The Wire

  • More Americans watched the royal wedding than the Alabama-Georgia national title game

    Excerpt from WSFA:

    Nielsen reported 29.2 million Americans tuned in to 15 channels to catch a glimpse of the American actress marrying Europe’s most popular prince.

    Numbers in the United Kingdom were about 18 million. That’s down from the 24 million Britons who watched the last royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, according to CNN. The audience in the United States was only 23 million.

    With an extra 6 million viewers, there’s no question the new Duchess of Sussex spiked American interest this time around.

    But how does her wedding compare to TV ratings for other major events?

    It did not surpass Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in 2017, although it came noticeably close. Trump had a TV audience of 30.6 million.

    And the NFL’s super bowl still sits far above the rest of the field with 103.4 million viewers in 2018.

    Even so, the royal wedding topped these major TV events of the last year:

    — 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship – Alabama vs. Georgia – 16.7 million
    — 2018 Men’s basketball national championship game – Villanova vs. Michigan – 16.5 million

  • Rabid fox bites two people at Fairhope golf course

    Excerpt from WKRG:

    Fairhope Police say two people were bitten by a rabid fox at the Rock Creek Golf Club.

    The first person was bitten Sunday while playing golf. When he got out of his cart the red fox ran up and bit his leg. The golfer went to the hospital for treatment.

    On Monday morning, police say the fox bit another person. A member of the course’s ground crew saw the animal and another person was bitten in the leg trying to catch it. Fairhope Animal Control came and to the scene and took the fox away. According to a press release, “it was taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for testing, and it tested positive for rabies.  The persons bitten have been notified to seek appropriate treatment.”

    Fairhope Police are asking the public to report any strange behavior in animals. Foxes are reclusive and are rarely seen during the day, the department says. They also avoid human contact.

  • VIDEO: New Ainsworth Ad Calls For Teachers To Be Trained And Armed To Combat School Shootings

    Excerpt from a news release:

    Republican lieutenant governor candidate Will Ainsworth on Monday began airing a new campaign commercial that promotes his plan to combat school shooter situations by training, certifying, and voluntarily arming teachers.

    “Our new ad should serve as a call to action because every school shooting that takes place in another state around the country brings us one step closer to an active shooter attacking classrooms here, in Alabama” Ainsworth said. “Signs reading ‘Gun Free Zone’ are a magnet for those who wish to do harm, so we must provide teachers with the training, knowledge, and ability to defend their students with something more lethal than a ruler and a No. 2 pencil.”

    Under the provisions of legislation Ainsworth introduced during the regular session, teachers and administrators who are approved by a local school board, local superintendent, and local law enforcement director may volunteer to undergo mental health evaluation and complete thorough law enforcement training in areas like firearms safety, crisis management, active shooter engagements, and hostile situations.

    Once certified, teachers would be authorized to voluntarily “carry, possess, store, or otherwise control an authorized weapon while on the premises of a public school.” Much like undercover air marshals who are allowed to be armed on planes, the identities of armed educators will be provided to law enforcement agencies but otherwise kept confidential.
    Its script reads:

    Following the deadly school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday, Ainsworth called on Gov. Kay Ivey to convene a special session on school safety so his legislation and other needed classroom security measures may be passed and put in place during the upcoming summer break.

34 mins ago

More than 100 conservatives call for Jordan to run for Speaker

(G. Skidmore/Flickr)

A coalition of more than 100 conservatives sent a letter to House Freedom Caucus (HFC) co-founder Jim Jordan Monday urging him to throw his name in to replace outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“There must be a real race for Speaker of the House. Now. No backroom deals. A real race, starting this spring, to make every incumbent and candidate commit on the record, as a campaign issue, whether they’ll vote to save the Swamp or drain it,” the letter reads. “America needs you to declare yourself as a candidate for Speaker at once. We write to you on behalf of millions of Americans who want Congress to Drain the Swamp.”

Ryan rattled Capitol Hill in April when he announced he will retire from the House after nearly 20 years in Congress, telling reporters he wanted to spend more time with his family and pursue other opportunities.

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Two of the top House Republicans — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana — are angling for the position, but neither thought to have a guaranteed lock on the speakership.

McCarthy failed to garner the 218 required votes to become speaker in 2015, but his particularly close relationship with the president has some expecting that, along with Ryan’s full fledged endorsement, it will give him an upper hand over Scalise in the coming months.

Scalise wouldn’t rule out a potential bid for Ryan’s job but is also adamant he would not run against McCarthy, who he considers a “good friend,” he said in March.

Yet, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who is best friends with Jordan, might have the closest relationship with the president over any other member of Congress. During a speech Thursday in which Jordan appeared to preview a bid for the speakership, Jordan joked that Meadows was in the back, taking a phone call from the president, which Meadows is known to do on a regular basis.

The letter Jordan received Monday from conservatives echoes a great deal of what the congressman has said himself since Ryan announced his retirement. Namely, Jordan is adamant that Republicans need to get back to accomplishing what they promised voters during the 2016 election cycle, like dealing with immigration, border security, repealing and replacing Obamacare and stopping out-of-control spending.

Jordan’s response to questions about the speaker’s race have been the same since the day TheDCNF first reported the growing wave of support for his candidacy: there is no speaker’s race, and we need to focus on the issues.

Conservatives are pushing back against Jordan’s assertion that there isn’t an ongoing race to replace Ryan.

“To those who say there is no Speaker’s race at the moment, we say that it’s already underway – in back rooms, behind closed doors, and aimed at preserving the Swamp and making it bigger. The Speaker’s race must be public.  There will be no Republican Speaker in 2019 unless the GOP can appeal to those Americans in its own ranks, among independents and even many Democrats who voted for Donald Trump to drain the Swamp and for the current Republican-led House to help him do that,” the letter reads.

“The present House Republican leadership has failed. It is part of the problem. You are the solution. This is your moment.  We pray you will seize it, knowing that if you do, we will do everything we can to help you succeed.”

The HFC is no stranger to putting leadership on notice.

Jordan, Meadows and HFC members shot down a farm bill in order to secure a vote on an immigration proposal they were promised months ago.

Ryan and McCarthy huddled with Meadows and Jordan in the back of the House chamber before the final gavel Friday, but their 11th-hour attempts were unable to sway the conservative members.

The bill failed with members voting 198-213, dealing a decisive blow to leadership.

Friday’s vote is evidence the HFC has the leverage to sway major policy issues, given the power of the caucus’ 36 members’ votes. If the caucus votes as a coalition, they can kill a bill or get concessions from leadership.

Many believe Jordan’s bid would be to get concessions from either McCarthy or Scalise, but Ryan still has the rest of the year as speaker. That is, if he isn’t pressured to step down earlier.

McCarthy’s folks are reportedly nervous about the potential heat he will take in a drawn out speaker’s race if Ryan decides to stay through the November midterm elections, which he has promised he intends to do.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

2 hours ago

Hightower runs for Alabama governor on flat tax, term limits

State Senator Bill Hightower (R-Mobile)

State Sen. Bill Hightower is stressing his background as a businessman as he runs for governor on a sweeping platform of government overhauls that includes term limits for legislators and replacing the state income tax code with a flat tax.

The Mobile Republican says he believes long-serving politicians have become the “enemy of improvement” in Montgomery.

Hightower’s platform includes limiting legislators to three consecutive terms, establishing a flat tax income tax and ending budgetary earmarks. Legislators would have to approve the measures.

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Hightower is challenging Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in the June 5 Republican primary along with evangelist Scott Dawson and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

A relative newcomer in state politics, Hightower was first elected to the Alabama Senate in a 2013 special election.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 hours ago

‘Party Like It’s 1776’ theme too offensive for school prom

(Pixabay)

A New Jersey high school principal apologized Friday for a “Party Like It’s 1776” theme at prom.

Dr. Dennis Perry, principal of Cherry Hill High School, posted on his Twitter feed an apology for the theme printed on prom tickets, calling the decision “insensitive and irresponsible,” reported Fox News.

“I especially apologize to our African American students, who I have let down by not initially recognizing the inappropriateness of this wording,” Perry wrote in a statement.

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To make up for what he deemed an indiscretion, the principal said students would not need to bring their prom tickets in order to get into the event — they would instead only need to state their names to be matched up with a list of who bought tickets. Cherry Hill High School would also give every student attendee a “commemorative” ticket displaying a new design at the prom. Perry stated that a “diverse group of people” would review information distributed by the school prior to its dissemination, in the future.

Lloyd Henderson, president of the Camden County NAACP East Chapter, saw the incident indicative of a school culture “where African American students’ needs are not considered along with the rest of the school,” but mentioned that he appreciated Perry’s speedy response.

Cherry Hill High School made headlines in February when it suspended social studies teacher Timothy Locke after Locke told students to remember him if he died defending them during a school shooting.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

5 hours ago

Alabama boy drowns in rough surf along Florida’s Gulf Coast

(Pixabay)

A 5-year-old Alabama boy died after getting caught up in rough surf on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The News Herald reports Christian Doyle of Dothan, Alabama, was one of three swimmers pulled from the water off Panama City Beach on Saturday evening. Officials say single red surf warning signs were flying at the time, notifying beachgoers of the poor conditions.

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Panama City Beach fire rescue crews and a bystander performed CPR on the boy, but he died a short time later at a hospital.

The conditions of the other two swimmers, who were also from Dothan, were not immediately available.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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6 hours ago

Trump: Hire America also means helping former inmates get work

(WH/ YouTube)

President Donald Trump’s Hire American plan includes helping former inmates find gainful employment, he said Friday at the White House Prison Reform Summit.

“When we talk about our national program to hire American, this must include helping millions of former inmates get back into the workforce as gainfully employed citizens,” the president said. “At the heart of our prison reform agenda is expanding prison work and the programs so that inmates can reenter society with the skills to get a job.

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“We also want more mental health services so released inmates can cope with the challenges of life on the outside, and some of those challenges are not easy. We’re developing more effective drug treatment so that former prisoners can remain drug-free,” he said.

“Prison reform is an issue that unites people from across the political spectrum,” Trump said, adding, “Our whole nation benefits if former inmates are able to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.”

He said over 62,000 inmates are released from mostly state prisons, and they struggle to find a job, stay off drugs, and “avoid old habits that lead them back to a life of crime, back to prison.”

