2 years ago

McConnell accused of bribery scheme in Alabama U.S. Senate primary

John Martin (right) has accused Jonathan McConnell (left) of attempting to bribe him to get out of the Alabama Republican U.S. Senate primary.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Martin is accusing fellow candidate Jonathan McConnell of perpetrating a bribery scheme that may have run afoul of federal and state law.

According to Mr. Martin, Mr. McConnell called him upon finding out that he had qualified to run for the U.S. Senate and offered him a bribe to exit the race.

“He called me asking me to drop out of the race,” Mr. Martin told Yellowhammer, after initially alluding to the allegation on his campaign’s Facebook page. “He told me that he was going to file the next day and that he had $250,000 of his own money that he was going to put into the race. I just listened, but then I said I wouldn’t do it. Then he offered to pay me off and cover all of my expenses. That was absolutely illegal.”

Mr. Martin said he then received a phone call from Mr. McConnell’s father, Roger McConnell, the following day. Roger McConnell is a past chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and remains very active in state politics, particularly in the Mobile area.

“His father called me the next morning when I was at work and was basically apologizing for it,” Mr. Martin recalled. “He just wanted to make it all go away. But it’s not going to because it was illegal.”

In a phone interview with Yellowhammer on Monday, Mr. McConnell initially denied the allegations, then conceded that he told Mr. Martin he would deliver financial assistance to him if he would exit the race.

“No, we didn’t offer John Martin to get out of the race,” he said. “He had offered to us, he was like, ‘Hey, one of the two of us should get out of this race’ when he qualified on that Thursday night. And I said, listen, you know, I was like, you know, I was like, one of the two of us should get out. And I said it should be him. And I would encourage — I would love it if John Martin would get out, Marcus Bowman would get out and Shad (McGill) would get out so it would be a head-to-head. When I had talked to him about this initially, you know, to me, I didn’t know that much about it. But, you know, if it came to reimbursing his money on that, I told him I would make sure we found people who could do that.”

A spokesperson for Mr. McConnell’s campaign followed up to ask if there was a recording of Mr. McConnell making the offer to Mr. Martin. When asked if the existence of a recording would impact Mr. McConnell’s handling of the accusations, the spokesperson said, “No, I would trust my candidate over someone who records phone calls.”

These types of accusations tend to garner major headlines. This year alone, similar scenarios have played out in the Taiwanese presidential race, Kentucky’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary, and a Utah city council election, among others.

But in addition to negative headlines, multiple campaign finance experts Yellowhammer spoke with Monday said that bribing a candidate to get out of a race could violate federal and state election laws.

Alabama Code section 17-5-7c, for instance, states that “a candidate, public official, or principal campaign committee shall not accept, solicit, or receive contributions… As a bribe… (or) for the intention of corruptly influencing the official actions of the public official or candidate for public office.” Violating that statute is a Class B felony and carries a penalty of 2 to 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. There is some debate in legal circles, however, about how state law applies to federal races taking place inside a given state.

Yellowhammer also reached out to the other challengers to see if Mr. McConnell made similar offers to them.

Marcus Bowman of Fairhope said Mr. McConnell asked him for a meeting, which Mr. Bowman agreed to and attended with a large contingent of campaign staff and supporters.

“I will say that there were people with me who may have come to that type of conclusion,” Mr. Bowman said when asked if Mr. McConnell offered him money in return for an agreement to forego his campaign. “People with me were wondering what is the point of this meeting. I told them, well I think he wants to size up his competition. He did indicate a lot of regret that other people are in the race.”

Former state senator Shad McGill told Yellowhammer he had not spoken to Mr. McConnell, but said a similar offer he received during a past campaign prompted an investigation by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I got that kind of offer from a lobbyist once when I was running for state senate,” he recalled. “The ABI and FBI ended up investigating it. It was at the same time all the gambling investigations were taking place. Me and the lobbyist were both subpoenaed.”

Mr. Martin said he felt it was important to share the story because it gives voters an opportunity to see behind the facade that some candidates put up when they are running for office.

“This race has got to be about integrity,” he said. “That’s why I think this matters so much. These are the kinds of things that teach you about a man’s character.”

The four Republican candidates are attempting to unseat U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). The election is set to take place March 1, 2016.


