The Wire

  • West Alabama woman points to bullying, race after her nine-year-old daughter’s suicide

    Excerpt:

    A mother in west Alabama is grieving after her nine-year-old daughter, McKenzie Adams, died by suicide.

    CBS 42 reported Monday that Jasmine Adams’ daughter was a fourth grader at U.S. Jones elementary school in Demopolis, which is close to the family’s home in Linden.

    Following her tragic death on December 3, Adams reportedly advised CBS 42 that McKenzie told her teachers and her assistant principal a number of times that she was being bullied.

  • Hoover boycott leader defends Louis Farrakhan, talks about ‘the enemy’

    Excerpt:

    Student minister Tremon Muhammad, who leads the Nation of Islam’s Birmingham mosque, took to Facebook Monday evening to defend Louis Farrakhan and attack the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and “all of those that are aligned with them.”

    Muhammad, who posted his thoughts in an approximately 45-minute Facebook Live video, was reacting to Yellowhammer News’ article from earlier that day that revealed he was leading the Hoover boycott efforts in the wake of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr.’s death in an officer-involved shooting at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night.

    “[W]hat’s happening in Birmingham is just a sign of what’s going to be happening all across America,” Muhammad said.

  • Sessions makes first speech since resigning as attorney general, still supports Trump’s agenda

    Excerpt:

    Speaking at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s 146th annual meeting on Tuesday, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered his first public remarks since leaving President Donald Trump’s administration.

    Despite his forced resignation and having been on the raw end of several Trump tweets and public comments this year, Sessions graciously made clear that he still supports the work the president is doing, praising the administration’s successes and some ongoing agenda items in a roughly 20-minute speech. He did not directly address speculation that he could run to return to the United States Senate in 2020.

    He did, however, add some levity to the situation, with the crowd of approximately 600 enjoying a few trademark Sessions jokes.

    “I’ve had a few ups and downs in th

14 hours ago

Sessions makes first speech since resigning as attorney general, still supports Trump’s agenda

(S.Ross/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — Speaking at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s 146th annual meeting on Tuesday, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered his first public remarks since leaving President Donald Trump’s administration.

Despite his forced resignation and having been on the raw end of several Trump tweets and public comments this year, Sessions graciously made clear that he still supports the work the president is doing, praising the administration’s successes and some ongoing agenda items in a roughly 20-minute speech. He did not directly address speculation that he could run to return to the United States Senate in 2020.

He did, however, add some levity to the situation, with the crowd of approximately 600 enjoying a few trademark Sessions jokes.

“I’ve had a few ups and downs in the last two years,” Sessions remarked while thanking Bishop Lawson and Cheryl Bryan, who were in attendance. “And every now and then, it’s good to know your bishop is praying for you.”

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A couple of minutes later, Sessions spoke on some federal issues of note.

“On the Make America Great Again front, I will cite these words from Friday’s Wall Street Journal: Wage growth matched the highest rate in nearly a decade and unemployment held at its lowest rate in nearly half a century at 3.7 percent. This is the lowest rate since 1969,” Sessions outlined.

He continued, referring to his wife sitting some yards away from him, “That’s when Mary and I married – 1969.”

Sessions then spoke about the benefits of getting people working again across the nation, while saying that the workforce participation rate still needs improvement.

“So, personally, I’m attempting to chill out a bit,” Sessions said, transitioning away from speaking on the economy.

“You can be sure that I don’t follow the tweets as closely as I used to,” he added to great laughter and a smattering of applause.

Sessions added, “Having served in the Department of Justice for almost 15 years plus 20 on the [Senate] Judiciary Committee, I well knew that AG’s frequently face difficult choices and decisions which, almost inevitably, create some controversy. But this very public adventure, I gotta say, exceeded my expectations.”

The former attorney general and United States senator then continued to emphasize that he remains supportive of Trump and their shared agenda.

“I’m proud of President Trump’s policy agenda and to have had a part in it,” Sessions said. “He is driven to succeed and much of his frustration arises from his inability to move the bureaucracy to achieve what he believes oughta be achieved fast enough.”

Perhaps quoting Kanye West for the first time, Sessions commented, “[Trump] has dragon energy. Think that’s a good description of it, really.”

He then talked about his “love” for the Department of Justice, outlining the successes of his tenure in a similar manner to his speech in Hoover this fall.

“I poured my heart into our work and was pleased to be able to advance the president’s policies, which were my policies and good for America,” Sessions explained.

After listing some of the many accomplishments of his time as attorney general for several minutes, Sessions said that the DOJ’s recent work was just one way that “the rule of law” was being affirmed.

“First, and of monumental importance, the president continues to nominate the best group of highly qualified federal judges ever, in my opinion,” Sessions advised. “These judges understand that they adjudicate under the constitution – they’re not above it. And they know they are to be neutral umpires.”

In a timely manner with Tuesday’s announcement that Ben Shapiro will speak at the University of Alabama during the spring, Sessions also touched on his support of free speech on campuses.

“We’ve defended free speech on campus. Goodness gracious, [it’s] hard to believe the attacks on speech on campus,” Sessions said.

After getting into the weeds a little on more ways the DOJ defended the constitution under his watch, Sessions concluded his remarks.

“[W]e have the greatest legal system in the history of the world,” Sessions outlined. “This government, and especially the attorney general, must give his best effort every day to uphold and defend this heritage we have been so blessed to receive.”

“To that end, as God has given me the ability, I have been dedicated. I am satisfied our work has met the highest standards. Thank you for your friendship, your understanding, your support and for allowing me to represent the great people of this fabulous state. I love it. And of the United States. Thank you all and may God bless America and God bless this great state,” he concluded.

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

18 hours ago

Ben Shapiro to speak at the University of Alabama in the spring

(G. Skidmore/Flickr)

Ben Shapiro, a prominent national conservative commentator and writer, will speak at the University of Alabama during the 2019 spring semester.

In an announcement Tuesday, Young America’s Foundation (YAF) said Shapiro will speak on campus in Tuscaloosa as part of the organization’s Fred Allen Lecture Series. UA will be one of six campuses to host the hot ticket speaker during the spring, on a date yet to be announced.

YAF celebrated a “wildly successful” fall lineup of campuses, adding it was “excited” to unveil the select locations hosting “the #1 requested speaker in the country” this coming spring.

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Formerly an editor-at-large for Breitbart, Shapiro currently serves as the editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, which he founded in 2015. He has spoken frequently on college campuses across the country in recent years, meeting with controversy along the way, including especially prominent occasions at the University of California at Berkeley and California State University in Los Angeles.

He also hosts his online political podcast, “The Ben Shapiro Show,” which is broadcast every weekday. At age 34, Shapiro’s podcast is downloaded over 1 million times per episode, with an audience that is reportedly 70 percent under the age of 40. The Daily Wire gets approximately 140 million page views per month.

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

5 days ago

Katie Boyd Britt named BCA president

(YHN, BCA)

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) on Friday officially announced its selection of Alabama native Katie Boyd Britt as the organization’s next president.

Britt, who currently serves as chief of staff to United States Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-AL), will start the job on January 2.

In a press release, BCA leaders praised Britt’s leadership acumen, energy and experience on both Goat Hill and Capitol Hill.

“We are excited to welcome Katie as the BCA’s new president,” Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite, who chairs the BCA’s Executive Committee, said. “As the top staff member for Senator Shelby, she has worked daily with businesses and elected officials from around Alabama and the country. She also has a special ability to work with and unite people from all walks of life. She has all of the tools we were looking for to support the business growth across the state that will drive our economy in the years ahead.”

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Britt was born and raised in Enterprise and attended the University of Alabama, where she served as president of the Student Government Association. She also earned her law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.

Over the past decade, she has served in a number of senior positions for Shelby in Washington, D.C. Before becoming chief of staff, Britt was the youngest press secretary in the U.S. Senate. She previously led state governmental affairs for the Butler Snow law firm in Montgomery and also practiced corporate law. She has also served as a member of the BCA Board of Directors.

Britt, her husband, Wesley, and their two children, Bennett and Ridgeway, will reside in Montgomery.

“My heart is in Alabama,” Britt emphasized. “Our state has made significant progress in recent years, and I am honored to have been chosen to lead BCA during this time of growth. I look forward to building on that momentum through collective efforts with our BCA members, elected officials, and business allies across the state – identifying opportunities every day in which we can provide and advance real, tangible solutions.”