“Drugs are playing a tremendously big role in our lives — in so many lives — not only having to do with prisoners, but having to do with people that never thought they’d be addicted, that never thought they’d have a problem like this, that are having a really hard time coping — drugs. We’re doing a big, big job on drugs. It is a scourge in this country,” the president said.

“In this effort, we are not just absolving prisoners of their central role in their own rehabilitation. There is no substitute for personal accountability, and there is no tolerance for those who take advantage of society’s generosity to prey upon the innocent,” Trump said.

The president said he supports prison reform efforts, and he pledged to sign prison reform legislation that clears Congress.

“As we speak, legislation is working through Congress to reform our federal prisons. My administration strongly supports these efforts, and I urge the House and Senate to get together — and there are a lot of senators, a lot of Congress people that want to get this passed — to work out their differences. Get a bill to my desk. I will sign it, and it’s going to be strong, it’s going to be good, it’s going to be what everybody wants,” Trump said.

A bipartisan prison reform bill backed by the White House cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The FIRST STEP Act (H.R. 5682), sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries,” provides for programs to help reduce the risk that prisoners will recidivate upon release from prison, and for other purposes.

The bill authorizes the Bureau of Prisons to spend $50 million a year for five years on job training and education programs to reduce recidivism. It also clarifies current law to allow inmates up to 54 days of credit for good behavior each year. It was previously interpreted to allow only 47 days a year.

The bill also has the support of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Several Democrats – Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) – wrote to their fellow Democratic lawmakers Thursday urging them not to support the bill, spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, because they say it is “flawed” and doesn’t include sentencing reform.

(Courtesy CNSNews.com)

7 hours ago

Inmate escapes from Alabama prison for elderly and sick

(AL DOC)

Authorities say a 61-year-old old inmate has escaped from Alabama’s prison for elderly and sick prisoners.

A statement from the Department of Corrections say Davis Curtis Wood was wearing only white boxer shorts when he fled the Hamilton Aged and Infirmed Center on Monday morning.

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The medium-security prison in northwestern Alabama is reserved for inmates who are elderly or have special medical needs.

Wood is serving a life sentence for burglary. He was sentenced in Mobile County in 1994.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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8 hours ago

Storms leave damage scattered across Deep South

Storms that moved across the Deep South left damage scattered across three states.

The Storm Prediction Center says high winds toppled trees and power lines in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia on Sunday.

No serious injuries are being reported, but a storm ripped the roof off a business in the north Alabama town of Hazel Green near Huntsville.

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Falling trees and limbs damaged several buildings in central Mississippi, and a gas station canopy fell on to a car in metro Atlanta.

Forecasters say additional storms with strong winds, heavy rain and intense lightning are possible Monday from Louisiana to Georgia. The weather service isn’t predicting severe weather for the region.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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9 hours ago

Truck drives off bridge, plunges into Alabama river

(The Gadsden Times/YouTube)

A search is resuming Monday for a truck that drove off a bridge and plunged into a river in Alabama.

Gadsden Fire Chief Steve Carroll tells news outlets that witnesses reported the truck plowed through a guardrail on the Meighan Bridge on Sunday afternoon and went into the Coosa River.

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Carroll says crews have an idea of the vehicle’s general location and initially believed they had found it, but hadn’t. The search was suspended overnight and was scheduled to resume at 7 a.m. Monday.

Carroll says search crews are in recovery mode. It’s not known how many people were inside the truck. No details about the truck’s make or color have been released.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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10 hours ago

Jimenez holds on to win Alabama Regions Tradition for first major

(Regions Tradition/Facebook)

Miguel Angel Jimenez finally got to light up a victory cigar after winning a senior major championship.

Jimenez won the Regions Tradition on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions major title, closing with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. He celebrated with a big embrace from fellow Spaniard and two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who hoisted him in the air.

After a round of photos and speeches from local dignitaries, Jimenez finally got to break out the celebratory cigar.

“It’s time to have a medal in my pocket and it’s nice to be on the first major of the year,” he said.

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Jimenez held or shared the lead after every round, taking a three-shot edge into the final round at Greystone Golf & Country Club. The Spaniard finished at 19-under 269 for his fifth PGA Tour Champions victory.

“It’s been a wonderful week,” he said. “My game was amazing, really.”

Steve Stricker, Joe Durant and Gene Sauers tied for second.

It was the third time Jimenez had entered the final round of a senior major with at least a share of the lead but the first one he has pulled out. He tied for third at the 2016 Senior British Open and for second at the 2016 U.S. Senior Open.

Durant and Sauers finished with matching 69s, and Stricker shot 70.

Jimenez birdied two of the final three holes including a closing putt for good measure.

Jimenez entered the day at 17 under to tie Gil Morgan’s 21-year-old Tradition record through 54 holes. He got off to a rough start with an errant tee shot into a tree-lined area on his way to a bogey, but he never lost his grip on the lead.

Jimenez had three bogeys after making just one over the first three rounds, but easily held off his challengers late.

His approach on No. 18 landed right in the center of the green after Stricker’s shot sailed well right into the gallery. He had rebuilt a two-stroke lead with a nice birdie putt on No. 16 while Durant and Stricker each had a bogey among the final three holes to leave Jimenez with a more comfortable cushion.

Stricker and Durant both had par on the final hole while Sauers also birdied to tie them. Durant had produced two eagles on No. 18 already in the tournament but couldn’t put pressure on Jimenez with a third.

Stricker’s assessment of his own performance, including a bogey on No. 17, was that he “made quite a few mistakes.”

“Just didn’t take care of my ball, really,” he said. “I put it in some bad spots, didn’t get it up and down when I had to a few times, missed a few putts. Yeah, just didn’t have it really, didn’t play that good, but still had a chance coming down to the end.”

Jeff Maggert finished with a 64 and was joined at 15 under by Scott McCarron (67) and Duffy Waldorf (66).

Jimenez made a birdie putt on No. 16 one hole after falling into a tie with Stricker with a bogey. Durant faltered, too, with a bogey on No. 16.

“When (Stricker) made birdie and I make a bogey on the 15th, everything’s going up again very tight,” Jimenez said. “It’s time to hole a putt on 16, for me that makes all the difference.”

Stricker had two wins in his first four senior tour events this year and remains second on the money list. He has finished in the top five in each of his events.

Bernhard Langer finished five strokes off the lead in his bid to become the first to win the Tradition three straight years. He shot 66-67 over the final two rounds after a slow start.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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10 hours ago

Listen: NPR’s ‘On the Media’ features Mobile’s Africatown

(Wikimedia Commons)

A recent broadcast of National Public Radio’s “On the Media” took an in-depth look at Africatown, a community three miles north of downtown Mobile that was built by a group of West African slaves brought illegally to the United States on The Clotilda in 1860.

The episode of “On the Media” hosted by Brooke Gladstone featured Africatown resident Joe Womack, MOVE Gulf Coast Community Development Corporation president and CEO Vickii Howell, and History Museum of Mobile historian Charles Torrey.

Recently, ship wreckage was discovered in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta that some thought might have been the Clotilda. Archaeologists determined it was not the Clotilda, but that discovery has given Africatown’s future a renewed focus.

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

Chess Bedsole responds to Alabama attorney general questionnaire

Chess Bedsole and family (Chessbedsole.org)

Alabama Attorney General Republican nomination candidate Chess Bedsole recently responded to the 2018 Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News Attorney General Candidate Questionnaire. His responses are below.

ACTING PHILOSOPHY

Interpreting the Law

Question: 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?

Bedsole: Philosophically, I believe that the original intent, or original construction, of laws is paramount in interpreting laws: that laws must be applied as actually written. This belief has most recently been associated with conservative Justices Antonio Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. Accordingly, I have been a member of and worked with the Federalist Society to advance these values off and on for decades — most visibly for both Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump.  Changing the law is the job of the legislative branch, not the Attorney General. If you want to change laws, you should run for the legislature.

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Enforcing the Law

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

Absolutely. It is the job of every lawyer to advocate for their clients without regard to personal opinions. I will always work to uphold the rule of law. That stated, I firmly believe that some of Alabama’s laws need to be updated. For instance, I strongly believe we can do better at securing schools in Alabama.  I will work with the legislature to try to affect improvements to the code, even while defending existing policies.

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? 

In the recent past, the law enforcement role has taken a backseat to the legal and policy roles in the AG’s office, and we are paying the price.  In my opinion, more attention was paid to DC and Montgomery legal/policy issues than to our core crime problems. As a result, crime has exploded. Alabama is ranked number 3 among all states for murder, we have violent crime increasing by double-digit rates each year, and drug sales are off the charts, even number one in some categories. Birmingham’s murder rate has almost doubled in 3 years. We have thousands upon thousands of untested rape kits waiting at the lab for analysis.  It is critical that we provide local law enforcement with the money, equipment, training, coordination and manpower to really get crime back under control.  What we need is leadership — servant leadership. I believe that balance must be restored to the law enforcement and legal roles and that a written plan must be drafted and followed, using crime statistics, to ensure success.

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?

I have served in senior management roles in much larger but also smaller operations, with taxpayer dollars.  In the 90’s, I started my career serving as legal counsel for conservative firebrand and United States Senator Jesse Helms.  I managed a large file of his business, under budget and with success. For years as a private sector lawyer, I served with Treasurer Boozer and others on three Alabama state boards, including the 529 Board, which has grown to manage billions of dollars for college education (and is NOT related to the PACT Board or its problems). Twice in my life, I served as legal counsel for Presidential Transitions (George W. Bush and Trump), managing teams to achieve our goals under deadline and budget.  I served with President Trump for almost 2 years total (one of the longest tenures), where the operations under my purview came in under budget every single month and with taxpayer dollars in the end. Lastly, I ran my own criminal court for 5 years, where I earned a reputation for being frugal and implementing policies to save 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?

Simply put, prosecutorial discretion is the power prosecutors have over whether to bring charges, which charges, and also the severity of plea bargains and sentence recommendations. Traditionally, prosecutorial discretion in the US has been almost limitless and without review, for two good reasons:  First, prosecutors operate under limited budgets and know what they can afford to pursue. Second, they have the best information to determine the merits of a case and the chances of success.

