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

6 months ago

Richard Shelby and Realtor’s PAC Endorse Luther Strange

Alabama’s longtime United States Senator Richard Shelby announced his support for Luther Strange in the U.S. Senate runoff over the weekend.

“Luther Strange has consistently stood up for Alabama’s values,” said Senator Richard Shelby. “He not only understands the complex issues facing our nation, but he is also poised to help continue Alabama’s growth and economic development. Luther Strange is the man for the job.”

Strange released the following statement in reply:

“I am proud to have Richard Shelby’s endorsement in this race and thank him for his kind words,” said Luther Strange. “I look forward to standing up for the values Alabamians hold dear and to pass the Trump agenda.”

The National Association of REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) has also announced its endorsement  Senate, following a recommendation from the Alabama Association of REALTORS® RPAC Committee.

Embracing this endorsement, Jeremy Walker, Chief Executive Officer of the Alabama Association of REALTORS stated:

Alabama REALTORS® recognize Senator Strange for his demonstrated record of standing up for homeownership and private property rights, and look forward to his leadership on key real estate issues…Senator Strange has been a leader in standing up for Alabama homeowners and our communities. As Attorney General, Senator Strange fought back against government overreach that threatened to harm private property rights. REALTORS® look forward to continuing our strong relationship with Senator Strange,” said Mugs Mullins, President of the Alabama Association of REALTORS®.


8 months ago

Exclusive: A Behind The Scenes Look At Luther Strange’s Senate Appointment

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange

When Alabama rang in the New Year last January, Luther Strange was its Attorney General. At the time, his office was investigating Robert Bentley for crimes the former governor committed in his zeal to hide his affair with Rebekah Mason. Before Bentley resigned, he appointed Strange to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat in the U.S. Senate.

Because Strange was appointed by the man his office was investigating, a cloud has followed him since. Strange recently sat down with Yellowhammer to tell his side of the story, as did some of his critics.

For context, we must rewind to last November. Donald Trump won the presidential election on November 8th and ten days later announced that Jeff Sessions would be his new Attorney General. This appointment created a vacancy for Sessions’ U.S. Senate seat, which a host of Alabama Republicans was eager to fill. However, it was the embattled Governor’s job to appoint a successor. Bentley interviewed some twenty people for the job, including some of Strange’s opponents in this summer’s Senate race, who are now among his loudest critics for taking the appointment.

Some six weeks later, on December 27th, Strange and Bentley met, as Bentley required of anyone he was considering for the fill the vacant seat. That’s where we started our interview with Luther Strange. Specifically, we talked about the fact that some of his detractors have accused him of going to Bentley’s office that late December day to cut a deal. Their theory is that Strange told Bentley he’d drop the investigation in exchange for an appointment to the United States Senate. To this, Strange replied:

First, my former office prosecuted Robert Bentley after he appointed me, which obviously would not have happened if I’d cut a deal with him.

Second, Alice [Martin] and Matt [Hart] would have never gone for that. Matt Hart would have thrown me in jail if I’d gone to them with something that preposterous.

My first order of business when I was elected in 2011 was to create a special division to stop public corruption. I hired Matt and Alice, and staffed them with a half-dozen former FBI agents as investigators and told them to follow the truth wherever it leads. They removed Sumter County Sheriff Tyrone Clark from office for human trafficking—the first Sheriff impeached in Alabama in over a hundred years. In all, they convicted over two dozen corrupt public officials including the most powerful one in the state, House Speaker Mike Hubbard. That resulted in our budget being zeroed out by the legislature controlled by our own party. So again, we were hardly in the favor-swapping business because our own political party was stripping our funding. Plus, to drop the governor’s investigation in exchange for the appointment, I would have had to get prosecutors like Matt and Alice to agree to it. That’s an insult to that entire unit whose very mission was fighting corruption.

To that point, Representative Ed Henry told Yellowhammer,

No one believes that Luther ever said “give me this job and I’ll make your investigation go away.” The issue with Luther is we all knew he had enough to indict Robert Bentley. So, by Luther taking that meeting, it was kind of like he’s got this metaphorical loaded gun on his hip. Sure, he may not have ‘pulled it and pointed it at him’ by asking for the appointment, but if you’re the unarmed guy, you don’t stop thinking about this loaded gun that this man can and will use if he has to. Does that affect the way you view the situation and the decisions you ultimately make? You better believe it does.

I asked Senator Strange if he simply asked Bentley for the appointment in that late-December meeting, and again, he said no.

No. When Jeff [Sessions] said he was going to be the next U.S. Attorney General over a month earlier, I made a formal announcement that I was running for his Senate seat. I was already out running, regardless of who he was appointing to that seat. When the governor asked me if I’d accept it if he offered it, I told him I would, but I never asked him for the seat. I also told the governor that it was of utmost importance if he did appoint me that he must appoint someone to take my place who had the integrity and courage to keep that public corruption unit going, and Steve Marshall has obviously done that. In fact, that’s the same unit that prosecuted Governor Bentley, as I said earlier.

State Representative Paul Beckman, an attorney who serves on the Alabama House Judiciary committee and was heavily involved in Bentley’s impeachment investigation, views it much the same as Ed Henry.

Look, no one is saying this was illegal; it’s a matter of ethics. Luther’s office was in the middle of a criminal investigation of Bentley, so it just doesn’t look good for Bentley to turn around and appoint the man who’s investigating him. He took the appointment under questionable circumstances, and that took the decision out of the hands of the people. The undecided voters in this election represent a larger group than normal and I think that’s one reason why. You have to do what’s right and instead of waiting for it to play out, Luther created the stigma that now hangs over him.

The other significant issue surrounding Strange’s appointment happened nearly two months earlier. By late October, the news of Bentley and Mason’s affair had been known to the public for several months. The House Judiciary Committee was investigating Bentley as part of a possible impeachment proceeding for his misconduct. To that end, the Committee had hired a special counsel, Jack Sharman, to head their investigation.
On November 1, Strange and his team met with state legislators about their impeachment investigation at the legislators’ request. In that meeting, Strange said his team expressed concerns that the House investigation would hurt their criminal investigation. As he told Yellowhammer,

We didn’t want to mess each other up, so they said they’d wait till our investigation played out. But they were under pressure from their membership to do something so they said, ‘If you don’t mind send us a letter to that regard.’ It was just procedural, so they could avoid our key witnesses that might be testifying in front of a grand jury and we didn’t want to jeopardize that process.

Two days later, Strange wrote the follow-up letter asking the House Judiciary Committee to pause their investigation of Bentley. That letter read, in part, “I respectfully request that the Committee cease active interviews and investigation until I am able to report to you that the necessary related work of my office has been completed.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Jones, who was at the meeting, seemed to think pausing was the right thing to do. In his news release at the time, he stated, “As I said at the first meeting on the Articles of Impeachment, this committee would work cooperatively with other investigating agencies and today’s action testifies to that…We are temporarily suspending activity at the attorney general’s request, but we are not abdicating our responsibility. Everything the committee has done remains in effect.”

To this, Rep. Beckman said that while he respects Jones’ decision, he didn’t see the conflict. “First, the Committee never voted on this ‘pause for the cause’ idea. The AG’s office was pursuing a criminal matter, and we were pursuing a civil matter, an ethics violation. So, I disagree with the premise that the two investigations were conflicting. It wasn’t until Ed Henry had the courage to stand up on the House floor and point out that we were failing to do our constitutional duty by sitting back and waiting that we resumed the impeachment investigation. Once we restarted, Jack Sharman’s findings that played a big roll in Bentley’s resignation.”

Strange also pointed out that after he was in the U.S. Senate, Ellen Brooks was handing the A.G.’s investigation and she also asked the House Committee to pause, over her concern of double jeopardy. “The point is,” Strange said, “it’s not uncommon for prosecutors to ask for such a pause to protect the integrity of their investigation.”

