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

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July 27, 2012

State Dems decide Hale County election contest

The Tuscaloosa News reports: The State Democratic Party chairman has declined to send Hale County Probate Judge Leland Averys failed primary runoff challenge to the full party state executive committee.

In a letter dated Friday, Mark Kennedy informed attorneys for Avery and apparent primary runoff winner Arthur Crawford Sr. that Avery's initial challenge of his May 4 runoff loss was not timely filed.

Kennedy denied Avery's request for an appeal to the full State Democratic Executive Committee. ...

Averys attorney, James Anderson, said on Wednesday that he plans to ask a Montgomery County circuit judge to declare Avery the nominee. -- Read the whole story --> Hale County runoff challenge denied |

Judge Thompson explains why he instructed the jury in the U.S. v. McGregor case

The Mobile Pres-Register ( reports: The federal judge who presided over the State House vote-buying case said the U.S. Supreme Court needs to address the line between a campaign contribution and an illegal bribe.

U.S. District Myron Thompson issued an opinion this week noting that there had been "considerable confusion" over exactly what the law requires. Thompson also included his jury instructions during the trial, which showed how he interpreted the issue.

"The court hopes that its jury instructions and this opinion have helped clarify the case law. Ultimately, the Supreme Court needs to address this issue and provide guidance to lower courts, prosecutors, politicians, donors, and the general public," Thompson wrote

The difference between donations and bribes has been at the center of two of the state's high-profile public corruption cases. -- Read the whole story --> Federal judge says Supreme Court should clarify bribe/donation line |

July 26, 2012

Indian Springs mayoral race reduced to one because of failure to file Ethics Commission statement

The Shelby County Reporter reports: Current Indian Springs Town Council member Stewart Dudley is ineligible for this year's mayoral race after failing to submit required paperwork, according to current Mayor Steve Zerkis.

By state law, all elected officials in Alabama are required to submit a completed statement of economic interest each year to the Alabama Ethics Commission, Zerkis said through an email. A statement of economic interest is a public document used to disclose financial interests.

This year's deadline to submit the statement was April 30, Zerkis said. ...

Officials with the Alabama Ethics Commission confirmed that Dudley has not submitted a statement of economic interest and is not qualified for the municipal election. -- Read the whole story --> Dudley not qualified for Indian Springs mayoral race | Shelby County Reporter

July 17, 2012

GOP rejects challenge to its candidate

The Huntsville Times ( reports: An Alabama Republican Party committee tonight rejected a complaint challenging Huntsville attorney Linda Coats' nomination for a district court judgeship. ...

The Alabama GOP issued a statement following the meeting.

"The challenge spelled out three accusations against Ms. Coats," the news release said. "First, that she failed to file a document with the Supreme Court. That accusation is factually wrong. Ms. Coats filed the proper paperwork in a timely manner as acknowledged by the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

"Second, the complaint cites the 'Sore Loser' Standing Rule of the Alabama Republican Party, adopted 1994. The 'Sore Loser' provision is to keep the loser of a Republican Primary from running in the ensuing General Election as an Independent or a third party candidate. Therefore the Candidate Committee has determined Ms. Coats has not violated the 'Sore Loser' provision.

"Third, the complaint alleges that Ms. Coats did not fully disclose information during the question and answer session of her interview. After review, the Committee is satisfied with Ms. Coat's presentation and does not need further clarification." -- Read the whole story --> Alabama GOP committee rejects complaint over Linda Coats' district judge nomination (updated) |

Ala AG opinion requires Probate Judge to use registration address, not post office information

The Mobile Press Register ( reports: A probate judge cannot block a voter from casting a regular ballot when the address on his voter registration conflicts with information provided by the U.S. Postal Service, according to an attorney general's opinion.

Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis and the Mobile County Board of Registrars both asked for the opinion from the Alabama Attorney General's Office after the registrars disputed his handling of the matter during this year's primary.

