Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: October 2011 Archives

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October 31, 2011

Bama Fact Check gives Artur Davis claim on Voter ID a 2 of 5 rating

Bama Fact Check analysis: THE CLAIM: In an Oct. 17 guest column in The Montgomery Advertiser, former congressman and gubernatorial candidate Artur Davis explained why he now supports Alabama?s voter ID law.

?Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally-impaired to function, cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights ?- that's suppression by any light,? he said. ?If you doubt it exists, I don't; I've heard the peddlers of these ballots brag about it, I've been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has changed at least a few close local election results.?

SUMMARY: Voter fraud allegations emerge with almost every election cycle in Alabama, and some have led to convictions. But when it comes to the things Davis said he witnessed ? people bragging about voter fraud and soliciting participation ?- the allegations are impossible to prove. Davis won?t name names. Nor will he talk about whether he reported the alleged voter fraud to the proper authorities. -- Read the whole report --> Bama Fact Check - Did someone brag to Artur Davis about committing voter fraud Truth Rating 2 out of 5

U.S. Special Counsel wants rewrite of Hatch Act

Politico reports: The head of the federal agency charged with enforcing the Hatch Act argues that the 72-year-old law needs to be overhauled because it is preventing qualified candidates from running for office. ...

“Increasingly, the act is being used as a political weapon to disqualify otherwise well-qualified candidates, even when there is no indication of wrongdoing,” says Lerner, and the alternative - giving up one’s day job to run for office - is not feasible without a personal source of wealth.

Lerner claims that proposed legislation that she has sent Congress to fix the law would cost taxpayers nothing and would allow qualified candidates to run for office. -- Read the whole story --> Special counsel: Rewrite Hatch Act - Tim Mak -

October 30, 2011

"Alabama remains a big spender in court elections"

The Birmingham News reports: Despite an off-year in spending, the most recent election for Alabama Supreme Court ranked among the nation's costliest judicial races in 2009 and 2010, a study released last week shows.

Candidates in three races for the Alabama Supreme Court in 2010 spent nearly $3.2 million combined, according to the study, The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2009-2010.

By contrast, candidates spent twice that amount in 2004, the last time those court seats were contested. ...

Outside groups spent another $374,000 on TV ads in Alabama to influence the 2010 election, bringing total spending to more than $3.5 million, the report said. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama remains a big spender in court elections |

October 23, 2011

Doing the redistrict shuffle

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Tens of thousands of people in this region will be in different leg­islative districts after state law­makers reshape them in 2012 in preparation for the 2014 election.

Some Republican-leaning dis­tricts in Autauga, Elmore and Montgomery counties are very overpopulated while others, pre­dominantly those that lean Demo­cratic, need people added to them. Some of those predominantly black districts in Montgomery and in counties in the Black Belt need thousands of people to have the population of other districts in the state.

A panel of state lawmakers just completed 21 public hearings throughout the state to hear from people about the 105 seats in the House of Representatives and the 35 state Senate seats that they plan to reshape in the 2012 legisla­tive session.

Lawmakers must redraw dis­tricts every 10 years following the census.

Alabama, according to the most recent census, has 4.8 million people so the ideal size for a state Senate district is 136,563 and the ideal size for a House district is 45,552 . -- Read the whole story --> Thousands of residents will be shifted during redistricting | The Montgomery Advertiser |

October 20, 2011

Alabama Dems and GOP trade charges of campaign finance non-reporting

The Birmingham News reports: Republicans and Democrats are accusing each other of violating campaign finance law in the race to fill the House of Representatives seat vacated by the death of Rep. Owen Drake.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead accused the House Democratic Caucus of failing to file a campaign finance report to disclose a contribution to Democrat Paige Parnell. Meanwhile, state Democrats had a press conference this morning asking that Republican Dickie Drake be disqualified as a candidate for failing to report $5,500 in PAC contributions. -- Read the whole story --> Campaign financing accusations fly in Dickie Drake-Paige Parnell race |

October 19, 2011

"Auburn councilman delays vote on redistricting"

The Opelika-Auburn News reports: Citing concerns about the lack of a minority majority among voters in his ward, Auburn's only black councilman delayed a vote on a redistricting plan Tuesday.

Ward 1 Councilman Arthur Dowdell denied unanimous consent for a vote to adopt the plan to reshape the city's council districts based on data from the 2010 U.S. Census. ...

Dowdell said he wanted to review the plan further and was concerned that while the new Ward 1 map increased the overall minority majority to 52 percent, it did not create a minority majority among voting-age residents. Currently, the percentage of voting-age minorities in Ward 1 is approximately 40 percent. The plan would increase that population to 44 percent.

City manager Charlie Duggan said Dowdell's plan may be too difficult to achieve. -- Read the whole story --> Auburn councilman delays vote on redistricting |

October 18, 2011

Making a virtue of necessity

The Birmingham News reports: The casino-operating Poarch Band of Creek Indians gave heavily to a national Republican group that in turn contributed to Alabama campaigns in 2010.