More recently, liberal outside groups have alleged that prosecutorial discretion has been applied in unfair ways and should be limited. However, they miss the obvious: prosecutorial discretion is already limited, both by ethics rules and also the ballot box. For these reasons, I am not in favor of further limiting prosecutorial discretion. This discretion, without merit, should never be used to justify avoiding a difficult job, such as prosecuting corrupt government officials. I believe in the traditional power and application of prosecutorial discretion, mostly because I know that those who shirk their duty can and often do pay a price, either by a tribunal or a vote of the people.

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? 

Yes, our ethics laws must be strengthened and clarified. We must also strengthen our laws to ensure those who misuse government resources and use their positions for personal gain are fully penalized. It’s time we start putting the criminals who wear suits every day in the same prisons as everyone else. No ankle bracelets and no country club prisons.

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? 

No, it’s an example of the AG using the powers of the office for political benefit, an important distinction. Several decades back, more law firms had the chance to do work for the state. In the recent past, the AG’s office began serving larger chunks of state legal business to fewer and fewer firms, basically picking winners and losers in the legal community. This has led to at least three problems: 1.  smaller firms are shut out for no good business reason. 2. Larger law firms could be performing work in cases that might be conflicted. 3. The Attorney General appears bought and paid for, or at least rented.  When outsourcing legal work makes sense, I would prefer to open up state contracts to more firms, given they all have the relevant expertise.

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?

This law continues a pattern of gray area and loopholes within our ethics laws and allows the Montgomery status quo to turn a blind eye to back room deals. Corruption has undermined public trust in our elected officials. We will not clarify our ethics laws and give citizens confidence in our elected leaders while simultaneously passing laws, which take away accountability measures. We need to revisit this legislation and reform our ethics laws in order to turn the page on public corruption.  

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?

There is a clear bias against conservative views on college campuses. While college campuses should be a place for free and open debate, there have been multiple documented cases of college administrators acting to silence opinions, which are contrary to their own beliefs. This is unacceptable. As AG, I will support legislation to ensure First Amendment rights on our college campuses. Additionally, I will not hesitate to file suit protecting conservative speech on campus from the liberal snowflakes and haters.

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?  

No. We must protect religious freedom at all cost, including the preservation of Christian values. In the bigger picture, I believe that President Trump will get to appoint at least one more Supreme Court Justice and that we will get the first conservative court in more than 50 years — thank God!  The next Alabama AG must be a committed and proven conservative — willing, able and experienced in fighting for conservative causes.  Otherwise, we risk losing the best opportunity of our lifetimes to reverse 8 years of Obama regulations and 50-plus years of liberal court decisions. For more than 20 years I have been a champion of conservative causes, fighting alongside U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, Presidents George W. Bush, President Donald Trump. Working to protect our values and preserve freedom. We must not lose this fight.

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?

I would use state resources to prevent such overreach because the cost of not filing these suits is far greater to Alabama business and their ability to grow and thrive.

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?

These forms of joint action can be very effective. We must put a permanent end to the unconstitutional disaster that is DACA. I will fight to protect our citizens from dangerous illegal immigrants. When I am AG, illegal immigrants will know that if they come to Alabama illegally and commit a crime, they are going behind bars.

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?

Opioids have ravaged Alabama, and we’ve got to fight both the supply and the demand. On the supply side, we must end doctor-shopping to get multiple prescriptions, prosecute illegal pill-mill practices and provide clear limits for how many doses can be prescribed for minor procedures, without getting in the way of long-term pain care for folks with chronic conditions.  We must coordinate with federal law enforcement to arrest multi-state dealers and fight gangs. Regarding opioid demand, we must continue to add drug courts where needed to manage not only caseloads but the rehabilitation of opioid users.  Successful rehab often includes churches, families and employers, and we must include them in the process where possible.

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?

I believe civil asset forfeiture is a necessary tool for law enforcement. However, I would support legislation providing more transparency to the process.

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?

Prison reform is an issue that must be tackled by the legislature. As AG I would advocate for better mental health facilities and the expansion of services for veterans. As a former criminal court judge, I supported law enforcement efforts to fight drug sales and worked with local charities and churches to help victims of domestic violence. I also cut costs to taxpayers by requiring work or school of young, able-bodied, nonviolent offenders. I will continue to support law enforcement in these efforts. However, I will fight against any prison reforms, which will create a revolving door and put criminals back on the streets.

Gaming 

In its 2009 Cornerstonedecision, 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? 

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of Governor Riley and clearly defined gaming laws in our state. I will uphold the laws of our state as defined by the court.

The courts have also clearly outlined the state’s jurisdiction in relation to regulating gaming operations on reservation land. As AG, I will work with Attorney General Jeff Sessions to enforce all federal laws related to gambling in our state.

12 hours ago

Alabama arrest records of Rosa Parks, MLK to be preserved

(U.S. Information Agency Record Group/ Instagram)

Yellowing court records from the arrests of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and others at the dawn of the modern civil rights era are being preserved and digitized after being discovered, folded and wrapped in rubber bands, in a courthouse box.

Archivists at historically black Alabama State University are cataloguing and flattening dozens of documents found at the Montgomery County Courthouse, and Circuit Clerk Tiffany McCord hopes electronic versions will be available for viewing as early as late June.

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Once the records are added to Alabama’s online court system, historians and others will be able to read the original pleadings filed by Parks’ attorneys following her refusal to give her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus on Dec. 1, 1955.

Parks’ arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which launched a young King to prominence as a civil rights leader while the Atlanta-born pastor was working at his first church in downtown Montgomery.

The records being preserved include a bail document signed in black ink by King, who was arrested in March 1956 with Parks and more than 100 others on charges of boycotting the city bus system in protest of Parks’ treatment.

“I think the public ought to be able to see that,” said McCord. “It’s exciting that it’s happening.”

Alabama State archivist Howard Robinson said the records are important because they provide texture and depth to the story of the early days of the movement.

Rather than just containing the familiar names of Parks and King, Robinson said, the records include the names of lesser-known people like witnesses who saw Parks’ arrest; bus boycott participants; attorneys; and those who put up bond to free people from jail.

“These papers allow us to understand who those folks were,” said Robinson.

Parks was convicted of violating the city’s segregation laws; a federal court deciding another case outlawed segregation on public buses while her case was being appealed. That same ruling effectively ended King’s appeal after he was convicted with others of violating an anti-boycott law.

McCord said she found documents from the cases, which include records from trial and appeals courts, after taking office in 2013.

“They were in an envelope box. They were all bent and folded with rubber bands on them probably dating back to the 1950s. The bands were sort of disintegrating into them,” she said.

After looking at options, including feeding the papers through a scanner that sometimes jams, McCord said she decided to provide them on a 10-year loan for scanning and research by Alabama State, where fliers announcing the boycott were made more than 60 years ago.

Some records and photos relating to Parks’ arrest already are on display at Montgomery City Hall, and school officials sounded skeptical when first contacted about the boxful of court records, McCord said.

“When they came over and saw what it was their mouths dropped open,” she said.

Robinson said he hopes to locate some of the people mentioned in the documents.

“In order to understand the past and all the events that have occurred, particularly as part of the modern civil rights movement, we reduce the bus boycott to Rosa Parks refusing to relinquish her seat and Martin Luther King leading the bus boycott,” he said. “But these records sort of indicate that it was much more … than that, that there were far more people involved and that the city of Montgomery and the state of Alabama mounted a pitched battle to maintain segregation.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 day ago

Iraq 2018: Rape charges dropped, if rapist marries his victim

(BridgingDivide /YouTube)

Although Iraq is a constitutional parliamentary republic today, thanks largely to the U.S. forces that overthrew Saddam Hussein and implemented the new government, the country is still dealing with civil strife and terrorism and, as the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights Report on Iraq documents, the situation for women in Iraq is dismal.

For instance, there are no laws to protect women against domestic violence in Iraq; female genital mutiliation/cutting persists; and honor killings “remained a serious problem throughout the country,” reported the U.S. State Department. In addition, “women and girls were at times sexually exploited through so-called temporary marriages,” which is permitted under Islam.

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According to iCasualties, 4,541 American soldiers have died in Iraq since the United States invaded in 2003, some 15 years ago. Below are some of the highlights from the Human Rights Report 2017 on Iraq in regard to women:
“The law permitted honor as a lawful defense in violence against women, and honor killings remained a serious problem throughout the country. Some families arranged honor killings to appear as suicides.” (Emphasis added.)

If a man is convicted of murdering his wife or a female dependent because he suspected her of committing adultery, then the man can only go to prison for a maximum of three years.

“The law criminalizes rape (but not spousal rape)…. The law allows authorities to drop a rape case if the perpetrator marries the victim.” (Emphasis added.)

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) “reported that several hundred women died each year from honor killings.”

“Women and girls were at times sexually exploited through so-called temporary marriages, under which a man gives the family of the girl or woman dowry money in exchange for permission to ‘marry’ her for a specified period.”

“Government officials and international and local NGOs also reported that the traditional practice of ‘fasliya’–whereby family members, including women and children, are traded to settle tribal disputes–remained a problem, particularly in southern governorates.” (Emphasis added.)

“Employers subjected women to involuntary domestic service through forced marriages and the threat of divorce, and women who fled such marriages or whose husbands divorced them were vulnerable to further forced labor.”

“There were reports that ISIS forced Yezidi women whom they had impregnated to have abortions.”

“Although the constitution forbids discrimination based on gender, conservative societal standards impeded women’s ability to enjoy the same legal status and rights as men in all aspects of the judicial system.”

“Law and custom generally do not respect freedom of movement for women. For example, the law prevents a woman from applying for a passport without the consent of her male guardian or a legal representative.” (Emphasis added.)

“Women could not obtain the Civil Status Identification Document–required for access to public services, food assistance, health care, employment, education, and housing–without the consent of a male relative.” (Emphasis added.)

“According to UNICEF in 2016, approximately 975,000 women and girls had been married before age 15, twice as many as in 1990. Early and forced marriages, as well as abusive temporary marriages, occurred in rural and urban areas.”

“Thousands of women, particularly those from ethnic and religious communities that ISIS considered as not conforming to their doctrine of Islam, were raped, sexually enslaved, murdered, and endured other forms of physical and sexual violence.” (Emphasis added.)

