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Alabama Policy Institute cut ties with 1819 News before scandal and tragedy

The Alabama Policy Institute disassociates from 1819 News following Mayor Copeland’s suicide, amidst scrutiny over their historical and financial connections.

The logos of the Alabama Policy Institute and 1819 News.

In a quick turn of events, the Alabama Policy Institute issued a clarifying statement aimed at distancing itself from 1819 News on Friday evening; a move that follows the devastating suicide of Mayor and local pastor, F.L. “Bubba” Copeland. The email, marked with the subject line “Correcting the Record,” articulates API’s intent to rectify any misconceptions about its relationship with 1819 News.

In a bid to set the record straight, API emphasized, “In response to erroneous reporting by several national publications, the Alabama Policy Institute (API) would like to highlight that 1819 News and API formally separated on December 31, 2022. There is no legal, editorial, or financial affiliation between the two entities.” This statement comes as a narrative suggesting a continued partnership between the two organizations.

The urgency of this dissociation seems to stem from a recent tragedy that shook the Smith Station community – Copeland’s suicide. The mayor’s life came to a heart-wrenching end after 1819 News revealed his private transgender identity and online persona. The exposé by 1819 News, which delved into Copeland’s private life, caused immense scrutiny and even public shaming, culminating in his untimely death.

Despite API’s current stance of disassociation, there are historical ties between the two entities, which are evident; notably, API founded 1819 News as a subsidiary of API, and financial records from 2021 reveal a substantial $1,077,500 funding from API to 1819 News, as disclosed in tax filings.

The controversy and subsequent tragedy have seemed to not only compel API to reassess its affiliations but also prompt a wider reevaluation within the Republican circles in Alabama. Several politicians, politicos, and donors are reportedly reconsidering their support for 1819 News, and its strong inclination toward right-wing, Christian nationalist reporting.

As Copeland’s family navigates through their grief, legal avenues are reportedly being explored. Lawyers have hinted at a possible lawsuit against 1819 News for its role in the events leading up to Copeland’s suicide.

The Alabama Policy Institute’s swift move to sever ties with 1819 News marks a significant shift in the political and media landscape of Alabama, reflecting the complexities and consequences of intertwining a nonprofit, a media outlet, and personal tragedies.

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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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