The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

10 hours ago

Byrne visiting U.S.-Mexico border on Monday

(B. Byrne/Facebook, CBP/Flickr, YHN)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) is visiting the United States’ southern border on Monday, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate’s office announced in a release.

Byrne reportedly arrived at the border Monday morning and will meet with Customs and Border Protection officials, tour a port of entry and visit an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility.

“As the national security and humanitarian crisis at our border escalates, it is important to see the situation firsthand and talk directly with border agents, law enforcement, and local officials about the challenges they face and what resources they need,” Byrne said in a statement.

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He has been a consistent supporter of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

“The American people have demanded a lawful system of immigration that protects their economic and personal safety, and I will continue working closely with President Trump and his Administration to secure our border, support law enforcement, and keep the American people safe,” Byrne concluded.

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has opposed building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

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

12 hours ago

Watch: Doug Jones calls question about his opposition to Trump judges ‘dumb’

(YouTube)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) said he believes it is “dumb” to ask why he thinks he knows “better” than Alabamians regarding judicial nominations made by President Donald Trump.

A tracker on Saturday caught up with Jones leaving his event in Aspen, Colorado, and referenced previous statements made by the senator, including his assertion that representing the majority of Alabamians is not “the be all to end all.”

“Senator, why do you think you know better than Alabamians about Trump judges?” the tracker first asked Jones.

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After brief efforts by Jones to avoid answering the question, the tracker again asked, “Why [do] you think you know better than Alabamians?”

Following a bite of what appeared to be an ice-cream sandwich, Jones arrived at his car. However, he apparently could not help lashing out.

“You asked me pretty dumb questions,” Jones said, mocking the tracker before entering the vehicle.

Watch:

Following his trip to Aspen, Jones traveled to Chicago, where he held an event on Sunday at a private residence.

This came in the wake of Yellowhammer News reporting that Jones again raised only 12% of his individual itemized contributions from Alabamians last quarter.

RELATED: Doug Jones’ approval rating continues to fall

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

13 hours ago

State Rep. Holmes prefiles bill to replace Alabama’s income, sales tax system with ‘FAIR Tax’

(M. Holmes/Contributed, YHN)

State Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka) on Monday announced that he has prefiled legislation for the 2020 regular session that would eliminate Alabama’s traditional income tax and sales tax system and replace it with a “FAIR Tax” system based on consumption.

Holmes’ bill, known as the “Alabama Economic Freedom Act,” would repeal current state income and state, county and municipal sales tax levies, replacing all with a straightforward 8.03% tax rate on every purchase of new products and services.  The new tax would be collected by merchants at the point of sale.

“For too long, Alabamians have been burdened by a tax system that picks winners and losers in a never-ending maze of tax exemptions, deductions, and credits,” Holmes said in a statement.  “A system that is fair treats everyone identically by taxing them at the same rate when buying new goods or purchasing services.”

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Under the legislation, legal Alabama citizens would receive a monthly rebate to offset the tax on spending. Read more about the rebate process here.

The new system would render the Income Tax Division of the Alabama Department of Revenue obsolete, while the Sales Tax Division would be redirected to collect the new consumption tax.

“The Alabama Economic Freedom Act is a simple plan that people can understand, get excited about, and support 100%,” Holmes concluded.  “It removes the heavy hand of government from your wallet and puts each individual in charge of their finances and life.”

The legislation is based upon H.R.25, the Congressional Fair Tax Act of 2019.

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

2 days ago

Tuberville to the ‘kids in Congress’: Trump ‘exactly right’ — ‘If you don’t love it, go back to where you want to go’

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

SCOTTSBORO — On Saturday, Republicans in the northeastern corner of Alabama got one of the first glimpses of former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville on the stump.

Tuberville, a candidate for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat up in 2020, spoke at the Young Republicans of Northeast Alabama before an audience of roughly 30 people, including three members of the Alabama legislature — State Senator Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro), State House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) and State Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant).

The former Auburn coach offered his usual meat-and-potatoes stump speech, hitting on his desire to support President Donald Trump, the need to address the illegal immigration and border crises, and correcting shortfalls in the education system. However, he also took a shot at the “kids in Congress,” apparently referring to the foursome of freshman Democratic congresswomen known as “The Squad,” who include Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

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“I’ve been all over the world – I’ve had a chance to go all over the world,” Tuberville said. “I’m telling you, we would not take any other place to live other than where we’re living today. I’ll be danged if we are going to give it to people that want to give it away. We got veterans in here. Thank you for what you do. My dad died on active duty. He loved this country. He loved it. He fought in World War II – five Bronze Stars and four Purple Hearts. He landed at Normandy, drove all the way across Europe with Patton.”

“It really tees me off – I hear these kids on television – kids in Congress trying to talk bad about our country,” he continued. “Donald Trump is exactly right: If you don’t love it, go back to where you want to go.”

He went on to reiterate his participation in the U.S. Senate election as an outsider and vowed not to be politically correct.

“I’m doing this for you – the people of Alabama and the people for this country,” Tuberville added “I’m a politician’s worst nightmare. I don’t need a job. I don’t need the money. And I ain’t going to be politically correct. I am going to go speak my peace. They are going to have to listen to me. And that’s what I got against a lot of our people in the Republican Party. Now I’m a Christian conservative, OK? I believe the things that we stand for in this country have been God, family, and education. Think about it – God, family, and education – and we’re losing all three of them.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 days ago

Roy Moore on 2020 US Senate race: ‘A different race,’ ‘I don’t think it will be as notable, vicious’

(Screenshot/APTV)

One of the concerns of many regarding the 2020 U.S. Senate race is with the presence of former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore as a candidate, the competition will draw media scrutiny from all over the country.

On the eve of Moore’s announcement, national outlets sent reporters to be in Montgomery for his rollout.

However, in an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Saturday, Moore said to host Shannon Moore that he did not think 2020 would be a repeat of the “vicious” 2017 contest given all of the other election campaigns that will be underway at the same time.

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“I think it’s a different race,” Moore said on the “Politics and Moore” show. “I think it’s different because that was a special election. There weren’t other races going on across the country. There are hundreds of races going on across the country. Of course, you’ve got your presidents. You’ve got how many contenders for the Democratic [nomination]. There’s a lot going on that wasn’t going on then. I don’t think it will be as notable, as vicious. I mention Project Birmingham — things like that probably won’t occur because there are so many other races. Project Birmingham was a disinformation campaign, as you know, by some Democratic gurus and billionaire Reid Hoffman and George Soros, to stop my candidacy. And it was 80-something Republicans. So, I don’t think that will go on.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

4 days ago

Scofield: ‘Broadband is our infrastructure challenge of the 21st century’ — Crucial ‘to save some of the best areas of this state’

(S.Ross/YHN)

GUNTERSVILLE — Yellowhammer News on Thursday held the second event in its 2019 “News Shapers” series. Entitled “Connecting Alabama’s Rural Communities,” the forum regarding broadband expansion drew a great crowd and elicited insightful conversation from the four expert panelists: State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Arab), Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative’s Fred Johnson, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative’s Tom Stackhouse and Maureen Neighbors of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

Tim Howe, Yellowhammer Multimedia co-owner and Yellowhammer News editor-in-chief, moderated the forum, which came days after the second round of grants was awarded under the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund.