“During the year ISIS kidnapped women and girls to sell, rent, or gift themas forced ‘brides’ (a euphemism for forced marriage or sexual slavery) to ISIS fighters and commanders, and exploited the promise of sexual access in propaganda materials as part of its recruitment strategy.” (Emphasis added.)

(Courtesy of CNSNews.com)

2 days ago

Here’s what happened when a GOP candidate challenged a transgender man who used the ladies’ room

(J. Saavedra/Facebook)

A GOP candidate running for Congress in California confronted a biological male who identifies as a female when he tried to use the restroom at a Los Angeles restaurant, and things got spicy.

Jazmina Saavedra entered the women’s restroom at a Denny’s restaurant and found a man using the bathroom, first reported by news outlets Thursday. She decided to confront the man and filmed the encounter. She streamed their exchange on Facebook live Tuesday. The video has since gone viral.

Saavedra involved the restaurant’s manager and waited outside the bathroom for the man to emerge before asking him why he was using the women’s restroom.

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“You’re invading my privacy,” he said as he exited the establishment.

“You’re invading my privacy because I’m a woman and I deserve to use the woman — the ladies’ room,” Saavedra responded.

The Denny’s restaurant did not have gender-neutral restrooms, but only a men’s bathroom and women’s bathroom.

“How can I be with a man inside of the ladies’ room just because he thinks he’s a lady? This is unbelievable,” Saavedra said. “Only in California this happens.”

California’s Equal Restroom Access Act, which has been in effect since March 1, requires some establishments with single-occupancy restrooms to indicate that the restroom is gender-neutral.

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2 days ago

Newt Gingrich says the ‘Trump Effect’ has pushed conservative movement to a whole new level

(Fox Business/YouTube)
 Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said President Donald Trump’s policies have had a profound effect on the conservative movement and expects his influence to continue to grow.

“I think the Trump effect has been remarkable,” Gingrich said Thursday on Fox Business’ “Varney & Co.”

“The combination of conservative judges, deregulation, tax cuts, innovation, the right policies favoring work over welfare — all of that’s come together,” Gingrich continued. “Plus having an entrepreneur in the White House has sent a sort of an emotional signal to small business leaders, entrepreneurs, creative people in the economy. We’ve had the highest positives we’ve had in many, many years.”

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Gingrich also said there is a possibility of 4.1-percent growth for the U.S. economy for the second quarter, and it could lead to the lowest black unemployment numbers in history.

“There’s one report that the second quarter maybe actually be 4.1 percent growth,” he said. “If that happens, I think you’re going to see the country look up — lowest black unemployment in history.”

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Chris Christie responds to Alabama attorney general candidate questionnaire

(Christie Campaign)

Democrat candidate for attorney general Chris Christie recently responded to the questionnaire prepared by the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News. His answers are below.

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?

My role as AG would be based on my philosophy that courts should interpret law as originally intended and should avoid activist result-oriented decisions that are inconsistent with what those drafting the law would have intended. For example, in Citizens United, the United States Supreme Court essentially found that a public corporation has religious rights under the United States Constitution, even though a corporation is only a separate fictitious legal person without a spirit or soul. When drafting the United States Constitution, no one would have intended the activist interpretation in Citizens United.

On the other hand, to enforce laws, the rule of law requires courts to interpret laws. Since the founding of our nation, every state (other than Louisiana), has had common law. Consistent with the United States Constitution and original intent, and especially with common law systems, American courts interpret laws, and should interpret laws, to apply them to unforeseen situations or events.

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Enforcing the Law

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

As Attorney General, I would defend state statutes even if I disagree with them, so long as they were not unconstitutional. First, the United States Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, is the supreme law of the land. Then, the Constitution of Alabama’s provisions are over state statutes. As the lawyer for the people of Alabama, my responsibility as Attorney General will include protecting individuals’ constitutional rights. Moreover, as Alabama Attorney General, I will work with the legislature to avoid creating new unconstitutional laws.

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?

The AG’s role as chief law enforcement officer and as chief legal representative should not and will not normally conflict. If a clear conflict between enforcing law applicable in Alabama and representing the State of Alabama were to arise, the law applicable in Alabama is to be enforced so we have the rule of law. If an arguable conflict arose between enforcing law applicable in Alabama and representing the State of Alabama, how to handle that hypothetical would probably depend on facts and circumstances for that particular situation. Overall, the AG’s role should be working with the legislature so that these types of problems are avoided.

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?

More than any other Attorney General candidate, my work experience has prepared me to handle the staff and budget of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. First, with my former law firm, I supervised more lawyers than the number of lawyers with the Attorney General’s Office. During my 30 years there, I was part of growing the firm to be, in the State of Alabama, one of the most successful law firms, if not the most successful, and one of the most successful private businesses of any type. We grew from about 80 lawyers to over 550 lawyers, with recent annual budgets of over $200 million. Second, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, from June to August during the University of Yaoundé’s break, I set up, ran, and closed a government training facility that housed and fed over 100 new Peace Corps Volunteers and over 100 teachers and staff. In that role, I successfully supervised staff, handled the paperwork, and worked within a tight government budget. Through this experience, I understand that government spending and budgeting is different than for a private business, but also know my success in a great private law firm makes me the AG candidate best prepared to manage the AG’s staff and budgets.

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?

When I am AG, government corruption (along with public safety) will be a top priority.  In my Attorney General’s Office, we will have the resources to prosecute corrupt government officials and we will aggressively prosecute government corruption.

When considering all of the AG’s responsibilities, given limited resources, enforcing the laws of Alabama requires using discretion in making many decisions. For example, past Alabama Attorneys General have used discretion to intrude into lawsuits filed in other states. As an outsider, those Alabama AG efforts in other states more likely hurt the party supposedly being helped, as well as waste scarce Alabama resources that need to be used to enforce and improve Alabama laws. Another example, in April 2018, the news media reported that a prosecutor exercised discretion to prosecute as an adult a 15-year-old child, who had not hurt anyone and did not have a gun during a burglary. The Court convicted the child of felony murder and sentenced him to 65 years in prison. If that 15-year-old child had been from an affluent suburb, it is hard to imagine the prosecutor would have used his discretion in the same manner.

At times, prosecutorial discretion should be exercised, and cases not pursued. For example, if a government corruption case after a thorough investigation appears unlikely to be won at trial, it probably should not be pursued further. Another example, a prosecutor should not use too many resources to prosecute people for jay-walking across empty streets or for traveling five miles per hour on the interstate over the speed limit. So, one does not prosecute all crimes, as a practical matter, but should focus on those prosecutions that will help move Alabama forward.

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?

The Alabama ethics laws need to be clear and then explained well, with a focus on compliance. The AG should take the lead on these issues, working with the Ethics Commission and the legislature. Most people want to comply with the ethics laws, either wanting to do right or to avoid penalties or both.

The Alabama legislature considered ethics reforms in 2018 that were generally improvements, but additional amendments are needed. A huge gap is dealing adequately with Alabama’s “dark money” problem. Dark money led to Governor Bentley’s acting chief of staff’s being paid, indirectly from secret sources, more than twice what the Governor was paid. That should be against the law. Another gap is the issues underlying 2018 HB 317, which I address further in response to another question below. As the Attorney General, I will make pushing these ethics law reforms a top priority.

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?

An AG’s outsourcing legal work to law firms based on political connections is wrong. The AG should not personally benefit from outsourcing legal work and should not allow the appearance or perception of his personally benefitting. But common sense and experience teach that the AG should at times outsource legal work. A hospital would not have a general surgeon perform invasive heart surgery just because the general surgeon is already on the medical staff. Similarly, certain rare legal matters require experience and expertise not in the Attorney General’s Office. For example, if hiring for the state of Alabama outside lawyers with needed experience and expertise would most likely lead to more additional recovery than the additional legal fees, then the AG should hire the best firm for the matter. And some legal matters require so much of the Attorney General’s Office’s resources that not outsourcing the legal work could limit the Office’s ability to pursue top priorities, such as prosecuting government corruption and promoting public safety. For the rare legal matters best handled by outside counsel, an AG should negotiate with a number of law firms, who have the experience and expertise, to secure the best representation and lowest costs to the state, thereby choosing the best result for the people of Alabama.

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?

House Bill 317 is not as innocuous as proponents claim and is not as likely to lead to abuse as opponents suggest. Foremost, the new law poses problems. Supporters of HB 317 apparently recognized the new law was imperfect, because it sunsets (goes away) twelve months after it became law. The alternative proposed by the Ethics Commission seemed better and another even better alternative likely can be developed to address the concern of losing economic development opportunities.

Based on House Bill 317, unchecked corruption and abuse is not as likely as some have suggested. Tools to handle corruption related to economic development are still available even with the new law. Under section 5 and section 7 of the current ethics law, corruption related to economic development can still be prosecuted. Addressing these issues should be part of amending the ethics laws, which should be a top priority of a new Attorney General in 2019.

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?

The First Amendment rights of expression and assembly are among the most important parts of our United States Constitution, for unpopular speech as well as any other speech. Those rights must be protected. In Alabama, suppression of free speech and open speech on college campuses does not appear to be an issue that warrants the involvement of the Attorney General.

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?

To me personally, religious liberty is one of the most important rights secured by the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Other important federal rights include not being discriminated against based on one’s race or religion. For example, can a restaurant owner in the United States, who objects to serving persons of another race or another religion, claim a religious basis to discriminate based on race or religion. No, such discrimination violates federal laws that apply in Alabama based on our United States Constitution. Alabama generally does not have additional anti-discrimination laws. Therefore, for an Alabama Attorney General, enforcing anti-discrimination laws is a federal law matter and does not involve enforcing Alabama law.

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?

Alabama needs an Attorney General who will focus on government corruption and public safety in Alabama, not on chasing lawsuits arguing federal overreach in other states. Courts and parties in other states do not need an Alabama AG intruding into their lawsuits. As an outsider, those Alabama AG efforts in other states more likely hurt the party supposedly being helped and waste scarce Alabama resources that need to be used to enforce and to improve Alabama laws.

As far as I know, I am the only AG candidate who has litigated and won a major trial in Alabama against the federal government when it was overreaching. So, while the possibility seems remote for an Attorney General to need to do so, if appropriate, I am the AG candidate who has the experience and skills to handle and win a lawsuit against the federal government.

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?

