Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: April 2012 Archives

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April 22, 2012

Lobbyist faces hearing for being "disrespectful"

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: In what the chairman of the House Rules Committee called a "precedent-setting" event, the Legislature may take action against a longtime Montgomery lobbyist over alleged disrespectful remarks she made Wednesday about a Montgomery representative. ...

The Joint Rules Committee of the House and Senate is scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon to determine whether [ lobbyist Claire] Austin "violated the joint rules of the House and Senate during a meeting of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee on April 18, 2012," according to a letter sent to members of the committees Thursday. ...

The incident involved Austin and Rep. Joe Hubbard, D-Montgomery. Austin did not return messages left at her office Friday afternoon, and Hubbard declined comment on the incident Friday. ...

[Rep. Blaine] Galliher said it was "insinuated" that Rule 27 of the Joint Rules of the Alabama Legislature had been broken. The rule, which covers the "obligations of a lobbyist," says lobbyists "shall uphold the honor of the legislative process by the integrity of his or her relationship with legislators." -- Read the whole story --> Lobbyist faces ?precedent-setting? hearing over alleged conduct | The Montgomery Advertiser |

"Alabama must allow minor parties on ballot"

Richard Rutledge writes in an op-ed in the Birmingham News: On June 1, 2011, Alabama House Bill 425 was signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley. The law moved the Alabama primary date from June to the second Tuesday in March.

The change also moved the petition deadline for newly qualifying parties and nonpresidential independent candidates to the same date. The new law effectively made qualifying as a non-Republican or non-Democrat in 2012 much harder in a state that already ranks dead last in many categories pertaining to ballot access.

The bottom line: If you wish to run as an independent presidential candidate in Alabama in 2012 under this new law, you have to produce just 5,000 signatures on a petition by Aug. 30 to qualify. However, if you choose to run for president under the banner of a minor party or for any state office on anything other than the GOP or Democratic Party ticket, you must produce a whopping 45,000 signatures of registered voters in this state by the primary date.

This is simply unacceptable and must be challenged. -- Read the whole column --> MY VIEW, Richard Rutledge: Alabama must allow minor parties on ballot |

Madison Co judges endorse a judicial candidate

The Huntsville Times reports: The Republican Madison County District Court Judge race heated up the generally quiet runoff campaign season after five sitting local judges offered a rare endorsement of a candidate, Huntsville attorney Chris Messervy.

Messervy's opponent, Huntsville attorney Linda Coats, was the top vote-getter in the March 13 primary, winning 48 percent of the vote.

Coats, 44, a veteran GOP official and volunteer, questioned the judges' endorsements and called them "divisive to the party" during a candidate forum Saturday at the Madison County Republican Men's Club breakfast. ...

It is rare for sitting judges to endorse candidates. Alabama's ethics rules for judges say they are allowed to engage in political campaigns, but only in judicial races. -- Read the whole story --> Madison County District Court judge race features rare endorsements by local sitting judges |

April 15, 2012

Ethics law cutting into baseball ticket sales

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: As baseball season arrives in Montgomery, there is still a business buzz about the Biscuits, but fewer businesses are treating customers to games at Riverwalk Stadium because they are afraid of violating Alabama's ethics law.

State legislators blame misinterpretation of the law for the perception that businesses could be targeted for giving sports tickets to public employees, like teachers and state workers. Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, said the resulting uproar is an example of "legislating a problem that didn't exist before."

It's a situation that has frustrated people such as Realtor Sandra Nickel, who planned to offer Biscuits tickets to customers as "thank you gifts."

"We had to be extremely careful what we did last year with the tickets because of this crazy new law," Nickel said. "This is the state capital. We have a lot of state employees as clients. We have county and city employees as clients, military employees, federal employees -- and the idea that maybe it will get us or them in trouble is a little scary."-- Read the whole story --> Ethics law curveball | The Montgomery Advertiser |

April 3, 2012

How much will one delegate recount cost?

The Birmingham News reports: Jefferson County Presiding Court Judge Scott Vowell today ordered Jefferson County to retabulate votes from the March 13 Republican presidential primary in precincts that are split between two congressional districts.

Vowell's order also states that the state Republican Party will fund the review if the state does not reimburse Jefferson County.

The order came after a lawsuit was filed Friday by the Alabama Republican Party arguing that votes 48 split precincts in Jefferson and six other counties failed to differentiate between which congressional district the presidential vote came from. ...

Probate Judge Alan King said the review could take as much as nine hours and cost as much as $12,000. It requires workers from the circuit clerk's office, the sheriff's office and the general services office, King said.
-- Read the whole article --> Jefferson County ordered to retabulate GOP presidential primary vote |

Hatch Act strikes again -- this time in Baldwin County

The Mobile Press-Register reports: Scott Taylor, who cruised to victory last month in the Republican primary for a district judge position in Baldwin County, may be in violation of a Depression-era law designed to prevent federal funds from influencing elections.

The Hatch Act, named for the senator who sponsored the law in 1939, forbids federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities. It also applies to state and local government workers whose principal employment is connected to activities financed in whole or in part by the federal government.

As one of Baldwin County's 2 deputy chief assistant district attorneys, Taylor helps supervise other prosecutors there. Federal funds do not pay Taylor's salary, but a federal Project Safe Neighborhoods grant does pay a portion of the salary of at least one employee in the office. ...

Members of both parties have sponsored efforts to remove state and local government employees from Hatch Act scrutiny, and even the head of the Office of Special Counsel, Carolyn Lerner, has supported the reforms. "She believes it to be far too intrusive in state and local elections," said Ann O'Hanlon, a spokeswoman for the agency. "But for now, the Hatch Act says what it says." -- Read the whole story --> Grant to Baldwin DA's Office could put prosecutor at odds with Hatch Act |