“BCA’s successes are Alabama’s successes, and our unique ability to take on big challenges and deliver strategic results will advance our economy and best serve the men and women who make up the backbone of our state,” Britt continued.

Britt, who will be the first female president at BCA, said her top initial priorities will be:

  • Working with the Executive Committee and Board of Directors to develop a new long-term strategic plan for the organization.
  • Building bridges with other organizations to identify shared priorities and objectives at the state and federal level.
  • Reaching out to all businesses in the state to better understand how BCA can bring value to their company.
  • Bringing a fresh, new approach to working with all elected officials and policy makers at the local, state, and federal level to support pro-business, pro-economic growth policies that support all sectors of Alabama’s economy: industrial, commercial, small business, tech and healthcare entrepreneurs.

BCA Executive Committee Member Carl Jamison said Britt brings to the table the qualities and experience needed to successfully move BCA forward.

“BCA has an important responsibility to its members and to our state moving forward,” Jamison outlined. “With Katie’s energy and experiences in Montgomery and Washington, she understands the constructive role BCA can play.”

In a separate release, Shelby added his praise for the hire, saying that Alabama will benefit from her leading BCA.

“Katie Britt is an exceptional choice to serve as CEO of the Business Council of Alabama,” Shelby advised. “She has been invaluable as my chief of staff over the last several years. Although I am disappointed to see her go, I know that my loss is BCA’s gain.

He continued, “Throughout Katie’s time in my office, she demonstrated a unique ability to solve any problem. Not only did she work as my top advisor on all matters, but she also developed bipartisan relationships with lawmakers, top committee and leadership staff, and stakeholders to successfully negotiate complex issues and legislation. Katie understands the intersection of business and politics. I have no doubt that her experience in Alabama and the Senate will establish her as an asset to BCA.

“I am grateful for Katie’s leadership and ability to prioritize what’s best for our state. It is with pride that I wish her, Wesley, Bennett, and Ridgeway all the best as they return to Alabama,” Shelby concluded.

Britt added that her experience in Shelby’s office has prepared her for this new chapter in life.

She remarked, “It has been my life privilege to serve and assist Alabama’s greatest statesman. I am very eager to apply the lessons I learned from him in this new position. I am certain the invaluable experiences of touring every county in Alabama with Senator Shelby, and meeting so many Alabamians, will serve me well as I work to create opportunities for all Alabama business.”

Britt explained that a strong BCA is vital for Alabama’s success as a state and for its residents.

“From the Tennessee Valley to the Wiregrass and then over to Mobile Bay, we have a remarkably diverse economy,” Britt said. “But to ensure Alabama’s future success, we must encourage policies and priorities that strengthen our businesses and provide opportunities for our citizens.”

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

6 days ago

Report: Sessions views potential return to the Senate as ‘a demotion’

(NBC News/Twitter)

Following an interview with the former attorney general and senator on Wednesday, Politico reported that Jeff Sessions does not miss the United States Senate and could be done with politics.

After attending President George H.W. Bush’s funeral in Washington, D.C., Sessions reportedly told Politico that his next step before announcing a decision on whether to run against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) in 2020 would be returning to Alabama to do some thinking.

“I’ve been clearing my brain. I think that’s a fair statement,” Sessions said. “I’ll go to Alabama, do some things and then that will clarify things a little more before I worry about making a statement.”

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Then, when asked whether he misses the Senate, Sessions responded, “No. I mean, no. I could go back and spend time in the woods. I’ve got ten grandchildren, oldest is 11.”

Politico concluded that Sessions running in 2020 looks like a “long shot,” explaining that “Sessions has told former colleagues that running for the Senate could be seen as a demotion after serving in Trump’s Cabinet.”

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

2 weeks ago

Alabama based polling firm recognized as most accurate

(Cygnal/Vimeo)

Cygnal, a polling firm headquartered in Montgomery, was recognized on Wednesday by The New York Times’ in-house polling guru as the most accurate in the nation leading up to the midterms.

In a tweet displaying the data, Cygnal came out on top over 17 other firms.

In an email to Yellowhammer News, Cygnal founder and president Brent Buchanan outlined some of the work that went into this impressive recognition.

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While Cygnal has conducted over 470 surveys in 33 states so far this year, most being for private clients, some of their recent work in the run-in to hotly contested midterms really turned heads.

During the last week of October, the firm conducted 6 public polls in Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana and Florida. These polls were covered in FiveThirtyEight, The Hill, Politico, National Review and state-based major news outlets.

Cygnal presented private deep-dives of the surveys to the campaign manager for President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, as well as the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, most of the specific campaigns polled and several state legislative caucuses.

Buchanan, who was named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s Power and Influence List this year, expressed his pride in the work the firm has been doing.

“I am incredibly proud of the Cygnal team for turning out insanely accurate polls that would take other firms 20 people to handle,” Buchanan said.

He added, “Cygnal has a unique, proprietary statistical research approach that allows us to accurate predict election results. And when a poll doesn’t show our client winning, we figure out what moves voters to change an ‘L’ to a ‘W’ on the scorecard.”

Cygnal has grown into a prominent national polling firm engaged from coast-to-coast.

“It’s really encouraging to see Cygnal grow from a 2-person, one-stop-shop firm running small Alabama races to the most accurate polling firm in the country according to the respected New York Times polling correspondent.”

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

2 weeks ago

Alabama Republicans split on whether to support Jeff Sessions in Senate race, should he run

(YHN, G. Skidmore/Flickr)

Former United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has returned home to Alabama, but it remains unclear as to whether or not he will return to the Senate seat he once held in the Yellowhammer state.

After Sessions’ exit from the Department of Justice, several Alabama Republicans floated his name as a potential contender to challenge Doug Jones (D-AL) for United States Senate.

In several Politico conducted interviews with Republicans from across Alabama, one thing is clear: Opinions of Jeff Sessions are not what they once were after President Donald Trump fired him.

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A spokesperson for Rep. Bradley Byrne said the congressman is taking a “serious look” at the Senate race. Byrne’s spokesperson also said Sessions’ consideration to run “doesn’t change Congressman Byrne’s plans one bit.”

State Senate President Pro Temp Del Marsh, who has signaled that he may run, told Politico he was weighing several factors and mentioned his relationship with Sessions.

“I’ve always had a good relationship [with Sessions] and I would have to think real hard if I would run against him if he were to seek it again,” Marsh said.

Terry Lathan, chairwoman of the Alabama Republican Party, who says Sessions remains “beloved” in Alabama told Politico the shaky relationship between Trump and Sessions would be an “unusual circumstance” should Sessions decide to run. She said supporting Sessions and Trump are not “exclusive of each other.”

“The president is highly appreciated for his conservative policy. He’s just slaying it as far as we’re concerned,” Lathan said. “But I also know how much people admire and respect Jeff Sessions.”

Lathan added those that are considering running now may change their minds should Sessions enter.

“There could be a real reset,” Lathan suggested, “and folks who were thinking about running could take a second look.”

Clay Ryan, the chief lobbyist for the University of Alabama, suggests Sessions will shape the primary in many ways. He said Sessions grasps an “unofficial first right of first refusal” on the Senate race.

“I think there are a number of potential candidates that will want to understand what Attorney General Sessions’ intentions are with respect to the race before they make any decisions,” Ryan said.

Luther Strange, who was defeated by Roy Moore in the contentious 2017 Alabama United States Senate primary, in an email to Politico said, “Too early to prognosticate on … Sessions’ plans. Republican will win the seat so long as that Republican is not named Roy Moore.”

Steve Raby, an Alabama Republican strategist, seems to think Trump would support a candidate other than Sessions.

“If Sessions wants to run I expect them [the White House] to pick them a candidate and bash Sessions for a year-and-a-half,” Raby said. “If Jeff is good in the way he approaches it, we will defend one of our own.”

The full piece published by Politico can be read here.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

2 weeks ago

Axios: Alabama’s Cliff Sims ‘one of the most interesting people you’ve never heard of’

(Contributed)

In the lead-in to an interview on the publication’s new HBO documentary news series on Sunday evening, Axios’ National Political Reporter Jonathan Swan called Alabama native and former Yellowhammer Multimedia CEO Cliff Sims “one of the most interesting people you’ve never heard of.”