Immigration is a federal law issue; there is little Alabama law. It is hard to imagine circumstances where Alabama immigration law would be enforceable if contrary to federal law. If an Alabama law were contrary to federal immigration law, the federal law controls, as specifically provided in the United States Constitution. As a practical matter, Alabama’s suing the federal government on immigration issues would usually be an ineffective waste of scarce Alabama resources. As Attorney General, my priorities would be using the Attorney General’s Office scarce resources to address government corruption, public safety, and other issues in Alabama.

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?

As with a number of public health issues (for examples, infant mortality, mental health care, and the number of diabetics), as to opioids, Alabama has the worst problems in the country. If our football team was last or almost last year after year, we would fire the coach. Foremost, Alabama needs new leadership, including a new Attorney General who has not been part of these past failures.

Addressing the opioid crisis specifically includes three approaches as a start. First, drug treatment and mental health treatment for those addicted, keeping as many out of our overcrowded prisons as possible. The opioid crises should not turn into a new war on drugs, which has been called a war on the poor and in part led to our current mass incarceration problems. Second, the number of opioid prescriptions must be addressed, including the rare doctors who run pill mills should be prosecuted, all doctors should have accurate and readily available data bases so that the doctors can easily see what prescriptions an individual already has had, and people should be educated about the addictive nature and risks of these drugs. Third, Alabama was almost the last state to join the national litigation attempting to hold accountable manufacturers who have profited from misleading the public about these drugs. Such efforts should continue so Alabama recovers as other states recover.

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?

Documented abuses of civil asset forfeiture laws are rare but make clear that legislative reform is needed to provide transparency and prompt due process when assets are seized as part of a criminal investigation. At times, law enforcement finds assets that are clearly related to illegal activity, but the individuals responsible cannot be prosecuted. So, a criminal conviction should not always be required.

Legislation failed in the last legislative session that would have require law enforcement agencies to report data, including how and when assets are seized, the suspected crime, how the agency used seized assets, and whether the seizure resulted in a conviction. Such information should be gathered to have transparency. We also need to consider whether funds from forfeited assets should continue to go to the law enforcement agency or instead into the general funds of state and local governments. Such a change would remove the arguable profit motive from law enforcement.

As to due process, legislative reform is needed. If no conviction has been yet obtained, the state should promptly have to establish in court why a seizure was appropriate and why a criminal conviction should not be required, and individuals should not be in the position of having to initiate and pursue court actions to have their assets returned.

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?

Alabama’s prisons are horrendous. As AG, I will work with Alabama legislature on criminal justice reform and work with local courts, district attorneys and law enforcement on public safety, which includes prisons.

Instead of addressing prison problems, Alabama has spent millions of dollars on lawyers to defend our cruel treatment of prisoners. As was expected, Alabama already lost a lawsuit on prison conditions, the federal judge ordered the state to remedy the problems, and Montgomery has failed to do so.  The current Alabama leadership apparently waits until the federal judge orders and forces the state to provide constitutionally required care (not provide care that amounts to cruel and unusual punishment), showing the lack of leadership in Montgomery.

Alabama has had mass incarceration as a misguided public safety policy. Alabama’s prisons are grossly overcrowded with many non-violent offenders and many who need mental health or drug treatment. Moreover, our prisons are warehouses for people; our prisons do not provide adequate job training, education, or re-entry services to help those released stay out of prison. And almost all prisoners are eligible for eventual release.  The result is more crime, making our crime rates worse, with those leaving prison too often ending up back in prison.

Alabama’s horrendous prisons make our crime rates outside prison worse for a second reason. Alabama’s Correctional Officers are so overwhelmed with mental health prisoners and the overcrowding, paperwork for crimes in prison usually goes undone. Because crimes (rapes, stabbings) in prison normally are not prosecuted and many crimes in prison usually are not even administratively documented, the prisons too often release the dangerous prisoners we all agree should be in prison. Alabama’s bad prisons cost taxpayers over $20,000/year per prisoner, hurt individuals needlessly incarcerated, and hurt all in Alabama.

Private prisons are a bad, bad idea. Private prisons create a profit incentive to underspend on feeding and caring for prisoners. In addition, private prisons create incentives for a company to lobby to increase the prison population, when our prisons are already overcrowded with people who are non-violent offenders or who need drug treatment or mental health treatment. I will oppose 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.”

Personally, I do not gamble and dislike how gambling often becomes a tax on the poor. But gambling has become part of what the states around Alabama have and a source of revenue Alabama could have for education, prisons and healthcare. Alabama needs new laws making clear what gambling is allowed, regulating that gambling to make sure it is above board, and raising revenue. Without question, Alabama Supreme Court decisions on matters of Alabama law are “the law of the land.” The 2009 Cornerstone decision is not as clear as implied. A number of Alabama counties have laws specific to the county on these issues. Generally, local law enforcement should enforce local laws and the Attorney General should focus on government corruption, public safety, and other state-wide issues.

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 Supreme Court of Alabama made clear that Alabama law allows the Governor to take actions like those in 2009, which should be only under certain rare circumstances. The people of Alabama, however, elect the Attorney General. The AG has the duty to enforce the laws of Alabama, not 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?

As Alabama Attorney General, I will work with the federal government and anyone else to make sure that laws, including federal gambling law applicable to Indian reservations, are properly enforced. Generally, federal law arguably allows gambling operations on reservation land if that class of gambling is allowed in the state. So, a specific Alabama Supreme Court decision on a specific gambling machine does not necessarily mean that the same ruling applies to the same gambling machines on Indian reservations.  Alabama should, as part of changing gambling laws, reach a compact with certain Indian tribes, including the Poarch Creek. Personally, I do not gamble and dislike how gambling often becomes a tax on the poor. But gambling has become part of what the states around Alabama have and a source of revenue Alabama needs if we are to avoid raising taxes and still address our problems with education, healthcare and public safety.

2 days ago

‘Rick & Bubba’ radio’s Burgess warns Kay Ivey ‘is going to be a Roy Moore, part two’ — ‘Walt Maddox is going to walk into Montgomery’ (AUDIO)

(Screenshot/YouTube)

Friday on the Birmingham-based “Rick & Bubba” radio show, co-host Rick Burgess sounded off on what the future may hold if current Gov. Kay Ivey wins the Republican gubernatorial nomination next month and is in a head-to-head match-up with potential Democratic Party nominee Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.

Burgess, a supporter of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson, was responding to a caller that was seemingly a supporter of Ivey and offered a warning to those willing to support Ivey given any circumstances.

According to Burgess, such blind support sets up a potential repeat of Alabama’s 2017 special election GOP U.S. senatorial nominee Roy Moore’s performance, who lost narrowly to Doug Jones last December.

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“That’s the problem with politics now,” Burgess said. “Some of y’all get upset because we think a different candidate should be in and all of that. Look, go vote your conscience and vote what you think is best. I will tell you this – there seems to be some similarity with the Kay Ivey supporters — they have that Roy Moore feel. No matter what this person does, or what they do – we’re going to defend them on every turn and we’re going to push them to the end of that election.”

“My concern for the state of Alabama is if all of you push her through, as some of you want to do no matter what comes up, no matter what is said, no matter what she does – you’re going to get to October and you’re going to run into another formidable Democrat – Walt Maddox out of Tuscaloosa, and Walt Maddox is going to beat her,” he continued. “Because all of this playing nice with her right now – ‘How dare you bring up this ADECA thing! That’s mean!’ It’s the first thing that has ever been brought up of anything negative, even if its true. The Democrats, they can’t wait. I’m telling you, the Paula (sic) Todd thing was them outing themselves a little bit. They’re going to go after all of these things that nobody wants to talk about, OK, because you want to be nice.”

“They’re not going to be nice in October, I promise you,” Burgess added. “And it is going to be a Roy Moore, part two. They’re going to bring up everything they can find and its going to turn off some evangelicals that will say, ‘Maybe I just shouldn’t vote at all,’ kind of like what happened with Roy. And Walt Maddox is going to walk into Montgomery.”

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

3 days ago

Listen: Scott Dawson acknowledges knowing possibility Kay Ivey sexuality rumors raised — Denies it was his intent

(Screenshot/YouTube)

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson appeared on Birmingham’s Talk 99.5 “Matt & Aunie” radio show Friday to discuss the controversy tied to his efforts to highlight the potential misappropriation of Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) grant money to the LGBTQ activist group Free2Be.

Dawson initially raised the issue in two press conferences earlier this week, which led to State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) posting a tweet that acknowledged rumors about Gov. Kay Ivey’s sexuality.

In a sometimes-contentious exchange with co-host Matt Murphy, Dawson insisted it wasn’t his intent to play up those rumors when he first raised the ADECA issue. However, he acknowledged those rumors might be associated with his efforts.

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Exchange as follows:

MURPHY: Do you understand why people see the timing of it and believe the reason you did it three weeks out was to bring up the rumor Kay Ivey was gay?

DAWSON: If they want to believe that – I can’t choose other people’s thoughts. I can’t determine other people’s actions like I realized this week. I told y’all at the very beginning I am a fallible person. But when I was looking at this, we knew we were going to get this out as transparency and being accountable in front of the people.

MURPHY: In the press conference before Patricia Todd’s tweet, before all of this blew up – before the press conference. You referenced the rumors. You said I’m not here to talk about rumors or spread rumors. What rumors were you talking about specifically?

DAWSON: I mean, OK. You said everyone in politics has heard the rumor that our governor is gay. She has come out and flatly denied that, and I understand that. But, during that time –

MURPHY: So, you knew that there would be a connection made at the time you held the press conference.

DAWSON: I tried my best to stay away from that and bring it toward the transparency of government. That’s what I was focusing on –

MURPHY: But you knew that someone was –

DAWSON: How do you avoid that? Do you just not talk about it?

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY: If you knew the connection would be made, how do you avoid someone like me saying that it serves your purpose to get that rumor out there because it benefits you politically?

DAWSON: I don’t know how in the world you cannot discuss that community, and not go, ‘Hey, I’m not here to dispel that. I want you to look at this organization. I want you to look at where this money is going. That’s where we were focused on. If you go back and just – anyway, look at the video.

MURPHY: So, you knew at the time the press conference was held that someone would bring up the rumor Kay Ivey was gay publicly?

DAWSON: No.