To cut to the core of the issue, I asked Strange if he asked the legislative committee to pause the Bentley case so Bentley could appoint him to Sessions’ seat. Following is his reply:

No, that’s impossible. The meeting with the legislators was a nearly week before the presidential election and two weeks before Trump’s announcement that Jeff would be his new AG. Virtually every poll said Hillary Clinton was going to win the election. When I agreed to the legislators’ request for a meeting and sent the letter two days later, neither I nor anyone else knew Donald Trump was going to win the election and appoint Jeff. To suggest I delayed it to get Jeff’s Senate seat means I would have known what was going to happen two weeks in the future. Also, as I pointed out earlier, that theory would have required the participation of Matt, Alice and the public corruption unit, and that would have never happened.

Rep. Beckman doesn’t dispute the fact that Strange had no way of knowing who’d win the presidential election, but he says that doesn’t matter.

Of course, he didn’t know if Trump would win, but that’s not the issue. Luther Strange was in a great position—he had absolutely nothing to lose by delaying Bentley’s investigation, regardless of who won the presidency. If Trump won, we all knew Jeff Sessions would get appointed to something…everyone knew that his Senate seat would be vacant. So it’s reasonable to conclude that Luther was thinking that if he delays the investigation and Trump wins, he has a great shot at Sessions’ Senate seat. Or, if Trump loses, he can stretch the Bentley investigation out until just before the 2018 governor’s election, then get a conviction on Bentley, and he looks like a hero and he becomes governor. He had a strong card to play either way. All of this is just my personal opinion, but Luther had time on his side, with nothing and to lose, regardless of how the presidential election turned out. He was holding all the cards.

Strange said if that were true, he would have been the one to ask for the November 1 meeting. But as he points out, it was the legislators who reached out to him, not the other way around.

My team and I met with the legislators because they asked for the meeting. They sought us out, so Alice Martin, Matt Hart, and I met with them. This included House Judiciary Chairman Mike Jones, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon and a few others. We were being responsive to them, and as Mike Jones indicated, we expressed our concerns in an honest attempt to preserve the integrity of the investigation. The bottom line is, they would have never gotten a letter from us asking for a pause if they hadn’t come to us and asked for the meeting in the first place.

In the final analysis, it seems no one seriously believes Luther Strange broke any laws or arranged any sort of back room deal. Those with strong opinions seem to fall into one of two camps: one group believes his acceptance of the appointment was unethical and that he should have waited until this special election to run, removing any appearance of wrong doing. Others believe he did what any of the others Bentley interviewed would have done if they’d been asked to go to the U.S. Senate: accept the appointment and enjoy the advantage of running as the incumbent.

In two short weeks, the voters will have their say in the matter. On August 15th, we’ll then find out if there will be a Republican primary runoff or if one candidate will emerge as the Republican nominee to face the Democrat (likely Doug Jones) in the fall.

8 months ago

Senator Shelby Weighs In on Transgenders in the Military

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Although he wants to see more facts to further evaluate the situation, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) appeared to support the inclusion of all willing people in the U.S. Military during a Wednesday afternoon interview on CNN.

“You ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve,” Shelby said on CNN’s Newsroom.

CNN’s questioning stemmed from President Donald Trump’s announcement of a ban on transgender individuals in the U.S. Military. The president made his declaration Wednesday morning in a series of tweets.

Shelby reiterated throughout the several-minute segment that he would like to carefully evaluate the new policy. However, he did note that it appeared to be a shift from traditional U.S. protocol.

“That would be a reversal of the current policy,” Shelby said. “The current policy is a big tent for people who want to serve. You’ve got to remember, our military force is a voluntary force. I’ll have to see what he actually said, read his tweet and go from there.”

Shelby clarified his statements with Yellowhammer, expressing confidence in and deference towards our nation’s military but said that the door should be open for all capable individuals to serve in the armed forces.

“We are a nation at war. I am confident that Secretary Mattis and DoD leadership can and will evaluate current personnel policy that will enable us to recruit, train, and equip an all-volunteer force,” he told Yellowhammer. “Any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet those standards should have the opportunity to do so.”

8 months ago

Alabama Delegation Staunchly Defends Sessions & Giuliani Says The A.G. Got it Right

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

With a relationship with the White House that is quickly turning sour, Attorney General Jeff Sessions received strong backing this morning from a longtime ally on Capitol Hill: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

“During the past twenty years that I have served with Jeff Sessions in the Senate, I have had the opportunity to know him well. He is a man of integrity, loyalty, and extraordinary character,” Shelby said in a statement. “I join the people of Alabama in giving him my deep respect and unwavering support.”

Other members of Alabama’s Congressional Delegation have expressed their support for Sessions as well. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2), who has long considered Sessions a mentor, came out vigorously defending his character.

“I know Jeff Sessions to be a man of great character and sound judgment. His decision to recuse himself was the right thing to do, not just for himself, but for the Administration,” She said. “This country needs Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. We have done more to crack down on illegal immigration in the last six months than in the past eight years. We are addressing problems like violent crime and human trafficking. Congress finally has a partner at the Department of Justice who is willing to enforce laws as they are written.”

When it comes to the president, however, the hits just keep on coming. Early this morning, President Donald Trump tweeted two new attacks on his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, this time criticizing him for being “very weak” on investigations surrounding Hillary Clinton.

Evidence of Trump’s frustration became public last week when he attacked Sessions in a New York Times interview over the Attorney General’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

“Sessions should have never recused himself. . . And if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told the New York Times. “If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair and that’s a mild word.”

The attacks continued on Monday, with Trump taking a jab at the Department of Justice and calling Sessions “beleaguered.”

Axios has reported that the president is openly considering the possibility of replacing Sessions with another long-time Trump ally. West Wing sources told the news outlet that Trump is so unhappy with Sessions that he wants to swap him for fellow New Yorker Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City Mayor strongly supported Trump throughout the 2016 campaign.

Later Monday evening, Giuliani told news outlets he was not being considered for AG and that Sessions “made the right decision under the rules of the Justice Department” regarding recusal.

Trump’s new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, seemingly confirmed that Trump wants Sessions gone in a radio interview with conservative host Hugh Hewitt. When asked directly whether or not the president wanted sessions out, Scaramucci replied, “If there’s this level of tension in the relationship that, that’s public, you’re probably right.”

Sessions has been one of Trump’s closest political allies since before Alabama even held its primary. Sessions was the first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump and then served in an advisory capacity for his campaign until his victory. Fox New’s Tucker Carlson recently highlighted this relationship on his primetime program and called for the president to stop attacking “one of the very few” friends he has in Washington.

Despite the whirlwind of pressure, Sessions said late last week that he will continue to serve “as long as that is appropriate.

8 months ago

Brooks Takes Heat for New Campaign Ad From Congressional Shooting, Provides Response

As most everyone remembers, earlier this summer on an otherwise peaceful mid-June morning, a group of Republican Congressmen were practicing for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia when a deranged gunman opened fire, seeking to kill the Republicans as part of a political vendetta.

Thanks to the bravery of 2-person security detail for Congressman Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), countless lives were saved. Five people were injured in the incident, including the gunman, two Capitol Police officers, Congressman Scalise, one congressional staffer, and a lobbyist. Mr. Scalise remains in the hospital from the serious wound he sustained from a bullet to his hip.

Two of Alabama’s Congressmen were on the field that day—Congressmen Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer. Given their positions in relation to the shooter, it’s a miracle that neither of them was shot. Both men did all they could to avoid carnage and assist their wounded friends. Congressman Brooks came to the aid of the injured staffer, using his belt as a tourniquet on the young man’s leg until medical help arrived. Needless to say, everyone is grateful the lives of our Congressmen and many others were spared.

Fast forward six weeks and Alabama is headed down the back stretch of the primary in the special election for the U.S. Senate seat, which Brooks is seeking. (That primary election is three weeks away, on August 15th). As part of his campaign, Congressman Brooks has released a new TV ad (see YouTube video below) that calls attention to his actions that dark June day. Advocating the 2nd Amendment, actual gun shots and screams from the Alexandria shooting can be heard before an excerpt of the post-shooting plays.

