« Texas: name-calling day | Main | Texas »

What was Pryor Hiding? (2)

In my earlier post, I argued that Bill Pryor might have violated Alabama's campaign finance law by soliciting funds for a group he helped to set up. Today, I ran across a more recent opinion, No. 2000-16, issued during Pryor's tenure as AG. It makes clear that the prohibition on raising funds more than a year before the primary applies to candidates for state office, not just legislators.

Candidates for state office and their principal campaign committees are limited with respect to the time period during which they can solicit and/or accept contributions. ALA. CODE 17-22A-7(b) (Supp. 1998). Political committees other than principal campaign committees, however, are not subject to this limitation. This Office has previously held that a political committee that makes contributions to or expenditures on behalf of a member of the Legislature who assists in the establishment and operation of that political committee could violate these time period prohibitions but could avoid those prohibitions if the member of the Legislature participating in the establishment and operation of the political committee does not receive any contributions from the political committee and no expenditures are made by the political committee on behalf of that Legislator. Opinion to Honorable Seth Hammett, Member, House of Representatives, dated December 19, 1996, A. G. No. 97-00054. In the opinion to Seth Hammett, the Legislator participated in the creation of the political committee and had the authority to make decisions as to who would receive contributions from the committee.

Notice also the date on the letter -- 1 November 1999. During September through December of that year, Pryor was making calls to Alabama companies headquartered in Birmingham, such as the four largest banks, and to companies with significant operations in Alabama, such as International Paper, USX (now US Steel), and Southern Company (which owns Alabama Power). He was asking each for contributions to the Republican Attorneys General Association, a group he had helped to establish and was helping to operate.