PIKE ROAD — Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday attacked his opponent for connections to a failed hedge fund and made the case that he was the right choice for Alabama Republicans in next week’s primary runoff.
Sessions’ remarks came during a campaign appearance at SweetCreek Farm Market in Pike Road, a suburb to the east of Montgomery. He and his opponent, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, compete at the ballot box on July 14 to be the nominee that will take on U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.
The details of Tuberville’s involvement in a hedge fund that ended in disaster were first printed in the New York Times over the weekend.
“Either he was greedy, incompetent, naive and lacked knowledge; or he actually deliberately participated in an activity that was criminal,” Sessions said Monday about the former coach’s alleged involvement.
Tuberville campaign chairman Stan McDonald told the Times that Tuberville’s involvement in the hedge fund “was a big mistake, and he’s paid for it.”
McDonald says the coach was “as surprised as anyone” to learn that his partner in the venture, John David Stroud, was engaging in fraudulent behavior with the money in the fund.
Neither the regulating body in Alabama or Washington, D.C. that oversees hedge funds chose to charge Tuberville with a crime, though a former attorney for Stroud alleged Tuberville had knowledge of the dealings. The Times reported that the coach “was not picking stocks, or even a frequent presence in the office.” Coach Tuberville settled out of court after being sued by investors in the hedge fund and reportedly lost all of the money he invested in the venture.
Sessions also brought up a piece authored by an opinion writer at the Washington Examiner that detailed how Tuberville suspended a player for one game after the individual pleaded guilty a misdemeanor: contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The incident in question involved Auburn wide receiver Clifton Robinson allegedly having sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl while he was a 20-year-old college student. The young woman involved in the encounter was visiting her sister on Auburn’s campus.
Robinson was initially charged with statutory rape but later pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor and was sentenced to one year of probation and 200 hours of community service.
Tuberville suspended Robinson indefinitely while the charges were being prosecuted as a rape but lessened it to a one-game suspension once prosecutors lowered the charge to a misdemeanor.
Sessions believes that the one-game suspension was insufficient.
“You simply cannot place winning football games ahead of responsibilities to young girls, you can’t put winning football games ahead of teaching important life lessons to young men,” Sessions commented.
“I think he made a mistake,” Sessions said of Tuberville.
At the event in Pike Road, the former senator from Alabama continued to express his frustration with Tuberville for choosing not to participate in a debate.
Sessions alleged that Tuberville “promised Bradley Byrne and I” that he would debate if he made the runoff.
Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) took third place in the initial Republican primary for the U.S. Senate on March 3.
Yellowhammer News asked Seth Morrow, who served as Byrne’s campaign manager, about the alleged promise Sessions talked about on Monday.
Morrow told Yellowhammer that no formal agreement or promise was ever made between the three men to debate in a runoff scenario. Morrow added that he had checked with Byrne himself on Monday to make sure.
Tuberville’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment about the debate assertion. The campaign has in the past maintained that their declining to debate is a matter of prudent strategy.
Sessions continues to say that Tuberville should “come out of hiding.”
With regards to why he was the right choice for voters, Sessions pointed to his conservative record and said he had “come out of the soil” of Alabama.
Sessions argued that he was a staunch supporter of the American First agenda since before Donald Trump began campaigning for president.
He mentioned that two conservative challengers have recently beaten Trump-endorsed candidates, because in his view, those challengers were more effective than their opponents at communicating their support of the president’s agenda. Sessions believes he will be the next member of that group.
Sessions was asked if it was disappointing to be trailing Tuberville in the polls to try and represent the seat he held for 20 years.
“The voters will decide,” he responded. “The polls have often been in error.”
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95