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API and Yellowhammer release 2018 Attorney General Questionnaire

Candidates for public office, once elected, bring their underlying principles and perspectives on policy issues into office with them, thus defining how they govern. It is important for citizens to know and understand the candidates for which they are voting, and Yellowhammer News and the Alabama Policy Institute (API) are partnering to bring that information to Alabama voters.

Over the course of the next few weeks, candidates will be issued a questionnaire with questions ranging from political philosophy to state-specific questions on fiscal responsibility, education, and job creation. By providing an outlet for candidates to address these topics, we hope to foster a more engaged and informed electorate in Alabama.

Why are API and Yellowhammer News issuing these questionnaires?

It is a difficult task to get each candidate running for office on the same stage. When they do share a live audience, candidates are rarely given the opportunity to answer challenging policy questions.  These questionnaires provide this opportunity—one that will benefit both candidates and the electorate. This format will give candidates time to provide more thoughtful responses and will give Alabamians the information they need to cast their vote. Issuing the questions on a public platform provides accountability and transparency between the candidates and voters, which is vital to a more informed citizenry.

How will the process work?

API and Yellowhammer will release a list of questions, which will be posted on the Yellowhammer News website, on the Alabama Policy Institute website, and sent to the campaigns of each candidate. The candidates will each be allowed two weeks to respond to the questionnaire. The answers will be posted by Yellowhammer News and the Alabama Policy Institute and available for the candidates to post on their respective websites.

Last week, the questions were sent to the campaigns of the gubernatorial candidates, who were told that they have until May 11 to submit answers. On Wednesday, questions were sent to the candidates for lieutenant governor, to be submitted by May 15. As responses come in, they will be posted online.

API and Yellowhammer challenge all of the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general to answer these questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. Prior to casting our votes, Alabama voters deserve to know what their candidates believe and how they will view the issues presented to them.

As election day draws near, we look forward to receiving their responses and sharing that information with you.

2018 Attorney General Questionnaire

Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News

ACTING PHILOSOPHY

Interpreting the Law

Attorneys general are in the business of interpreting and enforcing the law.  If elected, would you see your role as Attorney General (AG) as that of an activist, with freedom to interpret the law to new situations, events, and presidential administrations, or as that of a constructionist, interpreting the law strictly through the lens of original intent?

Enforcing the Law

Are you willing to aggressively defend state statutes and policies, even if you disagree with them?

Balancing Roles

How do you plan to balance your role as chief law enforcement officer in the state with your role as chief legal representative of the state?

MANAGEMENT

Budget and Staff

The AG oversees a staff of more than 160 and a budget of over $10 million. What has prepared you to lead such a large organization and to be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars?

Prosecutorial Discretion

Given limited resources, the AG must use discretion in deciding which crimes to prosecute.  What is your overall position on the extent of prosecutorial discretion? Should prosecutorial discretion ever be used to avoid prosecuting an alleged corrupt government official?  Do you think a prosecutor ever has the right to not prosecute a broad range of accused people/crimes?

ETHICS

Code of Ethics

Both the current and the preceding AGs proposed comprehensive reforms to Alabama’s ethics laws.  The Legislature recently established a Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission “to reform and clarify the Code of Ethics”.  The AG will co-chair this Commission with the Ethics Commission Director.  Would you recommend amendments or revisions to the ethics code?  If so, what are your suggestions in doing so?

In the Office of Attorney General

While the Alabama Attorney General’s office is one of the state’s largest legal offices, it has been a common practice for AGs to outsource lucrative legal work to politically connected law firms. The firms often then contribute large sums to the AG’s campaigns for reelection or higher office. Is this an example of the AG using the powers of the office for personal benefit? If so, how will you make changes to this practice?

Ethics and Economic Development

Alabama House Bill 317 exempts certain economic developers from being required to register as lobbyists and drew heated discussion across the state this past legislative session. Is this exemption, in your opinion, as innocuous as proponents claim or likely to lead to abuse as opponents suggest?

INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS

Campus Free Speech

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently said there is “too much suppression of free and open speech on college campuses today.” Do you believe this is an issue in Alabama and, if so, how should the AG respond? 

Religious Liberty

Do you think that individuals and small business owners should be forced to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs in order to comply with anti-discrimination laws?

