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

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June 30, 2012

Maybe Coats can run after all

The Huntsville Times ( reports: An effort to disqualify GOP judge nominee Linda Coats based on an alleged failure to file financial disclosures with the Alabama Supreme Court appeared to have been upended this afternoon.

A spokeswoman for Alabama Supreme Court Clerk Robert Esdale said that his Thursday statement that the office didn't have any record of Coats' filing was based on a search of 2012 filings.

A search of 2011 filings today located the proper submissions that Coats filed in October 2011, the spokeswoman said. -- Read the whole story --> Effort to disqualify GOP judge candidate Linda Coats hits roadblock, disputed records found (updated) |

June 29, 2012

Lawsuit claims new GOP candidate did not file reports on time

The Huntsville Times ( reports: Less than a week after an Alabama Republican Party committee selected Linda Coats to be the party's nominee for a Madison County district court judgeship, a group of lawyers has filed a complaint seeking Coats' disqualification.

Coats was selected last Saturday from a field of seven candidates after the original nominee, Chris Messervy, was disqualified for failing to file a campaign finance disclosure form on time. That complaint was filed by two Coats' supporters.

Under Alabama law, a candidate cannot be certified as a nominee or election winner if they fail to file financial disclosures on schedule. ...

The complaint alleges Coats did not file a statement of economic interests and a disclosure statement of financial interests with the clerk of the Alabama Supreme Court. The complaint notes that under the state's canons of judicial ethics, judge candidates are supposed to submit the filings within 10 days of qualifying to run for office. -- Read the whole story --> Lawyers file complaint seeking to have new GOP judge nominee Linda Coats disqualified |

Speaker Hubbard cool to the idea of party registration

The Huntsville Times ( reports: Republican Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard declined in Huntsville Thursday to support the closed party voting other state GOP leaders now want. "I don't want to alienate anyone," Hubbard said during a book signing stop. "There are a lot of people who don't really consider themselves Republican or Democrat. They're more independent, and I don't want them to feel excluded."

The state Republican Executive Committee approved a resolution Saturday endorsing legislation to require party registration and end the state's open primary system. "We just feel like Republicans ought to nominate Republicans and Democrats ought to nominate Democrats, and you need to identify where you stand," Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said.

Hubbard, a former state Republican party chairman, said he understood the sentiment. His book is about the GOP's long and finally successful fight to take control of state government from Democrats. But Hubbard said party registration wouldn't work, even if it didn't offend independents. -- Read the whole story --> House Speaker Hubbard cool to closed party voting and expanded healthcare |

June 24, 2012

GOP endorses party-registration of voters

The Birmingham News ( reports: Alabama Republicans on Saturday endorsed the idea of requiring primary voters to register by political party.

The Republican Executive Committee approved a resolution endorsing legislation that would require party registration and end the state's open primary system. A voter only has to say which party ballot he wants on primary day and doesn't have to register as a party member in advance. ...

Critics said open primaries allow members of one party to "cross over" and affect who becomes another party's nominee for office. One woman likened open primaries to allowing the University of Alabama to pick the roster for Auburn University's football team.

However, others expressed concerns that it could drive voters away from the GOP instead of welcoming them to it. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama Republican Executive Committee endorses party registration |

June 22, 2012

Job openings

Immediate Opportunity to Make a Difference

The Community Voters Project is immediately hiring Citizen Outreach Directors to run non-partisan grassroots voter registration offices through October 2012. Help make a change by helping register African American voters. For more information, contact Recruitment Director Jeff Sprague at (303) 623-4900 ext 201 or

Citizen Outreach Director, Community Voters Project

Immediate Openings: Philadelphia, Raleigh, Milwaukee, Denver, Colorado Springs

Possible Future Openings: California, Florida, Ohio and Virginia

Experience: college graduate or experience working on campaigns or managing canvassing operations

Salary: $1980 a month

We are looking for smart, motivated, action-oriented organizers who are interested in politics and have a commitment to social justice organizing. Citizen Outreach Directors will build and manage a team to run a campaign which will register 10-30,000 voters between now and November. Directors will recruit, manage and motivate staff, manage outreach sites, conduct registration and train canvassing staff to register voters. Nationally, we will register voters in eight states to help 350,000 disadvantaged voters find their voice. The Community Voters Project is a project of Fair Share Education Fund. Citizen Outreach Directors will work for Work for Progress, through a partnership with Fair Share Education Fund. To find out more, and to apply now, visit:

June 20, 2012

State Dems appoint committee to hear Hale County appeal

The Tuscaloosa News reports: Almost two months after the party's runoff election, the Democratic nominee remains unknown after an election challenge.

