Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: September 2015 Archives

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September 15, 2015

"Bill would let officials solicit money for criminal defense"

AP (via the Tuscaloosa News) reports: The head of the Alabama Ethics Commission on Monday sharply criticized a bill that would let public officials solicit money from lobbyists and others for criminal defense funds.

Tom Albritton, executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, called the bill that was approved by the states House of Representatives last week a significant step backward for public ethics. ...

No laws govern the creation of criminal defense funds in Alabama. The bill by Rep. Jack Williams would allow public officials to start the criminal defense funds and solicit contributions without violating a state ban on public officials soliciting a thing of value from lobbyists and others.

The bill would require the treasurer of the fund to file public reports listing donors. -- Bill would let officials solicit money for criminal defense | TuscaloosaNews.com

September 12, 2015

Speaker Hubbard claims the Ethics Law has quit preaching and gone to meddling

John Archibald writes on AL.com: Hubbard, who has publicly praised ethics reforms Republicans used to usher themselves to power -- including those that prevented public officials from lobbying -- asked Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob A. Walker III to dismiss charges against him on a claim that the much ballyhooed ethics law is unconstitutional, and that he, even as a public official, has a constitutional right to lobby for money.

Even from his powerful position in the Legislature. Even as an elected representative of the people of Alabama.

Hubbard lawyer J. Mark White argues under the heading: "Hubbard's right to lobby on behalf of his or his business' clients is a fundamental right constitutionally protected by the First Amendment," that the law Hubbard is charged with breaking presents a host of constitutional issues.

"Lobbying -- the right of the people to inform their representatives in government of their desires with respect to the passage or enforcement of laws -- is 'core' political speech, prototypical of the kind of speech protected by the First Amendment," White argued. -- Documents revealed: No wonder Mike Hubbard wanted them sealed | AL.com

Hubbard's Motion to Dismiss (Ethics Act is Unconstitutional) by John Archibald

September 7, 2015

"Olivia Reynolds found guilty of 24 counts of voter fraud"

The Dothan Eagle reports: A Houston County jury found Olivia Reynolds guilty Wednesday afternoon for her role in a voter fraud case.

Assistant District Attorney Banks Smith said the jury found 66-year-old Olivia Reynolds guilty of 24 felony counts of absentee ballot fraud. Smith said the jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning with the guilty verdicts.

Houston County Sheriff?s investigators arrested Reynolds in May 2014. She was one of three women charged who worked on the 2013 campaign for District 2 City Commissioner Amos Newsome.

In the August election, Newsome beat challenger Lamesa Danzey by 14 votes. Newsome received 119 of the 124 absentee votes that were cast. Danzey received more votes than Newsome at the polls. ...

Smith said some of the voters testified at trial how they never wanted to vote for Newsome yet their ballot was cast for Newsome anyway. -- Olivia Reynolds found guilty of 24 counts of voter fraud - Dothan Eagle: Crime Court

"Alabama voter convicted for openly carrying gun to poll"

AL.com reports: A Pelham man was convicted Friday on misdemeanor charges he illegally wore, in open view, a holstered pistol at a polling site during last year's Nov. 4 general election.

Robert Kennedy Jr., 59, was convicted in a bench trial before Shelby County District Court Judge Daniel A. Crowson Jr. on charges of voting obstruction and possession of firearms at certain places.

Crowson sentenced Kennedy to 30 days in jail, but suspended it 24 months and placed him on unsupervised probation for each conviction, with both sentences running concurrent. -- Alabama voter convicted for openly carrying gun to poll | AL.com

September 5, 2015

"A sure scandal in Gov. Robert Bentley's Administration"

John Archibald writes on AL.com: Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a chief adviser to the governor of the state of Alabama, is paid by unknown entities with money funneled through an opaque non-profit. And that shadowy operation ? it doesn't have to reveal its donors -- is set up by people connected to the state's most powerful and politically aggressive institutions. ...

Mason is paid through the lovely sounding Alabama Council for Excellent Government, formed of folks tied to both the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and Alabama Power. And she is not the only one on the lease-an-advisor program. Bentley's chief of staff, Seth Hammett, continues to be paid by Power South Energy Cooperative in Andalusia.

And yes, that has somehow been approved by that enabling outfit that calls itself the Alabama Ethics Commission a group that ought to be renamed the Politicians' Apologist League, or PAL.

So in the end we have the two top advisers to the governor of the state of Alabama bought and paid for with the blessing of the state's adjudicators of what is good and proper by the most powerful people and aggressive lobbyists in the state. -- A sure scandal in Gov. Robert Bentley's Administration | AL.com