Brooks’ Republican colleague, Congressman Steve Scalise, received the most severe wounds in the shooting and his staff has viscerally reacted to Brooks’ ad. As Scalise’s Chief of Staff, Brett Horton Tweeted:

The day of the shooting, while waiting at the hospital, I avoided the news/audio/video as much as possible. This makes my stomach turn.


In response, Brooks said,

First, we’re in a campaign for the U.S. Senate. Everything you do gets criticized. It makes my stomach turn too. I experienced it. It ought to make every American’s stomach turn, but that doesn’t change that it happened and it’s the truth.

Similarly, NBC’s Alex Mo Tweeted,

Spox (spokesperson) for injured GOP Whip Steve Scalise tells NBC News about new ad: “I guess some people have their own ideas about what’s appropriate”

Brooks replied to this as well, noting:

That’s a fair statement; it’s what all of us do in America on a regular basis. The setting for all this is important. Luther Strange has been running ads on the second amendment in heavy doses. Further, the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms is always important in an Alabama election. This ad was the best ad that we could think of that concisely, in 30 seconds, shows my commitment to the 2nd amendment right to bear arms. It’s not staged. It’s real. After enduring a shooting in which over 100 bullets were fired, the media hoped to catch me at an emotional moment in which I would disavow the importance of the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Instead, even though I’d just been through a violent shoot out, I surprised the media and reaffirmed that the 2nd Amendment is the Amendment that protects all other rights we enjoy as Americans.

One of Brooks’ opponents in the Senate race, Republican Trip Pittman also criticized the ad, stating:

“The ad released today by Congressman Brooks is disappointing. I was shocked that he would agree to capitalize on the Alexandria tragedy for political gain. The video represents everything that is wrong in our political culture, where common decency is lost in the pursuit of votes at the ballot box. Rep. Steve Scalise and the others who were seriously wounded in the shooting are still recovering from their injuries, and I pray that they will make a full recovery. I will always stand for our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, but we must be careful not to sensationalize tragic events.”

To this, Brooks responded,

That’s absurd. It’s not made up. It’s the truth. It’s factual. And it does not capitalize on the shooting in any way, shape or form. The focus of the ad and the entire message of the ad is the interview I gave after the shooting. There is nothing in the ad in which I comment on what I did on behalf of the wounded during the shooting itself.

National media is also commentating on the ad. As The Hill points out in its article, Brooks told FM 99.5,

“If you noticed my speeches at these public events, I never bring up that event. If I’m asked about it — as you know, when I’m asked about most anything — I will respond to the question. But I don’t bring it up.”

To this, Brooks responded:

The focus of the ad is not on the event or my conduct helping the wounded during and after the shooting. The focus of the ad is on an interview that happened after it all ended. That is the message. It would be one thing if i were bragging about my conduct during the shooting itself. That has been avoided altogether.


8 months ago

Time Is Running Out for Alabamians to Register to Vote in Upcoming Special Election

The race to replace U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate is in full swing, and Alabamians that want to participate in the electoral process must ensure they are registered by the end-of-the-month deadline. With the primary elections taking place on August 15, the official cutoff for voter registration is July 31.

Alabamians can check their registration status on the Secretary of State’s website. A new window for registration will open up before the General Election, which will take place on December 12.

Both the Republicans and Democrats face crowded primary fields. In the GOP, Bentley-appointee Luther Strange is trying to keep the seat, while Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL5), former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, State Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), Randy Brinson, Bryan Peeples, James Baretta, Joseph Breault, and Mary Maxwell are battling to take it away. The Democratic Primary features former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, activist Michael Hansen, Will Boyd, Vann Caldwell, Jason Fisher, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Charles Nana.

Even after registration, Alabama voters are still subject to the state’s voter ID law. Upon checking-in at their precinct, voters must present one of the pre-approved forms of identification, such as an Alabama driver’s license. If someone does not have one of the approved forms of ID, he or she may apply to get one from the state for free.

Alabama voter registration and turnout hit near-record levels in 2016. Last November’s voter turnout was the third highest in the state’s history at 61.97 percent. The highest voter turnout ever recorded occurred in 2008, when it hit 72.8 percent.

8 months ago

Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks Calls for the Senate to End the Filibuster Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In light of the recent failures of U.S. Senate Republicans to roll back President Barack Obama’s liberal policies, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL5) is calling for the upper chamber to abolish the filibuster rule.

The filibuster is a procedural rule in the Senate that allows for minority members to block or stall legislation they oppose. First used in 1837 and strengthened in 1975, a legislative filibuster can only be broken by invoking cloture, which requires 60 votes. Republican Senators, such as Rand Paul, used the tactic under the Obama Administration, and now Democrats are doing the same to stall President Donald Trump’s agenda.

“Our Republican Senate majority is killing our conservative agenda, our Republican agenda, and President Trump’s agenda. The murder weapon is the Senate filibuster rule, an archaic accident of history created during the days of horse and buggy, and slavery,” Rep. Brooks said on the House floor this morning.

Over the past several years, Democrats and Republicans have changed the rules to limit when the filibuster can be used. Such a tactic — which only requires a simple rather than a super majority — has been dubbed “the Nuclear Option.”

On November 21, 2013, Democrats instituted a rule change lowering the requirement for cloture to only 51 votes for all debates on executive and judicial nominees (excluding Supreme Court nominees). During the recent struggle to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, Republicans struck back by applying the same rule to Supreme Court nominees. The traditional filibuster is still in place for debates over Senate legislation.

Brooks, who wants to be the latest Alabamian to represent the state in the Senate, believes the historical scale has always tipped in the Democrats’ favor.

“In the past 90 years, Republicans have not had a single filibuster-proof Senate while Democrats enjoyed filibuster-proof senates in the 1930s, the 1960s, and in 2009,” he said. “In those years, Democrats passed ObamaCare and forced Great Society welfare programs on us that busted our budgets, destroyed the work ethic, broke up American families, and threaten America with a national insolvency.”

To the North Alabama Representative, the issue is a timely one instrumental to ensuring the passage of Trump’s agenda. Like Brooks, Trump is a strong opponent of the filibuster, and he has taken to Twitter to express his frustration.

“Now is not the time to play procedural games,” Brooks said. “I agree with President Trump. Senate: end the filibuster!”


8 months ago

Gloves Come Off in Alabama Congressional Races Over Who Was With Trump in 2016

President Elect, Donald Trump, LAGOP Rally, December 9, 2016, Dow Hangar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tammy Anthony Baker, Photographer
President Elect, Donald Trump, LAGOP Rally, December 9, 2016, Dow Hangar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tammy Anthony Baker, Photographer

As the 2018 Congressional elections unfold, it seems increasingly evident that battle lines are being drawn around who supported President Trump in his 2016 bid for the presidency and who didn’t. While some camps say these campaign allegiances mean little, and others say they mean everything, there’s no denying they’ve become relevant to Alabama’s U.S. House and Senate races.

One case in point is a Politico story this week that made much of Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby’s opposition to Trump in the 2016 election, despite the fact that her district went strongly for the President. As the article stated, Roby seems to have worked hard to rebuild bridges since the election, starting with a  3:00 am Tweet congratulating Trump the night he won stating, “I’m eager to get to work.”

Those close to Roby’s campaign indicated that her relationship with the President is a good one and that the White House issued an endorsement of her “Working Families Flexibility Act.” As Politico quoted Roby spokeswoman Emily Taylor,

The White House has made it clear from Day One that it is committed to working with Congress to deliver results, and Rep. Roby has a proven track record of consistently supporting President Trump’s agenda. From being invited to NASA and VA bill-signing ceremonies, to sitting in the Oval Office to help the president build support for the Republican health care bill, Rep. Roby has enjoyed a positive working relationship with the Trump administration.

Perhaps Roby best summarized her campaign position in her quote to the Dothan Eagle last January: “Emotions run high during elections. I truly believed we were headed for defeat. That obviously turned out to be wrong, and he won. Look, I’m glad he did. The whole point was to defeat Hillary Clinton. I always call it like I see it. I did then, and I will now. I will tell you that the first week of this administration — what I have seen and heard — has been very, very good.”

