Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead on Wednesday hammered the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government (AFLG) — which many political insiders believe is little more than a front group for the Alabama Education Association (AEA) — for potentially violating Alabama’s campaign finance laws.
Armistead said the Foundation has not registered as a political action committee or disclosed its contributors, but is running negative political ads on television, through direct mail, and has conducted at least one robocall, all containing names or images of candidates for public office. Such political advertising is strictly regulated within 120 days of an election.
“The Alabama Foundation for Limited Government is skirting state campaign finance laws by establishing itself as a non-profit while blatantly attempting to influence the outcome of elections,” Armistead said. “And they haven’t reported a dime. Not only could this be a violation of state law, it’s a shameful attempt to mislead Alabama voters.”
Huntsville-based radio talk show host Dale Jackson last week penned an op-ed detailing the group’s recent political activity, which includes a $350k ad buy. It is rare for any Alabama organization to spend that much money on political advertising, much less a little-known group like AFLG.
“As with most of these groups, we will find out who is behind this later,” Jackson said. “But we already know it’s the AEA.”
Armistead echoed Jacksons’ sentiment, suggesting that a group is simply using the non-profit to funnel its money through without having to disclose where it’s coming from.
“It begs the question, who is behind all the money being funneled through the Foundation for Limited Government?” said Armistead.
In 2010, the AEA used another front group, “True Republican PAC,” to run ads attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne, so this would not be the first time they have attempted to hide their involvement in GOP primaries.
Armistead noted that, in addition to criminal penalties, the Foundation could be subject to steep administrative fines for violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act, which was part of the sweeping campaign finance reform measures passed last year by the newly-elected Republican majority in the Legislature.
Under Alabama law, any organization that receives contributions and makes expenditures to influence elections is required to register as a political action committee and file regular financial disclosures. The Foundation for Limited Government has not registered as a political action committee with the Alabama Secretary of State’s office.
John Rice, the former state senator-turned lobbyist who runs The Foundation for Limited Government, did not immediately return Yellowhammer’s request for comment.
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