Sims served as special assistant to President Donald Trump and director of White House Message Strategy, but Swan said “his title was irrelevant.”

He added, “I think one thing that people don’t really understand is there are all these people that are not household names, that actually see a lot more of the president than anyone realizes.”

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Sims, Swan said, was one of those people.

“The stories Cliff tells are the kinds of stories we hear when we go and have an off the record dinner or an off the record drink with a with a White House official,” Swan explained. “He’s just got the stones to say it on camera.”

During the wide-ranging interview, Sims discussed how he developed his relationship with the president while being the point-person for all of his video recordings.

“I had the opportunity to work with Trump in one of his most intimate settings, which is anytime he’s recording videos,” Sims outlined. “And so the way I could tell the progression of my relationship with the president was, he always asks in a video setting, the person that he trusts the most, what they think about what he said. And it was like ‘Hope what do you think about that?’ Or Keith Schiller would be there, ‘Keith what do you think about that?’ And at some point it was ‘Cliff, what do you think about that?’ And that’s when I realized that he at least trusted me on some level.”

Sims told Swan and Axios editor Mike Allen that Trump is always open to ideas on ways to effectively communicate his message, including through his favorite medium: Twitter.

“He’s meticulous with not just the words that he wants to use, but the punctuation, too,” Sims detailed, speaking of how Trump dictates his tweets. “So he’ll say, you know, ‘Jonathan Swan at Axios is an awful, terrible reporter, dash dash capital S capital A capital D exclamation point.’”

“There is also a process in the White House by which you can submit tweets,” he continued. “In the White House I had a difficult time writing in my own voice because I had written so much in Donald Trump’s voice. So people started bringing their policy issues to me so I could craft a Trumpian tweet, because he’s not going to put out a lame tweet. If a tweet doesn’t get any retweets, that’s a fail.”

Trump, Sims said, is “cognizant of the power that he has through” Twitter, and often watches the reaction his tweets generate in the media.

“He wants CNN to freak out,” he advised. “He gets to say, ‘Look at these lunatics out there. They’re so disconnected from middle-America.’ It gives him an opportunity to build a bond with his people because he’s like, ‘We’re in this together against these people.’ He loves watching them freak out.”

Sims also addressed the reports of staff in-fighting in the White House, pointing back to the transition period between the campaign and the administration as a time when certain “fatal flaws” were introduced.

He said there was a “built-in frustration” among many Trump loyalists from the campaign, who suddenly found themselves subordinated to formerly anti-Trump aides once inside the White House.

“It was the single most toxic working environment that I have ever experienced, by far,” Sims said.

He continued, “There was a scientific study that was done where they put two rats in water. One of the rats, after a little while, they took it out for a few seconds, then dropped it back in there. That rat was able to swim for hours longer than the other one — the other one drowned. And the reason is quite simply, hope … that he would survive. For me, interacting with the President was like getting plucked out of the water — that I would get the opportunity that I would never have again in my life probably to have conversations with the most powerful person on the planet to impact who knows what, in who knows what ways.”

Those with HBO GO access can watch the entire interview here, starting at the 18:35 mark.

Sims’ upcoming memoir about his time in the White House, titled “Team of Vipers,” is set for release January 29 and is available for pre-order now.

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

3 weeks ago

State tourism director credits Doug Jones’ election win for boost in Alabama tourism

(tourism.alabama.gov, Wikipedia Commons)

It’s fair to say the world would be a much different place if Roy Moore had defeated Doug Jones in last year’s U.S. Senate special election in Alabama.

Beyond just raw Republican-versus-Democrat totals in the U.S. Senate, some credit Alabama voters choosing Jones over Moore, including Jones himself, for the selection of the Limestone County site for the new $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda plant.

Add a bump to Alabama tourism economy according to Alabama Tourism Department director Lee Sentell.

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At the top of the list of factors contributing to a $1 billion spike in tourism, Sentell credits Jones win according to a report published on Friday by the Montgomery Advertiser’s Brad Harper.

“I think the average person would be surprised to know that something like an election could have a potential impact on the tourism industry, which is obviously non-political,” Sentell said. “But we had lots of calls and emails the month leading up to (the election of Sen. Doug Jones), people saying, ‘We will never come to Gulf Shores again if’ the election turned out opposite the way they wanted it to.

“In a way, people vote with their money when they go on vacation.”

Sentell said the beaches were the biggest tourist draw for Alabama. He also credited the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s downtown museum and memorial to lynching for increases in tourism specific to Montgomery.

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

3 weeks ago

Cliff Sims recounts his service on Trump’s ‘Team of Vipers’ in new book

(YHN)

Any book containing the words “viper,” “Trump” and “White House” in the title is bound to be a must-read. And that’s exactly what Yellowhammer News founder Cliff Sims has done with his book set to release on January 29.

Yellowhammer reported last week that news of Sims’ book had leaked out.

This morning more details were reported by the New York Times and Axios, including the book’s title, Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House.

The book is a product of hundreds of pages of notes and countless interactions with President Donald Trump.

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According to the New York Times, the author’s note provides some insight into the direction and purpose of Sims’ memoir.

Excerpt as follows:

I suspect that posterity will look back on this bizarre time in history like we were living on the pages of a Dickens novel…Lincoln famously had his Team of Rivals. Trump had his Team of Vipers. We served. We fought. We brought our egos. We brought our personal agendas and vendettas. We were ruthless. And some of us, I assume, were good people…I was there. This is what I saw. And, unlike the many leakers in the White House, I have put my name on it.

Sims founded Yellowhammer News in 2012 and built the outlet from the ground up until he joined Trump’s campaign communications team in the months leading up to his defeat of Hillary Clinton. It was during this time that Sims became a trusted ally of the soon-to-be president being among those with daily access to him while working out of the Trump Tower headquarters.

Sims made the natural transition to the West Wing where his office was only a few steps from the Oval Office until his departure in May.

A special event in conjunction with the book’s release is planned for the evening of February 9 in Birmingham. Yellowhammer News will have the additional details in the weeks to come.

Team of Vipers is already available for pre-order on Amazon.

 

 

 

4 weeks ago

Yellowhammer News founder Cliff Sims authors book on his service in the Trump White House

(Official White House Photo)

Yellowhammer News founder Cliff Sims has authored a book chronicaling his time in the Trump White House, according to a report from Politico.

The Politico article indicates that Sims’ book will be different from others previously released by former administration officials.

While offering unique accounts of his interactions with prominent officials such as chief of staff John Kelly, counselor Kellyanne Conway and communications director Anthony Scaramucci, according to Politico, Sims book will also provide an honest assessment of his own role in the West Wing and his impact on the approach taken by Trump on numerous fronts.

Trump is known to have had an affinity for Sims and his abilities going all the way back to Sims’ reporting on some of Trump’s earliest travels on the campaign trail.

Politico cited two sources stating that Sims’ book is set for release in January.

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After founding Yellowhammer News in early 2012, Sims enjoyed a nearly immediate ascent in the news and communications industry. He established Yellowhammer News as the go-to news source for influential political and business leaders in the state and then broadened the outlet’s reach with radio programming and a news network that can now be heard on 35 stations around Alabama.

Sims eventually joined Trump’s communications team in the months leading up to his defeat of Hillary Clinton. It was during this time that Sims became a trusted ally of the soon-to-be president being among those with daily access to him while working out of the Trump Tower headquarters.

Sims made the natural transition to the West Wing where his office was only a few steps from the Oval Office until his departure in May.

4 weeks ago

Huntsville restaurant wants Sessions back

The Garden Room Restaurant in Huntsville wants former United States Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to return to the Yellowhammer State.

As seen in the sign below, the restaurant said, “Come home Jeff Sessions. We want you.”

(Photo courtesy of Katie Lansford)

With speculation rampant that Sessions might return to the Yellowhammer State in order to reclaim his old Senate seat in 2020, the real question is whether Alabamians, specifically Republican primary voters, want him back. Do you? Make your voice heard in our poll below.

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

1 month ago

Roby: ‘Unified front’ needed in wake of GOP House majority loss

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

For the first time in nearly a decade, Democrats once again have control of the U.S. House of Representatives, but Rep. Marth Roby (R-AL) insisted in an interview with Alabama News Network that the House Republicans will remain confident and stand strong.