Roby’s opponent in the Republican primary for Congress—State Representative Barry Moore—makes it clear that he did not get it wrong in the presidential election. As the Politico piece said, Moore, is a “Trump stalwart who has turned her [Roby’s] past opposition to the president into the focal point of his campaign.” When Yellowhammer asked Moore about his position in the presidential race, he stated:

I was a strong supporter of Trump early on and was the first state elected official to endorse him. I was with him in Mobile and Birmingham, and I spoke on the bus tour here in the Wiregrass when he came through Coffee County. And right before the inauguration, I spoke to the crowd in Mobile because I felt like we needed to thank him for giving a voice to so many Americans.

When asked why this important to the Congressional race, he continued:

I believe the President values trust and loyalty. Because I was there when times were tough, my loyalty is something he’ll never question. So I think it bodes well to have a conservative in Congress that he can rely on in the heat of battle…someone that embraced his agenda from day one and someone he knows without a doubt will help him accomplish what the American people sent him to the White House to do. That will make a tremendous difference for the citizens of Alabama. I was a foxhole friend instead of a cut and run Congressman and as I’ve said before, the President can throw the pass, but he can’t catch it too. He needs trustworthy lawmakers he can depend on when times are tough to catch those passes.

The question of Trump support in 2016 has also become a major flashpoint in the special election for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat. In that race, appointed Senator Luther Strange is facing special election primary challengers that include Congressman Mo Brooks, Judge Roy Moore, and State Senator Trip Pittman, to name a few.

On a recent visit to Montgomery, The Hill quoted Strange as saying, “President Trump is the greatest thing that’s happened to this country. I consider it a biblical miracle that he’s there.”

Strange’s campaign and related PACs have released content saying Rep. Brooks opposed Trump in the primary and failed to verify his support for the President in the general election. In response, Brooks notes that he was Ted Cruz’s state chair in the primary and was just doing his job in opposing Trump until Cruz bowed out in May. From that day forward, Brooks said he helped Trump. He sent Yellowhammer a copy of a  $2,500 check he wrote through a PAC, which he said funded Alabama volunteers getting the vote for Trump in Florida. Brooks said Strange had produced no evidence that he supported Trump and until he does so, it’s Strange that was the Never-Trumper in the election. Like Rep. Roby, Rep. Brooks also points to his voting record supporting the president as a Member of Congress.

A bigger issue is who’s supported Donald Trump in Congress. We’ve cast over 300 votes in the House since the election and I don’t know of a single vote I’ve cast that is contrary to the public request of the White House. In the healthcare debate, for example, the President called and personally thanked me for my work on the heath care bill that passed in the House. That was a tremendous event in my life. I’ve also given speeches supporting the President on the floor of the House. The question is simple: why is Luther Strange lying about my record and being hypocritical when the evidence proves I helped Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the general election and my votes, speeches ,and public remarks prove I have been one of the strongest supporters of President Trump’s agenda in Congress? The answer is clear. Alabama voters are rejecting Luther Strange’s false advertising, hypocrisy, unethical conduct, and wallowing in the swamp of special interest groups. Luther Strange has decided his only path to victory is to deceive voters by tearing down the good reputations other candidates have earned. Fortunately for America, Alabama voters are seeing through Luther Strange’s s desperate and deceptive negative attacks.

As one might imagine, Senator Strange had a different take, stating:

Career politician Congressman Brooks continues to show that he’ll say anything to win. He has yet to apologize for the deeply personal attacks he made against President Trump, calling him evil and refusing to endorse him just a few days before the November election. It’s time for Congressman Brooks to apologize to President Trump, his family and to the Alabama voters he insulted, but even that would ring hollow in the light of his willingness to speak out of both sides of his mouth.”

When Yellowhammer asked Strange to verify that he was also a Trump supporter in the campaign as Brooks has said he was, they replied, “Don’t take our word for it, ask a third party who helped Trump win Alabama to verify our role.” That third party is Perry Hooper, one of the co-chairmen of Trump’s campaign in Alabama, who released a statement today saying:

Congressman Brooks’ claim that he supported Donald Trump in the general election is a flat out lie. Not only did Congressman Brooks go on a radio show in October refusing to endorse Donald Trump, he actually refused to answer the question of who he planned on voting for in the election. Furthermore, in November he told a newspaper in the swing state of North Carolina that Donald Trump was not well suited for office and said the vote between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was a decision between the lesser of two evils. Additionally, I am proud to confirm that Luther Strange was all in for Donald Trump in my successful efforts to help Mr. Trump win in Pennsylvania and Ohio.”

Meanwhile, Alabama State Senator Trip Pittman said he met Murray Carson, the son of Dr. Ben Carson, at a campaign forum in Mobile. “I was so impressed with Murray that it swayed me to endorse Dr. Ben Carson in the primary,” Senator Pittman said. He continued,

I was moved by Dr. Carson’s strong and humble faith and his view of what it will take to restore America’s greatness—a revival of faith, family, and personal responsibility, as well as a strong economy. Obviously, President Trump was impressed with Dr. Carson too because he made him part of his cabinet soon after taking office. Anyway, as soon as Dr. Carson dropped out, he was the first presidential candidate to endorse President Trump and I followed his lead. I put my money where my mouth was with two personal campaign donations to Trump. For a businessman like me, it was very refreshing to see the party nominate a businessman like Donald Trump. Our country is in the midst of a real political revolution, and President Trump’s election confirms that. He was written off by elites on both sides of the aisle, but at the end of the day, he persevered and was successful. Unlike some of the candidates in this U.S. Senate race, I don’t just pay lip service to support his candidacy. I have the records to prove it. But at the end of the day, all that truly matters is that we now have an opportunity to change the course of people’s lives for the better. The first order of business is to start freeing them from big government.

Candidate Roy Moore also weighed in on his position:

Obviously, politicians running for office will say or do anything to get elected. I’m not going to say who I voted for in the primary, but I supported Donald Trump in the general election, and I accepted an invitation to speak at his inaugural prayer breakfast at Trump Towers on January 20, 2017. At that event, I said believed Donald Trump was elected president by providential design. Having said that, this Senatorial campaign is about one’s stance on the issues, and my positions line up with the President’s across the board from health care reform to immigration reform.

Whatever one makes of who was with the President in his 2016 bid for the White House and who wasn’t, it’s pretty clear that everyone wants to be associated with him now. What’s also clear is that most Republicans now realize—however late or early they came to do so—that Donald Trump gave a sense of empowerment to millions of frustrated Americans who felt they’d been overlooked and forgotten. That includes some 1.3 million Alabamians (63% of those in the state that voted in the presidential campaign), and those are 1.3 million registered voters these candidates are hoping to swing their way as the summer campaigns grow hotter.



About the Author: Larry Huff is Yellowhammer’s executive editor and you can follow him on Twitter @LHYellowhammer


9 months ago

This is No Time to Take a Break

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (Photo: Facebook)

(Opinion by Senator Luther Strange)

As June comes to a close, Alabama’s schools have let out, and summer is in full swing. Students have turned in final projects and taken final exams, earning a well-deserved chance to catch their breath. But in Congress, there are several projects left unfinished, and adjourning for the annual August state work period would mean putting a hold on the promises we made to the American people. It’s time to deliver.

For the past five months, my colleagues and I have worked to confirm President Trump’s cabinet and begin rolling back the regulatory wet blanket that weighed on Alabama’s families and small businesses for eight years under the Obama administration. We guided the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a generational chance to renew reverence for the Constitution and the rule of law.We have laid a foundation for rebuilding America’s military and begun to address the pressing crisis of border security and illegal immigration.

That leaves us with just 33 working days to tackle some of the biggest issues facing our nation. This is no time to take a break. We have to make good on the promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare, which continues to limit coverage choices and drive premiums through the roof for Alabama families.

