Christopher England, D-Tuscaloosa, is trying to make the case that times have changed and the state has two viable political parties.

Republicans are targeting Jones, a Democratic senator representing a very red state. Democrats are hopeful that they can hold Jones’ seat and take control of the U.S. Senate.

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Elections

Secretary of State extends absentee voting for Senate District 26 special election

Staff

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Secretary of State John Merrill has officially extended the opportunity for anyone concerned about COVID-19 to apply for and cast an absentee ballot for the Senate District 26 special election.

The special primary election for Senate District 26 will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 17. If necessary, a runoff election will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 15. The general election will be held on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

Any qualified voter who determines it is impossible or unreasonable to vote at their polling place shall be eligible to check the box on the absentee ballot application that is most applicable to that individual.

State law allows the secretary of state to issue absentee voting guidance during declared states of emergency, allowing Merrill to encourage voters to check the box which reads, “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID REQUIRED]” unless another box applies.

For the Nov. 17 primary election, the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Thursday, Nov. 12. If delivered by hand, absentee ballots must be returned by Monday, Nov. 16. If delivered by mail, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Monday, Nov. 16.

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