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This fund was created through legislation sponsored by Scofield and signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey during the Alabama Legislature’s 2018 regular session. The first round of grants was awarded earlier this year. The legislature then passed another bill by Scofield updating the law during the 2019 regular session.

To kick the conversation off on Thursday, Howe noted Scofield’s successful efforts the past two years in passing his broadband expansion legislation, also pointing to HB 400 sponsored by State Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Fairview) and State Sen. Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro).

Howe asked Scofield about this year’s update of the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act and the feedback he heard prior to the 2019 regular session that led to him crafting SB 90.

“We passed the broadband expansion bill last year, and we knew that there would be some changes that needed to occur this year — some fine-tuning and some tweaking,” Scofield explained. “And we know that in the future, there will also need to be some fine-tuning as we look to make the program work better… SB 90 reflected some of those changes, and we heard that (the need for changes) from our providers.”

Scofield explained that it is not profitable in many rural areas for companies to install the necessary broadband infrastructure, which is why the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund is so important. The fund provides state grants for service providers to supply high-speed internet services in unincorporated areas or communities with 25,000 people or less. Under the law, grant awards cannot exceed 20 percent of the total cost of a project, meaning providers must still have significant “skin in the game” financially.

“At the end of the day, our providers are the ones who are going to be installing the infrastructure for the consumers to enjoy,” Scofield outlined. “So, it’s very important to listen to the providers. This whole thing began by listening to the providers. ‘What is it going to take to get you to expand in rural Alabama?’ And folks, it’s cost. It’s a business decision. The market size is just not there, so the cash flow is just more difficult.”

He likened modern government support of broadband expansion to rural electricity and water expansion of old.

“You’re looking out at Lake Guntersville,” Scofield told the crowd at Guntersville Town Hall, “and it’s a product of government being involved in infrastructure. In the 1930s, the government got involved in rural power. Our co-ops took advantage of that and delivered power to rural customers. And in the 1960s-70s, they expanded to rural water. Well, broadband is our infrastructure challenge of the 21st century.”

“Without our providers, and without government providing some incentive to bring their costs down, it simply wouldn’t occur,” he emphasized. “So, the changes that we’ve seen (through SB 90) are to make the job easier on these guys (the providers).”

‘We still live in a capitalist economy’

Asked to speak to the recommended changes from the provider side, Johnson stressed, “Good public policy has to be based on fact.”

“It’s really easy to blame people for why there’s not broadband in certain parts of the state,” he continued. “But we still live in a capitalist economy — for the time being — and it’s a business case. If it’s (broadband) not there, there’s a really good reason for it. What this legislation does, especially in connection with the federal legislation… what it does is give companies that want to step up to the plate the leverage it may take to swing the pendulum to where a business case can be built and you can serve areas where otherwise there’s no public policy support to build.”

Johnson said he personally thinks “the world of Clay Scofield, Steve Livingston and (House Majority Leader) Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville),” who were all in attendance.

“The neatest thing about this (2019 broadband expansion efforts) was you had the leadership in the legislature — and Representative Shedd certainly needs to be included [in that recognition] — they took the time to understand the issue,” he added. “It’s not a Democratic, it’s not a Republican issue. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s an issue that affects all rural Alabamians of every race, color, creed, sex and anything else you want to talk about.”

Of the legislative leaders, Johnson reiterated, “They took the time to understand the issue and ask, ‘What do we need to do to swing the pendulum?’ Quite frankly, I think we’ve got one of the more cohesive public policies in the United States [now]… so I think they’ve done an excellent job.”

Stackhouse affirmed just how important SB 90 and HB 400 were from the perspective of an electric utility provider serving a rural nine-county area in central Alabama.

“80 years ago in November, our [co-op’s] first electric customer was connected… and the area flourished because of getting electricity to an area where a lot said, ‘You can’t make money at that, there’s no use doing that,'” Stackhouse advised. “It was huge.”

Now, in modern times, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative’s board has created a subsidiary to handle communications services, like broadband.

“Communication is now the electricity, and without [the legislation], it just doesn’t happen,” Stackhouse said.

He praised Scofield for his leadership, adding of SB 90 and HB 400, “It has really helped us step up.”

“And we’re not building our [broadband efforts just] on grants, we’ve got a business model we believe we can make work,” Stackhouse continued. “But grants help a lot, though, especially when it’s sparsely populated areas that need it just as much.”

Without broadband expansion, ‘they’re going to die’

Following up on just how much many rural areas in the state really do need broadband access, Howe then recalled an op-ed that Scofield wrote and Yellowhammer News published during the 2019 regular session when Scofield stated the survival of rural Alabama depends on broadband expansion.

Howe asked Scofield to outline the various aspects of modern life that are affected by access to high-speed internet services in his district and others like it across Alabama.

“In about every way you can think of,” Scofield said. “Not just agriculture, but economic development — you’re not going to recruit a company with 21st century jobs to an area without a 21st century infrastructure. You’re not going to train a 21st century workforce without 21st century infrastructure.”

“Telemedicine is the future for our healthcare, which I believe is one of the things that’s going to help bring healthcare costs down for a lot of Americans,” he continued.

Scofield stated that this is especially true, “In rural areas where we see increased levels of diabetes and obesity and a lot of ailments that seem to go up, because the healthcare isn’t easily accessible.”

“So, the thought that a person can connect to MD Anderson for a cancer screening in Greene County, and never leave Greene County, can save that person’s life,” he explained. “It’s a game-changer for a lot of people, and I think that a lot of folks just don’t realize that 830,000 or 840,000 Alabamians still don’t have [broadband] access.”

He then reaffirmed just how crucial these broadband expansion efforts are.

“It’s critical that we get this infrastructure out, that we get people hooked up in our rural areas because they’re going to die — they’re going to be left behind, they’re being left behind right now,” Scofield emphasized. “So, I think the quicker that we do that, the quicker we’re going to save some of the best areas of this state.”

‘This is a legacy’

Later in the forum, Scofield did also caution that broadband expansion to all Alabamians logistically cannot and will not happen instantaneously.

However, success will be achieved only when “we get to a point where, like power … if you want high-speed internet [wherever you live] in the state, you can connect to it,” Scofield believes.

“I think that’s where we’ve got to get,” he said. “And that’s not going to happen overnight… Everyone’s got to be patient. Lake Guntersville didn’t fill up in a day, they didn’t build the dam in a day and they didn’t give power to rural Autauga County in a day — or even here. It’s going to take a long time to build this infrastructure out, but I believe that we are on the right track.”

Scofield wrapped up the forum by lauding the integral support and teamwork of some of his fellow legislators who were in attendance, including Livingston, Ledbetter and State Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre), along with Shedd, who was unavailable to make the event.