After eight years, Alabamians do not deserve to be told they need to wait a little longer for health insurance coverage that actually means access to care. We have to work with President Trump to reform the tax code to let American families keep more of their hard-earned paychecks and to create a business climate that welcomes job creators and innovators. Small business owners across the state of Alabama know all too well that the status quo is not acceptable.

We have to come to an agreement to fund the federal government before the end of the fiscal year on September 30th. Spending responsibly is just common sense for Alabama families on a budget. It is time that common sense made it to Washington. The American people didn’t elect Republican majorities to say “we tried.” They did it because they know that conservative solutions have the potential to make America great again.

Alabamians didn’t ask for the best Congress could do under the circumstances. They expect results. They expect to be able to save a little of their paycheck instead of watching more and more of it go to a health insurance policy they can’t actually use. They expect to see their communities grow and thrive as job creators come to stay, and to be able to leave their children better-off than they are. I expect that my colleagues will rise to the occasion and plan on staying at work this August.

The stakes are too high to let tradition get in the way of the challenges our nation faces today.

9 months ago

Jeff Sessions crushed his Senate hearing on Trump and the Russia investigation

Guest Opinion by Quin Hillyer

Attorney General Jeff Sessions acquitted himself quite well in testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The focus on Sessions, in relation to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, always has been absurd. He has told no lies; he has done nothing wrong; he has no involvement as either target of the investigation or conductor of it. (The only apparent earlier discrepancy between Sessions’ statements and actions always was easily explained as confusion stemming from a rambling, less-than-clear question several months ago from Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.)

Indeed, Sessions has been caught unfairly in a crossfire between Democrats and media out for blood, on one hand, and a self-absorbed and mercurial president, on the other.

From the former camp, several Democrats on the Intelligence Committee were outlandishly rude, hectoring, and obnoxious in questioning Sessions Tuesday without giving him the courtesy of listening to his replies or even giving him time to reply. On the latter front, if reports are true that President Trump remains furious at Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, then Trump is both ignorant and way, way out of line.
As Sessions made clear by quoting specific Justice Department rules, the attorney general not only was absolutely right to recuse himself from the Russia investigation but also was duty-bound to do so. Despite what the conspiracy-mongers imply, that obligation applied for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with his involvement with any of the matters under investigation. And despite what Trump appears to believe, the recusal did not make it more likely — indeed, it could have made it less likely, if Trump had kept his mouth and Twitter finger stifled — for the Russia investigation to more thoroughly engulf the administration.

In the midst of all the breathless fulminations from both sides, Sessions was a model of decorum. He was cordial and respectful, but firm and unyielding; he was as forthcoming as possible on all matters on which he thought he was rightly allowed to be forthcoming, and also quite open about why he could not be forthcoming on others.

(When he said he felt obligated not to discuss private advice he gave to the president, he also made clear that the obligation was only conditional and limited, just so as to retain the president’s legal rights for the short-term until a decision on “privilege” could be responsibly reached. At least for the immediate purposes of this hearing, Sessions is indisputably correct: A temporary retainer of the rights of the executive is what any executive official owes the president, until the White House and its counsel can consider the legal ramifications.)

“I think Jeff Sessions helped himself quite a bit,” said John King on CNN just after the hearing ended.

King continued by saying that Sessions particularly came across well in explaining that in effect he had recused himself from the Russian investigation some two weeks before he formally announced his decision to do so. Knowing that recusal might be required, Sessions showed integrity by taking the extra step of anticipating the recusal so as not to compromise either himself or the investigation in the meantime.

King is right. Everything Sessions did was in concert with both the letter and the spirit of the law and of internal Justice Department rules.

This is exactly to be expected from the Eagle Scout and longtime prosecutor: firm adherence to and respect for the law and, more broadly, for propriety.

Plenty remains to be learned about how Russia tried to interfere with our elections, and how successfully. But it won’t be learned by concentrating on Jeff Sessions: The Alabaman was, and is, completely out of that particular loop.

About The Author: Quin Hillyer (@QuinHillyer) is a former associate editorial page editor for the Washington Examiner.

9 months ago

Former Alabama EMA Director Confirmed as New FEMA Administrator

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate Confirmed former Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long as the new Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator on Tuesday, making him the latest of many people with Alabama connections to serve in the Trump Administration.

FEMA is tasked with coordinating responses to disasters that occur within the United States that are too overwhelming for state and local resources to handle on their own. In the last fiscal year, the agency’s budget was $13.9 billion.

Originally from North Carolina, Long came to Alabama in 2008 to serve as Gov. Bob Riley’s (R-Ala.) EMA Director. Among his chief accomplishments were developing the state’s response to H1N1 Influenza and serving as State Incident Commander for the Alabama Unified Command during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Long worked for a private emergency management consulting company before he was tapped by the president for FEMA on April 28. He previously served as Statewide Planner and School Safety Coordinator for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and as FEMA’s Hurricane Program Manager.

“The combination of his work for FEMA, state emergency management, and the private sector makes Brock Long well suited for this nomination by the president. Because of his experience, Brock understands it is the work done before a storm that saves lives,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said on Monday.

The final floor vote in favor of Long’s confirmation was 95-4. The only no votes came from liberal Democrats Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).

Trump has taken to placing top Alabama power players into key positions in his administration. Among those with Alabama ties to receive federal positions since the inauguration are Jeff Sessions (Attorney General), Stephen Miller (Senior Advisor for Policy), Stephen Boyd (Assitant Attorney General), Cliff Sims (Director of White House Message Strategy), Spencer Bachus (Export-Import Bank Bank Board), and Kevin Newsom (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit).

9 months ago

Hear Alabama’s U.S. Senatorial Candidate’s Debate in Oxford Tuesday Night

For Immediate Release – June 16, 2016

The Calhoun County Republican Party is hosting a U.S. Senate Republican Candidate this Tuesday night

Candidates for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Luther Strange—to which he was appointed when Jeff Sessions became the U.S. Attorney General—will participate in a debate at the Oxford Civic Center Tuesday, June 20th, at 6:00 p.m, cat 6:00 p.m

Participating Candidates include former State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, Dr. Randy Brinson, Congressman Mo Brooks, and Alabama State Senator Trip Pittman.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to host this event, as this is such an important election,” Calhoun County Republican Party Chairman James Bennett said. “This is a great accomplishment for our local party and for our community.”

Panelists with diverse areas of expertise will query the candidates. These panelists include:

• Former Congressman Dr. Glen Browder Professor Emiratis Jacksonville State University.
• Lt Colonel Brian Reed, U.S. Army Retired, former faculty member West Point
• Dr. William Lester, Professor Political Science, Jacksonville State University, Fulbright Scholar and published author
• Larry Huff, Executive Editor of Yellowhammer News, statewide online publication

Radio personality Jay Holland will moderate the debate

Security will be provided by the City of Oxford Police Department and the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department. For more information, contact James Bennett at 256-239-3150, or Larry Sims (256) 343-1941.

9 months ago

Coalition of African-American Pastors Founder Endorses Roy Moore for U.S. Senate

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Rev. William Owens, the founder and President of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, has endorsed former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in the state’s U.S. Senate race. Owens showed his public support for Moore in a photo posted on Twitter featuring his family at an event for Moore.

In a tweet of his own, Moore thanked Owens and his group for backing his campaign. “Beautiful family! Thank you!” Moore wrote. “Honored to have the support of the Coalition of African-American Pastors!”

Moore elaborated on the endorsement for Yellowhammer and noted its significance in the fight for biblical causes. “I am honored to have the support of my friend Reverend Owens and the Coalition of African-American Pastors,” Moore said. “For over 20 years his organization has helped mobilize pastors in the African-American community to get involved in the important battles of our day, standing up for Godly principles and strengthening families. It is important, now more than ever, that we send someone to Washington who will stand up to the political establishment and for the people of Alabama.”

