May 13, 2013
"Broke. Broke. Broke."
AL.com reports: Acting state Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley lowered her head and slowly shook it side to side when summing up the financial condition of her once powerful party.
"We're broke, broke, broke," Worley told the party's Executive Board in a special called meeting Frida.
How broke is broke? Worley didn't sugar coat the answer.
"This is my 18th day as chair and thirty minutes after I took over on April 22nd the landlord of the building where our party headquarters are came in and said he wanted us out, that the rent was overdue and was always overdue," said Worley. -- Read the whole article --> The Alabama Democratic Party: "We're broke, broke, broke." | al.com
May 10, 2013
Revision of Fair Campaign Practices Act amended in House, heads back to Senate
AL.com reports: The Alabama House of Representatives passed a Senate bill tonight that would make numerous changes to state campaign finance laws, including removing the state's $500 cap on campaign contributions by corporations.
The bill returns to the Senate, which could agree to changes or send the bill to a conference committee.
Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, chairman of the House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee, said it was time to do away with the ?pretend? cap because corporations have been allowed to legally skirt the limits for decades by routing money through large numbers of political action committees.
Ball?s committee added the repeal of the corporate cap in a substitute to SB445 by Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville. -- Read the whole article --> Campaign finance law revisions pass House; headed back to Senate | al.com
May 9, 2013
House to consider elimination of cap on corporate contributions
A bill before the Alabama House of Representatives today seeks to repeal the state?s $500 limit on corporate campaign contributions to candidates.
The chairman of the House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee said Wednesday that it was time to do away with the "pretend" cap since corporations have been allowed to legally skirt the limits for decades by routing money through large numbers of political action committees.
"It?s stupid. It's just stupid. The $500 corporate contribution cap is a pretend cap," Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, said.
Senate Bill 445, which makes many changes to campaign finance law, is expected to come before the House today. The House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee approved a substitute bill that included a repeal of the cap.-- Read the whole story --> Bill before House today repeal state limit on corporate campaign contributions; Lawmaker says it's a 'pretend' cap | al.com
May 6, 2013
New campaign finance database going online
The Anniston Star reports: Following the money in Alabama politics might soon get a whole lot easier.
Officials of the Alabama Secretary of State's office say they'll launch a searchable online database of campaign donations by the end of May -- replacing the office's old system of paper filings and scanned-in documents.
State officials say the changes should make it easier for average voters to figure out who's accepting money from whom. -- Read the whole story --> Anniston Star - Alabama campaign finance reports soon to go online
May 4, 2013
AL.com reports: A sold out crowd of nearly 700 is expected for an event in Birmingham tonight honoring 28 lawyers for their contributions to the civil rights movement in Birmingham.
The Journey for Justice Gala at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center will also include the premier of the 27-minute documentary "Preserving Justice," which relates the story of the critical roles lawyers, both black and white, played in the civil rights movement. ...
Clarence B. Jones, former personal counsel, adviser, draft speech writer and close friend of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., will deliver the keynote address at the gala. ...
Jones also is among the legal pioneers, living or dead, being honored at tonight's gala.
The others are: Oscar W. Adams Jr.; Norman Amaker; James K. Baker; Abe Berkowitz; Orzell Billingsley; Harvey Burg; U.W. Clemon; Jerome "Buddy" Cooper; J. Mason Davis; Edward Friend Jr.; Peter A. Hall; Charles Hamilton Houston: Frank M. Johnson; Paul Johnston; Tom King Sr.; Thurgood Marshall; Nina Miglionico; Chuck Morgan; Constance Baker Motley; Demetrius Newton; Vernon Patrick; J. Richmond Pearson; Arthur D. Shores; C. Erskine Smith; Robert Vance; David Vann; and W.L. Williams Jr. -- Read the whole story --> Event honors 28 legal pioneers for their contributions to the civil rights movement in Birmingham | al.com
May 3, 2013
Where did Mike Hubbard get the funds to print his sorta-campaign mailer?
Alabama Political Reporter reports: Lee County voters this week were treated to a campaign-style push-card paid for by the Friends of Mike Hubbard. The mail drop is an unusual direct response to a stinging--and humorous--flyer branding the Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard as "The Graftmaster." ...