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13 hours ago

Alabama wins private property rights case against Obama-era regulations

In a victory for private property rights this week, the federal government agreed to reconsider rules adopted during the Obama-era that unreasonably restrict the freedom of Americans to use their land.

“We are encouraged that the Trump administration has agreed to revisit these rules, which threaten property owners’ rights to use any land that the federal government could dream that an endangered species might ever inhabit,” Alabama Attorney General Marshall said in a statement.

Why this matters: Under these rules, unelected federal bureaucrats could designate a piece of private property as “critical habitat” for an endangered species even if the land doesn’t contain that particular species and, moreover, doesn’t even contain some of the features needed to support that species. Use of the land would then be severely limited. 


The details:

— The state filed a lawsuit, Alabama v. National Marine Fisheries Service, in November of 2016 challenging the rules, calling them “an unlawful federal overreach.”

— Nearly 20 other states joined the lawsuit, along with four large trade associations.

— The settlement forces federal agencies to submit revised rules for public review within 60 days and retains our freedom to file another lawsuit if their new rules are as excessive as the old ones.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

13 hours ago

Jeff Sessions is right to sue California for ignoring federal immigration laws

America may be a country of immigrants, but it’s also a country of laws. No one is exempt from those laws regardless of what some local officials in sanctuary cities may think.

As you may have seen on the news recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced a lawsuit against the State of California for failure to completely cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officers.  I stand with AG Sessions’ decision.

From the mayors and local politicians disregarding federal immigration law to the illegal immigrants they are prioritizing over American citizens, it’s about time we hold these lawless individuals accountable.


The “leaders” in these cities are violating their oath of office and the Constitution.  They should be immediately removed from their positions and the illegal immigrants they are protecting should be deported. Period.

I agree with President Trump that we need to strengthen our borders.  We should build the wall and we should continue to support law enforcement’s crackdown on violent foreign gangs like MS-13.

These efforts mean nothing though if illegal immigrants and criminals can continue to seek refuge in some of our country’s largest cities.

It boils down to fairness, safety and what it means to be a sovereign nation.

A country without borders is hardly a country at all. I’m fed up with seeing the tax dollars from hard-working families across East Alabama go to cities who snub their nose at the very ideals that make America great.  Congress should withhold funding from sanctuary cities that refuse to uphold federal law.

President Trump has proven his tough stance on illegal immigration is much more than just campaign rhetoric. He has already done so much to curtail our illegal immigration crisis but he can’t do it alone.

Elected officials – from the state and local level to Members of Congress – must do their part.

And if they refuse, then they aren’t fit for public service.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is a Republican from Saks.

(Image:U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Flickr)

15 hours ago

WATCH: Cam Newton’s leadership message resonates with Boy Scouts

When Cam Newton speaks, people listen.

The Carolina Panthers quarterback had the full attention of the audience at the 11th annual American Values Luncheon.

Boy Scouts were among attendees that filled the meeting room at the North Exhibition Hall of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.


Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn joined Newton during a question and answer session. Famous for leading the Auburn Tigers to the 2010 National Championship under Malzahn’s leadership, Newton’s talk followed in the tradition of several other football greats, including Nick Saban, Shaquille O’Neal and Bo Jackson.

Dr. James Andrews, Dr. Jesse Lewis Sr. and Jimmy Rane were honored at the luncheon for their contributions to the community.

Newton shared his life experiences and lessons learned.

(Courtesy Alabama News Center)

15 hours ago

Celtic Pride! Joel Blankenship shares his Irish roots with The Ford Faction

Joel Blankenship makes his weekly return to The Ford Faction to talk the St. Patrick’s Day parade held in Birmingham and what the holiday means to him.  Joel mentions the law that can be passed to put Police K9’s in schools to help sniff out guns or drugs.  He provides feedback on what this could mean for schools and how it will benefit the need for police K9’s.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

16 hours ago

VIDEO: Alabama Rep. Roby thanks Air Force secretary for decision to bring F-35s to Montgomery

U.S. Representative Martha Roby participated in a defense appropriations subcommittee hearing this week where she expressed her appreciation to Secretary Heather Wilson for the Air Force’s decision to base F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Dannelly Field in Montgomery.

Roby also discussed other military-related programs in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, including helicopter training at Fort Rucker near Enterprise and the professional education programs at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery.

(Image: Representative Martha Roby/YouTube)