“I’m really proud of what we came out with,” Scofield said of SB 90 as signed into law. “And I think that whether you’re an elected official or not, if you had something to do with this, I think that this is a legacy that we’re going to be able to leave this state. It’s going to benefit generations. And that’s why I do what I do, and I know that’s why they (the legislators in attendance) do what they do. I think it’s going to be something that’s going to move this state forward in ways that we can’t even envision today.”

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

4 days ago

Doug Jones’ approval rating continues to fall

(D. Jones/Facebook, YHN)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) continues to lose popularity as 2020 draws nearer.

Morning Consult on Thursday released its polling numbers for the second quarter of 2019, showing Jones’ net approval rating 20 points lower than the first quarter of 2018 when he entered the U.S. Senate.

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The polling was conducted from April 1 through June 30 and measured registered voters. The results showed 39% of respondents approved of Jones’ job performance, while 37% disapproved and 24% were undecided. The margin of error was 1%.

In contrast, Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) net approval rating is 15 points higher than Jones’, with 46% approving and only 29% disapproving of Alabama’s venerable senior senator.

Jones’ net approval rating has dropped three points since the beginning of the year.

Another poll conducted in April went deeper than Morning Consult’s approval rating surveys, showing that Jones faces nearly insurmountable demographic barriers to reelection.

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

5 days ago

Aderholt celebrates Apollo 11, calls for SLS to stay on schedule

(Rep. Aderholt/YouTube)

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) on Wednesday delivered a speech on the U.S. House floor honoring North Alabama’s Apollo 11 contributions and urgently calling for the Space Launch System (SLS) to stay on schedule for the future of American space exploration.

Aderholt’s comments came the week of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary. The launch occurred on July 16, 1969 and the landmark landing on the Moon’s surface happened four days later. Saturn V, which was developed at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, powered the mission.

After speaking of the legacy of Apollo 11, Aderholt turned his attention to how Alabama is set to make history once again.

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“I am excited about the president’s call to accelerate our plans and to land again on the Moon, by 2024,” he said. “This mission, named Artemis, will also be historic – a woman astronaut will be the next person to step on the Moon.”

“I am very proud of the role my home state played in the development of our most powerful rockets, the Saturn family. … Likewise, I am proud that Marshall Space Flight Center, including the Machoud Assembly Facility, is the designer and builder of the Space Launch System. This will be the most powerful rocket in the world, and it is approximately 90% finished. The taxpayer owns it and will benefit from it as a national asset. It is the successful, combined work of private companies and suppliers from virtually every state in the nation,” Aderholt outlined.

Extolling the capabilities of SLS, he then said the system can be “ready by 2024, but only if we move ahead this year with that goal.”

Aderholt urged his colleagues to join him in supporting SLS.

“Systems like the SLS and Orion inspire innovation, and maybe one day other rockets and capsules will surpass them, but to reach our goal of 2024, we need to stay focused and complete these nearly mature systems,” he emphasized.

The Alabama congressman said the nation’s space ambitions should not end with the next Moon landing.

“Let’s reach that peak, let’s make that landing,” Aderholt concluded. “And as we ponder the future of the Moon, let’s look up again, and set a date, a real mission date, for setting foot on Mars.”

Watch:

Aderholt’s full remarks as follows:

Fifty years ago this week, three brave Americans stepped foot on the Moon.

When we look at our children’s toys, it is amazing that they contain more data processing power than the systems which operated the Apollo vehicles.

These three American astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, could not know whether they would return. They were willing to serve their country and proud for America to be leading the world in space.

But even if our space program got a strong jump start because of the Cold War, this mission was also about the human spirit and the need to explore. The whole world was eager to hear news of the mission. No matter what might happen in the future, this would be the first time human beings stepped foot on a world other than our home. Neil Armstrong’s description of this mission as a “leap” was fitting then, and it is instructional now.

I am excited about the president’s call to accelerate our plans and to land again on the Moon, by 2024. This mission, named Artemis, will also be historic – a woman astronaut will be the next person to step on the Moon.

I am very proud of the role my home state played in the development of our most powerful rockets, the Saturn family. You can still see a real Saturn V rocket, suspended horizontally, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Likewise, I am proud that Marshall Space Flight Center, including the Machoud Assembly Facility, is the designer and builder of the Space Launch System. This will be the most powerful rocket in the world, and it is approximately 90% finished. The taxpayer owns it and will benefit from it as a national asset. It is the successful, combined work of private companies and suppliers from virtually every state in the nation.

The Saturn V rocket was able to execute Apollo missions in one launch because the rocket’s third stage propelled the lander and re-entry vehicle to the Moon’s orbit. Similarly, the SLS Exploration Upper Stage, or EUS, will enable a payload delivery to Moon orbit – including the Orion capsule – of 45 metric tons – three to four times greater than other launch vehicles currently in use or close to completion. We can have that EUS capability ready by 2024, but only if we move ahead this year with that goal.

Systems like the SLS and Orion inspire innovation, and maybe one day other rockets and capsules will surpass them, but to reach our goal of 2024, we need to stay focused and complete these nearly mature systems.

Some have said in recent years about going to the Moon, “Been there, done that.” With all due respect, I disagree. But of this new mission to the Moon, I might say, “Go there, but don’t stop there.” Sustainability offers many future benefits, but let’s not get distracted and overfill our backpack for this first, human return to the Moon. Let’s reach that peak, let’s make that landing. And as we ponder the future of the Moon, let’s look up again, and set a date, a real mission date, for setting foot on Mars.

I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

RELATED: Huntsville celebrates Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, looks to create next ‘giant leap’ — ‘Alabama is clearly in the lead, and we’re going to stay there’

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

5 days ago

Van Smith lands ‘pro-jobs’ BCA endorsement in Alabama HD 42 race

(BCA/Contributed, YHN)

Autauga County Commissioner Van Smith has received a major boost as the special primary election for Alabama House District 42 draws near.

The board of directors of ProgressPAC, the Business Council of Alabama’s (BCA) political arm, on Wednesday announced that they have endorsed Smith, a farmer and retired educator.

“I am honored to have the support of the business community,” Smith said in a statement. “Education and workforce development are the cornerstones of my campaign. I look forward to championing pro-business ideals in Montgomery.”

The seat became vacant upon the death of State Rep. Jimmy Martin (R-Clanton) in late May. The primary is scheduled for August 20.

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ProgressPAC Chairman John Mazyck said, “Van Smith’s background as a farmer and an educator combined with his service on the County Commission give him solid credentials to serve the central Alabama district in the House of Representatives.”

“He has demonstrated that he is committed to recruiting new industry and growing jobs. ProgressPAC is proud to endorse him in the August 20 special election,” Mazyck concluded.

BCA’s ProgressPAC is comprised of a statewide board of directors and nine regional advisory committees (RACs) that assess races in each locality and make endorsement recommendations to the full board of directors.

ProgressPAC’s RAC 4, chaired by Horace Horn of PowerSouth Energy, initially made the recommendation to endorse Smith, which was followed by the full board voting affirmatively on this recommendation.

“Alabama’s business community is proud to support Van Smith,” Horn emphasized. “We look forward to working with him as we continue to best position our state for continued growth, recruiting jobs and workforce development.”