Now, Hubbard is striking back with a glossy, high-production quality direct mail piece that insists he is a "conservative leader" who "works for us." The irony should be lost on no one that Craftmaster Printers appears to have printing the flyer, and the Craftmaster postal permit was used to pay postal costs. The printed address for the Friends of Mike Hubbard campaign committee uses is, naturally, the headquarters of his other lucrative business, Auburn Network Inc.
It seems in keeping with Hubbard's usual business practices that he would use his personal business interests to support campaign activities. Hubbard delivers to constituents a high-quality--and likely high-priced political mailer, paid for with donations to his campaign committee. And then he pays his own companies to print and deliver the propaganda. It's Diamond Mike at his best.
But exactly how Friends of Mike Hubbard paid for the mailer and postage costs is unclear. State campaign finance laws require political communications state clearly who pays the costs. The mailer states that is was paid for Paid for by Friends of Mike Hubbard. Yet, Secretary of State records show that Friends of Mike Hubbard as only having $607 dollars in its account as of January 31, 2013. Keep in mind that it is illegal for him to raise or transfer money until June, after the legislative session ends. -- Read the whole story --> The Graftmaster Cometh: Hubbard Strikes Back at Critics
April 30, 2013
2012 Evergreen election to be held on June 18
AL.com reports: A federal judge this afternoon postponed a long-delayed municipal election in Evergreen, pushing the voting back to June 18 after conducting a telephone conference with lawyers in a voting-rights lawsuit.
Attorneys for the Conecuh County seat requested the postponement, citing a need for more time by a special master appointed to oversee the balloting. U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade agreed, ordering the June 18 vote, with a runoff on July 30 if needed.
John Tanner, an attorney for three black residents who sued the city over the way it redrew council districts after the 2010 census, said the delay is the result of city officials? failure to include the plaintiffs' representative in discussions with the special master. But he said another postponement probably could not be avoided. ...
The plaintiffs alleged that the city illegally gerrymandered the five districts in order to maintain a white majority on the council despite the fact that Evergreen’s population now is 62 percent black. Granade in March ordered a new political map based largely on the one that the plaintiffs had proposed. It creates three districts with large black majorities. -- Read the whole story --> Judge postpones Evergreen election again; voting with redrawn political map set for June | al.com
April 24, 2013
Former Sen. Lowell Barron arrested for campaign-finance violations
AL.com reports: Former state senator Lowell Ray Barron, for years a legislative powerhouse in Montgomery, has been indicted on charges of violating the state's ethics and campaign finance laws, the attorney general's office announced. ...
Former campaign staffer, Rhonda Jill Johnson, was also arrested.
Attorney General Luther Strange's Special Prosecutions Division presented evidence to a DeKalb County grand jury, resulting in the indictment of Barron and Johnson on April 19.
Barron and Johnson face six total counts of Ethics Law violations and violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act. -- Read the whole story --> Former state senator Lowell Barron indicted on campaign finance, ethics charges | al.com
A press release from the AG's office describes the charges:
Count 1 charges Lowell Barron and Jill Johnson with violating State Ethics law by converting a $2,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account to Jill Johnson, to personal use;
Count 2 charges Barron and Johnson with violating State Ethics law by converting a $50,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account to Jill Johnson, to personal use;
Count 3 charges Barron and Johnson with violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act for improper use of excess campaign contributions for a $2,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account, to Jill Johnson for non-campaign purposes;
Count 4 charges Barron and Johnson with violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act for improper use of excess campaign contributions for a $50,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account, to Jill Johnson for non-campaign purposes;
Count 5 charges Barron and Johnson with violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act for improperly transferring campaign property, a 2007 Toyota Camry, to Jill Johnson for non-campaign purposes; and
Count 6 charges Barron and Johnson with violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act for improper use of excess campaign contributions for a $6,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account, to Jill Johnson for non-campaign purposes.
April 19, 2013
Bill to amend Fair Campaign Practices Act clears Senate committee
AL,com reports: A bill that would lower the fundraising and spending threshold that brings political candidates under the requirements of the Fair Campaign Practices Act won approval this morning in a state Senate committee.
The bill, by Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, would say that any person who had raised or spent more than $1,000 toward election to any state or local office would be considered a candidate under the Fair Campaign Practices Act.
That Fair Campaign Practices Act requires candidates to file reports listing their campaign donors and expenditures.
