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Tuberville’s charity for veterans spent little on vets, tax records show

The Tommy Tuberville Foundation, over five years, raised $289,599 but spent just $51,658 on charitable causes.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.

Tommy Tuberville’s veterans support nonprofit raised more than $250,000 over five years, but spent just 18 percent on charitable causes, according to the nonprofit’s tax records.

Tuberville, the Republican candidate running against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, started his nonprofit, the Tommy Tuberville Foundation, in 2014, and over the next four years the nonprofit raised $289,599 but spent just $51,658 on charitable causes, those records show. 

In 2017, Tuberville’s foundation spent nothing on charitable causes, but spent $18,066 on meals, entertainment, gold tournament expenses, administrative expenses, advertising, auto insurance and photography, according to tax records.

That year the foundation’s 990 tax form also shows $27,369 spent on a truck. 

The foundation in 2018 spent $17,231 on meals, entertainment, auto, tax expenses, advertising, bank charges and travel and just $7,830 on charitable causes, which was 31 percent of all expenditures that year. 

Nearly all the money raised from 2014 to 2018, or 86 percent, came from Tuberville’s golf charities, with 12 percent being raised through Tuberville’s speaking fees. 

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The majority of expenditures Tuberville’s nonprofit has made were for administrative, overhead and operating expenses, which accounted for about 71 percent of total expenditures, or $207,000. During those years the foundation spent $100,039 on professional fees and independent contractors, which was almost twice as much as was spent on charitable causes. 

Fred Wellman, senior advisor for veterans affairs for The Lincoln Project, a political action committee formed in 2019 to prevent President Donald Trump’s re-election, in a series of tweets on Oct. 19 detailed problems he saw in the tax records of Tuberville’s foundation. 

“The accounting and paperwork is an absolute mess. Different forms every year, different addresses, wildly missed reporting numbers, totals that don’t add up and bizarre financial choices. At a minimum the foundation has been incredibly poorly and unprofessionally managed. At worst it’s a sham,” Wellman tweeted. 

Wellman in another tweet notes that in 2015 the Tuberville’s foundation spent $8,763 on materials to renovate veterans’ homes, yet spent $6,390 for promotional materials. 

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“Yes 42% of the $15,153 expense went to promoting … the effort itself. Strange choice,” Wellman said. 

Gary Maloney, a spokesman for the Tuberville campaign, told APR on Monday that the truck, which was bought in 2017 and used to transport materials and Tuberville to foundation events, was sold in 2019 for $15,000 at a loss of $12,369. That loss was paid back to the foundation by Tuberville with interest, he said.

“It will be reflected in the 2019 report,” Maloney said.

“Speaking fees have been a primary source of funding for the foundation since 2015,” Maloney said. “Now, sometimes the speaking fees were channeled through the golf tournaments. By that I mean, he would say, ‘Well, just give it to the golf tournament.’”

When a reporter noted that those speaking fees being donated to the foundation through golf tournaments aren’t reflected in the tax records, Maloney said the money is lumped into the total revenue made through the tournaments and said “I’m giving you the truth of the situation.”

“Coach Tuberville didn’t have to donate the speaking fees that he received. He decided to create a foundation, with the speaking fees, to raise money to help veterans in need,” Maloney said.

Maloney said that “internal documents” show that all of the money that was raised in 2018 for Warriors Rest by the foundation was also not reflected in the tax records “and that was a choice made by the accountant.”

Maloney said he didn’t have internal documents for the foundation’s activities in 2015 and 2016. Asked why that was, Maloney said he’s not been able to access them. “I have been trying to get them from Ohio, but they did not make the trip from Ohio to Alabama,” Maloney said, referring to Tuberville’s moves.

Maloney emailed APR a document he said came from “our bookkeeper,” which included data from accounting software that reflects $18,639 in foundation payments in 2018 to Jonathan Duncan, founder of Warrior’s Rest, one of the foundation’s main recipients. Maloney also sent another internal document that he said shows the foundation spent more than half of total revenue in 2018 on charitable programs that year.

“The 990s do not always reflect the benefits of a foundation’s work. In its first two years [Tuberville] and the foundation officers solicited, secured and provided donations of concrete rebar, other materials, and most importantly labor, to provide disabled veterans with accommodations, such as ramps, chair lifts, etc. in their homes,” Maloney said “Much of these are not reflected in the 990s because they do not represent dollars directly raised or spent by the foundation.”

When a reporter noted that other nonprofits often list volunteer labor as in-kind contributions in tax records, Maloney said, “I wish they would have. I really, really wish they would have,” referring to the foundation’s record-keeping.

The flyer for the foundation’s golf charity this year states that the foundation helps veterans readjust to civilian life after deployment. 

“For over a decade, the foundation had raised and donated funds to organizations who support and honor our U.S. Armed Forces veterans,” the flyer reads.

It’s unclear why the flyer states the foundation, which was formed in 2014, has been raising and donating funds “for over a decade.” 

