The Wire

  • VIDEO: Bill Hightower for Governor airs its first TV ad

    State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) will air his first TV ad in his campaign for governor next week. An advance look at the commercial, which focuses on term limits, a flat tax and cutting spending, can be seen here:

  • President Trump threatens to veto federal budget because it doesn’t fully fund border wall

  • Alabama Rep. Roby’s re-election campaign nabs endorsements from pro-business groups

    Excerpt from a campaign news release:

    “Martha Roby continues to do an outstanding job for the hardworking people of Alabama. Her steadfast support has allowed job creation and an environment where people can do better for themselves and their families.”
    Alex Whaley, II, Alabama Associated General Contractors PAC

    “As the voice of small business, NFIB knows good small business policy starts with electing good small business candidates. Therefore, Martha Roby’s reelection is critical to the small businesses in Alabama’s Second District, and we look forward to working with you on the issues most important to them.”
    Sharon Sussin, National Political Director, National Federation of Independent Business Fed PAC

3 years ago

Alabama Secretary of State works with Legislature to provide voter IDs

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — As the presidential election gears up in preparation for primary season in just a few months, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and members of the Alabama Legislature to provide three separate days for voter registration and state I.D. drives

Since June 3, 2014, to participate in an election, a citizen must be registered to vote and present a valid form of photo ID.

The relatively new law was rooted in a Republican campaign promise in 2010, the year that the party took control of the State House for the first time Reconstruction. It passed 2011 and first went into use during last year’s primary elections.

According to the law, any of the following documents qualify as a valid voter ID:
• Driver’s license
• Alabama photo voter ID card;
• State issued ID (any state);
• Federal issued ID or US passport
• Employee ID from Federal Government, State of Alabama, County, Municipality, Board, or other entity of this state
• Student or employee ID from a public or private college or university in the State of Alabama (including postgraduate technical or professional schools)
• Military ID
• Tribal ID.

To receive a free Alabama photo voter ID card, a citizen must be a registered voter and must not have one of the valid forms of photo ID listed above.

When applying for the free Alabama photo voter ID, a voter must by law show a photo ID document or a non-photo identity document that contains full legal name and date of birth; documentation showing the voter’s date of birth; documentation showing the person is a registered voter; and documentation showing the voter’s name and address as reflected in the voter registration record. A citizen’s name, address, and voter registration status can be verified by Secretary of State staff, using the statewide voter registration system.

Here are the locations and times of upcoming registration events:
• August 13, 2015, in Cleburne County at 10:00 a.m. in the Ranburne Town Hall
• August 15, 2015, in Franklin County at 10:00 a.m. at the Watermelon Festival
• August 17, 2015, in Tuscaloosa County at 10:00 a.m. in the Bobby Miller Activity Center.

To obtain additional information on free voter ID cards, voters can call 1-800-274-VOTE or visit The website also includes a listing of the mobile site schedule.

4 years ago

Oral argument in Alabamian’s Supreme Court case set to take place today

(Above: Shaun McCutcheon discusses his Supreme Court case, McCutcheon v. FEC)

Birmingham-area conservative activist Shaun McCutcheon takes one more step toward election law immortality today as his challenge to aggregate limits on federal campaign contributions goes before the United States Supreme Court.

In September, Yellowhammer wrote extensively about McCutcheon’s bid to “change the world.” Here’s a brief explanation from our previous post of what McCutcheon is seeking to do:

Donors are currently subject to limits on the amount of money they can contribute to candidates. $2,600 is the most a donor can give to any one candidate. That’s called the “base limit.” This number is the amount of money the Federal Election Commission believes protects donors’ First Amendment right to engage in the political process, while remaining below the threshold at which a donor could “buy” too much influence with a candidate or elected official.

But on top of the base limit, there is also a cap on the total sum of money a donor can donate to federal campaigns in general. It’s called the “aggregate limit,” and it’s set at $123,200.