FEDERAL ISSUES

Federal Overreach

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott was the Lone Star State’s Attorney General, he made headlines by saying, “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and I go home.” What role should the AG take in fighting federal government overreach? Would you be willing to file suit—and use state resources—to prevent such overreach?

Immigration

Many state attorneys general have sued the Trump administration for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. On May 2, 2018, Alabama joined six other states suing to end the program permanently. In your opinion, how effective is this form of joint action and how do you plan on upholding Alabama immigration law if executive action on the federal level runs contrary?

Opioid Epidemic

According to the CDC, Alabama is the state highest-prescribed with opioids, with more prescriptions than people. Opioids are the main driver of overdose deaths and, in 2016, 756 Alabamians died from drug overdoses. As AG, how would you address Alabama’s share of this national crisis?

RULE OF LAW

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Some states are eliminating provisions that allow police to seize property without securing a criminal conviction. Would you support legislation that reforms the use of civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement and the provision that allows agencies to keep the proceeds of seized property? Why or why not?

Prison Reforms

Alabama has received national attention for the state of its prisons and a federal judge recently called inmate care “horrendously inadequate”. How would you address this issue, and do you support the use of private prisons?

Gaming

In its 2009 Cornerstone decision, the Alabama Supreme Court held that local laws in Alabama legalizing “bingo” games for the benefit of churches and other charities authorized only the old fashioned, or “traditional” game commonly known by that name.  The Court repeated itself over a half dozen times in the seven years after Cornerstone. In light of the Alabama Supreme Court’s decisions on this issue, should casinos—like the ones operating in Macon and Greene Counties—be allowed to operate as they are today?  Explain your answer in detail, including whether you consider Alabama Supreme Court decisions on matters of Alabama law to be “the law of the land.”

In 2009, the Governor of Alabama appointed a special task force to enforce the gambling laws of Alabama in the absence of any action by the then Attorney General to shut down or prosecute the operation of gambling machines in Macon, Greene and other counties.  This action by the Governor succeeded in shutting down casinos in these counties.  Should that enforcement action have been taken by the Attorney General instead of the Governor?

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows certain Indian tribes, including the Poarch Creek, to conduct gaming operations on reservation land if such operations are permitted by the law of the state in which those reservations are located. Numerous Alabama Supreme Court decisions have been written arguing that electronic machines of the nature at issue are illegal under Alabama law. Should these machines continue to be permitted on Indian reservations within the State of Alabama? If elected Alabama Attorney General, would you work with the United States Attorney General to make sure that the all gambling laws, including federal law applicable to Indian reservations, are properly enforced?

1 hour ago

Alabama sets new record for number of jobs, number of people employed

Alabama has once again broken employment and job records during Governor Kay Ivey’s tenure.

According to data released on Friday, wage and salary employment in September reached a new record high, as did the number of people counted as working, for the fifth month in a row.

“Not only are we experiencing record high employment, this month we’ve also broken another record – our economy is currently supporting the most number of jobs in history!” Ivey said in a statement. “September’s job count of 2,048,000 bypasses the previous record of 2,045,800, which was set in December 2007.”

Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington stressed that the state’s booming economy has been over-performing experts’ expectations.

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“In January, economists predicted that Alabama would see job growth of 27,000 in 2018. I’m pleased to say that, year-to-date, we’ve already seen job growth of 47,000, surpassing that prediction by 20,000 jobs, and we still have three months left to grow,” Washington said.

Wage and salary employment increased in September by 9,100, and, over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 26,800.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted September unemployment rate is 4.1 percent. This rate represents 2,117,027 people working, which is also a record high. In August, 2,112,099 people were counted as employed, and 2,082,085 were counted as employed in September of last year.

“This is the fifth month in a row that we’ve announced that more people are working in Alabama than ever before. Alabama’s businesses are hiring, Alabamians are working, and wages are rising,” Ivey added.

Average weekly earnings increased over the year by $53.82. Manufacturing weekly earnings increased by $27.18 over the year, and construction weekly earnings were up $55.08 over the year.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Republicans draw big crowd for Fairhope rally as Election Day nears

FAIRHOPE – Complacency may be a concern for Republicans in some parts of Alabama as Election Day approaches, but it isn’t as prevalent of a concern in ruby-red Baldwin County.

With several hundred on hand at Fairhope’s Oak Hollow Farms, Rep. Bradley Byrne and Gov. Kay Ivey rallied attendees that offered the impression of being engaged and motivated to show up at the polls to vote on November 6.

