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Sources: State rep focus of AG’s office investigation

David Cole has gone through a lengthy election challenge over troubling residency issues.

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State Rep. David Cole is the target of an investigation by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office related to residency issues brought to light in an election challenge, multiple sources have told APR. 

Those sources, who are familiar with the investigation and its scope and spoke with APR on condition of anonymity, said Cole could be indicted based on allegations but is reportedly negotiating a plea deal with the AG’s office. That deal, the sources said, would likely see Cole resign his seat in the House. 

The AG’s office did not respond Thursday to a request for comment from APR. 

APR first reported on Cole’s residency issues a few weeks prior to the November general election. Since that time, Cole has endured a lengthy election challenge that now sits in front of the Alabama House of Representatives awaiting a hearing. 

As part of that election challenge, Cole was forced to sit for a deposition and answer several pointed questions about his residency and about various documents he provided to prove that he lived within District 10 in the Madison area one year prior to last November’s general election. Those documents, the sources said, were the primary focus of the investigation, as are Cole’s responses in the deposition, which seem to raise serious questions about his residency. 

According to Alabama law, the House of Representatives was required to hold a hearing on the election challenge, which was filed by another candidate in the race for District 10. 

However, at some point over the last few weeks, the AG’s office began its own investigation into the facts of the case. An AG’s office investigator has interviewed a number of Cole’s colleagues and associates, and raised questions about documents Cole used to justify his residency at a home in District 10. 

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As APR reported last year, Cole’s residency documents and tax records raise many questions, as do statements his campaign provided to APR in its initial reporting and in testimony Cole provided under oath during a deposition. 

Cole’s primary residence, according to his tax records, is a home in District 4. However, when he filed to run for office in District 10, he used the address of a family friend. Cole’s campaign provided a copy of a lease that Cole allegedly signed with the family friend just a day prior to the one-year deadline. 

However, Cole and his family members were observed going in and out of the District 4 home well after the deadline, and apparently still own and live in the home to this day. In his deposition for the election challenge, Cole admitted that he couldn’t recall having ever spent a night in the District 10 home owned by his friend and that he has never moved his possessions from the District 4 home. 

Despite the obvious problems with Cole’s story, the action by the AG’s office has surprised many lawmakers, according to two sources. Some of Cole’s colleagues attempted to alter Alabama law during the previous legislative session in order to kill the election challenge against Cole. It was unclear when, or if, the House was going to hold a formal hearing on the election challenge that Cole faced.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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