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

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October 23, 2015

Sec of State threatens out-of-state PACs

Alabama Political Reporter reports: On Wednesday, October 21, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) issued a warning to groups who may attempt to use out of state Political Action Committees (PACs) to hide the source of their funds.

Secretary of State Merrill said, "It has been brought to the attention of the Secretary of State's Office that there may be current plans to circumvent the reporting requirements of the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act by utilizing out-of-state PACs and the reporting requirements of other states to hide the source of contributions to Alabama campaigns."

Secretary Merrill warned, "I have been and will continue to be in contact with my counterparts in other states to work to reveal the source of contributions to candidates in Alabama in order to protect and enforce the transparency mandate for political contributions in our State."

Merrill said that, "If we discover that there has been a violation of this law, we will identify the perpetrator and investigate that entity or individual. If it is warranted, we will seek indictment while working with the District Attorney's Office and Attorney General's Office to ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." -- Merrill Threatens Legal Actions Against Political Action Committees

"Artur Davis files lawsuit against Alabama Democrats" reports: Former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis has filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Democratic Party for its refusal to allow him to rejoin the party and run for a seat on the Montgomery County Commission.

In the suit filed on Wednesday, Davis asks the Montgomery County Circuit Court to grant an injunction and require Alabama Democrats to reverse their decision. The case was assigned to Judge Truman Hobbs.

Invoking the Radney Rule, the executive board of the party denied Davis' request to run for office as a Democrat at a hearing on Oct. 16. The rule prevents prospective candidates from switching parities if that person has supported an opposing party in the past four years.

After losing a bid for governor, Davis left the Democratic Party in May 2012 and campaigned for Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney. -- Artur Davis files lawsuit against Alabama Democrats |

October 20, 2015

"Caravan to protest Black Belt license office closings still on despite partial reopening" reports: A caravan to protest the closing of driver's license offices in Alabama's Black Belt will proceed even though Gov. Robert Bentley announced the offices would reopen at least one day a month starting Nov. 1.

Caravan organizers announced today they would still make stops in 11 counties on Thursday and Friday, as they had planned last week.

In a news release, they called the plan to open at least one day a month a "charade."

"This will cause great hardship for the people who can least afford it and who are most impacted," the statement said.

Caravan organizers are the Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy and the National Action Network, founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton. -- Caravan to protest Black Belt license office closings still on despite partial reopening |

"Bernie Sanders: Alabama Republicans are 'cowards' trying to 'suppress' vote" reports: Sen. Bernie Sanders called Republicans in Alabama and other states "cowards" for trying to "suppress" votes.

"Republican cowards all across the country, including Alabama, are very clearly trying to win elections by suppressing the vote and making it harder for low-income people, minorities, young people and seniors to vote. That has to change. Anyone 18 years of age or older should be automatically registered to vote," Sanders said in a statement he tweeted Sunday.

The Washington Post reported the statement came in response to remarks Hillary Clinton made during her speech in Hoover Saturday. -- Bernie Sanders: Alabama Republicans are 'cowards' trying to 'suppress' vote |

October 18, 2015

"Hillary Clinton: Alabama remains front line of voting rights battle"

Hillary Clinton writes on Alabama is one of 17 states with no early voting. That needs to change. Alabama should make sure those who've served time have their voting rights restored. And they should eliminate the discriminatory requirement that people provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote. We should be doing everything we can to get more people involved in our political process, not turning them away when they try to participate.

Alabama isn't alone. Over the past few years, many states have passed laws that make voting harder. Since the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, the situation has gotten even worse. And some people --including many Republican candidates for president--would keep pushing our country in this shameful direction. -- Hillary Clinton: Alabama remains front line of voting rights battle |

October 17, 2015

Ben Carson leads in campaign cash raised in Alabama reports: Surging in the polls since the first Republican debate, retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson has now raked in the most campaign cash from Alabama of any 2016 presidential candidate, raising about $215,000 from July through September and now has raised about $272,000 from the Yellowhammer State, according to new Federal Election Commission data.

Carson overtook former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who led all candidates with about $70,000 raised last quarter and now has more than $125,000 from Alabama contributors. Carson, who has wide appeal with evangelicals and conservatives, also has somewhat of a built-in advantage in Alabama. His national finance chairman, Dean Parker, is from Mobile.

Aside from Carson, Clinton was leapfrogged by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Bush raised about $165,000 from Alabama donors from July through September, an increase from the roughly $54,000 he brought in from the state from April to June. -- Feeling blue: Democrats deny Artur Davis

Alabama Democratic Party denies Artur Davis' request to switch back to Democrats

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Davis, the former Democratic Congressman turned Republican gubernatorial candidate, went before the Executive Board of the State Democratic Executive Committee Friday to convince the 24 board members present to allow him to run for office as a Democratic candidate.

Following the show cause hearing and private discussion, former Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Redding Pitt motioned for Davis to become a Democratic candidate.

The motion was flatly denied.

Pitt may not have been the only "yes" in the room, but if there was another, it could not be heard audibly. -- Feeling blue: Democrats deny Artur Davis

October 13, 2015

Letters showing the barriers to blacks trying to register to voter reports: Black women who went to the Jefferson County courthouse to register to vote in 1960 were routinely interrogated about whether their children were born out of wedlock.

Black men who had been arrested on misdemeanor charges as part of the Birmingham civil rights movement were turned away for "doing harm to the city."

Bad handwriting and misplaced check marks barred many from registering to vote 55-years-ago.

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, then the secretary of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, outlined those concerns in an August 1960 letter to the U.S. Attorney General. -- 1960 Fred Shuttlesworth letter shows fight blacks faced to vote in Alabama |

NOTE: this article contains a 184-page DOJ file with complaints and investigations regarding blacks trying to register to vote.

October 12, 2015

Houston Co. DA guilty of Ethics Law violation

The Dothan Eagle reports: The Alabama Ethics Commission ruled Wednesday that District Attorney Doug Valeska committed two minor violations of the Alabama Ethics Law.

Valeska could face an administrative penalty. Minor violations of the state ethics law result in an administrative penalty of no more than $1,000. Restitution could also be ordered. ...

The action resulted from an ethics complaint filed by former assistant district attorney Andy Robinson, who alleged Valeska used assistant district attorneys to perform campaign work and other personal work. The Ethics Commission investigated the matter to determine its validity, gathering evidence and conducting interviews with Robinson and others, including Valeska.

Alabama law states public interests cannot be converted to personal interests.

Alabama Code 26-25-5(c) states: "No public official or public employee shall use or cause to be used equipment, facilities, time, materials, human labor, or other public property under his or her discretion of control for the private benefit or business benefit of the public official, public employee, any other person, or principal campaign committee." -- District Attorney Doug Valeska found in violation of state ethics law - Dothan Eagle: Crime Court