Arthur Crawford of Sawyerville defeated three-term incumbent Leland Avery by 80 votes in the April 24 Democratic runoff. After the vote was certified, a citizen filed a challenge, claiming Crawford failed to comply with the new Alabama campaign financial disclosure laws.

A subcommittee appointed by the Hale County Democratic Party met on May 25 and upheld the challenge, voting 3-2 to disqualify Crawford as the party's nominee. Crawford then appealed the decision to the state party.

Bradley Davidson, the state party's executive director, said the state Democratic executive committee has appointed a five-member subcommittee to hear the appeal. -- Read the whole story --> Dems will meet to settle Hale probate judge issue |

June 16, 2012

GOP rescinds nomination of candidate, now in jail on sex charges

The Birmingham News ( reports: The Alabama Republican Party's candidate committee voted this evening to remove Chuck Hunter as its nominee for the Place 11 judicial seat on Jefferson County Circuit Court, rejecting his offer to step down if the party refunded his qualifying fee. ...

Party officials called on Hunter to quit the race, and sent him a certified letter ordering him to end his candidacy by Monday or face action by the Alabama Republican Party Candidate Committee.

Hunter's lawyer told party officials late this afternoon that he would quit if his $2,400 qualifying fee was refunded. The candidate committee voted at 5 p.m. today to reject Hunter's offer and rescind his nomination for the Place 11 seat, said Chris Brown, chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. ...

The party has the right to pick a replacement nominee, which it must do before the first ballots go to print July 19. The replacement would be chosen by the 21-member candidate committee. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama GOP votes to rescind nomination for Jefferson County judicial candidate Chuck Hunter |

June 15, 2012

GOP candidate arrested on sex charge; party wants him to withdraw

The Birmingham News ( reports: The Alabama Republican Party today set an official deadline for Chuck Hunter to withdraw from a race for Jefferson County Circuit Court judge, as the Birmingham lawyer remained jailed on charges of soliciting a minor for sex.

The letter gave Hunter until Monday to withdraw from the race in the Nov. 6 general election against Houston Brown, the incumbent judge in the civil division seat based in Birmingham.

Otherwise, Hunter would face action by the party's candidate committee, T.J. Maloney, the state party executive director, said in a statement. ...

Bill Armistead, the state party chairman, called on Hunter to withdraw, "in light of recent developments and coupled with Mr. Hunter's previous support of candidates and issues in opposition to the values of the Republican Party," the state party said in a statement Thursday. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama Republican Party to candidate facing child-sex charges: Quit campaign by Monday |

June 14, 2012

Alabama not complying with NVRA, civil rights groups say

The Huntsville Times reports: A coalition of voting rights and civil rights groups is alleging that Alabama is not meeting the law in providing voter registration materials to residents who seek government assistance.

The National Voter Registration Act, passed in 1993 and widely known as the "motor voter" act, requires that applicants for public assistance be given voter registration applications.

In a letter sent to Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman and the commissioners of the Department of Human Resources and Alabama Medicaid Agency, the groups said an investigation and interviews found widespread failure to provide registration materials in DHR and Medicaid offices.

The New York-based civil rights group Demos and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Project Vote, both out of Washington, D.C., said in a letter dated Wednesday that they want the state to develop a plan to comply with federal voting laws. -- Read the whole story --> Voting rights groups say Alabama agencies not obeying federal voter registration laws |

You can read the letter here.