According to its website, the Coalition of African American Pastors, USA is a movement of evangelical Christians who support restoring the role of religion in American public life, protecting unborn children, and returning marriage to an institution between one man and one woman. It is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Roy Moore’s record in public life is one of a staunch social conservative. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Moore from the bench in 2003 when he refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, despite orders from a federal court to do so. After returning to the bench in 2013, he was again removed by the same court for an order he issued to state probate judges instructing them to violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

10 Republicans have officially declared their candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R). In addition to Moore, the final list of GOP contenders includes James Beretta, Joseph Breault, Randy Brinson, U.S. Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5), Dom Gentile, Mary Maxwell, Bryan Peeples, State Senator Trip Pittman, and sitting U.S. Sen. Luther Strange.

Party primary elections will be held on August 15, with a possible runoff on September 26. The general election is set to take place on December 12.

9 months ago

BREAKING: AG Sessions to Testify in Open Hearing Before the Senate’s Intelligence Committee

Sen. Jeff Sessions during a Fox News interview (Photo: Screenshot)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, marking his first Congressional testimony since his confirmation in February. Sessions’ testimony follows the appearance of former FBI Director James Comey before the same committee, and some senators will likely grill their former Alabama colleague regarding alleged contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.

The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CST.

In early March, Sessions recused himself from current or future investigations regarding the Trump campaign. “I think I should not be involved in an investigation of a campaign I had a role in,” he said.

Sessions has repeatedly denied allegations of improper contact with Russians. “I never had a meeting with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries during the campaign,” he said.

As Yellowhammer reported in March then-Senator Sessions did meet with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak while the campaign was going on, but he maintains those meetings were part of his duties as a U.S. Senator on the Armed Services committee, and had nothing to do with his campaign. His first exchange with Kislyak was following a speech to foreign ambassadors at the Heritage Foundation and the second was when Kislyak and about twenty other ambassadors visited Sessions’ office. Nevertheless, Democrats claim these meetings contradict Sessions’ testimony in his confirmation hearings, while Sessions adamantly states that he was fully honest during the course of his confirmation hearings, pointing out that his discussions with Kislyak were not related to campaign activities.

Sessions spokesperson Sarah Flores told the Washington Post that there is a difference between campaign and normal senatorial activity. “He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee,” She said.

The Attorney General backed up his original assertion again during a March appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press. “I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign and those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false,” he said. “And I don’t have anything else to say about that.”

Ultimately, Sessions amended his original testimony regarding an answer he gave on the issue to Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). “I did not mention communications I had had with the Russian ambassador over the years because the question did not ask about them,” Sessions wrote.

10 months ago

Alabama Congressmen react to Comey testimony

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a much-anticipated hearing, former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday regarding his firing and the investigation of President Donald Trump.

“The administration chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly run,” Comey said. “Those were lies, plain and simple.”

Although Comey strongly criticized his former boss, he did testify to many facts that counter narratives forwarded by the political left. Under oath, he said that Trump did not ask him to stop the Russia investigation and said that he did not find contact between members of Trump’s campaign and Russian officials to be unusual.

Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, Comey refused to answer numerous questions with answers that could upset the efforts of special counsel.

Being the landmark event of the week on Capitol Hill, many members of the Alabama Congressional Delegation weighed on the Comey Spectacle.

Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) has been impressed by the style of the investigation so far, but he does not buy the liberal narrative that Russians or the actions of the FBI put Donald Trump in office

“Since day one, the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with the Justice Department, has been handling the allegations about Director Comey with transparency and professionalism, and today’s hearing shows they’re continuing to do so,” Strange said. “The American people elected Donald Trump as President. Not because of what the FBI director said or did last year, but because he understood their concerns and had a plan to make America great again. I’m working with his administration to do just that.”

On the other hand, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) is sick and tired of the media’s absurdity in its coverage of the Russia story. “Today’s testimony by James Comey was more of a media circus than any sort of productive hearing,” Byrne said. As I have said before, we should allow the investigatory process to play out and stop trying to litigate this issue in the national news media. We should follow the facts and the law and nothing but the facts and the law.”

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL3) agrees with Byrne and even went as far as to call the allegations against the administration false. “In November, the American people rejected the liberal media elite and the politics of personal destruction to elect Donald Trump president. Despite this, the Democrats and liberal media elite are relentless in attacking the president with false allegations in an attempt to stop his agenda,” Rogers said. “To date, there is no evidence of collusion between President Trump and the Russian government during the November election.”

Robert Aderholt (R-AL4) was most struck by what Comey did not say in his testimony. “[Comey] did not reveal how the Russians and/or the Trump campaign convinced Mrs. Clinton’s campaign to completely ignore the mathematically critical states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin during the last months of the 2016 campaign,” Aderholt said. “Simply put, anyone would be concerned about the Russians or any foreign country trying to involve themselves in American elections. But I think it is equally important to note that they did not affect the outcome. That belongs to the candidates.”

This article will be updated as more statements are released.

10 months ago

Sen. Strange on Fox: let sanctuary cities pay for the border wall

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (Photo: Yellowhammer)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One of President Donald J. Trump’s key campaign planks was his promise to build a wall on America’s southern border with Mexico. Although popular, estimates for the project have been costly, and Americans have debated how to pay for it ever since. On Tuesday’s edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) discussed his new bill that provides a simple answer to that very question.

Instead of raising new taxes to pay for the wall, Strange wants to funnel taxpayer dollars away from sanctuary cities and towards the president’s project. “Our simple solution is that if you’re not going to comply with the law — we are a nation based on the rule of law — then we’re going to use that money to build the wall,” Strange told Carlson. “You just won’t get it.”

Strange’s bill is titled “The Securing the Border and Protecting Our Communities Act,” and it is cosponsored by Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). “They can either follow the law or fund the wall,” Strange said.

In addition to punishing sanctuary cities, the proposed legislation also seeks to help contractors located within them, which have been prevented from bidding for contracts on Trump’s wall project.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are over 100 so-called sanctuary cities in the United States. The jurisdictions, which by their definition limit cooperation with state and federal authorities, are often in violation of federal immigration law.

10 months ago

YHRadio: Roy Moore discusses his candidacy for U.S. Senate

US Senate Candidate Roy Moore Spoke with Scott Chambers, Andrea Tice and Chris Reid. Moore discussed his positions and what he would do if elected to the US Senate.

Moore said he would not attack his opponents, he would let his record speak for itself. He understands he has detractors but wants the voter to make up their minds on the other candidates.

10 months ago

South Alabama lawmaker surprises with last-minute bid for U.S. Senator

Sen. Trip Pittman, Chairman, Senate Education Budget Committee
Sen. Trip Pittman
Sen. Trip Pittman, Chairman, Senate Education Budget Committee

Alabama politics is nothing if not full of surprises. On the final day of qualifying for the special election for Alabama’s U.S. Senate race previously held by Jeff Sessions, and now held by Luther Strange, one contender–State Rep. Ed Henry of Hartselle–suddenly dropped out, while another unexpected candidate emerged. Now, Mobile-area State Senator Tripp Pittman is preparing a statewide campaign for U.S. Senate.

Pittman, who kept mum about running for the post, said that he had been considering making a move for the seat, but held back making a final decision until others he respected decided
against running. He filed his paperwork on the final day of qualifying for the race.

“I felt like the people, the citizens of Alabama deserved the opportunity to have a competitive race,” Pittman said. “We should let them decide who they think the best person is to represent them in the Senate.”

When asked about Senator Luther Strange’s support from the powerful National Republican Senatorial Committee, Pittman took a shot at the D.C. establishment.

“I think if Luther’s already acting like an incumbent after a few months, what’s going to happen after a few years?” he said. “At the end of the day, the Washington crowd loves inside baseball. They want to control every aspect of what happens in the Senate.”

Pittman says his campaign will aim to reflect his conservative record in Alabama. He points to his effort to reduce the power of liberal special interests like the Alabama Education Association, who lost strength in the State House after the passage of a tenure reform bill that he sponsored in the Senate. Other matters that will be a priority will include term limits, reducing regulations, and promoting free enterprise.

“People need to understand that to keep America great, it’s about keeping America’s economic vitality strong and realizing that liberty requires responsibility,” he said. “At the end of the day, you may not be able to change everything, but you can sure try.”

