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4 months ago

Alabama one step closer to limiting civil forfeiture, but it may not matter

The Alabama Senate moved one step closer to requiring police officers to get a criminal conviction before taking a citizen’s property, but states that have already implemented such limits have run into loophole: the federal government.

Alabama lawmakers passed their ban through a state Senate committee last week under the impression they had the authority to ban civil forfeiture in their state. New Hampshire passed a bill similar to Alabama’s in 2016, but state and local police are still managing to take property without a criminal conviction.

The federal equitable sharing program, which allows state and local police to partner with federal authorities when making forfeitures, effectively ignores state-level limitations.

“The government ought to be required to prove that criminal conviction before being able to seize stuff,” Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr told the Heartland Institute. “The idea that the government can take a citizen’s property without a criminal conviction does not sit well with most people that I discussed this issue with.”

In New Hampshire, state and local police forfeit property under the authority of the federal government, rather than the state. Despite the federal government technically being the one to take the property, the proceeds of the forfeiture cases remain with local authorities.

The federal stance on civil forfeiture is unlikely to change under President Donald Trump’s administration as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long argued the practice is essential to combating the drug trade. Most often, officers will find large amounts of cash in cars traveling across state lines and seize it under the assumption that it was ill-gotten.

The program allows police to make the seizure without charging the owner with a crime. To avoid due process concerns, authorities instead charge the property with a crime, allowing them to assume its guilt in court and put the burden of proof on the owner to show that his property was not involved in criminal activity.

Police also argue they use the power responsibly, but law enforcement often directly benefit from the funds they forfeit. Federal authorities took more than $4 billion through forfeiture in 2015, and most states allow departments to keep the vast majority – if not all – of the proceeds from the forfeitures they make. In Alabama, police departments receive 100 percent of the funds they forfeit.

North Dakota and Massachusetts are tied for the worst states in the U.S. on civil forfeiture, according to a study from the Institute for Justice. Both received an “F” from the group on the issue, but the rest of the country isn’t much better: 21 states are tied at a “D-,” including Alabama.

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37 mins ago

Rex Lumber Co. to build new facility, bring more than 100 jobs to Alabama

A lumber company is investing $110 million in a new facility in Alabama’s Pike County, bringing more than 100 new jobs.

WSFA-TV reports Rex Lumber Co. announced Tuesday at a groundbreaking ceremony that the new facility will be located 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Troy in the Harmony Community. It expects to employ around 110 people.

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Officials say the Southern Yellow Pine sawmill is expected to be operation by June 2019.

Currently, Rex Lumber Co. operates sawmills in Graceville and Bristol, Florida. They also have a site in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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About last night: Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election

With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

North Alabama has spoken.
When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

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Both candidates hail from Marshall County and both effectively energized their bases in the Fourth and Fifth Congressional Districts. This is particularly evident when you look at their margins of victory in those north Alabama counties compared to the performances of their opponents in their own base counties. Ainsworth and Marshall won big at home.

With Ainsworth and Marshall the presumptive winners in November (more on that below), north Alabama could have the Speaker of the House, the Lt. Governor and the Attorney General in positions of power.

Keep an eye on this dynamic in the 2020 race for the U.S. Senate.

Democrats?
Several months ago, a fashionable narrative developed among some that Democrats were going to move the needle in November 2018. In fairness to the delusional, much of this was borne out of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the Moore-Jones election.

However, these runoff elections are a culmination of months now during which no one is seriously talking about Democrats — let alone their chances in November.

Even the ultra-liberal New York Times, which is an arm of the Democratic Party, posted this statement as part of its updated Alabama primary election results on June 11:

“In deep-red Alabama, the Republican primary almost certainly determined the general election winner.”

Democrat candidates up and down the ballot — from Walt Maddox in the Governor’s race to Democrat legislators like Johnny Mack Morrow — will tilt at their windmills. But they won’t be able to escape Nancy Pelosi and their own party’s dysfunction.

Expect big Republican wins in November.

It’s time to change Alabama’s runoffs.
South Carolina holds their runoffs three weeks after the primary. Alabama puts six weeks between its primary and its runoff.

In South Carolina’s top race, there were only 24,000 fewer votes in the runoff than there were in the primary. That was only a 6.5% decrease.

In Alabama’s top runoff race, there was a nearly 200,000 total vote difference between the primary and the runoff. That’s a 37.5% decrease in participation. Undoubtedly, those three extra weeks, which bring the runoff deep into the summer, contribute significantly to voter apathy.

South Carolina has established an efficient process for handling military absentee ballots within its three-week runoff. Alabama should do the same.

The Yellowhammer Multimedia Executive Board is comprised of owners of the company.

2 hours ago

7 Things: Trump backtracks on trusting Putin, election results, new permanent tax cuts, and more …

1. President Donald Trump backtracks and tells an absurd lie 

— After stating he believes Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence officials, President Trump backtracked. He received intense criticism from within his own party, from Democrats and from a deranged media.

— In a statement read by the president of the United States, and believed by no one, he states, “The sentence should’ve been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.'”

2. And the winners are…

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— Attorney General Steve Marshall crushes former AG Troy King in a race that wasn’t even close.  Marshall will face former Democrat AG and Governor’s son Joseph Siegelman.

