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Was politics at the core of Alabama Space Command HQ selection? Insiders say no

Even before the Air Force’s official announcement was released, Colorado leaders were calling foul.

Two famed bases have been re-designated to highlight their connections to the Space Force. Vice President of the United States Mike Pence looks on as the signage is revealed re-designating Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base at a ceremony at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Dec. 9, 2020. (COURTESY 45TH SPACE WING/U.S. AIR FORCE)

Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal was recently selected as the preferred site for the U.S. Space Command Headquarters. The Jan. 13 announcement was met with celebration in Alabama. Still, that jubilation faced an immediate call for an investigation by rival states who believe politics, not sound policy, was at the core of the decision.

“Alabama won the Space Command Headquarter fair and square,” said a Capitol Hill source who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak on the record. “Redstone was chosen on merit, but now it looks political because of the Electoral College fiasco.”

The source said: “The deal was made without President Trump’s input. They just needed his signature.”

Even before the Air Force’s official announcement was released, Colorado leaders were calling foul, accusing President Donald Trump of rewarding Alabama for its congressional delegation’s role in trying to throw the presidential election to Trump.

According to a report by The Denver Post published at 12:10 p.m. the day of the breaking news, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said the move was based on “politics.” According to The Post‘s report, Suthers thinks Alabama’s selection was Trump’s reward to Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, for challenging some of the Electoral College results.

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, responded by sending a letter to President-elect Joe Biden urging him to reverse the decision, according to The Post.

Since Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks began his push to subvert the certification process, D.C. insiders have warned that there would be repercussions for his actions. The same warning was made when then-Sen.-elect Tuberville indicated he would join Brooks’s ill-fated move to overturn the presidential election in favor of Trump, who lost both the Electoral College and popular vote by wide margins.

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The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Trump overturned Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett’s recommendation of Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base as a “political favor to supporters in deep-red Alabama.”

All of these accusations made by out-of-state politicos are speculation, but Tuberville and Brooks opened the door even though they had been warned that their actions would have dire consequences for the state.

But these allegations are not without some bases, in fact. Before the Air Force made its decision public, Tuberville and Brooks planned to take credit for bringing the Space Command Headquarters to Huntsville, saying they had “cut a deal with the president,” according to a well-placed D.C. source who was granted anonymity to speak about internal deliberations.

Other Hill insiders, hearing of the pair’s plan, may have given rise to the allegations now being made that the process was a pay-to-play deal. Both Tuberville’s office and Brooks’s office have denied any such notion.

In late December, Capitol Hill insiders cautioned that Tuberville’s embrace of a conspiracy that claimed widespread voter fraud and his willingness to back Brooks’s plan to not certify Biden’s election could lead to a loss of the Space Command and other government contracts.

Weeks before the events that saw Tuberville and Brooks challenge the Electoral College vote while pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol Building, business leaders and establishment Republicans expressed grave concerns that Tuberville and Brooks’s behavior would damage Huntsville’s future in a futile attempt to show fealty to the outgoing president.

Congressmen Robert Aderholt, Gary Palmer, Barry Moore, Jerry Carl and Mike Rogers also marched in lock-step with Tuberville and Brooks in an attempt to thwart the presidential certification outcome.

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Alabama’s Republican senior Sen. Richard Shelby did not join in with the crowd who sought to overturn the election.

Over the last two weeks, business leaders and economic development professionals have privately expressed concern that Brooks’s insurrectionary role with the pro-Trump mob and that the Republicans’ loss of the U.S. Senate will cause irreparable damage to the state’s economic lookout.

Brooks recently said that Biden and Democrats posed a threat to Alabama keeping the Space Command Headquarters. Brooks’s comments are roundly seen as a vain attempt to walk away from his role while casting blame on the Democratic administration.

There are no indications that Brooks nor Tuberville had any input in bringing the Space Command to Alabama, but many believe their choices have already tainted the state’s reputation.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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