Davis said this afternoon that he has reviewed the response from the Attorney General's staff has asked for a supplemental opinion. "We find aspects of it confusing," he said. -- Read the whole story and opinion --> Mobile County election procedures challenged in Alabama attorney general opinion |

July 11, 2012

Republicans contitnue to fight over judicial candidate in Madison County

The Huntsville Times ( reports: Four Huntsville attorneys have filed an expanded complaint to the Alabama Republican Party seeking to have Linda Coats disqualified as the party nominee for a Madison County District Court judgeship.

Attorneys Amy Creech, Bill Hall, Dinah Rhodes and Amy Slayden submitted the petition last week asking for Coats' disqualification or reconsideration of Coats' candidacy.

Coats, who won the GOP primary in March with just under 50 percent the vote, was selected out of a field of seven candidates by the Alabama Republican Party candidate committee last month. She was chosen after Chris Messervy, who defeated her in the GOP runoff, was disqualified in May for a late campaign finance disclosure filing. ...

The new complaint said Coats is in violation of the canons if her filing was submitted Oct. 31, 2011, as the clerk reported. The canons require the filing to occur within 10 days of qualifying as a judicial candidate. The complaint said qualifying didn't open until Nov. 14 and the petitioners say they don't have any information Coats submitted a filing within 10 days of her actual qualifying date. -- Read the whole story --> Group of lawyers wants GOP to disqualify Linda Coats as Madison County judge nominee |

July 10, 2012

Mobile County considers voters who changed addresses

The Mobile Press-Register ( reports: Some 20,000 registered voters in Mobile County do not live where they signed up to vote, and Probate Judge Don Davis' efforts to deal with that in the primary election this year has drawn complaints from critics.

Davis points to three different state statutes indicating that it is illegal for voters to cast ballots in a precinct where they do not live. The Mobile County Board of Registrars, backed by an administrative rule issued by the state Secretary of State's Office in 1994, contends that people should be allowed to vote in whichever precinct they are registered.

Davis said that he is waiting for a response to a request he made in April for an attorney general's opinion, which carries the force of law absent a court order. He said he wants to make sure to get it right. ...

A pair of former political candidates, however, questioned whether the probate judge's interpretation of the law runs counter to the federal Voting Rights Act. -- Read the whole story --> Conflict arises over how to treat Mobile County voters whose addresses don?t match registration |

July 6, 2012

PAC-to-PAC transfers still practiced by Republicans, in DC

The Birmingham News ( reports: Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Spencer Bachus are among the most generous members of Congress when it comes to handing out campaign cash to their colleagues and other contenders, according to an analysis of political action committees.

So far in this 2012 election cycle, Bachus' political action committee has donated $271,500 to other candidates, the 11th-highest amount among the leadership PACs. Shelby's has dished out $205,000, the 19th-highest amount, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. And the election is still four months away.

Topping the list is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., at more than $1.3 million, and second is House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, at just more than $1 million.

The center lists 373 leadership PACs active in this cycle that are run mostly by current and former veteran members of Congress. They are separate from their own re-election accounts, but they tend to raise money from many of the same sources. The difference is in how they spend it. Instead of helping their own elections, members use money in their leadership PACs to donate to other members of Congress or challengers in other congressional races. -- Read the whole story --> Richard Shelby, Spencer Bachus among most generous in Congress in sharing campaign cash |

July 4, 2012

Trial lawyers backing Moore

The Birmingham News ( reports: Roy Moore has the Alabama GOP's backing as its chief justice nominee, but campaign disclosures show the unconventional candidate is getting substantial funding from a major foe of mainstream Republican jurists: plaintiff trial lawyers.

Moore's campaign received more than $46,000 in June from individual plaintiff trial lawyers or their firms, 45 percent of its total collections for the month, according to his latest campaign finance report.

Plaintiff lawyers have donated roughly $55,000 of the $310,000 in total that Moore has raised in a bid to regain the seat stripped from him in 2003 when he refused to follow a federal judge's order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state court building. ...

Since the 1990s, special interests have battled for control of the state high court. Businesses have financially backed Republican candidates, while the plaintiff trial lawyers who sue those businesses have spent big money for Democratic court hopefuls. -- Read the whole story --> Trial lawyers putting their campaign cash behind Roy Moore for Alabama chief justice |