MURPHY: Then why did you bring up the rumors?

DAWSON: I did not –

MURPHY: You brought up the rumors.

DAWSON: I was trying my best to focus us on transparency of government. I was trying my best to keep us away from that, and unfortunately, someone did something.

MURPHY: But when you say something like, “You know, I know that there are rumors going out there,” don’t you know members of the press are going to go, “What rumors is he referring to?”

DAWSON: OK, now you’re accusing me of not know, but you’re saying you do not know.

MURPHY: No, I’m saying you knew specifically what rumors you were talking about. You admitted that this morning.

DAWSON: I was trying to avoid that.

MURPHY: Then why did you bring it up?

DAWSON: I was trying my best to keep us toward this for the for-cause of what we wanted to do with ADECA. That is where we were.

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY: Why did you bring up the rumors? You knew someone was going to associate with the rumor Kay Ivey was gay.

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY: Did you, or did you not know that? That’s why you brought up the rumors.

DAWSON: Did I know what? You’re backing me into –

MURPHY: You said there are rumors out there, and I can pull up the quote. You know what you said in the press conference. This was before Patricia Todd before anybody brought up any of that. You said, “I knew there were rumors out there.” You were referring to the rumors Kay Ivey was gay.

DAWSON: Well, I guess in that situation I was.

MURPHY: So you knew at the time of the press conference that your press conference was going to bring this up?

DAWSON: It’s not about that.

MURPHY: But don’t you accomplish your goal? Don’t you accomplish a goal in that?

DAWSON: A goal? The goal for me is for-cause about what we need to do for that. We’re going to have a difference of opinion on that, I guess.

MURPHY: That’s fair.

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

AG Steve Marshall responds to Alabama attorney general candidate questionnaire

(Marshall Campaign)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall recently responded to the questionnaire prepared by the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News. His answers are below.

ACTING PHILOSOPHY

Interpreting the Law

Question: 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?

Marshall: As Attorney General, I am primarily responsible for enforcing and defending the laws of this state and the Constitution. Through the formal opinions process, I also have a role in interpreting Alabama’s laws. I take seriously my duty to enforce and interpret the law as it is written, looking to the plain meaning of the text and not my own opinion of what is the best or right result. When the law is not clear, I do not believe that trying to discern legislative intent is an appropriate means for interpreting law. Instead, I apply Alabama’s well-established principles of statutory construction and look to relevant case law for judicial interpretations of the statute in question.

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Enforcing the Law

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

Yes. As Attorney General, I have aggressively defended our state’s laws regardless of whether I believed that a particular law made for good policy or good politics.

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?

As Attorney General, I serve the law enforcement community as a partner, resource, and advocate on an array of criminal and public safety matters. My office maintains a criminal trials division, a public corruption unit, and handles all of the state’s criminal appeals and capital litigation. My ongoing Initiative on Violent Crime is an example of how an Attorney General, as the chief law enforcement officer, can take the lead and galvanize federal, state, and local law enforcement around a common goal. Simultaneously, I am the state’s attorney and run what is often referred to as “the people’s law firm.” That includes protecting Alabama’s consumers, defending Alabama’s laws, and pursuing the state’s interests beyond Alabama’s borders. For me, the keys to balancing both of these important roles have been laying out a clear mission  and vision, selective hiring, and smart delegation.

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?

As Attorney General, I have managed an annual budget of over $20 million dollars—$10 million of that is the amount appropriated to my Office through the General Fund. For 15 years prior to becoming Attorney General, I served as District Attorney of Marshall County. In addition to managing the staff and budget of that office, I also directed the Marshall County Drug Task Force. Both the office and the drug task force completed successful audits every year under my leadership. In any spending decision, I am cognizant of the duty I have to use taxpayer dollars in an efficient and responsible manner that is directly responsive to the demands of public safety and protecting the public’s interest.

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?

As Attorney General, I have the discretion to prioritize the resources of my office in the manner that I believe will best serve public safety and the public’s interests. In doing so, I do  not have the discretion to pick and choose which laws my office will enforce. With my approval, prosecutors are able to exercise discretion over when criminal charges are appropriate under the laws of our state based solely upon the facts and the evidence before them. Throughout my twenty-year career as a prosecutor, I have demonstrated that I will always apply the law fairly and equally to those who violate it.

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?

Yes. As Attorney General, I have advocated for reforms that would draw clearer lines between legal and illegal activity and ensure that those who violate the public’s trust are held accountable. My comprehensive ethics reform package, written under the direction of my corruption unit, was filed by Senator Marsh during the 2018 legislative session as Senate Bill 343. This legislation will serve as a guiding document for the legislature’s Ethics Review and Clarification Commission, of which I am the co-chair, and I will advocate for it within that body.

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?

As Attorney General, I have become intimately familiar with the manpower and capacity of my office through the work of our divisions and units. Proportionally, Alabama maintains one of the smallest Attorney General Offices in the country. As a result, it can be both necessary and cost effective to utilize outside counsel in extraordinary cases in order to pursue the state’s interests without overburdening or disrupting the daily work of a particular division.

State law sets clear parameters on hiring outside counsel and how their compensation can be structured, but an Attorney General can do even more to ensure fiscal responsibility in these matters. As Attorney General, I have contracted with outside counsel on one occasion—in consumer-protection litigation related to the deceptive marketing of opioids—and capped attorney’s fees nearly 50% lower than what state law allows.

Alabama ethics and campaign finance laws are abundantly clear in regard to quid pro quo arrangements and using one’s office for personal gain. An Attorney General must strictly adhere to these laws, as I have.

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?

The public has every reason to be skeptical when ethics questions are raised in the policymaking process. When House Bill 317 was introduced, I too had significant concerns with the way that economic development was dealt with in the context of the ethics law. After working with the Department of Commerce for several weeks, the bill was amended to reflect my Office’s preferred approach of narrowly defining who an “economic development professional” is and then excluding those “professionals” from the definition of “lobbyist.” This was in line with the comprehensive ethics reform bill that was proposed by my office and filed as SB343. I found the enacted version of HB317 to be acceptable, particularly given the sunset date that was inserted at my request. This sunset provision will ensure that this issue will be further analyzed, debated, and dealt with by the Ethics Review and Clarification Commission prior to the 2019 legislative session.

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?

I agree with Attorney General Sessions—without question, we have seen significant erosion of free speech on college campuses across the country. We have also seen numerous attempts to stifle the religious expression of students in Alabama’s public K-12 schools via numerous threatening letters and lawsuits from outside interest groups. The Attorney General can play a valuable role in the protection of First Amendment rights both by providing guidance to involved parties on what is protected speech and by assisting in national and state-based cases in which the state has a distinct interest in protecting individual First Amendment rights.

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?

No. As Attorney General, I have taken a stand for the religious liberties of individuals and private business owners in several notable cases. These cases include: defending a Kentucky t-shirt printer from being compelled to print shirts containing messages that were in conflict with his religious beliefs; defending faith-based pregnancy centers in Maryland and California  from being compelled to disseminate pro-abortion materials; and defending a Colorado bakeshop from being compelled to design cakes that support a message in violation of his religious beliefs. The California and Colorado cases are currently pending with the U.S. Supreme Court. In each of these cases, I have maintained that the First Amendment freedom of expression is  violated when the government attempts to compel private speech that is in conflict with an individual’s sincerely-held religious beliefs.

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?

As Attorney General, I have proudly led and joined cases with fellow conservative Attorneys General designed to limit federal overreach and protect our liberty. Many of our cases deal with federal actions taken during the Obama Administration. For example, I led a case challenging the federal government’s redefinition and dramatic expansion of the Endangered Species Act. The effect of this rule change, made by unelected bureaucrats in Washington, was a very real and substantial threat to private property rights—a foundational freedom. Fortunately, in this case, the Trump Administration agreed to work with us toward a swift resolution. Though lawsuits will continue to be necessary at times, I am optimistic about my ability to work with the Trump Administration to reclaim the sovereignty of the state and expand individual freedom.

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?

As Attorney General, I made the decision to join with six other states to ask a federal court to declare the DACA program unconstitutional. We argued that the program is unconstitutional for several reasons: DACA was not approved by Congress, it is in conflict with federal immigration law, it violated the Administrative Procedures Act, and it violated the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution. This form of joint action is extremely effective—Alabama won a significant victory in a nearly-identical case over the constitutionality of DAPA in 2014. At least three activist federal judges have attempted to prohibit the Trump Administration from closing the DACA program. Our lawsuit argues that the program was never constitutional to begin with and provides a means by which this question can be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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?

As Attorney General, I have put the full resources of my Office behind tackling the complex and devastating opioid crisis in our state. In addition to co-chairing the Governor’s Overdose and Addiction Council, I have joined with various federal partners within the Trump Administration to chart the best course toward a solution. The work of the Addiction Council has already produced some fruit—we have outlawed the trafficking of dangerous illegal opioids and have established a better system of data collection which is vital in pinpointing the problem in our state. While I have spent a great deal of time focused on the responsibilities of law enforcement in dealing with opioids, I am convinced that we do not have all of the answers. To that end, I have traveled our state promoting greater community education and engagement on this issue. In April and May, I have held “Faith Forums” in Alabama’s 4 major cities to encourage members of the faith community to join the fight and reach out to those struggling with addiction.

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?

As Attorney General, and as a prosecutor for over two decades, I have used and directed the use of civil asset forfeiture where appropriate and find it to be a vital tool for law enforcement that must be preserved. Like U.S. Attorney General Sessions, I believe that the state has a rightful interest in removing the fruits and instrumentalities derived from crime. That is not to say that the system is perfect, however. To that end, I would support efforts to make the forfeiture process more transparent to increase public confidence. Further, though due process does exist under Alabama’s forfeiture laws, I would be willing to establish within my Office a process of review for alleged abuse of civil asset forfeiture.

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?

As Attorney General, I must decline to offer a personal opinion on a matter that the state is currently litigating.

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.”

As Attorney General, I have enforced the law against illegal casinos in Alabama. When I took office, there were casinos operating illegally in five counties. I filed lawsuits to shut them down and, as a result, one of the casinos was immediately closed. The remaining cases are pending in court. As I said at the time those suits were announced, the Alabama Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that electronic bingo and the use of slot machines are illegal in all Alabama counties. It was incumbent upon me to take action to hold accountable those who defy the laws of our state.