Tuberville was also involved in a fraudulent hedge fund that bilked more than $2 million from several Alabamians who invested in the venture.

Tuberville’s partner in the Auburn hedge fund was sentenced to a decade in prison over what has been described in court records as a “Ponzi scheme,” yet Tuberville was never charged — state and federal investigators said that he was also a victim of the fraud — and a civil lawsuit against the former football coach was dismissed after an undisclosed and confidential settlement agreement. 

Jones, speaking to a group of supporters in Anniston on Friday, brought up the matter of Tuberville’s foundation. 

“I don’t just create charities and send only pennies on the dollar. I do things for the veterans of this state and this country,” Jones said.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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Health

Alabama hospitals nearing COVID-19 summer surge levels

Wednesday was the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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UAB Chief of Hospital Medicine Dr. Kierstin Kennedy.

Alabama hospitals reported caring for 1,483 people infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of patients since Aug. 11, when the state was enduring its summer surge. Wednesday was also the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19. 

The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 1,370 on Wednesday, the 36th straight day of that average rising. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,453 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day average of new cases was — for the eighth day in a row — at a record high of 2,192. 

Across the country, more than 80,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high and the 15th straight day of record hospitalizations nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking website.

The CDC this week recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

“The only way for us to successfully get through this pandemic is if we work together,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a message Tuesday. “There’s no one subset of the community that’s going to be able to carry the weight of this pandemic and so we all have to take part in wearing our masks, keeping our distance, making sure that we’re washing our hands.” 

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Kennedy said the best way she can describe the current situation is “Russian Roulette.” 

“Not only in the form of, maybe you get it and you don’t get sick or maybe you get it and you end up in the ICU,” Kennedy said, “but if you do end up sick, are you going to get to the hospital at a time when we’ve got capacity, and we’ve got enough people to take care of you? And that is a scary thought.” 

The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported an increase of 60 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. Deaths take time to confirm and the date a death is reported does not necessarily reflect the date on which the individual died. At least 23 of those deaths occurred in November, and 30 occurred in other months. Seven were undated. Data for the last two to three weeks are incomplete.

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As of Wednesday, at least 3,532 Alabamians have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health. During November, at least 195 people have died in Alabama from COVID-19. But ADPH is sure to add more to the month’s tally in the weeks to come as data becomes more complete.

ADPH on Wednesday announced a change that nearly doubled the department’s estimate of people who have recovered from COVID-19, bringing that figure up to 161,946. That change also alters APR’s estimates of how many cases are considered active.

ADPH’s Infectious Disease and Outbreak team “updated some parameters” in the department’s Alabama NEDSS Base Surveillance System, which resulted in the increase, the department said.

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Corruption

Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence

The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was booked into jail to begin serving his four-year sentence for ethics violations in September. (VIA LEE COUNTY DETENTION CENTER)

Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday reduced former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to just more than two. 

Walker in his order filed Wednesday noted that Hubbard was sentenced to fours years on Aug. 9, 2016, after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges for misusing his office for personal gain, but that on Aug. 27, 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed convictions on five of those counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another count.

Hubbard’s attorneys on Sept. 18 filed a motion to revise his sentence, to which the state objected, according to court records, arguing that “Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency.”   

Walker in his order cited state code and wrote that the power of the courts to grant probation “is a matter of grace and lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.” 

“Furthermore, the Court must consider the nature of the Defendant’s crimes. Acts of public corruption harm not just those directly involved, but harm society as a whole,” Walker wrote.

Walker ruled that because six of Hubbard’s original felony counts were later reversed, his entrance should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months. 

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Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday said Walker’s decision to reduce Hubbard’s sentence was the wrong message to send.

“Mr. Hubbard was convicted of the intentional violation of Alabama’s ethics laws, the same laws he championed in the legislature only later to brazenly disregard for his personal enrichment,” Marshall said in a statement. “Even as he sits in state prison as a six-time felon, Mike Hubbard continues to deny any guilt or offer any remorse for his actions in violation of the law.  Reducing his original four-year sentence sends precisely the wrong message to would-be violators of Alabama’s ethics laws.”

Hubbard was booked into the Lee County Jail on Sept. 11, more than four years after his conviction. On Nov. 5 he was taken into custody by the Department of Corrections.

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News

Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, has “mild symptoms”

It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.

Eddie Burkhalter

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University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Iron Bowl and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the university on Wednesday. 

“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allan, associate athletic director, in the statement. “He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.” 

Saban had previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia but was asymptomatic and subsequently tested negative three times, a sign that the positive test could have been a false positive. He returned to coach that game. 

It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn, given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for quarantining after testing positive and with symptoms. Neither Saban nor the university had spoken about that possibility as of Wednesday morning.

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National

Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83

The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

Brandon Moseley

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Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton

Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”

Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.

Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.

The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.

While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.

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Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”

His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.

Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.

This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.

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