Roby revealed that work has already begun to regain the majority in the House.

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“We’re already working every day to make sure that our conservative agenda — that we continue these ideas across the finish line to the president’s desk,” Roby stated.

Roby reiterated the importance of working with her colleagues across the aisle.

She added, “We’re going to have to work with all of our colleagues on the things that we can agree upon in order to work for the people of our state and for our country.”

“I think we very clearly have a unified front when it comes to our conservative priorities working with the White House to get things done for our military, our nation’s veterans, for agriculture, for border security and fighting for the unborn,” Roby continued. “I think you will see Republicans stick together, absolutely, and find ways that we can work with our colleagues without compromising our principle.”

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News and can be followed on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

1 month ago

Who will run? Previewing Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate Election

(YHN,PolitiFact/YouTube)

Yellowhammer News previewed the 2020 U.S. Senate race three months ago, but things are really taking shape now that Alabama’s midterm election has passed.

However, there has been a “known unknown” thrust into the mix: will Jeff Sessions run to reclaim his former seat? That has become the key dynamic in the race that hopefully will be answered soon.

Yet, as much as that could shake up the Republican primary, there is one thing that has not changed and, in fact, became even clearer to the masses after Tuesday’s general election: Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) will not win a full term of his own, barring another Roy Moore-type debacle.

Who will be the Republican to defeat Jones? Here are the eight most compelling candidates to do just that, broken down by whether Sessions does or does not run.

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If Sessions does not run: Ainsworth is on the rise in Alabama politics, and a jump to the United States Senate in 2020 now does not look like too much of a leap. He built solid name identification this year and would have a recency advantage over most of the pack in a primary season expected to kick off within months.

Another advantage Ainsworth has going is age. Alabama could really benefit from someone getting into the Senate who can stay for 30 – 40 years, in the mold of legendary statesman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), and Ainsworth certainly fits the bill.

He knows the issues and seems comfortable talking to Republicans of all stripes. From economic development to immigration and abortion, Ainsworth has a wide-ranging portfolio of topics he is already on the record about. Coupled with his multi-millions in self-funding ability and his family’s ties to top-level federal donor networks, Ainsworth would be a major player if he decided to run. It would be a “free shot” for him considering his term as lieutenant governor will end in 2023, so keep a close eye on this young gun from Marshall County.

If Sessions does run: Ainsworth has a long future ahead of him and would be unlikely to risk his rising stock with a run against the venerable former senator. It would be best to wait for a better opportunity in this scenario.

If Sessions does not run: Someone from the Huntsville area will run for the Senate in a free-for-all field, with Battle being by far the strongest candidate from the area. The mayor has proven that he has a stronghold of votes in and around Madison County. For both fundraising and turnout, Huntsville’s reliance on federal dollars and policies will be a big boost for him.

By staying positive and building name identification in his television advertising against Governor Kay Ivey, Battle fostered good-will amongst some of the Republican Party faithful and built a base of favorability for this future run. However, it’s unclear how Battle will fare in a statewide race in which multiple candidates will be throwing jabs at him, probably all from the right. His social conservative bona fides will come under attack, and pivoting to economic development talking points will not work with the vast majority of Republican primary voters.

There is also speculation he still really does want to be governor and may wait until 2022 to try and do so. If Battle does not run for the Senate in this scenario, look for someone like Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-5) to carry the banner for north Alabama.

If Sessions does run: While Sessions is from south Alabama, his base runs statewide and federal industries in Huntsville have known him as a friend already in the Senate. Battle would stand little chance against Sessions and would be very unlikely to challenge him, as any credible Sessions challenge would have to come from Sessions’ right.

If Sessions does not run: Byrne has been the one potential candidate that has been out working across the state, traveling to different civic meetings, touring economic development sites to lay the groundwork for his campaign and sending press releases out left and right (well, right and right). Now that he won re-election on Tuesday, Byrne confirmed that he is officially exploring a Senate run.

In what is sure to be a crowded primary field, candidates with strong geographic bases like Byrne’s in vote-rich Baldwin and Mobile counties already have a leg-up as they seek to make a primary runoff. Byrne also has experience running statewide, a resulting name I.D. advantage over Alabama’s other seven members of the U.S. House, economic development success stories to tell and proven big-league fundraising ability. He also has over $1.1 million on hand as of October 17, and can continue raising money under his House committee, that can be transferred to an eventual Senate committee.

From his messaging in the past few months, it also looks like Byrne is aware that he needs to prove that he has learned from his 2010 upset defeat and better message to base Republican primary voters because he has been out front on social issues. If Sessions does not run, Byrne has vaulted himself to the front of the pack with his early hard-work.

If Sessions does run: This is a big question. Again, Byrne has been out working, which may scare some other credible candidates off. However, would Sessions put him off? They are both from the Mobile-area, so Byrne’s geographic advantage would be shot. It is unclear if this was his intent, but Byrne also signaled deference to the now-former attorney general after his resignation, saying he expects to meet with him in the “next few weeks.” This would seem to box Byrne in now, with it being expected that Byrne’s respect for Sessions would outweigh his ambition to run for the seat. Byrne is still going to be out working until that meeting, but he would have been better off framing any Sessions meeting as a talk about policy issues or a chat between friends instead of letting it look like a request for permission to run.

If Sessions does not run: Cavanaugh is amongst the most recognizable names in state politics, with the sky-high name identification that normally takes millions of dollars and many years to build. In what would be a relatively crowded field if Sessions sits the race out, a 2020 run would make a lot of sense for Cavanaugh. Her name I.D. alone would see her at or near the top of preliminary polls, and this kind of early success normally has an effect on donors, endorsements and earned-media coverage.

Consider also that Cavanaugh proved herself as a prolific fundraiser this past cycle, raising over $1.6 million in the lieutenant governor’s race and building a strong network of donors and influential supporters. Combined with her strong favorability with the Republican base, proven political savvy and leadership on social conservative issues (she co-chaired the successful effort to pass Amendment Two), she has the balance that most other candidates do not. And, as potentially the only woman in the race, she would stand out from the crowd.

If Sessions does run: Cavanaugh would be extremely unlikely to challenge Sessions, who she greatly respects and considers a friend.

If Sessions does not run: Like Ainsworth, this would be a free shot for Marsh, as his sixth term in the State Senate will not end until 2022, and his prolific self-funding ability is right up there with the best of them, which could give him a significant cash-on-hand head-start on almost all other elected officials on this list. Marsh also has a top-notch fundraising network to add onto his own funds, making him tough to compete with on the air waves.

As evidenced by this television ad he released last month, Marsh does have a compelling story to tell, too – it is one that resonates with Alabamians. Between his entrepreneurial successes and records of public service, Marsh will sell well on the campaign trail and in ads. He still has a long way to go in building the necessary name I.D., yet the silver lining – money and time, two things Marsh has on his side, can accomplish this.

Keep an eye on the major issues expected to come up in the Alabama Legislature in 2019 – infrastructure (probably a gas tax), the lottery and education reform – and how these could affect Marsh’s potential campaign.

If Sessions does run: Do not expect to see Marsh challenge Sessions. He can bide his time waiting on a better opportunity as Pro Tem.

If Sessions does not run: Not much has changed for Palmer since Yellowhammer News’ last preview. While Byrne has been out working and Marsh and Ainsworth impressed with recent television ads, Palmer has been laying low statewide as he works away on Capitol Hill.

This being said, if no other serious candidate from the Birmingham metropolitan area enters the race, Palmer would have the potential to collect a sizable vote from his ruby-red district. As a member of the House Freedom Caucus and given his tenure at the Alabama Policy Institute, he will have significant grassroots and Republican base appeal. Palmer not only knows conservative issues, he knows how to message conservative issues. He will be able to raise money competitively from the Birmingham business community and as a sitting Member of Congress, plus he has around $520,000 currently in his campaign coffer. His challenge will be low name identification outside of his district, and if the last few months are good indicators, being proactive in laying campaign ground work and promoting himself.

If Sessions does run: While Sessions likely clears the field of credible candidates completely or near it, Palmer seems more likely to run under this scenario than Byrne and certainly more so than Marsh (the two other candidates besides Palmer most rumored to be strongly weighing runs). He put out a statement on Sessions’ resignation a day after the fact, and it read like one that was trying a little too hard to not say much.