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?

An Attorney General abdicates his or her lawful duties by failing to enforce the law. In 2009, the Governor was compelled to take action when the sitting Attorney General refused to enforce Alabama’s gambling laws.

It is also important to note that, though attempted in 2015, the Governor has no authority to prevent or hinder the Attorney General from fully enforcing the law.

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?

As Attorney General, it is my responsibility to enforce the laws of our state and to abide by binding decisions of the court. In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that the State of Alabama has no right of action to sue the Poarch Creek Tribe over enforcement of state gambling laws and that the federal government alone has regulatory authority over Indian gaming. To the degree that it is lawful and appropriate, I will work with the National Indian Gaming Commission and U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that all applicable laws on gaming are enforced.

3 days ago

Alabama student, teacher arrested on grade-tampering charges

(East Brewton Police)

A student and a teacher are charged with tampering with grades at a south Alabama high school.

The attorney general’s office said Friday 18-year-old Matthew Hutchins of Brewton and 58-year-old Lisa Odom of Castleberry face felony charges of altering grades.

Hutchins is a student at W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton, where Odom teaches.

A statement from Attorney General Steve Marshall says his cybercrime unit began investigating after being notified by local officials that grades had been altered through the school’s computer system.

Authorities aren’t releasing additional details about what happened. But court records allege Hutchins used the credentials of an assistant principal to change one of his grades.

Court records aren’t yet available to show whether either Hutchins or Odom has a lawyer to speak on their behalf.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Alice Martin responds to Alabama attorney general candidate questionnaire

(Martin Campaign/Facebook)

Republican attorney general candidate Alice Martin recently responded to the questionnaire prepared by the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News. Her answers are below.

ACTING PHILOSOPHY

Interpreting the Law

Question: 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?

Martin: As Attorney General my interpretative method will be as a textualist and originalist guided by the words of the governing text. This shows respect for the rule of law and the separation of powers.

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Enforcing the Law

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

Yes. Regardless of personal beliefs, it is the responsibility of the Attorney General to defend a state statute unless it is clearly unconstitutional.

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?

As Chief Deputy Attorney General from 2015 to 2017, I balanced both roles and gave equal weight through executive leadership and providing strategic direction to the career men and women who ably serve Alabama in providing the day-to-day legal services. I will use that process as Attorney General.

More specifically, as chief law enforcement officer I will work with state, local and federal law enforcement colleagues to develop and execute a strategic plan to address violent crime, public corruption, economic crime, healthcare fraud and exploitation of children and the elderly in Alabama.  Through 15 years with the Department of Justice I’ve experienced that collaboration through ‘joint task forces’ delivers greater success to communities. For example, as U. S. Attorney I formed the North Alabama Public Corruption Task Force with then AG Bill Pryor which obtained 140 federal corruption convictions and dozens of convictions in state court. I formed the North Alabama Healthcare Fraud Task Force which recovered $750+ million in fraud for the Medicaid/Medicare programs. And I oversaw the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force which worked with chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys in 31 counties to combat drug trafficking organizations that operated across jurisdictional lines. These experiences as a state, local and federal prosecutor for 20 years and over 5,000 criminal convictions, provide relationships and skills work strategically to benefit Alabama as chief law enforcement officer.

As chief legal representative we will balance providing legal opinions to various officials (required by law) with quality representation of the state in civil litigation while being proactive in defending and preserving the Constitution against liberal attacks on religious liberties, personal freedoms, gun ownership rights, and the sanctity of life. The AG is the tip of the spear in protecting these freedoms, as well as the last line of defense for states’ rights against federal overreach which can impose unnecessary regulation.  Of great importance will be the Consumer Protection Division to protect consumers against fraud and dangerous products. Having resolved over 10,000 cases in state and federal court in Alabama I am prepared to balance the civil and criminal responsibilities of the office.

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?

Past experience. I successfully led the Office through three fiscal years 2015-2017, without layoffs and near level funding requests. This was especially challenging in 2015, when the legislature provided no funding to the Office.

While the Office receives $10+ million from the general fund, it actually requires $24+ million to operate annually.  So, there are two challenges to funding: (1) effective advocacy to the Governor and Legislature to ensure funding is increased and not reduced, and (2) proper management of revenue generating services within the office.  While serving as Chief Deputy Attorney General, I successfully navigated both challenges despite the legislature provided the Office no funding in 2015. Yet we worked with the Governor and Legislature to restore funding in FY16. We also successfully and creatively managed the revenue generating services of the Office to ensure that we could fully serve the state and its people. For example, in the fourth quarter of 2015, we faced a 15% layoff. If we had not earned the $10 million attorney fee awarded in the BP oil spill litigation, layoffs would have occurred.  Following that close call, I directed efforts to improve revenue generation through: (1) negotiation of new legal services contracts with state agencies and boards (to whom we were not required by law to provide services) to increase our hourly legal fee from $50/hour to a more market rate; (2) reallocation of staffing to the Consumer Fraud Division so Alabama could participate in more multi-state litigation and earn attorney fees and greater recovery for the State;  and (3) increased collection efforts for registration fees due the Office. These measures generated operating revenue needed for 2016, 2017, and 2018.

In addition to this fiscal leadership experience, I have 10 years of budget experience as U.S. Attorney and as Vice President of the Ethics and Compliance Division for a multi-state $1 billion healthcare organization.  I also have served on the Office, Management and Budget Subcommittee of the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of United States Attorneys responsible for 93 U. S. Attorneys’ Offices.

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?

As a prosecutor for 20 years I have exercised prosecutorial discretion based on principles that focus on consistency in the decision-making process and fair administration of justice, while recognizing the reality that resources are limited and must be managed.  This to be especially true in economic crimes as opposed to violent crime, where resource expenditures may exceed the potential recovery. However, potential monetary recoveries do not control charging decisions, and that is especially true in public corruption cases where the deterrence message of prosecuting a corrupt official may outweigh monetary recovery.  For example, a court clerk who is not prosecuted for stealing $10,000 may impact the local community, and potentially communities across Alabama, if it leads other public officials to believe they will not be held accountable under Alabama’s Ethics Law. My goal is to preserve public trust and faith in government and put corrupt officials on notice that they will be held accountable as public servants.

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?

Yes, I would recommend amendments to the ethics code to clarify and strengthen existing law and those recommendations are contained in HB343 which was introduced in the 2018 legislative session at a press conference.  However, the leadership immediately ‘kicked the can’ down the road in this election year and created a study ‘Commission’. I favored action in 2018, since this had already been studied from the fall of 2016 through early 2018 with the Ethics Commission, defense lawyers, and various parties interested in and subject to the Ethics Act. It was time for action in 2018, but election year politics prevailed. As Attorney General I would have rejected participation in the “Commission” and stood with the strong HB343 to protect the people who are tired of special interest receiving special treatment in Montgomery.

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?

Alabama lawmakers tried to address this concern in 2013 by adopting a more transparent contracting process (Alabama Code 41-16-72) requiring the AG to make a “determination of necessity” that any outsourced legal work was both cost-effective and in the public interest. The legislature enacted this law following reports that former AG King’s retained a private law firm in the BP oil spill litigation under a lucrative contingency fee contract. AG Strange cancelled that contract in 2011, reportedly allowing the state to recover an additional $130+ million instead of it going to the private law firm.

Outsourcing can create the problematic optic of a private firm being rewarded, and empowered with the powers of the office, for political support.  I have that concern with the February 2018 contract entered by AG Marshall with two private firms in the opioid litigation. The bare bone statements of why the contract was necessary, combined with the large contributions made by those firms engaged to AG Marshall’s campaign just months before this contract, illustrate the questions these contracts can raise and the wisdom behind the 2013 law.

When I served as Chief Deputy AG, several firms approached the office about contingency contracts to sue corporations on behalf of the state. The AGO did not enter such contracts instead opting to use in house expertise to represent the state and maximize recovery to the state. As AG, if I determined outsourcing would provide the best representation for the state in a cost-effective manner, my administration would provide a detailed “determination of necessity” document for public review.

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?

In my opinion this exemption is likely to lead to abuse. I objected to HB317 when it was introduced and outlined my concern that lobbyists will exempt themselves from the Alabama Ethics Law merely by calling themselves ‘economic development professionals’. Likewise, principals may call themselves ‘economic development professionals’ to try to muddy the waters as to how the law applies to them.  With no definition of an ‘economic development professional’, no educational requirements, and no credentialing body provided by this law, as well as the extension of the exemption to ‘less than full-time’ economic development professionals, the exemption is a glaring ‘red flag’ carve out to benefit special interests. It removes their activities from the needed transparency and accountability of our ethics laws.  A narrow exception, for true economic site developers could have been developed, but it was not. Make no mistake, as a member of the Mike Hubbard prosecution team, I can attest that HB317’s enactment will make prosecuting public officials who corruptly take things of value from lobbyists or principals much more difficult.  It is fortunate that it sunsets in one year, but that also begs the questions why it was so needed.

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?

Students do not lose their freedom of speech upon entry to a college campus. While I have made no independent review of campus speech policies in Alabama, a review by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reports finding restrictive policies on numerous campuses.  If unconstitutionally restricted speech policies exist the AG should respond by encouraging policy reform through campus policymakers, or by promoting legislation through the legislature.

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?

No. Religious freedom was a bedrock for our founding fathers and is a constitutionally recognized freedom that must be protected.

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?

The role of the Alabama Attorney General is to employ the last line of defense for a state’s rights – the Tenth Amendment – when the federal government overreaches. As a principled federalist, I will protect our state’s rights by filing suit and using state resources if federal overreach occurs as it did during the Obama Administration in regards to immigration, environmental, and religious liberties issues.

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?

Joint action by states’ attorneys general can be very effective in persuading and educating the court.  The Supreme Court has consistently held that the federal government has broad and exclusive power to regulate immigration, often preempting state and local laws that impact immigration issues. Any executive action that ran contrary to Alabama immigration law, but was permissible under federal authority would have to be carefully reviewed to determine if it violated the Tenth Amendment.

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?