Current law has a tiered set of thresholds: $25,000 for statewide office; $10,000 for the state Senate; $5,000 for the state House of Representatives; $5,000 for a state office covering one circuit or district; and $1,000 for a local office. -- Read the whole story --> Bill to lower campaign reporting threshold clears Alabama Senate committee | al.com
The bill is viewable below:
April 13, 2013
Another early attack on a GOP leader
The Alabama Political Reporter reports: It seems campaign season came a little early in Senate District 12. Last week, an unflattering "push-card" concerning Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) was circulated in the Anniston area. There had been reports of such a card showing up at the State House Thursday, but efforts to obtain the card proved fruitless. The mailer we received was said to have been received in the Senate 12 District as well.
With over a year to go before the 2014 election heats up, someone is firing a big gun across Marsh's bow. Cited in the mailer are stories concerning Marsh's solicitation of $350,000 from the Poarch Creek Indians, as well as how the money flowed back in to Senate campaigns.
When reports of Marsh?s solicitation broke months ago, it was rumored that Marsh has begged the tribe to say he didn?t ask for the money. Not only did Marsh make the trips to Atmore to ask for the tribe's money, he wanted the PCI to cover it up. Marsh must have believed that such a campaign would be forthcoming.
When the Alabama Political Reporter published the story, Marsh was given ample time to respond. However, the only response we received were in the form of threats from Phillip Bryan, Marsh?s Chief of Staff. -- Read the whole story --> Push Card Hits Marsh with Hard Facts
Campaigning about campaign-finance violations
Alabama Political Reporter reports: On Tuesday voters in Lee County received a campaign push-card that looks like an advertisement for a B-Movie or a Quentin Tarantino noir parody.
The mailer features Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard as "The Graftmaster." Hubbard is currently under a grand jury investigation for campaign-finance-related issues, some dealing with his printing company Craftmasters. Obviously "Graftmaster" is an ironic play-of-words on one of Mr. Hubbard most prized businesses.
A study of campaign finance records for the 2010 election cycle shows that Hubbard?s business interests were paid over $1,000,000 in campaign expenditures from at least 18 GOP candidates and at least 4 political action committees (PAC). This does not include the almost $800,000 spent with Majority Strategies for GOP printing that was sub-contracted to Hubbard's Craftmasters as reported by AL.com. Craftmaster is just one of Hubbard?s businesses that grew out of his relationship with Auburn University.-- Read the whole story --> New Campaign Targets Hubbard as "Graftmaster"
April 3, 2013
"House committee approves bill that could limit primary run-offs"
The Montgomery Advertiser reports: A House committee Wednesday morning approved legislation that could curtail or eliminate primary run-offs in the state.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, passed the House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections committee on a voice vote.
Currently, if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in a party primary, a runoff is held. Ball?s bill would change that to allow candidates that win at least 35 percent of the vote to receive their party's nomination, with no run-off.
Ball told the committee Thursday morning that Alabama was one of only a handful of states that continue to maintain primary run-offs, a practice he called expensive and generally redundant. -- Read the whole story --> House committee approves bill that could limit primary run-offs | The Montgomery Advertiser | montgomeryadvertiser.com
February 14, 2013
SuperPAC will oppose Bachus in 2014
AL.com reports: A super PAC that pumped in dollars in a failed effort in 2012 to defeat long-time Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, will try it again in 2014.
The Campaign for Primary Accountability announced today it will target Bachus, along with New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel, for defeat in their party primaries in 2014 should the two veteran lawmakers seek re-election.
In making the announcement, the organization said it was putting Bachus and Rangel on what it is calling "Hot Seat" status. -- Read the whole story --> Super PAC will target Rep. Spencer Bachus for defeat, again | al.com
Jefferson County Commission to hold hearing on redistricting plans
AL.com reports: Jefferson County Commissioners will view two redistricting maps, and possibly a third, during a public hearing today at the County Courthouse.
The two completed maps have drawn considerable interest because of changes that moved some precincts in Districts 1 and 2 and the possible impact those moves could have on the Jefferson County Commission election in 21 months.
Commissioner George Bowman has said he will present a third map, but that was not available late Wednesday afternoon.
Proposed plan 1 places the City of Midfield in District 1 and moves Legion Field and the Jefferson County Courthouse precinct to District 2. Proposed plan 2 places Midfield back in District 2 and Legion Field and Jefferson County courthouse in District 1. -- Read the whole story --> Jefferson County to hold public hearing today on voting maps | al.com
February 11, 2013
Bill proposes eliminating most runoffs in special primaries
The TimesDaily reports: A north Alabama lawmaker is kicking an idea around Montgomery that could dramatically change the state's election process.
Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, said he's researching and gathering opinions about discontinuing most party primary runoffs. He said he wants to file a bill to do so by the end of March.
"We go to the polls an awful lot in Alabama," Ball said last week. ...
Ball said he's considering a 35 percent threshold; as long as one candidate receives 35 percent or more of the vote in a primary, he or she would move on to the general election. -- Read the whole story --> Lawmaker suggests changes to runoffs - TimesDaily.com
Alabama at the bottom in new Election Performance Indix
The Pew Charitable Trusts has released a report: The Elections Performance Index is a project that, for the first time ever, examines election administration performance across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. ...
A state’s performance is based on 17 measurable indicators such as polling location wait times, availability of voting information tools online, the number of rejected voter registrations, the percentage of voters with registration or absentee ballot problems, how many military and overseas ballots were rejected, voter turnout, and the accuracy of voting technology.
This new tool will make data easily accessible to election officials and policymakers to help them benchmark their performance over time, as well as assess which policies are working effectively.
The data featured in this report cover the 2008 and 2010 elections and will be updated when official 2012 data becomes available in late 2013. -- Click here to review Alabama's performance compared to other states -->States Vary in Overall Election Performance - The Pew Charitable Trusts
February 3, 2013
"Bill Armistead beats Matt Fridy and the biggest names in state GOP to win re-election as party leader"
AL.com reports: Bill Armistead has been re-elected chairman of the Alabama Republican Party beating off a challenge by Matt Fridy that had been supported by the biggest names in the state party.
The final vote of the GOP Executive Committee was Armistead 221 votes to Fridy's 159 votes.
Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Hubbard, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, among others, had all supported Fridy in the race.
Armistead's victory represents the second time in two years that he has beat back some of the biggest powers in the GOP to win the leadership post of his party. -- Read the whole story --> Bill Armistead beats Matt Fridy and the biggest names in state GOP to win re-election as party leader | al.com
For the article getting reactions to Armistead's win, see "Fences to mend among Republicans after vote over party chairmanship"
January 20, 2013
Midfield mayor questions motive of removing city from Brown's district
AL.com reports: Midfield Mayor Gary Richardson, a former candidate for the Jefferson County Commission, said today that a redrawn district map appears to be an effort to keep him from running against one of the sitting commissioners.
Under a proposed voting map being considered by the commission, Midfield moves from Sandra Little Brown's District 2 into George Bowman's District 1.
Brown defeated Richardson in a runoff election in 2010. The next county commission election is 22 months away. ...
Richardson said it was disingenuous to remove his city from District 2 when Brown was trying to "gain" population. -- Read the whole story --> Midfield mayor wonders whether Jefferson County commissioner views him as a threat | al.com
January 18, 2013
Jefferson County Commission to consider new districting plan
AL.com reports: The Jefferson County Commission today set a Feb. 14 public hearing to consider a resolution that could determine who gets a seat on the commission when elections are held in 22 months.
The proposed plan to alter the boundaries of commission districts has already split two members of the board.
Commissioner Sandra Little Brown and Commissioner George Bowman are divided over which of the two will have the Legion Field box in their district. The Legion Field precinct in Smithfield is the largest in Birmingham and coveted because it's the polling place of influential clergy and elected officials. It has been moved from Bowman's district to Brown's under the proposed map.
The new map also moves the City of Midfield from Brown's district into Bowman's. -- Read the whole story --> Proposed election map splits two on Jefferson County Commission | al.com
January 17, 2013
Speaker Hubbard forms "leadership pac"
AL.com reports: Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who led the 2010 effort that won Republicans control of the Alabama Legislature, has formed a new political action committee designed to keep the GOP in power.
Hubbard, an Auburn Republican, filed paperwork creating Storm PAC on Oct. 12, according to records in the Alabama Secretary of State's office.
The PAC, based in Auburn, lists Hubbard as chairman and Charles Hines as treasurer. Its stated purpose is "to support conservative, pro-business candidates for public office."
The PAC currently lists no contributions or expenses, but that may change in a hurry: It will get a high-profile kickoff later this month at the Auburn home of Tim Hudson, a star pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. -- Read the whole story --> House Speaker Mike Hubbard set to launch new fundraising PAC | al.com
January 10, 2013
Mobile city councilor asks for DOJ objection to city's new plan
AL.com reports: A Mobile city council member is requesting the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the city's proposed redistricting plan that outlines the council's political districts for the next 10 years.
