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

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May 26, 2012

Democratic candidate in Hale County ousted for campaign finance violations

The Tuscaloosa News reports: The candidate who earned the most votes in the Hale County probate judge Democratic primary is out of the running for the seat.

Arthur Crawford of Sawyerville defeated three-term incumbent Leland Avery by 80 votes in the April primary. A subcommittee of the Hale County Democratic Party voted 3-2 on Friday to disqualify Crawford for failing to file campaign financial disclosure reports as required by law, said party chairwoman LaTonda Collins. ...

Either the local committee or the state committee will select a candidate to take his place, Collins said. But Montgomery election attorney James Anderson, who led the contest and represents Avery, said that the Friday morning decision effectively names Avery as the Democratic nominee. -- Read the whole story --> Panel ousts primary winner |

May 24, 2012

Alabama redistricting plans await governor's signature

The Birmingham News reports: The state House of Representatives this morning passed a Republican's plan to redraw Alabama's 35 Senate districts, though some Democrats said the plan would lessen the influence of black voters in some districts.

As announced on the House floor, the House voted 65-36 for the plan, Senate Bill 25 by Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, which the Senate approved Tuesday night on a vote of 21-12.

The plan will become law if Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, signs it. A Bentley aide earlier said he probably would. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama House passes Senate redistricting plans in early morning vote |

Bachus defense fund not paying out any funds

The Birmingham News reports: U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus was cleared in an ethics probe of his personal finances, but his new legal defense fund has yet to show any activity.

Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, created the fund Feb. 14, just days after it was revealed that he was under investigation for allegations of insider trading.

The funds are a common option for members who are facing such charges, and they are used to raise money to pay legal bills associated with their roles as a member of Congress. A quarterly report that Bachus recently filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives said the fund did not raise or spend any money through March 31. He was cleared by the Office of Congressional Ethics one month later.

Bachus already paid some legal bills affiliated with the probe by the Office of Congressional Ethics. Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Bachus used his campaign account to pay $22,000 in legal fees to a lawyer in December, and another $250,000 for work in February and March. -- Read the whole story --> U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus legal defense fund shows no activity |

May 21, 2012

Alabama GOP picks a judicial candidate to replace a disqualified candidate

The Huntsville Times reports: The Alabama Republican Party will pick Madison County's next district court judge in Montgomery on June 29, through a committee with only one Madison County resident. The party committee will deliberate and vote behind closed doors.

There is no Democrat running for the seat, and Chris Messervy, who got 61 percent of the vote in the April 24 runoff, was disqualified two weeks ago. ...

Messervy was removed as the party's nominee after it was found he filed a campaign financial disclosure form late and on the day of the primary. The matter was raised to the GOP's candidate committee by two supporters of Huntsville attorney Linda Coats, who Messervy defeated in the runoff. ...

The party gave the judge applicants until June 15 to submit answers to a questionnaire, a résumé and letters of recommendation. The candidates also must pay a $2,378 fee to be considered. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama GOP selection of Madison County judge will occur in Montgomery, behind closed doors |

May 19, 2012

Shelby County loses its challenge against Voting Rights Act

The Birmingham News reports: The section of the Voting Rights Act that requires the federal government to scrutinize election procedures in all or part of 16 states, including Alabama, was upheld by a 2-1 decision released today by a federal appeals court in Washington D.C.

Shelby County had challenged Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as an outdated burden on local governments that are no longer a threat to rights of minority voters. But in the 63-page opinion, the two judges of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia said Congress acted properly when it renewed the historic voting rights law in 2006.

"But Congress drew reasonable conclusions from the extensive evidence it gathered and acted pursuant to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which entrust Congress with ensuring that the right to vote--surely among the most important guarantees of political liberty in the Constitution--is not abridged on account of race. In this context, we owe much deference to the considered judgment of the people's elected representatives," according to the opinion. -- Read the whole story --> Shelby County loses appeal; Voting Rights Act is upheld by federal court |

The decision is available at the Lawyers' Committee site.

"Mobile Mayor Sam Jones' campaign finance documents riddled with inconsistencies"

The Mobile Press-Register reports: A review of Mayor Sam Jones' 2011 campaign finance documents shows unreported spending, mislabeled expenses and some checks bearing signatures that appear to be forged.

Jones listed expenses of $32,800 on his annual campaign finance 2011 report, two years out from the city's next mayoral election. ...

The documents that the campaign provided to the Press-Register are riddled with inconsistencies. For example, all the checks are signed Donna Mitchell, but at least three of them are written in a hand that bears no resemblance to the others, which suggests that two people wrote checks using the same name. ...

Nine of the checks, totaling about $1,600 worth of spending, appear to lack corresponding entries in the finance report.

Other checks appear to correspond to expenses in the report — the amounts are the same down to the penny — but the entries listed on the financial disclosure form bear incorrect vendor names. -- Read the whole story (with links to the bank account records and the finance report) --> Mobile Mayor Sam Jones' campaign finance documents riddled with inconsistencies |

Redistricting in Alabama -- the story so far

The Republicans have introduced their legislative redistricting plan. See the proposed plans.

The plan has been tweaked a bit and passed by the relevant committees in a special session. See Committee approves House redistricting plan and Senate panel gives its OK to plan to redraw Alabama Senate districts

In the meanwhile, the Democrats are trying to throw the switch and get the GOP train onto a siding. Their suit claims that the Legislature waited too late to begin redistricting and that only a court can enact a plan. See Redistricting plan faces lawsuit, charges of 'racial gerrymandering'

Judge Charles Price has said, in effect, "your case is too early." See Redistricting restraining order denied |