10 months ago

YHRadio: Rep. Brooks comes on air to discuss his candidacy in the U.S. Senate race

From Alabama’s 5th Congressional district, Rep. Mo Brooks joins the Yellowhammer Radio to discuss his candidacy in the U.S. Senate race. Congressman Brooks believes his proven conservative leadership record is what sets him apart from the other candidates.

10 months ago

Exclusive: Congressman Mo Brooks Declares Candidacy for U.S. Senate

Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)

Congressman Mo Brooks, who currently represents Alabama’s 5th Congressional district in the Tennessee Valley of North Alabama told Yellowhammer in an exclusive interview this weekend that he’s declaring his candidacy for the United States Senate. Congressman Brooks officially announced his candidacy earlier this morning on the Dale Jackson Show for the upcoming special election, which kicks off May 17, when qualifying ends.

Governor Ivey set this special election to fill the seat previously held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. After Mr. Sessions become Attorney General, former Governor Robert Bentley appointed Senator Luther Strange to the seat, which he presently holds. Governor Ivey scheduled the primary election for August 15, followed by a run-off on September 26, and the general election on December 12.

Following is my conversation with Congressman Brooks in which he declared his candidacy (with my questions in bold and his answers in plain font):

Congressman, can you start by telling Yellowhammer’s readers why you’ve decided to run for the U.S. Senate? Certainly. I’m running for the United States Senate because the Senate has been a major barrier to solving America’s greatest challenges. Senate rules are antiquated, resulting in artificial barriers that thwart the majority will of the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as that of the President. More importantly, these arcane Senate rules thwart the will of the Americans citizens who elected the House, Senate, and President. It makes no sense that a Senate minority can grind the entire United States Senate to a halt, thereby inflicting so much damage on America.

What distinguishes you in this race Congressman Brooks? I offer one thing no one else offers: honest, proven conservative leadership. While other candidates may claim the conservative mantle, I am the only candidate who has a long-term voting record that proves I not only talk the conservative talk, I also walk the conservative walk.

Can you please share with us what issues you think are most important in this election? America faces many major issues the Senate must address:

First, we’re facing a tremendous financial crisis. America is burdened with a $20 trillion national debt and a $600 billion annual deficit (the difference between our government spending and revenue). Washington’s financially irresponsible leadership places America at risk of a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy that threatens to destroy what it took our ancestors more than two centuries to build. In Washington, we must have elected officials who possess the intellect and economic understanding, as well as the backbone, to make the hard choices it will take to minimize America’s risk of suffering from a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy. For those who don’t understand how bad things can be when a central government goes bankrupt, I encourage them to read about the plight of Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Greece. Many in Washington foolishly believe America is somehow exempt from basic economic principles. That belief is both false and extremely dangerous.

Second, a grave threat to America is our lack of proper border security. While I realize the President is taking action that helps, much work remains. In particular, our porous borders jeopardize both our physical security and our economic stability. Specifically, illegal aliens are taking jobs from American workers and suppressing their wages because of the sheer millions of them who’ve entered our labor force. This flood of illegal workers artificially suppresses incomes for hard-working Americans who are fortunate enough to have jobs.

Can you please share what you’ve you done to address this issue as a U.S. Congressman? Sure, Larry, I’m happy to. I have a proven track record in support of border security.  By way of but one example, NumbersUSA and other well-respected border security groups acknowledge that in my six years in Congress, I have a perfect 100% score and record on border security issues and on protecting American workers from the huge surge in the illegal alien labor supply.  Jeff Sessions departure from the Senate left a huge border security void in the Senate.  My border security record as a Congressman establishes that I have the understanding and determination needed to address this problem and protect American jobs for American workers.

Are there any other issues you’d like to address? Yes, there are many, but one additional one that’s a top priority is the continuing battle between free enterprise and liberty, on the one hand, and socialism and higher taxes, on the other hand. My economics education and background have taught me one thing that’s very clear: free enterprise is the path to prosperity, while socialism is the path to decline and poverty. Yet, despite an overwhelming economic history that proves that free enterprise works while socialism fails, we have countless Democrats in Washington who foolishly believe that socialism is a good economic model, despite the fact that it’s never worked in any nation that’s ever tried it, in the history of humanity.  America needs U.S. Senators with the intellect, economic understanding, and backbone who will stop Socialist Bernie Sanders dead in his tracks, before America, too, falls victim to the sweet but false and dangerous siren song of socialism.

Thank you for articulating those issues Congressman Brooks. At the top of the interview, you said you have a record of proven, conservative leadership. Can you please provide some specifics in that regard? Sure, I’d be delighted to. There are several highly reputable national organizations that track every vote a Congressman casts, and then they rank us based on our votes. I’m honored by the recognition these groups have given me that prove my conservative leadership. For example:

  • • During the last session of Congress, Heritage Action (the political wing of the Heritage Foundation) ranked me, as one of the Top Ten Best Congressmen on issues involving the “principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”
  • • Over the past six years, the American Conservative Union ranked my record in the top 20% of all Congressmen, with an overall A-Grade during the last session of Congress, on issues relating to “liberty, personal responsibility, traditional value, and a strong national defense.”
  • • Over the past six years, the National Taxpayer Union has ranked my record at the top of the Alabama Congressional delegation, tied with Congressmen Bradley Byrne and Gary Palmer, on issues relating to “tax relief and reform, lower and less wasteful spending, individual liberty, and free enterprise.”
  • • Over the past six years, Club for Growth has ranked my record in the top 20% of all Congressmen on “economic policies that strengthen our nation’s economy and shrink the size of the federal government.”
  • • Finally, I’m a proud member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of intellectual conservatives who both understand public policy and its cascading effects and have the backbone to defend conservative principles no matter the pressure to do the wrong thing. By way of example, in the recent fight over health care, it was the House Freedom Caucus that refused to fold and vote for a health care bill that, according to evaluations by both the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, would have raised health insurance premiums over the next two to three years by 15-20% over and above expected ObamaCare increases!  Working as a team, the House Freedom Caucus forced changes that are estimated to significantly cut health insurance premiums, not raise them.  In sum, my record establishes that I have the backbone and public policy understanding needed to fight for the foundational principles that have made America the greatest nation in world history.

That’s quite a record of conservative achievement. Thank you for sharing that with us. One last question, many times in major elections like these, there are extensive discussions among voters and pundits about the candidates’ “electability.” Aside from the fact that you’re already a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, can you tell our readers why you think you have a good chance of winning this race? Since I began public service, I’ve been a candidate in nine re-elections: three as a state legislator, three as a county commissioner, and three as a United States Congressman. In each of those races, I’ve won every contested general and primary election by a margin of at least 30 percent or more. That’s probably the best endorsement I have of my job performance as a public servant, and if the voters give me an opportunity to be their U.S. Senator, I think they’ll like the work I do for them.

That’s quite a margin of victory. How can our readers learn more about your campaign? My website is simply MoBrooksforSenate.Com.

Thank you, Congressman Brooks. It was a pleasure to speak with you today and good luck in the race. Thank you, Larry, and thanks as well to your readers at Yellowhammer News!

11 months ago

Former U.S. Attorney declares candidacy for U.S. Senate

Former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones announced on Wednesday that he will be running for Jeff Sessions’ former U.S. Senate seat, becoming only the second Democrat to declare. Jones gained prominence in the legal community following his successful prosecution the Ku Klux Klan members behind the killings of four African-American girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963.

Jones was appointed to serve as the U.S. Attorney in the Birmingham area by President Bill Clinton in 1997. During his time in the office, he worked on cases involving the the Sixteenth Street bombers and abortion clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. He holds a B.S.from The University of Alabama and a J.D. from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. Currently, Jones works in private practice at the firm Jones & Hawley P.C.

In a letter to the Associated Press, Jones said state-level political corruption inspired him to seek public office. “Alabama has been embarrassed enough the last few years by political leaders who have not been leaders at all,” Jones wrote. “Instead of listening to the concerns that each of face every day, like jobs and wages, adequate and affordable health care and first rate educations for our children and grandchildren, they have played on our fears and exploited our divisions for their own self interests.”