If Sessions does not run: People close to Roby do not seem to see this in the cards, but it makes a lot of sense. Besides Cavanaugh, she is the only woman with name recognition who could enter the race. Alabamians also tend to elect candidates who have the potential of acquiring and leveraging seniority in the Senate. Having just turned 42 in the last few months, Roby could serve for forty years if elected, matching one of Ainsworth’s strengths.

Assuming Roby would only enter the race if Cavanaugh did not, she could garner a sizable vote in the River Region and the Wiregrass, a Republican stronghold. Committee assignments will change with the new Congress, but Roby will hold some degree of fundraising leverage still and currently boasts a campaign balance of approximately $450,000.

She has almost entirely moved past her infamous opposition to President Donald Trump and could mount a compelling campaign if she wants to. That seems to be the biggest question, though. At her age, this might not be the best cycle to risk losing her House seat.

If Sessions does run: Roby will not run.

While Yellowhammer News has seen credible polling that shows Sessions’ net favorability is now slightly under water, he enjoys nearly universal name recognition in the state, as well as a record of service in the U.S. Senate that Alabama Republicans revered. Time will significantly heal the Trump wounds, and the president may very well publicly give his backing to Sessions in the near future and speed up his favorability recovery. Consider, too, that Sessions has approximately $2.5 million sitting idle in his campaign account.

Regardless, Sessions would clear the field completely or almost so of all credible candidates. Elected officials, party activists and conservative politicos have deep respect for Sessions and his lifetime of service, and many consider him to be a personal friend. Out of deference/respect, it would be hard to imagine a big name challenger to him returning to his seat, if he really wants it. Nominating Sessions would also be a guaranteed win against Doug Jones.

One aspect to ponder is whether Sessions would get his seniority back. Senate rules and recent precedent seem to suggest the answer would be “no,” however Sessions and Leader McConnell go way back, and Sen. Shelby would also probably have a thing or two to say about this in Sessions’ favor.

At the end of the day, this race is frozen for awhile until Sessions makes a decision. Knowing this, he holds a lot of power, and even if he eventually does not run, he could help tilt the race in a specific candidate’s favor by how long he keeps his cards close to the vest.

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

1 month ago

Justice Tom Parker releases TV ad targeting his opponent, migrant caravan, Soros

(T. Parker/Facebook)

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker released a TV advertisement on Monday in a final attempt to appeal to Alabama voters as he vies to become the court’s next chief justice.

“It’s an invasion,” the advertisement opens. “What happens if they make it to Alabama?”

Watch:

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The advertisement then goes on to criticize Parker’s opponent, liberal billionaire donor George Soros and liberal Alabama newspaper publishers.

“Democratic Chief Justice candidate Bob Vance is a liberal social justice activist, so you know he’ll always side with the illegal alien lobby,” the spot adds. “That’s why George Soros, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and every liberal newspaper in Alabama is backing Bob Vance.”

The advertisement closes by saying, “Justice Tom Parker for Chief Justice: fair, balanced, unafraid. Standing up for what we believe. Standing with us.”

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News and can be followed on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

1 month ago

Doug Jones had nothing to do with bringing the Toyota-Mazda plant to Alabama

Sen.-elect Doug Jones appears on CBS Sunday Morning, Dec. 17, 2017 (CBS News/Twitter)

The cowardly caretaker junior senator from the great state of Alabama in an ill-fitting suit is at it again. Doug Jones is dishonestly taking credit for bringing a $1.6 billion dollar investment and thousands of jobs to North Alabama.

He claimed last week at a Democratic campaign rally, “Clearly if you get down to the bottom of it, that plant would not have come to Alabama with Roy Moore sitting as United States senator.”

The problem? He’s lying.

Sam Givhan, Madison County GOP chairman and candidate for state senate district 7, said on WVNN radio’s “The Dale Jackson Show” that this is just not true.

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Partial transcript as follows:

GIVHAN: Well, first of all, there were two politicians in the room when we were negotiating: Tommy Battle and me. And I wasn’t there because I was a politician. I was there because I was paid to work for the city of Huntsville and there are a lot of people out there — I kind of get amused from all these advertisements going on about I did this or posturing here and there so and so did that. You know, Tommy Battle is the reason we get this work that we have. He has got a team together and we work together well. Industry can trust us and we were working on this way before anybody thought Doug Jones was gonna win this thing.

JACKSON: Weren’t you working on this before this race even took place?

GIVHAN: The background of this goes back to before … Bentley was governor.

When asked if the Japanese businessmen who run Toyota and Mazda made an issue of Roy Moore’s election, Givhan made it clear they were not worried about the state’s Federal leadership.

Partial transcript as follows:

JACKSON: Would they fear Roy Moore getting elected?

GIVHAN: I don’t know what the Japanes were thinking about that. We weren’t discussing local or statewide elections. We were discussing incentives.

JACKSON: Did Roy Moore come up at all? Did any guy come up to you and say, “Hey, what’s up with this Roy Moore guy?”

GIVHAN: No.

Jones can, if he wants, pretend that new investment to Alabama is because of him. He can, and will, run ads in 2020 taking credit for Alabama’s booming economy, which will be a nice switch for Alabama Democrats.

Listen:

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

1 month ago

Maddox targets Ivey as Alabama unemployment and economy continue improving, says Ivey ‘satisfied’ with state being near the bottom

(Screenshots/YouTube)

On Tuesday, Alabama Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walt Maddox insinuated that Alabama was “near the bottom” under the leadership of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey.

“This is really about the governor has defined she likes where Alabama is. I’m not satisfied at being at or near the bottom,” Maddox told reporters at the Downtown Huntsville Rotary Club, per a report by Alabama Media Group. “This election, to us, is about the future. We feel a majority of Alabamians are ready to have a governor who is going to fight for a better future for every single person in the state.”

Maddox also continued to tout his initiative to expand Medicaid, which Ivey considers “misguided,” and pass an education lottery should he be elected.

“I respect Governor Ivey and I respect her 35 years of service in Montgomery,” Maddox said. “But this election is uniquely about the future of this state and whether we want to come out of the shadows of being at or near the bottom in everything that matters. One of the ways we can do that is by passing an education lottery. The other way is expanding Medicaid – creating 30,000 new jobs and enhancing health care across the state.”

Under the leadership of Gov. Kay Ivey, who is the third most popular governor in the country with a 65 percent approval rating, Alabama’s unemployment rate and economy are breaking records.

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

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News and can be followed on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

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4 months ago

Who’s running? Previewing Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate Election

(Facebook)

Alabama has been stuck in what seems like one endless election cycle since 2015. And it’s not going to end anytime soon.

As signaled by the start of Governor Ivey’s first television buy ahead of the November 6 General Election, the summer political lull –  a seeming oasis of respite from wall-to-wall political advertising that turned out to be a mirage – lasted a mere 16 days after the July 17 Primary Runoff. That’s 1.6 Scaramuccis for those keeping track at home.

This respite, however temporary, still might be one of the longer political advertising breaks Alabama experiences before December 2020. Besides the upcoming local, statewide and Congressional midterm races that are now gearing up ahead of November, the 2020 U.S. Senate Election looms large on the horizon. Potential Republican candidates and savvy power brokers have already started the behind-the-scenes jockeying that will set the table for defeating incumbent Sen. Doug Jones 27 months from now.

We still have a long way to go before knowing who will go on to defeat Sen. Jones, but serious and wannabee contenders are already emerging from the pack.

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Mayor Tommy Battle

Advantages: Battle proved that he has a stronghold of votes in and around Madison County. For both fundraising and turnout, Huntsville’s reliance on federal dollars and policies will be a big boost for him. By staying positive in his television advertising this year, Battle fostered good-will amongst some of the Republican Party faithful and built a base of statewide name identification and favorability for this future run.

Challenges: It’s unclear how Battle will fare in a statewide race in which multiple candidates will be throwing jabs at him, probably all from the right. His social conservative bona fides will come under attack, and pivoting to economic development talking points will not work with the vast majority of Republican primary voters.

Things to consider: Battle’s run for governor became an expensive trial balloon for a future campaign once Governor Ivey assumed office and righted the ship of state. His team was and still is playing the long game.