Councilman Fred Richardson, in letters to Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, said he opposes the reapportionment plan that he and the rest of the City Council voted in favor for on Nov. 6.
The first letter, dated Nov. 14 and sent to Perez, requests the federal government investigate the plan to make sure "equal representation" is provided to "all citizens" in Mobile. ...
He cited U.S. Census figures showing that of Mobile's 195,111 residents, 45 percent are white while 50.6 percent are black. He also noted that of the council's seven elected districts, three are a majority black while four are white. -- Read the whole story --> Mobile city councilman opposing redistricting map, saying plan is unjust to blacks | al.com
December 17, 2012
GOP audit released -- shows Hubbard's firm got $800,000 in printing business
AL.com reports: The Alabama Attorney General's office has subpoenaed records from the Alabama Republican Party, including an audit and supporting financial documentation for 2010, when the party successfully won control of the Alabama Legislature.
That audit shows that a printing company co-owned by Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard received more than $800,000 of business either directly from the party or as a subcontractor under Florida-based Majority Strategies. ...
The audit, conducted by Warren Averett L.L.C., is a mere seven pages long and consists mostly of reconciliations the party's cash balance.
However, in an addendum, the audit notes two "related-party" transactions.
"The Organization incurred direct printing expenses from Craftmasters Printing, a related party, in the amount of $83,524 in 2010," the audit said. "Total indirect printing, postage, mail service and shipping costs paid to Majority Strategies (non-related party) and remitted to Craftmasters Printing was $725,262 in 2010." -- Read the whole article --> Alabama Attorney General subpoenas state GOP records | al.com
December 16, 2012
Alabama AG subpoenas GOP financial records for 2010 election
AL.com reports: The Alabama Republican Party's steering committee - a group of 21 party leaders from across the state - gathered in good spirits in Montgomery on Wednesday afternoon.
After a regular, quarterly meeting to discuss party business, they were set to socialize at a Christmas reception hosted in their honor by Gov. Robert Bentley at the Alabama Governor's Mansion.
The committee convened in a conference room at the Alabama Cattlemen's Association building near the state Capitol, and the meeting kicked off with an unexpected bang. Bill Armistead, the party's chairman, told the group that he'd received a subpoena from the Alabama Attorney General's office seeking GOP financial records.
Reading from the document, Armistead said the order was part of a grand jury investigation into campaign finance activities in the 2010 election cycle, according to three committee members who participated in the meeting. A fourth committee member recounted similar remarks but said he did not recall a specific reference to a subpoena. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama GOP finances under investigation, chairman tells party leaders | al.com
December 15, 2012
Coaches in ethical hot water
AL.com reports: The Alabama Ethics Commission this afternoon found that nearly two dozen Decatur High School coaches ran afoul of state ethics law when they accepted monetary Christmas gifts from the school's booster club in 2011.
Commissioners, following a closed-door hearing, voted without dissent that there was cause that the 21 coaches broke state ethics law. Commissioners said they would handle the case administratively, which means the coaches might be fined up to $1,000.
Attorney James Anderson, who represents 20 of the coaches, said the coaches did not know they were doing anything wrong when they accepted the Christmas gifts. The gifts ranged from $50 for the girl's soccer coach to about $1,125 for the head football coach, Anderson said. ...
Anderson said there was a longtime tradition of the booster club giving Christmas gifts to coaches. -- Read the whole story --> Ethics Commission says Decatur High coaches likely broke ethics law by accepting booster gifts | al.com
December 14, 2012
ADC files suit against legislative redistricting
The Gadsden Times reports: The predominantly black Alabama Democratic Conference and others filed a federal lawsuit Thursday challenging state House and Senate districts that were redrawn earlier this year by the Legislature.
The lawsuit filed Thursday claims legislators drew the districts in a way that caps the number of areas where black candidates have a realistic chance of winning legislative seats. The lawsuit says the districts adopted by the Republican-majority legislature violate the U.S. and Alabama constitutions and the federal Voting Rights Act.
The redistricting plans "constitute racial gerrymandering" and will result in discrimination against minority voters, the lawsuit alleges.
House Speaker Mike Hubbard defended the plans, which have been approved by the U.S. Justice Department. He said the plans were developed after lawmakers sought input from residents across the state. -- Read the whole story --> Lawsuit challenges new Ala. legislative districts | GadsdenTimes.com