On the Republican side, Sen. Luther Strange, Roy Moore, Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle), businessman Dom Gentile, and Randy Brinson of the Christian Coalition of Alabama have already declared. For now, the only other Democrat running is Ron Crumpton.

According to Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R-Ala.) declaration, the deadline for candidates to enter the race is May 17. Both Republicans and Democrats will hold their primaries on August 15, and the general election will be held on December 12.

11 months ago

Birmingham businessman joins Alabama U.S. Senate race

United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Birmingham businessman Dominic “Dom” Gentile became the latest contender for Jeff Sessions’ former U.S. Senate seat on Tuesday when he announced he would be pursuing the Republican nomination. The 52 year old has never held political office, and he currently owns a commercial cleaning business with offices from Birmingham to Huntsville.

“I have never run for political office before. I owe nothing to anybody, and I’m not beholden to any special interests,” Gentile told “I will tell it like it is and I will support the people of Alabama regardless of whether it’s popular in Washington.”

His platform includes the support for a federal flat tax, balancing the federal budget, pro-life legislation, building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and ending the “monopolistic behavior” of insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield .

With Gentile’s entry, the race for the Senate seat just got even tighter. On the Republican side, Sen. Luther Strange, Roy Moore, Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle), and Randy Brinson of the Christian Coalition of Alabama have already declared. For now, the sole Democrat running is Ron Crumpton.

According to Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R-Ala.) declaration, the deadline for candidates to enter the race is May 17. Both Republicans and Democrats will hold their primaries on August 15, and the general election will be held on December 12.

11 months ago

Trump nominates Alabama judge for Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald J. Trump nominated Birmingham’s Kevin Newsom to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on Tuesday, making him the latest Alabamian to receive a prestigious appointment from the current administration.

The Eleventh Circuit has jurisdiction over Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and it is currently based in Atlanta, Ga. Of the court’s 12 active judges, four are from the Yellowhammer state. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Newsom will fill the seat of Judge Joel F. Dubina from Montgomery, Ala.

Newsom works as a partner and appellate attorney at the Birmingham firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. Throughout his career, he has argued 35 cases at the federal appellate level and four in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also served as Alabama’s Solicitor General for three and a half years. Newsom holds a B.A. from Samford University and a J.D. from Harvard University, and he clerked under U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter for two years.

In addition to his normal legal work, the 45 year-old attorney sits on the Board of Overseers of Samford, and he is a member of both the Federalist Society and the American Law Institute.

Alabama’s senators, who will have the opportunity to vote on Newsom, are both excited about the nomination.

“Kevin Newsom is an exceptional choice for this high honor. I am confident that his strong principles will enable him to apply the law in a fair and just manner,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said. “President Trump has made the right decision in selecting Kevin to sit on the Eleventh Circuit, and I believe he will prove to be an asset to our nation’s judicial system as a federal judge.”

Junior Senator Luther Strange (R-Ala.) shared in his colleague’s enthusiasm. “It’s exciting to watch Alabama take such a strong role during the Trump presidency, and the President has certainly made the right choice in nominating Kevin Newsom to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals,” he said. “His experience will help bring common sense to the bench and have a positive impact on our judicial system for years to come.”

Trump has taken to placing top Alabama power players into key positions in his administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions served as one of Alabama’s U.S. Senators for 20 years, and one of his top aides, Stephen Miller, also now works closely with the president. He also selected Alabamian Stephen Boyd to be the next Assistant Attorney General. Yellowhammer founder and former CEO Cliff Sims works for the president as the White House’s director of message strategy. Earlier this month, Trump announced his selection of Spencer Bachus, former congressman for Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District, to serve out the remainder of a four-year term on the board of the Export-Import Bank.

11 months ago

Battle Lines Are Drawn in Alabama’s U.S. Senate Race

A fierce battle erupted this week in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race and the cannon fire is echoing nationwide.

On one side is the U.S. Senate Republican’s campaign arm, the NRSC, and its close ally, Super PAC Senate Leadership Fund, both working to keep Luther Strange in the U.S. Senate. On the other side is the Republican President Pro Tem of the Alabama Senate, Del Marsh, who’s contemplating a run against Strange this summer.

A quick background: this winter, when Jeff Sessions left the U.S. Senate to become the country’s Attorney General, former Governor Robert Bentley appointed Strange to fill the vacant seat. Before long, Bentley resigned and Governor Kay Ivey set a special election for the seat on August 17. When other Republicans, like Marsh, said they might run against Strange, lines were quickly drawn in the sand.

The first shot across the bow was from the NRSC, who made it clear that any campaign consultant who works for anyone but Strange will be blackballed.

Marsh traveled to D.C. this week to have a face-to-face with the NRSC in hopes of changing their mind. As he told the Montgomery Advertiser: “All I would ask is that they let Alabama choose its senator…They said ‘Well, we protect our incumbents.’ I said ‘Well, I don’t consider Gov. Bentley’s hand-chosen senator to be the incumbent. I think the people will choose that in an election cycle.”

Clearly, the NRSC didn’t change its mind, and this whole debate is about whether or not Strange’s appointment to the Senate entitles him to be treated as the incumbent.

The facts are, Strange is the sitting U.S. Senator who was appointed by the Governor, as the law prescribes. Strange was also Alabama’s Attorney General at the time of his appointment and he was investigating the Governor who appointed him. Moreover, about three months before his appointment, Strange asked the House Judiciary Committee to suspend its impeachment investigation of Bentley. Strange said the reason for this request was so the House investigation wouldn’t compromise his own investigation. In a letter to the House Committee handling the impeachment he wrote, “I respectfully request that the Committee cease active interviews and investigation until I am able to report to you that the necessary related work of my office has been completed.” For this reason, Strange dismisses any connection between the investigation and the appointment.

Although Marsh wasn’t investigating the Governor considering the appointment, the NRSC says it doesn’t matter: his claims that Strange shouldn’t be treated as the incumbent aren’t valid. They point out that Marsh was also close to Bentley and if Marsh had gotten the appointment, he’d want to be viewed as the incumbent too. As Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) spokesman Chris Pack put it, “A lot of people in glass houses are throwing stones in Alabama, and they will quickly realize that this won’t be going unanswered.”

Giving teeth to his warning, the Senate Leadership Fund has asked Governor Ivey for a record of all correspondence between Marsh and Bentley. Clearly, if Marsh plans to use Bentley against Strange, the D.C. PACs will likewise attempt to use Bentley against Marsh, and their opposition research is underway.

“This request is for records and information relating to correspondence, records of meetings… telephone calls…and any other records and information relating to communications between Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Senator Del Marsh,” SLF lawyer Steve Saxe, stated in his request to Ivey.

Making this issue even more interesting is the fact that Marsh hasn’t even declared his candidacy to run against Strange. Other Republicans who have announced include State Representative Ed Henry and former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore. However, Marsh is an influential figure backed by considerable business-community wealth, so it’s apparent that Strange’s campaign perceives Marsh as their biggest threat.

As Republican strategist Austin Barbour told Politico: “Look, Del Marsh is a serious human being. He’s accomplished a lot of things. I’m sure there are a lot of people in the business community as well as Washington who are making decisions between Luther Strange and Del Marsh.”

Clearly, Marsh’s influence back home hasn’t given pause to the NRSC or the Senate Leadership Fund. As NRSC’s communications director Katie Martin said: “We have made it very clear from the beginning that Sen. Luther Strange would be treated as an incumbent.”

On that point, there is no longer any doubt. As Marsh said, “I’ve been told pretty straightforward that a lot of money will be spent by Washington to ensure Luther Strange stays as Gov. Bentley’s picked senator.”

In three and a half months, this war will be over when the voters get their chance to speak. In the meantime, bullets will fly in a race that will take untold millions to win, and this week’s cannon fire is an early skirmish that will pale in comparison to the fever-pitch battles the long, hot summer is likely to bring.