June 13, 2012

14 June is Flag Day -- fly your flag


June 9, 2012

Corporate Political Activities Deskbook

After several decades of publishing a coursebook for an annual multi-day CLE program on corporate political activities, Practising Law Institute has produced a deskbook on the same subject. Let’s face it, a course handbook is going to have some redundant discussion about new (and old) cases and regulations. The Corporate Political Activities Deskbook has avoided that problem by having four authors from the same firm write the whole book. The authors, Kenneth A. Gross, Ki P. Hong, Lawrence M. Noble, and Patricia M. Zweibel, are members of the Political Law Group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Fittingly for a book on corporate political activities, the book begins with a discussion of Citizens United. The balanced and restrained tone of the book is set in this first section when the authors set out six things the Citizens United decision did not change.

This is not a treatise describing the doctrinal development of a particular rule. No, it is a how-to manual – much of it “how to stay out of trouble.” It is well-organized with short sections that get right to the point. In fact, I don’t remember seeing a section longer than three pages, and most are less than a page.

You will better understand the scope of the book by looking at the straightforward table of contents:
Chapter 1: Campaign Finance Under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA)
Chapter 2: Political Action Committees
Chapter 3: Executive Fundraising
Chapter 4: State Laws, Rules and Policies Impacting Corporate Government Relations
Chapter 5: Pay-to-Play Rules
Chapter 6: Federal Lobbying and Gift Laws
Chapter 7: The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)
Chapter 8: The Federal Election Commission: Processes and Enforcement

All chapters (except Chapter 7) have appendices with regulations, forms, and – best of all – sample documents for creating and running a corporate PAC.

I think you will be pleased with the Deskbook if you have corporate clients engaged in political activities. It will be especially useful if you don’t keep up with the field of campaign finance and need a quick answer for a client.

The Deskbook is priced at $275 for the one-volume, loose-leaf hardcover. The order page also links to a Kindle version for a little less.

Thanks to PLI for sending a copy of this valuable resource for a review.

June 3, 2012

Supreme Court could announce its decision to hear Siegelman case Monday

The Birmingham News reports: The U.S. Supreme Court might decide as early as Monday whether to accept or reject former Gov. Don Siegelman's request that the justices hear his appeal.

If they accept, Siegelman and his at­torneys could be standing before the justices later this year arguing that prosecutors incorrectly twisted a regu­lar political contribution into a bribery scheme, posing a criminal threat to all elected officials and their donors.

If they deny, Siegelman is likely headed back to court in Alabama, where his re-sentencing has been de­layed while his appeal has been pend­ing.

Siegelman's request, along with one by HealthSouth found Richard Scru­shy, was reviewed by the justices Thursday, according to the court's re­cord, which means Monday is the ear­liest possible day for them to an­nounce whether they want to hear the case. Either way, the outcome could have a far-reaching impact on how public corruption is investigated and prosecuted across the country. -- Read the whole article --> US Supreme Court might accept or reject ex-Gov. Don Siegelman's appeal as early as Monday |

Alabama ethics law allows overseas junkets

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: The Legislature may have capped gifts to teachers at $25, but there are no similar limits to the trips lawmakers can take abroad.

At least four lawmakers took a jaunt to Turkey last year where travel and accommodations were paid in whole or in part by a group promoting bonds between Turkey and the United States. The groups sponsoring the trip offered a similar package to lawmakers at the beginning of the month, a journey that for individuals would cost anywhere from $4,000 to $14,000, according to pricing on the web site Travelocity. ...

After an inquiry from Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile, last year, the Alabama Ethics Commission approved the trips, citing passages in the state?s ethics law that broadly allow lawmakers to go to "widely attended events," "educational functions" and "economic development functions."

Journeys to "educational functions" are limited to locations within the United States, but there is no similar limit on widely attended events, a distinction noted by the Ethics Commission in approving the trips to Turkey. The widely attended event must be a gathering where it is "reasonably expected" more than 12 people "with a diversity of views or interest will be present." -- Read the whole article --> State ethics law puts few limits on lawmakers' trips abroad | The Montgomery Advertiser |