— State Rep. Will Ainsworth squeaks by in the Lt. Gov. race, barely beating the more well-known candidate Twinkle Cavanaugh to be the odds-on on favorite to win the job in November. (Quick: Who is the Democrat candidate for Lt. Gov.?)

3. New tax cuts

— A second round of tax cuts, and a move to make the tax cuts permanent, are being discussed by the White House and Congressional Republicans. The fact they expired was a major part of the complaints by Democrats on the issue.

— Democrats, who still don’t want tax cuts, have filed a frivolous lawsuit with the federal government because blue states taxes are so high and the 1st round of tax cuts capped deductions on state taxes that could be deducted.

4. Toyota CEO continues to sound the alarm on Trump’s tariffs and how they will impact Alabama

— Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama President wrote that a 25% tariff on foreign automobiles will have a devastating impact on manufacturing.

— This is exactly the argument Kay Ivey made earlier this summer when she said, “Import tariffs, and any retaliatory tariffs on American made goods, will harm Alabama, the companies that have invested billions of dollars in our state, and the thousands of households, which are dependent upon those companies for a good-paying job.”

5. After a hate-love relationship with Trump, Congresswoman Martha Roby survives in Alabama’s only real contested Congressional race

— Roby absolutely destroyed former Democrat turned Republican Bobby Bright. Bright was possibly the worst GOP primary candidate if the goal is to point out the divisions in the GOP because he has a vote for Nancy Pelosi on his resume.

— The “can she overcome talking bad about Trump?” narrative should die — it will not.

6. More details emerge about Governor Bentley’s past and present with Rebekah Caldwell Mason

— Bentley continues to deny the affair with his former aide was sexual, which really stretches the bounds of believability.

— The former governor’s love-interest is apparently still working with Bentley at his dermatology office in Tuscaloosa. She is not listed in the staff section of the website.

7. There is a silly notion working its way through the media and Democrats that anyone upset with Trump’s comments must abandon the GOP

—  A Republican Party county chairman in Ohio resigned on Monday after watching President Donald Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin, calling it a “matter of conscience”

— While this continues to be a theme, many Republicans continue to support the GOP because as I wrote for Yellowhammer yesterday, “The economy matters, the Supreme Court matters, controlling our borders matters”.

3 hours ago

Alabama officers suspended for alleged ‘white power’ gesture

An Alabama mayor says four members of his city’s police force have been suspended for making a hand gesture some say is a hate symbol.

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Jasper Mayor David O’Mary tells news outlets the four Jasper officers have been suspended and will lose a week’s pay following the publication of a photograph in the Jasper Daily Mountain Eagle on July 12. O’Mary is pictured in that photo alongside several officers, four of whom are making an upside-down “OK” sign with their fingers. He says some have claimed the gesture is meant to express “white power.”

The mayor says he arranged that photo to recognize the narcotics team following a drug bust. He says he hasn’t asked the officers what they meant by the gesture, but says they showed “poor judgment.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 hours ago

On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born

Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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Aside from it being hard to see how Bright, also a former Democratic congressman that once cast a vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House, could rally a large enough number within the pro-Trump base to unseat Roby, thinking such an outcome were a possibility ignored the local politics.

One of Roby’s strengths throughout her tenure as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives has been her ability to build relationships from Houston County in the very southeastern corner of Alabama’s second congressional district to the Autauga County in the very northwestern corner.

Beyond Montgomery where Roby served as a city councilwoman, she’s become known throughout her district. Be it Greenville in Butler County, Ozark in Dale County or Slocomb in Geneva County, she’s built a stout a network of support.

To beat her, as the past has shown, it would take more than gimmicky tactics. As an opponent, Bright was never able to demonstrate to one of the most Republican-voting parts of Alabama why he was a viable alternative other than he as a former Democrat would be a better ally to Trump.

(Trump ultimately endorsed Roby, which severely crippled the line of attack.)

Many in the media looked to Alabama anyway. Could this be another show of how dangerous it is for Republicans to attack President Donald Trump, much like what happened in South Carolina’s first congressional district to Rep. Mark Sanford?

It was not. And, deservedly, the narrative that Republican voters in Alabama are too mind-numb to make decisions based on something beyond a blind allegiance to the president died.

Unfortunately, Tuesday’s outcome may have given rise to a new equally intellectually challenged notion: “Rise up, Republicans! You can criticize Donald Trump, and it won’t cost you an election.”

These simplistic contrived notions tell us one or both of two things about those reporting on Republican politics from afar: a) They’re too lazy to look beyond the daily blow-by-blow inside the D.C. Beltway bubble and therefore have a very shallow understanding of national politics, or b) They think so lowly of voters in certain parts of the country that they’re too shallow to look beyond the national headlines and consider more than the broad narratives on laid out on Fox News or talk radio.

The how and why behind Roby’s remarkable victory had nothing to do with Donald Trump. If Hillary Clinton had been president, she probably would have won. If Mitt Romney had been president, she also probably would have won. Who was in the White House had little to do with politics on the ground in Alabama’s second congressional district.

The only reason Roby was in a runoff was that she was one of five candidates competing in a crowded Republican primary field. The reason she won Tuesday’s runoff and will likely defeat Democratic congressional nominee Tabitha Isner in November’s general election is that the people in her congressional district like the job she has done as a member of Congress.

But why let the facts interfere with an opportunity to strike some symbolic blow against Trump’s supporters, or Trump himself?

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.