Smith earned a master’s degree from Alabama A&M in Agriscience Education. He served 37 years in public education as a teacher, assistant principal and principal, retiring in 2013.

Since then, Smith, 66, has served on the Autauga County Commission. Born in Chilton County, he also currently operates Hickory Hill cattle and hay farm.

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

6 days ago

Palmer on Trump’s ‘Squad’ tweets: ‘Ill-timed and insensitive, but not racist’

(WH/Flickr, G. Palmer/Facebook)

All six Republican members of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation on Tuesday voted against a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for tweets he made over the weekend calling on four prominent Democratic freshman congresswoman, known as “The Squad,” to “go back” to the countries from which they came.

With the resolution passing mostly on party lines (235 Democrats were joined by only four Republican supporting the measure), Congressmen Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Mo Brooks (AL-05) and Gary Palmer (AL-06) released statements explaining their positions.

Palmer did not embrace Trump’s tweets but emphasized Democrats were not in the right.

“President Trump’s comments on Twitter were ill-timed and insensitive, but not racist, as the Socialist Democrats have hypocritically claimed,” Palmer said.

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He continued, “The hypocrisy is glaringly apparent when you consider that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently tweeted, ‘This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants,’ and that Representative Ilhan Omar recently tweeted that support for Israel was ‘all about the Benjamins.’

“The Founders envisioned the House floor as a place where the people’s business is conducted,” Palmer advised. “It was not designed for hypocritical, political grandstanding. The House could conduct no other business if we responded to every unbecoming comment of elected officials on social media.”

He concluded that the Democrats were wasting time when real issues were going unresolved at the expense of scoring cheap partisan points.

“Instead of wasting time on comments made on a Twitter account, we should be focused on addressing the issues that are of greatest concern to Americans, including the crisis at our southern border. This is what we have been elected to do. We have not been elected as the social media police,” Palmer emphasized.

‘Socialist Squad’

In his statement, Byrne referenced his standing offer to pay the airfare for “The Squad” to go live in Venezuela, which was first reported by Yellowhammer News.

“Today’s vote is a transparent and ineffective attempt to distract from the open warfare inside the Democratic Party,” he commented. “The long histories of anti-Semitic and un-American comments from the so called ‘Socialist Squad’ deserve universal condemnation, and Democrats’ overnight transition from a circular firing squad to a circle of support is the height of hypocrisy.”

“Since ‘the Squad’ thinks America is such a terrible place, I’ve offered to fly them to the socialist paradise of Venezuela,”Byrne added. “In the meantime, we should stop wasting time on show votes like this and finally take action to secure the border and solve the immigration crisis.”

‘Hatred for America’s foundational principles’

In his statement, Brooks forcefully pushed back on the charges of “racism” against Trump, saying the tweets had nothing to do with race.

“President Trump hammered various Socialist Democrats for their support for evil Socialism; repugnant, non-stop invective and hatred shown for the foundational principles which have made America the greatest nation in world history; open disdain and dislike of Israel; and religious prejudice against the Jewish people,” the north Alabama congressman outlined.

“Socialist Democrats have no legitimate defense of Socialism, hatred for America’s foundational principles, open disdain and dislike of Israel, and religious prejudice against the Jewish people so, instead, they do what Socialist Democrats candidate schools train them to do: divert public attention by hollering racism despite the facts being crystal clear that President Trump was motivated by a lot of things, but none of them had anything at all to do with race or skin pigmentation,” Brooks continued.

Brooks said Democrats should not have “falsely” brought race into the equation.

“Just as a person’s skin pigmentation should not be wrongly used as a sword against him, a person’s skin pigmentation should also not be wrongly used as a shield that deflects from proper political discourse,” he added. “Socialist Democrats are wrong, sinister and insidious to interject race as a motivation for President Trump’s tweets when those very same tweets show on their face a variety of motivations that have nothing to do with race or skin pigmentation.”

“The Socialist Democrats’ imputing false, racial motive to President Trump without supporting evidence and in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is malicious and vile conduct that insidiously divides America on racial grounds while undermining the credibility of legitimate racist claims made in American society,” Brooks concluded. “Revolting and malevolent conduct that promotes racial division for political gain must be condemned and opposed. With my vote, I do both.”

Update 2:20 p.m.:

Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) released a statement on voting against the resolution.

“The House Democrats are in total disarray and yesterday’s events on the House Floor were an embarrassment,” he said.

“Today’s expected vote to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump is completely baseless and ridiculous,” Rogers added. “Democrats are still delusional and in denial about the 2016 election. They are so blinded by their hate for President Trump, that they would rather make cheap political points with their radical Socialist base than do their jobs. I am disgusted by it. I strongly stand with President Trump and his America First agenda.”

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

6 days ago

Jones latest finance report: 88% of funds from out-of-state again

(D. Jones/Facebook, Wikicommons, YHN)

Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) latest fundraising report has been filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), with the senator continuing to rake in money from almost everywhere but his own home state.

Jones’ report, which covers April through June, showed that Alabama’s junior senator brought in $2,006,226.32 during the second quarter. With his expenses totaling $841,602.44 during the same time span, his “burn rate” was 41.9%, much higher than any of the Republicans vying to unseat him in 2020.

Geographically, the primary sources of contributions for Jones was much like the previous two quarters, when he raised more respectively from overseas and other states than from the Yellowhammer State.

In the second quarter, 87.78% of Jones’ itemized individual contributions came from out-of-state, compared to 12.22% coming from Alabamians. A whopping 45.35% of his itemized individual contributions came from California, New York and the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area alone.

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He raised the most in itemized individual contributions from New York (16.16%), followed by California (15.10%).

Jones, a staunch advocate of counting illegal aliens in the census, received 8.02% of his itemized individual contributions from Texas.

By occupation, Jones received the most money in itemized individual funds from contributors self-reporting that they were unemployed (19.97%). Attorneys (19.03%) were the next highest occupation.

To be clear, the above percentages do not factor in the $392,352.94 Jones raised during the second quarter from other political committees, such as PACs. The locations of these committees would drive the geographic breakdown towards the out-of-state side of the equation even more.

Jones ended the quarter with $4,259,540.86 cash on hand.

Read about the Republican candidates’ fundraising numbers here.

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

7 days ago

Alabama State Rep. Pringle visits Pelosi’s office to support Trump’s infrastructure talks, speak out against I-10 bridge toll

(Chris Pringle/YouTube, D. Trump/Instagram, N. Pelosi/Flickr)

State Representative Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) on Monday visited U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office to fight the proposed I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge toll.

An email from Pringle’s AL-01 congressional campaign explained that he intended to personally ask Pelosi why she walked out on President Donald Trump during infrastructure talks last month. However, Pringle was turned away by Pelosi’s staff.

This did not dissuade Pringle from making his point, as he recorded a video outside of the speaker’s Capitol office and then published it for the world to see.

In the video, he called on Pelosi to stop “playing political games” with infrastructure, which is an issue that should have bipartisan support on the merits.