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, who was then chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, said he was assured that none of the gambling money came into Alabama races. But the current GOP chairman said he will shun the group's money in the future because of its ties to gambling.

The Poarch Creeks, based near Atmore, gave the Alexandria, Va.-based Republican State Leadership Committee $350,000 before the November 2010 election and another $200,000 in January of this year. ...

The state's recent PAC-to-PAC transfer ban will largely prohibit such donations, anyway, Armistead said, but he also doesn't want the state GOP to be used in a competition between rival gambling interests. -- Read the whole article --> Casino-operating Poarch Creek Indians gave money to Republican group |

October 14, 2011

PAC-to-PAC transfers are OK -- outside of Alabama

The Birmingham News reports: U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby's leadership political action committee, which normally doles out money to help elect other Republicans to the U.S. Senate or in Alabama, gave $25,000 to this summer's political battle for control of the Wisconsin State Legislature.

Records show Defend America PAC, a political pot of money Shelby operates separate from his own re-election account, gave $25,000 in July to the Wisconsin Club for Growth Political Fund, one of the organizations helping Republicans in the recall fight. Nine recall elections were prompted by anger over Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to limit collective bargaining for public employees, which caused Democratic legislators to leave the state for weeks in protest. -- Read the whole story --> Sen. Richard Shelby's PAC gave $25,000 to help Republicans in Wisconsin recalls |

October 9, 2011

Nearly all Alabama voter registrars are GOP

The Gadsden Times reports: For the first time, all three appointing authorities for county voter registrars are Republicans, but some Democrat holdovers were reappointed this year by new GOP Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan.

Gov. Robert Bentley, State Auditor Sam Shaw and McMillan, all Republicans, made board of registrar appointments this year in 66 counties. The governor, auditor and agriculture commissioner each have one appointment.

Jefferson County?s voter registrars are appointed by the county commission. ...

Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead reacted strongly to the appointment of some Democratic holdovers.

“I think they should be all Republicans,” Armistead said. “I don’t know who the holdovers were, but if they were not declared Republicans or didn’t switch, I think it was a mistake.” -- Read the whole story --> Registrars set in 66 of 67 state counties; GOP chairman wants all to be Republican |

October 7, 2011

Ala Dems file complaints against GOP

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: The lead Democrat in Alabama said he has filed complaints with the Internal Revenue Service and the Montgomery County district attorney against top current and former Republican officials for allegedly skirting state and federal law.

Mark Kennedy, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said that Republicans are violating the campaign finance laws they recently passed by transferring money between political action committees, a practice the Republican-led Legislature voted to ban in a December special session.

House Majority Leader Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, bristled at the accusations from Kennedy and pointed to several entities associated with the Alabama Democratic Party that did not file campaign finance reports for years. He mentioned the Alabama Democratic Conference, the New South Coalition and the House Democratic Caucus. ...

Kennedy said prominent Republicans are circumventing the law by operating an LLC or limited liability company, and a nonprofit as PACs. He said that an entity operating as a PAC must follow the new state ethics and transparency laws. -- Read the whole story --> Democrats file complaints against GOP | The Montgomery Advertiser |

October 6, 2011

Ala Dems accuse GOP of using PACs in sheep's clothing

The Birmingham News reports: he chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party today accused high-ranking Republicans of breaking campaign finance law including the GOP-pushed ban on transfers between political action committees. ...

Kennedy accused Republicans of breaking the PAC transfer ban and also of trying to skirt campaign finance law with two organizations -- House Republican Caucus LLC and the nonprofit Alabama House Republican Caucus Foundation.

However, the leader of the House Republican Caucus said the contributions were legal and accused Kennedy of "whining."

The House Republican Caucus LLC made six contributions since 2009 totaling over $20,000 to the Alabama Republican Party and one contribution to a candidate, according to campaign finance reports. The group formed as a corporation and does not report the sources of its money. Political action committees are required to report where they get their money.

Kennedy accused Republicans of using shell groups as a "scam" to get around campaign finance law. He said if the group is acting like a PAC, it should report like a PAC.

"They are a PAC in sheep's clothing," Kennedy said. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama Democrats accuse GOP of skirting campaign finance laws |

October 3, 2011

2 GOP groups violated PAC-to-PAC transfer ban in February

The Birmingham News reports: The Senate Republican Caucus political action committee and another GOP group broke a new law prohibiting transfers among PACs just two months after lawmakers approved the ban, according to campaign finance records.

But the state senators in charge of the PAC said it was a simple mistake and they returned the money after they caught the error.

The Republican State Leadership Committee Political Action Committee, based in Washington, D.C., gave the Senate Republican Caucus PAC $100,000 on Feb. 25, according to records filed Friday with the Alabama Secretary of State. The donation came roughly two months after lawmakers with much fanfare passed a ban on political action committees transfers.

The Senate Republicans returned the $100,000 on Sept. 16. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama GOP PAC violated new ban on transfers |