Rep. Bradley Byrne

Advantages: In what is sure to be a crowded primary field, candidates with strong geographic bases like Byrne’s in vote-rich Baldwin and Mobile counties will have a leg-up as they seek to make a primary runoff. Byrne also has experience running statewide, a resulting name I.D. advantage over Alabama’s other seven members of the U.S. House, economic development success stories to tell, and proven big-league fundraising ability.

Challenges: Byrne will have to prove that he has learned from his 2010 upset defeat and better message to base Republican primary voters.

Things to consider: If Byrne does indeed run for the Senate, this will leave his First Congressional District seat wide open. Expect outgoing state Sen. Rusty Glover, state Rep. Chris Pringle and outgoing state Sen. Bill Hightower to lead a lengthy list of hopefuls for this would-be opening.

Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh

Advantages: This will be a free shot for Marsh, as his sixth term in the State Senate will not end until 2022. His prolific fundraising ability is well-known, but he also has the means to self-finance his campaign, which could give him a significant cash-on-hand head-start on the other elected officials on this list. Marsh’s entrepreneurial successes and experience will also sell well on the campaign trail.

Challenges: Members of the state legislature simply do not have much, if any, name recognition outside of their relatively small districts. Marsh does get some statewide press as Sen. Pro Tem and ran television advertising in the Birmingham television market this primary cycle, but he still has a long way to go in building the necessary name I.D. The silver lining – money and time, two things Marsh has on his side, can accomplish this.

Things to consider: Expect to see Marsh continue advertising on Birmingham television, Alabama’s largest media market, this cycle as he plans a possible 2020 run. Jockeying in the State Senate and the upcoming legislative session will unfold with the future in mind.

Secretary of State John Merrill

Advantages: As a statewide elected official, Merrill has broader geographic name recognition than U.S. Reps. and members of the state legislature. He is also quite possibly the best retail politician in the state and will outwork just about anyone on the campaign trail.

Challenges: While his name recognition is relatively broad in terms of geography, it still isn’t very high. The lesson here is that television and television only can get your name identification up past a certain point. Merrill will need to find a large amount of money to spend on advertising to build on his solid name identification in order to be competitive against better-funded opponents. He does not yet have the type of ready-built fundraising machine necessary to win a big-league statewide race.

Things to consider: This would be a free shot for Merrill, as his second term serving as Secretary of State will last until January 2023. He could use this opportunity to build towards a 2022 run for Governor or another opening a couple years down the road.

Rep. Gary Palmer

Advantages: If no other serious candidate from the Birmingham metropolitan area enters the race, Palmer would have the potential to collect a sizable vote from his district. As a member of the House Freedom Caucus and given his tenure at the Alabama Policy Institute, he will have significant grassroots and Republican base appeal. Palmer not only knows conservative issues, he knows how to message conservative issues. He will be able to raise money competitively from the Birmingham business community and as a sitting Member of Congress.

Challenges: Palmer’s low name identification outside of his district could hurt him.

Things to consider: This would be a risky play for Palmer. He’s in a safe House seat, and the odds of him winning the Senate race might not be high enough to leave a sure thing. If Palmer does try to make the leap to the Senate in 2020, this opens up his House Seat to another 2014-like scrum. Expect former state Rep. Paul DeMarco and former state Sen. Scott Beason to be in the mix again, along with the likes of outgoing state Sen. Slade Blackwell, state Sen. Cam Ward and Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington.

Rep. Martha Roby

Advantages: Roby is likely to be the only woman with name recognition in the race, and would do well to capitalize on her natural lead with female voters. Alabamians also tend to elect candidates who have the potential of acquiring and leveraging seniority in the Senate. Having just turned 42 last week, Roby could serve for forty years if elected.

Challenges: Even though the runoff was a landslide victory, do not forget that Roby’s support in the Second Congressional District has diminished since 2016. Her triumphant runoff showing, against a Democrat and after being endorsed by President Trump, still only amounted to 48,000 votes – which would’ve amounted to a 51 percent razor-thin victory if turnout from the primary held. What should be a major advantage for Roby has turned into a liability – she has the weakest foothold with her geographic base out of all of Alabama’s Representatives. If Roby is interested in running for the Senate, or even keeping her seat in 2020, she needs to spend much more time in her district repairing her image in the coming year.

Things to consider: If Roby runs for the Senate, there are plenty of viable contenders in Montgomery and the Wiregrass who would be interested in running for her open seat. Outgoing State Treasurer Young Boozer, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange and state Rep. Paul Lee immediately come to mind.

Jeff Coleman

President and CEO of Coleman World Group, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, and former Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama, Coleman has the background and authentic charisma that would make for an ideal U.S. Senate candidate. He would have a steep name recognition hill to climb, but he has all the tools to do it.

State Rep. Bill Poole

A practicing attorney in Tuscaloosa, Poole will be serving his third term in the Alabama House of Representatives when the 2020 race for Doug Jones’ seat unfolds. He has chaired the House Ways and Means Education Committee since 2013 and is widely respected for his fiscally conservative policy expertise. Poole is the state’s preeminent rising young political star and has the potential to serve Alabama on the national level in a major way, in the mold of Sen. Richard Shelby.

Jimmy Rane

Better known as “the Yella Fella,” Rane is the richest man in Alabama and a gregarious one to boot.  He has long considered a run for office and has the perfect self-financed-outsider credentials to mount a competitive bid. His close friendship with Gov. Ivey would be an interesting factor, too.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Never say never. Out of all the crazy Alabama political storylines, even just recent ones, this would not even rank as a surprise. If Sessions did run, he would immediately become the frontrunner and clear out most of the field.

Former Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Glenn Murdock

And a bunch of not-gunna-happen state legislators. A free shot is always appealing, though.

Rep. Robert Aderholt

If Aderholt does run, he will be a serious contender. However, he is in line to be Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and will not leave the House if this holds true. There are two factors that need to be resolved first:

If Republicans lose the House in November, Aderholt is stuck being the ranking minority member on the committee. He would have to decide whether he wants to play the long game by waiting until the Republicans win back the majority again or take a gamble by running for the Senate.

If the Republicans maintain control of the House in November, Aderholt still has some political maneuvering ahead of him. The Texas Congressional Delegation has promised their votes to Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid in exchange for control of the appropriations committee. For what it is worth, I expect that the vice president will be working behind the scenes to deliver the chairmanship to Aderholt. However, if Aderholt loses this battle, he may very well decide to leave the House and take a shot at the Senate seat.

Former Rep. Jo Bonner

If Rep. Byrne does not run, that opens up a lane for Bonner to be a serious contender.

Rep. Mo Brooks

Likewise, if Mayor Battle for some reason doesn’t run, Brooks has a serious foothold in the Fifth Congressional District to run from. The likelihood of Alabama losing a Congressional seat also factors in here, because Brooks could be drawn out of his current job and on the hunt for a new one.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson

Same situation as Bonner. If Rep. Byrne doesn’t run, that opens up a pathway for Stimpson.

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

4 months ago

Pro-Brett Kavanaugh bus spotted in Alabama

(CNN, PolitiFact/YouTube)

In the battle to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Yellowhammer State is taking center stage as a potential swing state.

Saturday, a red bus featuring the Judicial Crisis Network’s campaign slogan “Another Great Justice” was spotted motoring around Montgomery.

This is a prelude to an eight-state bus tour that officially begins Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa. 

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The tour is being organized by Concerned Women for America, a Christian women’s organization who have launched “Women for Kavanaugh.” The group’s goal is to encourage female voters to reach out to their senators, voicing support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“Every state is important in this battle, but we will be focusing extra efforts in Iowa, Indiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, Missouri, and Montana,” the group explains on their website.

Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Trump to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, is expected to face a heated confirmation battle, with the hearing likely to occur in September.

Sen. Richard Shelby voiced his strong support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation after meeting with him this past week, but Alabama’s junior senator is still undecided. Sen. Doug Jones explained his decision-making process Friday in an interview on FM Talk 106.5’s “Midday Mobile.”

“This is the moment conservative women and evangelical voters have been waiting for and a huge reason why they voted for President Trump,” said Penny Nance, Concerned Women for America’s President, via The Washington Times.

This latest conservative effort to push Sen. Jones to listen to the majority of his constituents supplements the Judicial Crisis Network’s massive ad buy that has been flooding Alabama’s airwaves.