In other words, if a donor wanted to give the $2,600 maximum donation to all 253 Democrats in Congress, she wouldn’t be allowed to because, even though no single candidate would receive over $2,600, the total amount donated ($657,800) would far exceed the aggregate limit.

Shaun McCutcheon, a Birmingham-area businessman and conservative activist, doesn’t think that’s right, and he’s taking his case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Oral argument for McCutcheon v. FEC will be heard today in Washington, D.C., and candidates, activists and First Amendment advocates will be watching closely.

SCOTUS’s website offers a good explanation of what exactly goes down during a case’s oral argument:

A case selected for argument usually involves interpretations of the U. S. Constitution or federal law. At least four Justices have selected the case as being of such importance that the Supreme Court must resolve the legal issues.

An attorney for each side of a case will have an opportunity to make a presentation to the Court and answer questions posed by the Justices. Prior to the argument each side has submitted a legal brief—a written legal argument outlining each party’s points of law. The Justices have read these briefs prior to argument and are thoroughly familiar with the case, its facts, and the legal positions that each party is advocating.

Yellowhammer spoke off the record earlier this week with several prominent attorneys. Every single one spoke favorably about the strength of McCutcheon’s case. Most of them believe his team will prevail, ushering in the next generation of campaign finance law — one with fewer limits but more accountability and transparency.

“This is a very important case about your fundamental free speech rights when it comes to politics,” McCutcheon told Yellowhammer recently. “This is important for the future of our ability to improve the dreadful situation we’re in. Bottom line: we want to change the world.”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

Shan McCutcheon
Shan McCutcheon

5 years ago

Campaign finance reform to get a shot on last day of session

The most anticipated issues on the final day of the 2013 legislative session will include the long-debated omnibus gun bill, drug testing for welfare applicants, and the The Religious Liberty Act which would allow religiously affiliated or motivated employers to opt out of the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate.

But there is one particular bill that has not gotten a lot of publicity, but may actually have a more significant immediate impact on the Alabama political landscape.

Senator Bryan Taylor’s campaign finance reform bill (SB445) would implement numerous common sense changes to make Alabama’s campaign finance laws clearer and more enforceable — including removing the $500 cap on donations a corporation can give to a candidate.

The bill would eliminate duplicative filings, close a potential loophole in the PAC to PAC transfer ban, increase transparency by requiring any candidate who raises or spends $1,000 to file disclosure reports, and strengthens the law’s enforcability by clarifying that the candidate or PAC treasurer is held responsible for filing campaign finance reports.

Those are just a handful of the positive changes Taylor’s bill would make.

But the elimination of the corporate contribution limits will get the lions share of the attention because nothing makes a liberal’s brain explode faster than the thought of evil corporations having access to first amendment rights.

Rep. Mike Ball, who amended Sen. Taylor’s bill to remove the limits on corporate campaign contributions, told Yellowhammer that this is an issue of transparency.

“The $500 corporate contribution cap is stupid. It is a feel-good policy that actually does harm to the process and does no good whatsoever,” Ball said. “That pretend cap is the primary reason for the proliferation of PACs, because it prevents transparency by requiring contributions take an indirect route to candidates. Removing the the cap will be another step in ending the shell game that has epitomized Alabama politics for decades.”

Rep. Ball is right.

If this bill passes, instead of funneling money through a web of political action committees, companies would give money directly to candidates. Citizens could then easily access the candidate’s campaign finance reports and see exactly whose money is backing them.

There is no reason why corporations should be treated differently from individuals and other business entities, such as LLCs or partnerships. Corporations are composed of employees and shareholders whom it represents with its participation in the political process.

The Alabama Senate’s conservative majority should pass this bill to make Alabama’s campaign finance laws stronger and give us the transparency we deserve.

What else is going on?
1. Media bias laid bare
2. Roby Makes Her Move
3. IRS Admits to Targeting Conservative Groups
4. Barry Mask: From Aubie, to Legislator, to CEO
5. Teachers Union Leader Removed from TRS Board