Alabama GOP gubernatorial candidate Dawson hits Gov. Ivey over grants to gay group
From Huntsville to Mobile, Alabama Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Dawson blasted Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday for a pair of state grants totaling $800,000 to a gay rights organization.
“I want to know our governor’s role in this organization,” Dawson told reporters in Mobile, his third of four stops to highlight the issue.
The grants came from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, which doles out funds for a variety of purposes. The beneficiary in this case was Free2Be, which Dawson described as an LGBTQ activist group. The money ostensibly was for violence prevention and support services.
WHNT in Huntsville reported that Free2Be abruptly closed last week.
Ivey’s campaign fired back at Dawson with a brief statement: “This is utter nonsense. Governor Ivey does not support the values pushed by this organization. Scott Dawson is intentionally misleading the public for political gain. A quick google search would have revealed the facts for Dawson.”
Those facts, according to the Ivey campaign, are that not one penny of taxpayer money has gone to Free2Be. Instead, the funds come from the Department of Justice from criminal fines and seized assets. The campaign said the state is auditing and investigating Free2Be.
Dawson said that explanation is not good enough. He said Ivey owes the people an apology. And he called for the state Attorney General’s Office to open an investigation.
“To some, they say it’s not a big deal,” he said. “To this person, it is a big deal. … She (Ivey) seems to think it’s her turn to be governor and she doesn’t have to explain herself as CEO of our state.”
Dawson said his research indicates that Free2Be had a budget in 2016 of $320,000, meaning that the two ADECA grants increased its funding by 227 percent.
The state does not have sufficient funding for its prisons or educational system, Dawson said.
“But we can find $800,000 to give to this activist organization,” he said.
In a video posted on YouTube, Free2Be founder James Robinson says he started the organization in Huntsville to help marginalized youth.
“Our local community here, as in many parts of our country is a very wounded community,” he says on the video. “Many people have been the victims of this harassment, bullying, hatred. They hear hatred preached from pulpits from all kinds of religious organizations. Many people become the victims of this hate speech. Many choose to end their lives. This totally unacceptable.”
Dawson, an evangelical who will face Ivey and two other Republicans in the June 5 primary, said the issue is about stewardship of public funds, not demonizing gay people.
“I’m not trying to attack a person or a community,” he said.
Dawson noted that Ivey vowed to clean up after the scandal-ridden tenure of her predecessor, Robert Bentley.
“She had a chance to right the ship of state. … But on this one, I think she’s failed,” he said.