From July 9-23, the group spent over $500,000 on television in Alabama alone, with their total allocated buy in Alabama, West Virginia, North Dakota, and Indiana to exceed over $2 million when all is said and done.

The ad, which can be seen below, is supported by recent polling that showed a majority of Alabamians support Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

 

11 months ago

Alabama leads the nation in political corruption, new study shows

 

Alabama tops the country in public corruption, according to a new study examining perceptions of wrongdoing across the country.

The report by Illinois State University’s Institute for Corruption Studies ranks Alabama as the most corrupt state in the union for 2017 when it comes to what researchers call “legal corruption” — conduct by public officials that is technically legal but unethical. The state comes in second, behind Kentucky, in “illegal corruption,” conduct that is out-and-out against the law.

Oguzhan Dincer, director of the institute, said the findings have been mostly consistent since he and research partner Michael Johnston conducted their first annual study in 2014.

“Quite frankly, it’s been pretty sticky, especially states like Alabama,” he said. “Once a state becomes corrupt, it stays corrupt for a while.”

Dincer and Johnston, an emeritus professor at Colgate University, started the project when they were fellows at Harvard Law School’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

Dincer said other studies have tried to quantify corruption by examining conviction data. But he said that method has some drawbacks. For instance, he said, prosecutors in one state may be more aggressive than prosecutors in another. He also pointed to research indicating a partisan bias — Democratic prosecutors are more eager to pursue Republican wrongdoing, and vice versa.

What’s more, Dincer said, the Department of Justice’s definition of corruption is broad. He said it counts a postal worker who steals mail and an assistant district attorney who snorts cocaine, for example. He said neither would seem to fall into the same category as a politician on the take.

So Dincer and Johnston sought to solve those problems by turning to the people who should know the most — journalists who cover state government. He said it is modeled after groups like Transparency International, which ranks country-by-country corruption by polling citizens.

Dincer said asking journalists has the advantage of zeroing in on the men and women who spend their careers watching government up close.

“Instead of randomly selecting thousands of individuals in every state, we decided to ask reporters,” he said. “We thought they would know better.”

Dincer’s team surveyed 1,000 journalists covering state politics, getting responses from 48 states. They rated their perception of corruption on a scale of 1 to 5 for the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Alabama’s composite score for all three branches was 11 points for “illegal corruption” and 13 for “legal corruption.” It was not significantly different from 2014, when Alabama was tied for sixth in legal corruption with 11 points and tied for fourth for illegal corruption with 9 points.

Dincer said the difference between one place in the rankings and the spot just below or above it is not large enough to be significant. He said it is more useful to group states. And Alabama consistently ranks in that top tier in the corruption index. The 2017 ranking put Alabama in the top group when it comes to both kinds of corruption for all three branches.

Perhaps that is not a surprise considering the heads of all three branches have left office involuntarily in the last few years. Robert Bentley resigned as governor last year after pleading guilty to criminal charges related to misuse of state resources to conceal an affair with an adviser. A 2016 criminal conviction cost Mike Hubbard his job as speaker of the state House of Representatives. And a state judicial committee suspended Roy Moore as chief justice of the state Supreme Court for his conduct following a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2015.

Dincer acknowledged that relying on journalists has drawbacks, too. He said it is inherently subjective and prone to swings depending on high-profile cases. But he said he is convinced that the advantages outweigh the shortcomings compared to other methods and hopes to build 10 years’ worth of data to track changes in perception and policy.

“None of them is perfect,” he said. “And all are telling you different stories.”

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

 

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11 months ago

House passes bill to bring ‘much-needed certainty’ to Poarch Band of Creek Indians

(Courtesy Poarch Band of Creek Indians)
(Courtesy Poarch Band of Creek Indians)

 

Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, successfully shepherded a bill through the House of Representatives last week that resolves any potential legal confusion about the land governed by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians after an unrelated Supreme Court ruling in 2009.

The bill, titled the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Land Reaffirmation Act, unanimously passed the House by voice vote and is currently awaiting committee action in the Senate.

Key quotes from Byrne’s speech on the House floor:

— “This legislation is necessary due to the legal uncertainty caused by the Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. This decision has unnecessarily created legal ambiguity about whether the Poarch Creek land is actually in trust or not.”

— “To be clear: This legislation would not have any change over the way the Poarch or their land are currently being treated in Alabama. In fact, this legislation simply provides legal certainty to help prevent future challenges regarding the status of the Tribe’s land.”

— “The Poarch Creek Indians are a valued and trusted part of our community in Southwest Alabama. Their economic impact in Escambia County, Alabama, speaks for itself. From their help with funding for community projects to their business enterprises that employ thousands of Alabamians, the Poarch help make life better for so many people in our area.”

Watch the congressman’s speech here:

 

(Take this post over to social media and start a conversaiton with your family and friends).

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11 months ago

Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne to hold 100th town hall meeting tour next week

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

 
 
Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, will hold a full slate of town hall meetings across Southwest Alabama next week as part of a tour celebrating his 100th in-person town hall meeting since being elected to Congress. It will be called the “100th Town Hall Tour.”

The 100th Town Hall Tour will include stops in all six counties that make up the First Congressional District. The actual 100th Town Hall meeting will be held on Monday, January 22 at 5:30 p.m. in Bay Minette. Bay Minette was the site of Congressman Byrne’s first-ever town hall meeting back in 2014.

Congressman Byrne is known for holding in-person town hall meetings across Southwest Alabama to hear directly from the people he represents. The town halls allow constituents to ask questions, provide feedback, or share their ideas directly with their Member of Congress. The town halls are free to attend and open to the public.

You can find all the details about Congressman Byrne’s busy town hall schedule online at Byrne.House.Gov/townhalls.

 

What: Frisco City Town Hall Meeting

When: Monday, January 22nd at 3:00 p.m. CT

Where: Frisco City City Hall; 3861 Bowden Street, Frisco City, AL

 

What: Bay Minette Town Hall Meeting

When: Monday, January 22nd at 5:30 p.m. CT

Where: Bay Minette City Hall; 301 DOlive Street, Bay Minette, AL

 

What: Chickasaw Town Hall Meeting

When: Tuesday, January 23rd at 10:00 a.m. CT

Where: Chickasaw City Hall; 224 North Craft Highway, Chickasaw, A

 

What: Chatom Town Hall Meeting

When: Wednesday, January 24th at 9:30 a.m. CT

Where: Chatom Town Hall; 27 Cochran Avenue, Chatom, AL

 

What: Grove Hill Town Hall Meeting

When: Wednesday, January 24th at 12:00 noon CT

Where: Grove Hill Town Hall; 111 Church Street, Grove Hill, AL

 

What: Jackson Town Hall Meeting

When: Wednesday, January 24th at 1:30 p.m. CT

Where: Jackson Senior Center; 1701 College Avenue, Jackson, AL

 

What: Creola Town Hall Meeting

When: Wednesday, January 24th at 4:00 p.m. CT

Where: Creola City Hall; 9615 Old Highway 43, Creola, AL

 

What: East Brewton Town Hall Meeting

When: Thursday, January 25th at 1:30 p.m. CT

Where: East Brewton City Hall; 615 Forrest Avenue, East Brewton, AL

(News Release/Office of U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne)

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11 months ago

Alabama State Legislature Update: Committee action delayed on taxation vote

 

Editor’s note: This is a round-up of the day’s major events in Montgomery.

Sometimes, what does not happen in the Legislature is more important than what does.

Such was the case Thursday when lawmakers reconvened in Montgomery after a snow day. An Alabama Senate committee considered a bill to change the way the state taxes online sales but took no vote.

Here is a summary of a light day in the capital:

The big story: As mentioned, senators debated the online tax bill, sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), according to AL.com. The Legislature created the Simplified Sellers Use Tax in 2015 allowing online retailers to voluntarily collect an 8 percent use tax imposed on out-of-state purchases. That provided $56 million to the state in fiscal year 2017, with money split evenly between the state and local governments.

AL.com noted that Amazon, the largest contributor to the voluntary tax fund, recently acquired Whole Foods. That changed the company’s tax status. Under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling, states cannot force out-of-state companies to pay sales taxes unless they have a physical presence in the state.

Since there are Whole Foods locations in Alabama, Amazon would pay regular sales taxes, which would cost the state government revenue. Hence, Pittman’s bill, which would allow Amazon to continue paying the voluntary use tax instead.