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Pringle lamented that the Democrats’ obstruction is “going to cause [southwest Alabamians] to pay a $6 toll to cross that bridge (the to-be-built I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge) and that’s not right.”

“We need that infrastructure plan and we need it acted on now,” he added.

Watch:

Pringle is an opponent of the proposed $6 (each way) toll, which he emphasized would hurt locals. Instead, he supports finding alternate funding solutions.

“The fact that Nancy Pelosi can’t get her act together to make progress on an infrastructure bill means we can’t get federal funding for projects like the Mobile River Bridge,” Pringle said in a statement. “As your next congressman, I’ll stand with President Trump and go toe to toe with liberal [D]emocrats to fight for the citizens of my district.”

“The citizens of Southwest Alabama deserve the ability to get between work and home every day without the added burden of $12 or more a day. This plan is nothing more than an added tax on our local families,” he concluded.

The trip to Pelosi’s office came three days after Pringle and the entire Mobile County delegation in the Alabama legislature sent a letter to Governor Kay Ivey opposing the toll, which has been proposed by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to fund the project.

“A toll would have a detrimental impact on individuals and families that we represent in the greater Mobile area,” the legislators wrote. “A toll could cost an individual hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars a year, which would be a huge financial burden on many of our constituents.”

They added, “We are certainly grateful that the bridge will be built, and hope that other funding possibilities will be explored to pay for its construction. Allow recreational users from out of state to pay the toll, not the working men and women of Mobile and Baldwin counties.”

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

1 week ago

Byrne offers to pay airfare for AOC, ‘The Squad’ to go live in Venezuela

(B. Byrne/Facebook, 60 Minutes/YouTube, WH/Flickr)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), one of Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates in the 2020 cycle, is siding with President Donald Trump in his feud with the four Democratic freshman congresswomen who comprise “The Squad:” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).

Over the weekend, Trump drew criticism after tweeting The Squad should “go back [to the countries] from which they came.”

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In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Monday, Byrne offered to pay the airfare for the four far-left Democrats to go live in Venezuela “so they can enjoy their failed Socialist Paradise.”

Byrne said, “I agree with President Trump that America is an exceptional country, and I’m proud to live here.”

“If AOC and the crew of Socialist Democrats are so angry with our country, then I’m offering to pay for their ticket to Venezuela so they can enjoy their failed Socialist Paradise,” he concluded.

Byrne then posted a video on Twitter of Trump reinforcing his initial message.

Trump also doubled down in a slew of tweets on Monday morning, — and then again in the afternoon.

RELATED: Merrill off to hot fundraising start, Moore off the pace

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

1 week ago

Merrill off to hot fundraising start, Moore off the pace

(J. Merrill/Twitter, Stand with Roy Moore/Facebook, YHN)

Secretary of State John Merrill and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore on Monday became the latest of Alabama’s 2020 Republican U.S. Senate candidates to release their second quarter fundraising numbers, with the results on the opposite end of the spectrum.

According to his own social media posts, Merrill raised $217,000 in just the 12 days from becoming a candidate and the end of June, concluding the quarter with over $215,000 cash on hand. Merrill formally announced on June 25 after initially filing as a candidate with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) seven days prior.

“No other campaign has raised as much in such a short period of time. Alabama wants a proven conservative winner in the United States Senate and only our campaign will give them that opportunity!” Merrill said.

On the other hand, Moore raised $16,964 in the quarter after announcing his bid on June 20, per his FEC filing. The 2017 nominee has $16,224 on hand as of June 30.

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While Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) raised the most of the GOP Senate candidates during the second quarter, Merrill’s initial fundraising pace now leads the pack.

Last quarter, which began April 1, Byrne raised over $750,000. As of the quarter’s end, he has almost $2.5 million cash on hand in his Senate account after entering the second quarter with slightly over $2 million.

Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s and State Rep. Arnold Mooney’s (R-Indian Springs) second quarter fundraising numbers were also strong.

Tuberville raised just over $420,000 last quarter, while Mooney brought in a bit under $300,000. Tuberville also loaned his campaign an additional $1 million, putting his cash-on-hand at over $1.3 million at the quarter’s end after expenses.

Mooney’s campaign has emphasized that their $300,000 haul came just over a 30-day period, as Mooney himself did not start making fundraising calls and personal overtures until the end of the Alabama legislature’s 2019 regular session. However, it should be noted that he announced on May 6 and his campaign sent out a direct fundraising email on May 9.

Tuberville entered the race on April 6 but did not have a fundraiser on staff until a few weeks into his bid.

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

1 week ago

House-passed NDAA contains provisions detrimental to Alabama’s aerospace industry, national security

(ULA, Army, YHN)

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed H.R. 2500, the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which has been criticized as “hyper-partisan.”

The NDAA passed the House 220-197, with Democrats voting in favor of the legislation 220-8 while Republicans unanimously voted against. Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), in a statement, even said the measure “would better be called the Non-Defense Authorization Act.”

While President Donald Trump’s administration and other congressional Republicans have also slammed the House version of the critical legislation as being detrimental to national security, there is one glaring provision that especially hurts Alabama’s interests.

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As previously reported by Yellowhammer News, the now House-passed version of the NDAA contains a measure inserted into the legislation by a powerful Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), that would likely have a negative impact on Alabama’s aerospace industry, which has been heavily involved in the Air Force’s national security space launch program.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal and numerous manufacturers and suppliers located in the Yellowhammer State have taken on an elevated role in the effort.

An industry source has previously noted that maintaining the planned path helps solidify the state’s position even further because of the amount of investments that members of its own industry have already made in the program.

The program, called Launch Services Agreement (LSA), awarded three companies the opportunity to develop launch vehicles for use in national security space missions under public-private partnerships.

News of the award to carry national security payloads brought praise from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and others.

The companies entered into LSA with the understanding that certain performance requirements were necessary to participate in a second phase of the program where the Air Force would only call on the top two providers.

As a result, companies became incentivized to make substantial investments for the opportunity to participate in the second phase.

However, Smith’s language contained in the House-passed NDAA now limits the number of launches under the original LSA to 29; attempts to award $500 million to a company that did not make the first cut under the LSA; and mandates that the Air Force must report back to Congress before it awards a contract in 2020.

While Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) in a release Friday hailed the inclusion of a provision technically keeping LSA on schedule, the requirement of getting congressional reapproval next year would, unfortunately, lead to increased chances that more roadblocks would pop up that could ultimately end up delaying things.

Yellowhammer News previously received a copy of an Air Force memo outlining the reasons why it opposes Smith’s changes to the process. Its chief concerns are that the changes would not reward competition and would fail to meet national security needs.

This was also reflected in the Statement of Administration policy, released by the Trump administration.

Key passage from the Statement of Administration policy as follows:

National Security Space Launch Program (Section 1601). The Administration strongly objects to this provision as it would increase mission risk for the Nation’s national security satellites. After careful and considered study, DOD determined that a contract for national security space launch requirements over the course of five years would optimize warfighter flexibility, minimizes mission risk, and provides exceptional value to the taxpayer. It would also align with the conclusion of the current generation of several satellite architectures. Confining Phase 2 to fewer missions would increase per-launch cost while simultaneously introducing risk and costs for some intelligence payloads. Finally, notifying Congress prior to a contract would be a departure from long-standing tradition and might put DOD at a greater risk of a protest.

