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Alabama state auditor files lawsuit to stop use of public funds to campaign for tax increases

Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler
Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler

LOXLEY, Ala. — Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), announced in a press conference Monday morning that he is personally filing a lawsuit to stop school boards from using taxpayer money to campaign for tax increases.

Zeigler claims that, contrary to an opinion from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, the state’s laws forbid the practice seen in Baldwin County this year of state employees using state resources to campaign for increased taxes to fund local schools.

The state auditor cited Code of Alabama 17-17-5(a) which reads, “No person in the employment of the State of Alabama, a county, a city, a local school board, or any other governmental agency, whether classified or unclassified, shall use any state, county, city, local school board, or other governmental agency funds, property, or time, for any political activities.”

In March of this year, the voting taxpayers of Baldwin County overwhelmingly decided not to increase their property taxes, even refusing to renew one of the taxes that already existed. It is estimated that the Baldwin County school board spent upwards of $1 million to campaign for the failed tax hike.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange issued a legal opinion earlier this year, concurring with former AGs, that the Baldwin County school board was within the law when it spent taxpayer funds on the referendum.

The AG’s office told Yellowhammer they have no comment on the litigation Monday afternoon.