But officials in Mobile and other cities have complained that the bill could prompt other large retailers, like Wal-Mart, to switch over to the use tax for their online sales. That could cost local governments money if they receive less from the fund than they get from their local sales taxes.

The bill faced opposition. AL.com quoted Sen. Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville), as saying that Amazon cannot be eligible for the program. “I’m OK with us sitting where we’re at and letting the chips fall where they may,” he said.

But Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the Alabama Association of County Commissions, backs the bill. He tweeted that opposition by cities was “very confusing!”

Pittman indicated that he would bring the measure back to the committee at a later date after further discussions with his colleagues, according to Al.com.

California dreaming? A bill to copy California’s primary election system got a first reading in the Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday.

Sponsored by Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison), the bill would require all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, to run on the same ballot. The top two candidates would face off in the general election.

In California, the so-called “jungle primary” has resulted in some elections in which the top two finishers are of the same party. In the 2016 U.S. Senate election, for instance, Democrat Kamala Harris defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez. No Republican made the general election.

“You get in areas that are predominantly Republican or predominantly Democrat, the people on the other side really don’t have a say,” Ball told Brian Lyman of the Montgomery Advertiser. “For special elections, there’s a really low turnout. This might increase participation.”

Ball’s bill, if passed, would take effect after this year’s elections.

Give me a Lyft: Lawmakers took the first step toward passing a bill that would provide uniform rules and regulations statewide for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Alabama is one of only a few states that have not statewide regulations.

On Thursday, the Alabama Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee approved the bill.

Cason tweeted that a substitute bill would include changes requested by cities.

Tweet of the day:

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

 

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11 months ago

Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne: ‘I’m committed to fighting for rural America’

 

Approximately 46 million people call rural America home, according to information from the Department of Agriculture. These rural communities make up the backbone of our state and play a substantial role in the overall American economy.

Unfortunately, rural communities are facing some serious challenges. For the first time on record, the rural population in our country is shrinking. Job growth since 2011 has been below that of urban areas, and the economic recovery has been much slower for rural areas.

There are several reasons for the challenges facing our rural communities, but I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump to make life better for those in rural America.

Just last week, President Trump became the first sitting U.S. president since 1992 to address the American Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau serves as a leading voice for our nation’s rural communities and farmers.

Agriculture is the top industry in rural America, and it remains the number one industry in Alabama. In his speech, President Trump declared that “our farmers deserve a government that serves their interest and empowers them to do the hard work that they love to do so much.”

This year, Congress will need to pass a new Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is critical because it sets the federal policies that govern our nation’s farmers. As a strong champion for agriculture, I have already started working with Alabama’s farmers to ensure the bill is good for them and our rural communities.

Farming is unlike most other industries and dependent on so many external factors, like weather, that are outside the control of the farmers. It is important farmers have the certainty they need to provide the American people with a safe and reliable food source.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the major tax reform legislation that passed in December, includes several provisions that will help farmers in rural America. In addition to lowering individual tax rates, the bill allows farmers to deduct 100% of the cost of new equipment in the year you make the investment. Farming is a very capital-intensive industry, so this is a real victory for farmers.

Another significant issue facing our rural communities is a lack of broadband access. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans lack sufficient broadband access. Without access to broadband and internet, individuals struggle to keep up in an economy that is increasingly dependent on technology.

In an effort to expand broadband access, President Trump recently signed two Presidential Orders to help get faster and better internet coverage to rural America. The goal is to cut back on some of the government regulations and processes that make it harder to expand broadband access while also increasing the overall investment from the Department of Agriculture.

One other key to boosting rural America is to focus more on career and technical education programs to ensure individuals have the skills that they need to excel in today’s economy. By putting more money toward these workforce training programs, I believe we can help revitalize rural America and increase access to high-paying jobs.

I firmly believe the investment in these programs is well worth it in the long run because it helps keep people off government welfare programs, improves the overall economy, and makes the individual’s life better.

These are just a handful of ways we can help restore rural America and revitalize our rural communities. Our nation is strongest when rural America is strong, and I am committed to that fight.

(U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.)

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11 months ago

Alabama State Legislature Update: Racial profiling and requiring Medicaid recipients to work

(State of Alabama)
State House/State of Alabama

 

On a day when lawmakers kept weary watch over deteriorating weather conditions in much of Alabama, the Legislature passed its first bills of the session Tuesday and began work on the state’s General Fund budget.

The Legislature will shut down Wednesday because of weather and plans to return to work on Thursday.

Here is a look at Tuesday’s major developments:

The big story: State Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) introduced Gov. Kay Ivey’s proposed $2.01 billion General Fund budget, which includes a 3 percent pay raise for state workers and seeks to impose a work requirement on able-bodied Medicaid recipients.

“I am pleased to learn that my budget was introduced today by Senator Pittman,” Ivey said in a statement. “My proposed budget is a strong, manageable budget, and is highlighted by the bright spot of a lower than expected Medicaid appropriation. Improving Medicaid delivery and controlling costs is central to my budget; that is why I instructed Commissioner Stephanie Azar in October 2017, to begin working on implementing work requirements and increased copays for Medicaid recipients.”

President Donald Trump’s administration recently signaled that it would allow states to experiment with work requirements as long as such rules did not apply to children, the disabled or elderly beneficiaries.

Azar said in a statement released by the governor’s office that a work requirement and co-pays would make the health program more efficient.

“Thanks to the improved economy and continued efforts to seek efficiency and decrease cost in the program, Medicaid is requesting less money than expected,” she stated. “We are certainly moving in the right direction to take care of the Alabamians that depend on our services.”

It is unclear how many Alabama Medicaid recipients the work requirement would affect. The vast majority of recipients in Alabama are elderly, disabled or children. Only able-bodied adults with extremely low incomes qualify for assistance.

The budget assumes nearly $221.7 million in federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, although Congress has yet to actually reauthorize the national CHIP program. Many observers expect federal lawmakers ultimately to do so, but if they don’t, it would wreak havoc on the state budget.

Racial profiling: The Alabama Senate passed a bill to prohibit racial profiling and to require law enforcement officials to keep records of traffic stops. AL.com’s Mike Cason tweeted that the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), said he had been stopped near his home because he is black. “It happens on a daily basis,” Cason quoted Smitherman as saying.

The vote was 27-0. It now goes to the House of Representatives.

Tax incentives: The Senate passed a bill related to the auto plant that Toyota and Mazda announced they will build in Huntsville. The bill, which now goes to the House, would allow local governments to charge lower property taxes under certain circumstances.

Fresh air for Vets: The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to give veterans and current members of the Armed Services free admission to state parks.

Alabama washing its hands of marriage? The Senate voted 19-1 to do away with marriage licenses and instead empower probate judges to accept affidavits from couples as official marriage records, according to Al.com. Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Bay Minette) has tried in the past couple of years to pass the bill, first proposing it after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Under Albritton’s proposal, the state would not be required to solemnize a marriage.

Special elections: State Rep. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) said he plans this week to introduce legislation to change the way vacancies in the Legislature are filled, according to the Alabama Political Reporter. In the event of a death or resignation, an election would be held eight weeks later, with all candidates from all parties and independents sharing the same ballot.

“If a vacancy occurs in a legislative seat it can be months and months before it is filled,” he told the publication. “One of our districts in Montgomery. They are just without a senator.”

Trooper shortage? The Alabama State Trooper Association on Tuesday demanded that legislators address what it regards as a critical shortage. The Associated Press reported that David Steward, president of the association, said the state has about 250 troopers patrolling state highways but that studies indicate that it should have more than 1,000.

“Seconds count in an accident and troopers are having to cover hundreds of miles,” he said in a statement. “Often one trooper is handling multiple counties.”

Robyn Bradley Bryan, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, told the AP that the state has 268 troopers on the road and will add another 10 after they graduate from the training academy in May.

Paying condolences: Tuesday brought news of the death of state Rep. George Bandy, a Democrat from Opelika who had represented Lee and Russell counties since 1994.

“Rep. Bandy dedicated almost a quarter century of his life to serving his state, his district, and the citizens of Lee and Russell counties,” House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) said in a statement. “The institutional knowledge that he gathered during his long service often provided needed insight and guidance to his colleagues. We will miss his presence in the hallways, committee rooms, and chambers of the Alabama State House.”

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

 

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