Speaking on the House-passed NDAA, Byrne added, “[E]xtremist Democrat provisions will directly harm Alabama’s strong national defense footprint.”

The Senate, on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, already passed its own version of the NDAA. The next step will be for a conference committee comprised of members of both chambers to meet and reconcile the two significantly different versions.

Brooks commented, “It is unfortunate Socialist Democrats refused to work in a bipartisan manner— as Republicans did when we held the House majority— to craft a bill that both Republicans and Democrats could support. After voting ‘No’ on the FY20 NDAA in the Armed Services Committee, I held out hope the bill would be improved on the House floor. Unfortunately, the bill was made even worse by radical Democrat amendments that were accepted and pro-defense Republican Amendments that were rejected by the majority party.”

“Maybe the eventual Senate-House compromise bill will be worthy of a ‘Yes’ vote,” he continued. “Such is life in a House of Representatives governed by radical Socialist Democrats, many of whom consider Nancy Pelosi ‘too conservative’ to be House Speaker.”

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

1 week ago

Rogers: ‘Disrespectful,’ ‘naive’ for AOC to call for abolishing Dep. of Homeland Security while representing NYC

(NBC News/YouTube, M. Rogers/Facebook)

Representative Mike Rogers (AL-03) is pushing back on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) escalating calls to eliminate the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Appearing Thursday on FOX Business’ “Bulls and Bears,” Rogers was asked to respond to recent comments by Ocasio-Cortez that the formation of DHS was one of the George W. Bush administration’s “egregious mistakes” that needs to be undone.

The show host also reminded the audience that DHS was formed in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

“She’s different, I’ll give her that that,” Rogers remarked.

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“First of all, I was surprised that a representative that represents part of New York City would take that position given that they lost nearly 3,000 lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” he emphasized.

Ocasio-Cortez represents Queens, a borough of New York City.

The host then asked Rogers if Ocasio-Cortez’s comments, considering the district she represents, were especially “disrespectful.”

“Absolutely, it was disrespectful,” Rogers responded. “But it was also — basically naive.”

He explained that he has been on the House DHS oversight committee since the department’s formation when it was a congressional select committee rather than a permanent standing committee.

“I’ve watched the department grow and mature and get better at what they do,” Rogers advised. “I know for a fact that they have helped prevent other attacks… There have been many terrorist attempts and organizations that have been thwarted that the public has no idea about because we cannot let them know what happened because it would give up our sources.”

He also criticized Ocasio-Cortez’s further specific calls that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) be eliminated, with Rogers saying that those agents are needed to protect the nation’s borders from “bad actors” like sex traffickers, terrorists and violent international gangs like MS-13.

“It was just a naive statement,” Rogers added.

A Fox Business commentator then pressed him for further comment on Ocasio-Cortez’s demands to get rid of CBP and ICE, criticizing that she does not have an alternative solution for protecting the nation’s borders or ports of entry.

“That’s exactly right, which is why I said it’s naive, at best,” Rogers stressed. “And I’m being generous with my language because I don’t want to be hateful on TV.”

Watch:

Rogers is currently the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

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

1 week ago

Tuberville: ‘I’m really disgusted with Paul Ryan’

(Speaker P. Ryan, T. Tuberville/Facebook)

Former Auburn University head football coach and current 2020 U.S. Senate Republican candidate Tommy Tuberville is standing strongly with President Donald Trump in a new public spat with former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Excerpts released Thursday of an upcoming book featured Ryan criticizing Trump, saying the president “didn’t know anything about the government” and that Ryan and others “helped to stop him (Trump) from making bad decisions.”

This came the same day that Tuberville interviewed on WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” with host Jeff Poor asking him to assess the president’s handling of America’s immigration issues.

Tuberville pointed at Ryan as a major reason the United States has a crisis at the country’s border with Mexico.

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“[Trump] inherited this problem because our politicians have just absolutely dropped the ball,” Tuberville lamented.

“And I’m really disgusted with Paul Ryan, because he had a chance to help put this border wall up and stop all this mess,” the GOP Senate contender continued. “And, you know, he took the money and ran from Congress… He didn’t know what he was doing. He didn’t help Donald Trump in the House get anything passed. Even Donald Trump said he lied to him. He said he was going to get it done [but] it didn’t work out.”

Tuberville added that the president is “trying to do the best he can with what he’s got.”

He said that more border patrol agents are desperately needed and that Democrats in Congress will not even give the president enough humanitarian aide for people currently in immigration detention facilities.

“I’ve got people that live down there that have said it’s just absolutely just a joke,” Tuberville decried. “But that’s what this whole country has been with the people that we’ve got running it. So, hopefully, we can get something done. Of course, you know, you’ve got the far-left Democrats that are just absolutely against helping anybody. They don’t want Donald Trump to get any credit. He doesn’t want the credit, he just wants to get it done. He’s a doer. So, it’s a slow process, and you know hopefully, he can get things done in his way, and that’s really the only way.”

Tuberville emphasized that hardworking Americans are sick of being “lied to” by elected officials.

“People are tired of career politicians. … We’ve kicked the can down the road for so long,” he commented. “Our career politicians, they’ve got us in a bind — a real big bind. Thank goodness we’ve got Donald Trump up there trying to fix this mess they’ve got us in.”

Listen:

Trump has since responded to Ryan’s criticisms in a series of tweets.

“[Ryan] had the Majority & blew it away with his poor leadership and bad timing. Never knew how to go after the Dems like they go after us,” Trump added. “Couldn’t get him out of Congress fast enough!”

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

2 weeks ago

Jones mocks Obamacare ‘repeal and replace’ supporters — ‘You’ve got nothing’

(Doug Jones/Facebook)

In a conference call with members of the media on Thursday, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) gave another passionate defense of Obamacare while slamming political opponents who do not believe the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA) is working well for hardworking people across Alabama and the nation.

According to WHNT, Jones asserted that “repeal and replace” proponents have not offered an alternative to Obamacare.

“You know certainly you had ‘repeal, repeal,’ what’s interesting about those is you don’t have, ‘replace’ replace.’ You’ve got nothing, that’s the biggest problem that we have here,” Alabama’s junior senator emphasized.

Jones has previously said, “Repeal and replace is a political slogan. It’s not something that’s workable.”

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Jones’ Thursday remarks came after he again expressed opposition to an Alabama-backed lawsuit arguing that Obamacare is unconstitutional.

Per The Selma Times-Journal, Jones alleged that the lawsuit is “yet another attempt to take healthcare away from folks.”

He claimed that “upholding the law could literally be a life or death matter” and that people with pre-existing conditions would be left out in the cold without Obamacare.

However, President Donald Trump and other Republicans have emphasized that protecting pre-existing conditions would be a priority in any replacement plan.

“I cannot emphasize enough how much this lawsuit would hurt people who rely on health care coverage made possible by this law,” Jones added on Thursday.

