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ALGOP creates standing rule to block AEA funding in school board races

The rule would prohibit GOP candidates in school board races from taking campaign donations from the Alabama Education Association.

The logo of the Alabama Education Association.
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The Alabama Republican Party voted to approve a new standing party rule proposed by Chairman John Wahl to prohibit candidates in school board races from taking campaign donations from the Alabama Education Association.

The rule eventually passed 62-38, but there was some debate and drama among party members before it got to that point.

In fact, the party members had actually voted by a slim 52-48 margin to table the rule altogether, which appeared at the time to be the defeat of the proposal.

But State Auditor Andrew Sorrell, who also chairs the party’s bylaws committee, came up after the completion of other business and attempted to bring the rule back off the table. 

“AEA is bragging about defeating our school choice proposal,” Sorrell said. “They’re bragging about defeating all our other good bills … If we’re going to get serious about passing these bills, we need to get serious about the AEA and send them a message.”

Wahl advised Sorrell that the motion was out of order, as only the person who originally tabled the motion could bring it back off the table. But, Sorrell would be within his rights to bring the standing rule from the floor as a “new” rule.

“I’m not taking sides, I want the will of the party to be done,” Wahl told the members as he helped Sorrell appropriately navigate the rules to bring back the seemingly dead rule change.

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“Oh yes you are!” shouted an opposing member.

Wahl reiterated Sorrell’s comment that getting the rule change passed would “send a message to the AEA.

In a release on the proposed rule change days earlier, Wahl said the change is necessary in part due to the AEA pushing “transgender ideology and other woke policies.”

“So many of our parents and local teachers want to see change in our education system, but how can we expect our superintendents and school board members to stand up against teaching these woke concepts if they are afraid of the money and financial power coming from liberal unions responsible for pushing this type of curriculum,” Wahl said in the release. “It’s a blatant conflict of interest, and something that needs to be addressed. Our elected school representatives must be responsible to Alabama parents, not special interest groups.”

While the standing rule nearly failed altogether, there were also multiple attempts to expand the rule to apply to legislative races and “all elected officials” in the state.

Don Wallace of Dale County brought up Sorrell’s remarks about the AEA “bragging about defeating” education bills in the Legislature.

“We just had a discussion about them killing school choice in the Legislature,” Wallace said. “They were also responsible for negotiating our grocery tax reduction from 4 percent to 2 percent. But we’re talking about a rule change applying to superintendents. In 1819 News (the AEA) was bragging about the Legislature. My original point is about why aren’t we applying this rule to the Legislature?”

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Wahl and Sorrell said that the Legislature is not elected until 2026, making the upcoming school board races a more “time-sensitive issue.”

Wahl also said he sees contributions to school board candidates as a direct conflict of interest regardless of the AEA’s stances, while the Legislature is not directly responsible for overseeing schools.

Motions to expand the rule were tabled multiple times on roughly 60-40 votes.


Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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