The opioid crisis is both a public health and a public safety issue. As a former registered nurse and prosecutor, I believe we must address this crisis through a multi-disciplinary approach involving education/prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. Our partners are medical providers, public health officials, legislators, faith-based community, educators and law enforcement.  In order to combat the crisis, I would continue efforts started in 2015 and provide leadership to execute the Governor’s State of Alabama Opioid Action.

Education: In 2015, as Chief Deputy AG, the AGO worked to educate prescribing partners that Alabama had an ‘over-prescribing problem’ with 2.4 active prescriptions for every man, woman and child in the state, the highest in the nation.  The AGO noted the lack of narcotic prescribing education, the lack of Prescription Data Monitoring Program (PDMP) utilization and the need for chronic pain management for those in need. I held meetings with medical and pharmacy board leaders and investigators in 2016,  and discussed proactive steps. In 2017, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners adopted new regulations, effective January 1, 2018, that require mandatory education for controlled substances certificates every two years and mandatory PDMP checks when prescribing certain amounts of opioids.

In 2016 I attended the National Association of Attorneys General’s (NAAG) 2-day Opioid Abuse: Consumer Protection and Enforcement Training, a course specifically designed to teach attorneys general staff, investigators, and other allied professional about opioid education and enforcement. We planned to bring this training to Alabama in 2017, before a change in leadership. Bringing this training to Alabama would be a top priority under my administration.

Treatment: As a former RN, I recognize Alabama needs additional drug treatment facilities to deal both with substance addiction and chronic pain management.  Opioid addiction treatment reportedly takes an estimated two-years and requires drug therapy.  We will need to make treatment available to those who need it and de-stigmatize the label of ‘addict’ in public conversations to encourage affected patients to seek help rather than turn to street drugs like heroin.  Facilitating these difficult conversations necessarily will involve public health officials, medical providers, lawmakers, the faith-based community, and educators.  As AG, I would partner with leaders in each of these groups and use all available resources to try and obtain additional funding through grant programs for the state.

Law Enforcement: Currently there is no tool to prosecute a prescriber who writes a prescription without a legitimate medical reason, i.e. a ‘pill mill’.  Legislation was proposed in 2016, but failed under industry pressure. This legislation is needed and would be a top legislative priority for 2019. The AG’s Office will also work to prosecute and support District Attorneys’ prosecution of individuals and organizations that traffic in heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids.

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?

Yes, I would support legislative reform of Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture laws. I support the seizure of criminal ill-gotten gains where there is a criminal conviction.  However, in matters where there is no conviction or even a charge, reform of existing law would ensure that a presumption of ‘guilt’ does not flow to an innocent property owner.  There needs to be a protection of due process rights for innocent property owners and safeguards of transparency and reporting to protect against so-called ‘policing for profit’.

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?

While this issue must ultimately be addressed by the Governor and Legislature, one prudent reform would be to expand drug courts, mental health courts, and veterans’ treatment courts to help relieve prison overcrowding while also improving access to much needed rehabilitation and treatment services.  While corrections and criminal justice reform experts are best qualified to formulate a strategic plan for prison reform, as AG my focus will be to ensure that any reform does not create a ‘‘catch and release’ environment that jeopardizes the safety of law abiding citizens. I often here local law enforcement say that with current ‘presumptive sentencing guidelines’ and the new Class D felony in Alabama, jail has become a ‘bus stop’ and street criminals know that they will not be held accountable under the current prison reform scheme. While I am not opposed to community corrections programs, diversion programs, and re-entry programs, my principal mission as AG will be to evaluate any changes to the prison system in terms of their impact on community safety.

I do not categorically oppose private prisons; however, Alabama should be cautious in light of the pros and cons experienced by other states who have experimented with 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 upheld this interpretation of Alabama’s constitution multiple times over 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.”

The Alabama Supreme Court has consistently interpreted the Alabama Constitution to ban gambling and made clear that any exception to the ban based on a local amendment, like amendments that allow the playing of bingo in certain counties, must be narrowly interpreted.  Since the Alabama Supreme Court is the highest court of this state, its rulings are the law of the land.  As AG it would be my job to enforce the law consistent with those rulings. Accordingly, if a casino in Alabama is engaged in illegal gambling, I would take appropriate action to enforce the law.

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?

Yes, the enforcement action should have been taken by then AG King rather than Governor Riley.  The failure to act timely allowed the illegal activity to continue and proliferate, resulting in over 10 years of litigation in multiple counties in the state.

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?

The State of Alabama sued to stop electronic machines on Poarch Creek territory in federal court. On September 2, 2015, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the state had no jurisdiction to regulate gambling on the Poarch Creek reservation.  When elected I will work with United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ensure all gambling laws, including federal law applicable to Indian reservations, are properly enforced.

3 days ago

Patricia Todd takes ‘personal responsibility’ for ‘outing’ tweet, but won’t offer full apology to Ivey on Birmingham radio

(Screenshot/MSNBC)

Friday on Birmingham’s Talk 99.5 “Matt & Aunie” radio show, outgoing State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) gave her first remarks since posting a tweet that publicly acknowledged the existence of rumors that Gov. Kay Ivey was gay.

Ivey promptly dismissed Todd’s claim by calling it a disgusting lie. And also, as a result of that tweet, One Orlando Alliance, an LGBTQ advocacy group in Central Florida, rescinded a job offer to Todd.

After a brief dialogue about her beginnings in politics, Todd explained her reasoning for the tweet and what she suggested was a hypocritical culture in politics that inspired it.

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Remarks as follows:

I take personal responsibility for the tweet. And I will take all of the heat that comes with it. I will stand up and do that as an adult and try to move forward. It’s been a valuable lesson for me. I wish there was a pause button on Facebook — you know, let’s take 30 minutes to think about this before you push that button. I did it in haste.

I was frustrated by the Governor’s comments about Free2Be funding, and I reacted. That is one of the negative sides of social media is those words are there forever. And I made a decision that I needed to come and talk to you all and talk to the people — take the heat. I mean, it has been brutal what some people have said about me. And honestly, I don’t care about people who don’t know me. I have gotten that for 12 years. I get emails and phone calls that call me everything but a child of God, and they always attack the way I look — that I’m fat and ugly, and you know, I don’t care.

That doesn’t hurt my feelings. But it was brutal with people in my own community came out and attacked. That’s been an interesting lesson for me to learn, and obviously, I have touched a nerve about outing. And I want to make it clear to everybody that you don’t ever out an individual. You know, I’m 63. I’ve witnessed some conservative Christians who talk about their faith all the time, and have voted against my interests. At the same time, they have skeletons in their own closet. That’s frustrating. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

There’s been many, many Republicans or conservatives that have been outed, and they vote consistently against us. And so, I want to make that distinction clear. This was not — it wasn’t like, ‘OK, I want to out Joe Smith.’ That was not the case. It was my frustration in hearing people, you know, saying negative and disparaging things about my community. At the same time, the rumors abound about themselves. That’s what spurred it.

Murphy asked Todd if she owed Ivey an apology, to which Todd said she was uncertain.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “You know, as public officials pretty much our life is scrutinized in various ways. I might apologize for the inappropriate way I said what I said, but I think she can take the heat.”

“I know this sounds like I’m wishy-washy on this,” she said. “Apologies sound like, ‘Oh, I did bad. Please forgive me.’ I got to stand up and take responsibility for what I did and what I said, and suffer the consequences that I already have. I would apologize that I frame my message wrong, and I wish I had addressed the issue of her disparaging remarks versus trying to out her. If I could go back and have a rewind button, of course, I would do things a lot different, but I don’t. And I’ve got to suffer the consequences of my actions.”

When asked if she believed that Ivey was “gay,” Todd declined to answer but added she didn’t think Ivey would identify as gay.

“I refuse to answer that question,” she said.

“Let me clarify that — I don’t think she would ever identify as gay,” Todd added. “An identity — there’s a lot of men who have sex with men that don’t identify as gay. But they still have relationships with men. It’s not the identity as gay. It’s, ‘Have you ever had a romantic relationship with a woman?'”

Co-host Andrea Lindenberg pushed back on Todd’s reply by saying that Todd was still basing her comments on rumors that she didn’t know were true, and they could have easily been said about anyone. Todd claimed there was a distinction between the governor of Alabama and others.

“Well, we don’t, but you haven’t said disparaging remarks about my community and signed into law legislation that hurts us,” Todd replied. “That’s what I responded to.”

The Birmingham Democrat also took exception to Ivey’s terminology regarding Todd’s tweet.

“I guess I would pause here and say, the comment here about this being a ‘despicable lie’ — it almost felt like she thought that accused of being gay was despicable … disgusting, and there’s nothing wrong with being gay,” Todd said.

She dismissed any ties to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson and said it wasn’t her intention to promote his campaign.

“It was not my intent to elevate him in any way, or be a part of that discussion,” Todd said.

Todd listed Ivey’s signing a bill into law that restricted adoptions for same-sex couples and her remarks she made after the Supreme Court’s decision that legalized same-sex marriage as instances when Ivey had taken “hurtful” stances against the LGBTQ community.

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

3 days ago

Alabama jobless rate unchanged at 3.8 percent

(YHN/Pixabay)

Alabama’s unemployment rate is holding steady at 3.8 percent.

The governor’s office announced Friday that April’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted jobless rate was the same as the March rate.

While unchanged, the rate is well below the rate of 4.8 percent in April 2017.

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Alabama’s declining jobless rate follows a national trend and is one-tenth of a percent lower than the U.S. rate of 3.9 percent.

The national rate is at its lowest point in 17 years, and Alabama’s wage and salary employment is the highest in 11 years.

Shelby County has the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.6 percent, and Wilcox County in western Alabama is highest at 8.6 percent.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Rural hospital closing in northeast Alabama

(City of Jacksonville)

Another rural Alabama hospital is shutting down, this time in the northeastern part of the state.

Directors have decided to close RMC Jacksonville at the end of June.

The hospital is operated by the Anniston-based RMC Health System, which says some services will be transferred from Jacksonville to other locations in Anniston. The cities are about 12 miles (19 kilometers) apart.

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WBMA-TV reports that the announcement confirms the fears of hospital employees and weeks of rumors. The hospital had struggled financially in recent years, and several departments had closed.

The hospital is being donated to Jacksonville State University, which has a nursing program.

Jacksonville is the latest in a string of small towns to lose hospitals in recent years. The Census Bureau estimates the city’s population at around 12,800 people.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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