Leading candidates for the GOP nomination against Jones in 2020 have come out in favor of repealing and replacing Obamacare with a high-quality, free market-based plan that actually is affordable for everyday families in the Yellowhammer State.

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

2 weeks ago

Byrne leads fundraising in Alabama’s GOP Senate primary

(B. Byrne/Twitter)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) led second quarter fundraising for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary, per numbers provided to Yellowhammer News on Thursday. Byrne also continues to have the most cash on hand of all GOP contenders.

Last quarter, which ran from April through June, Byrne raised over $750,000. As of the quarter’s end, he has $2.5 million cash on hand in his Senate account after entering the second quarter with slightly over $2 million.

Byrne’s campaign told Yellowhammer News that they are especially proud that the south Alabama congressman received donations from all 67 counties in the Yellowhammer State.

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“Our campaign is fueled by grassroots supporters who want a Senator who will fight for Alabama and our conservative values,” Seth Morrow, Byrne’s campaign manager, said. “With donations from all 67 counties, a team of over 650 volunteers, and $2.5 million in the bank, Bradley is the only candidate with the grassroots support and resources needed to win the primary and defeat Doug Jones in 2020.”

This came after Yellowhammer News reported on former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s and State Rep. Arnold Mooney’s (R-Indian Springs) fundraising numbers hours earlier on Thursday.

Tuberville raised just over $420,000 last quarter, while Mooney brought in a bit over $300,000. Tuberville also loaned his campaign an additional $1 million, putting his cash-on-hand at over $1.3 million at the quarter’s end after expenses.

All of the candidates’ Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports will be filed and publicly available in the coming days.

Secretary of State John Merrill and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who both entered the race in the closing weeks of the quarter, have yet to release their numbers.

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

2 weeks ago

Jones: Trump in ‘contempt’ of court on census citizenship question

(Jeff Poor/YHN, WH/Flickr)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is doubling down on his opposition to a citizenship question being asked on the 2020 U.S. Census.

Alabama’s junior senator previously came out swinging in favor of counting illegal aliens in the census. Now, he is going a step further, saying the executive branch’s power should be usurped in the matter.

MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle on Thursday asked Jones what Congress should do about the possibility that President Donald Trump will issue an executive order mandating a citizenship question be included on the upcoming census.

“Well, I don’t think it should be Congress,” Jones replied. “I think it should be the courts.”

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“He (Trump) is, in effect, I think just flouting a court order that happened the other day,” Jones continued.

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling last month, at least temporarily, blocked the citizenship question on procedural grounds, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing that the evidence that had emerged regarding Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision-making process on including the question “tells a story that does not match the explanation the secretary gave.”

However, to be clear, the court’s decision stated that the Trump administration has the authority to ask about citizenship on the census if it has valid reasons for doing so and could explain and support those reasons truthfully.

Jones somewhat acknowledged this caveat, although adding, “[T]hey didn’t say, ‘Just go ahead and do it by yourself [to the president].'”

“I don’t know if — obviously this is an issue that Congress will take up — but more importantly, I think it’s contempt of the court system,” Jones claimed. “It is a continuing pattern in this administration that, you know, ‘I’m just going to get what I want, the hell with everybody else, it doesn’t matter what Congress says, it doesn’t matter what the courts say.'”

“Where I think this needs to be addressed is in the court system, because they have addressed it first, there is an order out there and he (Trump) needs to abide by it,” he concluded.

Watch:

Trump is expected to make an announcement regarding the citizenship question during a press event in the Rose Garden on Thursday. Congressional Democrats believe the president will issue the executive order and have already said they then will attempt passing legislation banning the citizenship question.

RELATED: Byrne: ‘I’m encouraging’ Trump, DoJ to go forward with 2020 U.S. Census citizenship question

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

2 weeks ago

Tuberville, Mooney release Q2 fundraising numbers

(T. Tuberville/Facebook, A. Mooney for Senate)

Second quarter fundraising numbers are starting to come in from the leading candidates facing off in Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary.

While all of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports will be filed and publicly available in the coming days, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville’s campaign on Thursday confirmed to Yellowhammer News that he raised just over $420,000 last quarter, which ran from April-June.

Tuberville also loaned his campaign an additional $1 million, putting his cash-on-hand at over $1.3 million at the quarter’s end after expenses.

This came after State Rep. Arnold Mooney’s (R-Indian Springs) campaign on Tuesday confirmed to Yellowhammer News that their candidate raised over $300,000 during the quarter.

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Mooney’s numbers were first reported by The Daily Caller.

Tuberville’s campaign said his $420,000 quarterly haul is more money than any other Republican candidate has raised in the first 90 days of their candidacy. Tuberville entered the race on April 6 but did not have a fundraiser on staff until a few weeks into his bid.

Touting their status as a political outsider with strong grassroots support, Tuberville’s campaign highlighted the fact that they raised 70% of the quarterly contributions from Alabamians, with nearly 73% of contributions under $200.

Tuberville’s exact second quarter numbers and statistics as follows:

Raised: $420,251
Cash-on-hand: $1,342,541
Percent of contributions from Alabamians: 69%
Percent of contributions from individuals: 99%
Percent of contributions under $200: 73%
Average contribution: $351
Total Number of Donors: 1,054

“Coach is the only candidate in this race who isn’t a politician so it’s no surprise he’s seeing such a huge surge in grassroots support and fundraising,” Tuberville Campaign Manager Paul Shashy said in a statement. “It’s clear folks from all corners of our state are ready to fire Doug Jones and elect an outsider who has been supporting President Trump from the beginning and has never gotten weak-kneed in that support.”

Mooney’s campaign is emphasizing that their $300,000 haul came just over a 30-day period, as Mooney himself did not start making fundraising calls and personal overtures until the end of the Alabama legislature’s 2019 regular session. However, it should be noted that he announced on May 6 and his campaign sent out a direct fundraising email on May 9.

“In just 30 days since the legislative session ended and fundraising began in earnest, Arnold raised enough money to show he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with and received some huge endorsements. We’re excited by the momentum,” Jordan Gehrke, a spokesman for the campaign, said in a statement.

The state representative has pulled in a bevy of early national endorsements, including Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), talk show hosts Mark Levin and Erick Erickson, Duck Dynasty star Al Robertson and the Washington, D.C.-based Senate Conservatives Fund.

Mooney’s campaign also said Tuberville is a member of the “establishment,” along with Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), who is polling in second behind Tuberville as of the last credible primary survey.

“While better-known, establishment candidates Bradley Byrne and Tommy Tuberville are expected to report they raised over a million dollars each this quarter, remember: Arnold Mooney did all of his fundraising in less time, and he raised it at a faster pace,” Gehrke added.

Byrne has yet to release his fundraising numbers from the second quarter.

The same holds true for Secretary of State John Merrill and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who both entered the race in the closing weeks of the quarter.

Byrne ended the first quarter of 2019 with just over $2 million cash-on-hand in his Senate campaign account.