The event, a fish fry, was put on by the Baldwin County Republican Party and featured other candidates running for statewide office, including Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Alabama Supreme Court chief justice hopeful Tom Parker.

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Parker said it was his impression that Republicans, not just in Baldwin County, but throughout the state, were fired up based on the Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court associate justice confirmation process.

“Republican voters are so incensed post-Kavanaugh after they saw what the Democrats did and what they condone,” Parker said to Yellowhammer News. “And we’re just trying to remind the people of who they have running against the Republican officials. They are the people getting money from Soros, Planned Parenthood. They condone violence. They are advocating anarchy. And we do not need that in our judiciary. We need the rule of law and respect for law rather than judges who will bend things in order to accomplish political goals. We need people who will protect Alabama values, which are pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and pro-Constitutions.”

Parker said that Baldwin County was part of a campaign effort that included county fairs, local events and Republican events.

“All I’m hearing is anger post-Kavanaugh generated because of those Democrats who were paying to protest,” he added. “And then when they did acts of violence, they wouldn’t condemn it. They’re condoning it. That’s so uncivil and so un-American.”

Daphne native Matt Simpson, the Republican nominee for the State House District 96 election, who is heavily favored in his contest against Democratic nominee Maurice Horsey, explained that having Gov. Kay Ivey making an appearance in Baldwin County generated excitement.

“We’re excited,” Simpson said. “Anytime we can get the governor in this area in south Alabama, we’re excited. We expect a good turnout in Baldwin County. Baldwin County is a very red county, one of the reddest in the state. We think the voters of the area are motivated. We think there’s going to be an opportunity for people to show just how motivated they are to support Republican principles and to make sure we keep Republicans in office.”

Simpson also echoed what Parker had said about the so-called Kavanaugh effect, noting that the backlash against the Democratic Party’s tactics would be on display when Baldwin County voters head to the polls.

“I think complacency has taken a backseat,” he added. “The Kavanaugh hearings have really fired up the Republican base. I think you saw what Democrats will do once they get in power and how they will try to take power from Republicans through the lies and the smears that they’ve done. And I think people are excited to show that’s not how we run things. That’s not what we want as a general public. We want our voice heard, and we won’t accept that type of behavior.”

Simpson said the I-10 bridge was the biggest issue on the minds of Baldwin County voters given its impact on the local economy, tourism and residents’ way of life. On the national level, he said Baldwin County voters were firmly in support of President Donald Trump given the success of the economy and how Trump’s leadership showed that if free market principles were implemented, the economy could flourish.

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

4 hours ago

Public Policy Foundation: ‘Amendment 4 would save Alabama taxpayers millions’

The Alabama Public Policy Foundation (APPF) issued a press release on Thursday in an effort to educate voters about the virtues of voting “yes” on Amendment 4 on the November 6 general election ballot.

Rosemary Elebash, an APPF board member and state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), explained that the amendment would save Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars by eliminating costly special elections when a regularly scheduled election is already imminent.

“Under current law, the governor must call a special election to fill legislative seats vacated due to death or resignation, even if there are only a few months remaining in the term,” Elebash outlined. “Each legislative special election costs from $90,000 to $900,000 per county, based on the number of voters and polling locations. These sometimes occur when candidates already have qualified for the next general election or when the Legislature is not scheduled to meet again before the end of the term.”

APPF noted that money spent on late-term special elections could be used for other services important to Alabama taxpayers. In addition to the wasteful cost, Elebash said back-to-back balloting can create fatigue and confusion for voters.

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“In recent years, we’ve seen candidates win special elections and immediately begin campaigning for a regular primary election a month or two later,” she said.

Amendment 4 would allow Alabama Senate and House of Representatives seats to remain open if vacated on or after Oct. 1 of the third year of a four-year term. The longest a seat would remain vacant would be 14 months. The amendment only applies to these state legislative seats, and the governor would still be required to schedule special elections for vacancies occurring earlier in a term.

You can read the objective Fair Ballot Commission’s explanation of Amendment 4 here.

APPF is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization “created to promote educational, social, financial and economic policies to enhance the well-being of Alabama citizens.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Kay Ivey: Walt Maddox ‘misguided’ on calls to expand Medicaid

FAIRHOPE – Gov. Kay Ivey isn’t necessarily buying into the notion that the expansion of Medicaid could be a win-win for Alabama, as her Democratic opponent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has portrayed it.