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

2 weeks ago

National media attacks Mitch McConnell over great-great-grandfathers owning slaves in Alabama

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

NBC News on Monday raised eyebrows with a bizarre report seemingly intended to damage Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a native of the Yellowhammer State.

The report stated that McConnell’s “two great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned a total of at least 14 slaves in Limestone County, Alabama.”

The outlet further decried that “all but two of [the slaves were] female.”

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According to its own reporting, NBC News “discovered” this information when searching through ancestry and census records on McConnell after the Senate Republican leader recently came out against reparations, a policy proposal that has been and still is widely unpopular among the general American populace.

“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, when none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,” McConnell said in June, a day before a House subcommittee held a hearing on reparations. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African American president.”

Now, NBC News is apparently suggesting McConnell exemplifies why there should be reparations.

“McConnell has opposed paying reparations to descendants of slaves, though census records show his family, like many others, benefited from their labor,” the subtitle stated.

Additionally, the outlet seems to be implying McConnell has engaged in some sort of coverup regarding the contrived controversy.

“No news articles were found in which McConnell has previously spoken of his ancestors being slave owners,” NBC News emphasized, also pointing to multiple supposed examples in McConnell’s memoir when he did not mention slavery.

McConnell was born Feb. 20, 1942, in Sheffield, Alabama. Before his immediate family moved from Athens, Alabama to Georgia when he was eight-years-old, generations of his family had lived in and around Limestone County. His paternal grandparents are buried in the Athens City Cemetery, for example.

The NBC News article drew immediate criticism from moderates and conservatives on social media for its clearly activist bent.

However, in stark contrast, other national legacy media outlets have hailed the article on McConnell’s great-great-grandfathers.

RELATED: Yellowhammer News’ Dale Jackson pushes for Mitch McConnell statue in Senate leader’s Alabama birthplace

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

2 weeks ago

Watch: Doug Jones vows to oppose hypothetical future Trump Supreme Court nominee

(Screenshot/YouTube)

In a newly released video, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) can be seen promising to do “everything” in his power to stop a hypothetical future Supreme Court pick nominated by President Donald Trump.

The video, originally tweeted out by Donald Trump, Jr. on Monday evening, captured a Democratic constituent at the senator’s University of North Alabama town hall last week posing a hypothetical situation to Jones about how he would react to Trump nominating someone to fill a Supreme Court vacancy from now through the end of the president’s current term.

Yellowhammer News has since obtained a link to the full clip of the relevant exchange, which lasts over three minutes.

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Asked by the constituent what he would do “to make sure [a confirmation of that hypothetical nominee] doesn’t happen,” Jones responded, “I’ll do everything I can.”

Alabama’s junior senator from Mountain Brook continued to lament that Republicans are in charge of the Senate rather than Democrats led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), thus allowing the GOP to confirm qualified nominees.

“I can go to the floor and speak about it, I can raise hell about it, but under the rules, there is virtually nothing I can do — except try to shame him, which I’m sure that that will happen should we have that vacancy,” Jones decried.

He expressed hope that Democrats would retake the Senate in the 2020 election cycle, putting Schumer in charge of the chamber.

“[T]he majority leader has such power that there is not very much we can do [right now],” Jones advised.

“All we can do is speak up and speak out,” he added.

Jones said that Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have both expressed their intent to treat a hypothetical Trump Supreme Court nominee before the 2020 election just as Justices Neil Gorsuch’s and Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation processes were handled.

“I think there’s a chance we’ll get another Supreme Court nominee before the 2020 election,” Jones advised.

He emphasized, “I wish I could do more, but I’m just one of 47 [Democratic Caucus] voices to say, ‘Stop. Hold on.'”

Jones voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation but had not yet been elected to office at the time of Gorsuch’s confirmation.

Concluding his thought on the subject, Jones went as far as to say that the Supreme Court “is not really an independent judiciary right now.”

This comes in stark contrast to the outcomes of controversial, politically charged cases considered by the highest court in the land since Kavanaugh was confirmed in the fall of 2018. Both he and Gorsuch have sided with the left-leaning members of the court against Republicans, just as left-leaning members have sided with their right-leaning counterparts on other cases targeted by Democrats — at the end of the day, legal merits of cases are being considered by the justices over partisanship, despite handwringing from Jones and others.

Watch:

This comes as Jones has pledged to back whomever the Democrats ultimately nominate against Trump in 2020, no matter how radical that individual is.

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

2 weeks ago

Russians coming to Alabama for Planned Parenthood, abortion benefit

(D. Bochkarev/Facebook, YHN)

A controversial Russian band known worldwide for their radical activism will perform in Birmingham this week to benefit Planned Parenthood and a local abortion fund.

According to French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), the band “Pussy Riot” will be featured in a sold-out concert.

The event is being held at Saturn, with doors opening at 7:00 p.m on Thursday.

ABC News reported that Saturn’s co-owner, Brian Teasley, said discussions on holding the concert began before Alabama’s new abortion debate entered into the international spotlight. However, they became extra motivated to hold the performance after the Alabama Human Life Protection Act became law.

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“It just gave it a little more of a layer of importance to them to come to Alabama and play this show, as opposed to it maybe just being a concert where Pussy Riot was playing. But [for] a band that kind of revolves around protests, it just kind of made sense,” Teasley told ABC News.

The concert will reportedly benefit Planned Parenthood and the Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based group that provides funding to women seeking abortions at one of the state’s three operational abortion clinics.

The Yellowhammer Fund is not associated with Yellowhammer Multimedia or Yellowhammer News.

The Soviet Union in 1920 became the first state in the world to legalize abortion.

“It is ridiculous to me that it’s still a question in 2019 whether women can have an abortion,” Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova told AFP.

“We want to come to Alabama and support women who are in quite a critical and vulnerable position right now,” she added. “Many Americans, they believe that Russia is a patriarchal country — it’s true in a lot of ways, but when it comes to abortion rights, it’s not questionable.”

The Alabama Human Life Protection Act is not in effect and will almost certainly never go into effect.

Tolokonnikova’s interview with AFP further raised questions over whether she understands that Birmingham and Jefferson County are actually Democratic strongholds.

“I’m looking forward to meeting inspiring people, who are surviving in an environment that is not particularly open to progressive people,” she commented.

Tolokonnikova and two other band members were convicted in Russia in 2012 and jailed for an unwelcome political demonstration inside a church. This came after they held an orgy at a public zoological museum in their home country in 2008.

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has called the law Pussy Riot will protest “extreme.” He believes abortion is “a constitutional right.”

Jones previously voted against banning using federal funds for abortions and even voted against banning late-term abortions through the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

This means Jones favors abortion rights that go well beyond Russia’s law, which allows abortion only in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, outside of certain exceptions.

This comes after Planned Parenthood spent approximately $1.5 million in dark money opposition to Amendment Two on Alabama’s general election ballot in 2018. Despite Planned Parenthood and other national pro-abortion groups railing against the pro-life referendum, Amendment Two was approved by the state’s voters by a 60%-40% margin.

RELATED: Birmingham pastors: ‘Planned Parenthood is not welcome and has no place in our city’

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