Medicaid expansion has been a key component of Maddox’s campaign, and it has been something Republican lawmakers have resisted given its potential future cost to state taxpayers.

Thursday night, before taking the stage at Baldwin County’s Oak Hollow Farms for a political rally, Ivey fielded questions from reporters, one of which dealt with the expansion of Medicaid.

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She expressed her support for quality health care, but described Maddox’s push as “misguided.”

“It’s important that we have the availability of quality health care for our people,” she said to Yellowhammer News. “That’s for sure. But at the same time, we’ve got to be sure we’re doing all we can with the Medicaid program, and nobody has come up with how we’re going to pay back the high cost if we expand it. So, I think my opponent is misguided again.”

In recent weeks, Maddox has been pushing Medicaid expansion on his bus tour of Alabama, and on Thursday, his second TV ad began airing across the state that doubles down on the proposal.

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

6 hours ago

7 Things: Illegal immigration argument in the WH, libs complain about pot enforcement costs, Maddox demands Ivey prove his smear, and more …

7. 2020 is definitely underway, with Sen. Kamala Harris proposing a straight-up giveaway to every person making less than $100,000 a year.

— Sen. Harris says she wants to provide Americans whose wages haven’t increased a “basic income” to “keep up with cost of living increases.”

— The proposal has absolutely no chance of becoming law, but this is more about her appealing to the Democrat base before she enters the primary for President.

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6. As Canada legalizes marijuana, a new report tells how much marijuana costs Alabama.

— The Southern Poverty Law Center is claiming the enforcement of pot laws cost the state $22 million dollars a year, clogs up forensic labs, and as a kicker, they also claim that drug laws are racist.

— Madison County District Attorney dismisses the claims of racism and says law enforcement is just doing their jobs, “I can tell you law enforcement officials on the street do not care what color you are, they do not care whether you’re a man or a woman, if you’re breaking the law, they’re going to address it.”

5. Nick Saban endorses an old friend in West Virginia; Alabama liberals want him to endorse Walt Maddox here.

— Sen. Joe Manchin’s campaign in a red state looked to Saban, a native son and life-long friend, for a boost to swing voters in the state President Donald Trump won big.

— Every election year people wonder if Nick Saban will wade into Alabama politic; he never does even though some people fake it.

4. A Speaker Nancy Pelosi would make you pay if you disagree with her; an Alabama Democrat won’t support her if she is elected.

— Former Speaker Pelosi knows there is a good chance she will get her hand on the gavel again, and if she does there may be some pain. Pelosi said, “If there’s some collateral damage for some others who do not share our view, well, so be it, but it shouldn’t be our original purpose.”

— In what is becoming a bit of a ploy for Democrats looking to distance themselves from the national Democratic Party, Mallory Hagan who is running for Congress in Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers 3rd District, has declared she isn’t voting for Pelosi. Hagan said, “Sixteen years is too long for Mike Rogers and too long for Nancy Pelosi.”

3. George Soros involvement in Alabama elections is not as complicated as some are pretending.

— After a report that George Soros donated $200,000 to Tuscaloosa PACs this week, PACs that have given Mayor Walt Maddox $600k+ overall this cycle, people are equivocating, saying the PACs donated to Ivey in the past.

— The fact is PAC funding is a mess, the pass-through process is a joke, but the idea that Soros is giving Ivey money is comical deflection that no one with any scruples would try to make and Ivey’s response is perfect: “Bottom line is [if] George Soros puts $200 [thousand] in Alabama elections, for sure it’s not for conservatives like I am.”

2. Phase two of “The Governor is sick” rollout is underway, Maddox allies allege a cover-up, and he then demands it be explained.

— Phase one of this sad charade included revisiting a previous smear that Governor Kay Ivey is secretly-ill, but adding a twist of a grudge-holding former state employee who is also Maddox’s friend.

1. There was a shouting match at the White House over the plan to actually enforce our borders.

— White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton got into an argument over a proposed policy to step up border enforcement in the lead up to the election. Trump sided with Bolton and threatened to send the military to the border to stop a caravan of future illegal aliens.

— Trump’s threats of military action and cutting foreign aid payments have apparently pushed Mexico into attempting to stop the flow at their southern border; they are sending federal police and reaching out the UN for help.