Governor’s office: ‘Honest mistake’ that apology letter mistakenly sent to wrong House list
Thursday’s unexpected apology from Gov. Kay Ivey not only revealed Alabama still has not fully exorcised the demons of its past, it showed us that some members of the Alabama Legislature still feel jilted after the Rebuild Alabama Act passed this spring.
Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, some members of the legislature were given a head’s up about the forthcoming blackface saga but not all. The ones that were not: members of the House of Representatives that were “no” votes on the Rebuild Alabama Act this earlier this year.
Several members of the Alabama House of Representatives confirmed to Yellowhammer News they were left out of any notice prior to Ivey’s public acknowledgment. Some of those members alleged that has been a general trend since the March vote on the gas tax.
Only one member offered to go on the record and express his frustration with Ivey’s office. State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville), a candidate for the U.S. House seat to be vacated by U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) in 2020 and a “no” vote on Rebuild Alabama, expressed his frustration with Ivey’s office when asked if notified about the Ivey’s apology.
“I think it’s appalling that we haven’t heard anything from her,” Dismukes said. “Just another thing that we are not included in because we stood with the people of our districts.”
However, the truth seems to reveal a benign explanation in this instance.
According to a Friday letter sent from Ivey’s chief of staff, former Congressman Jo Bonner, to Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), Bonner received an email at 11:28 p.m. Thursday from State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals), another gas tax “no” vote, notifying him of the perceived slight.
In the letter, Bonner advised that only when he arrived at his office Friday morning and was able to investigate the matter, did he realize not all legislators received Ivey’s apology.
Bonner outlined he has since personally spoken to Sorrell on the phone, who he said “seemed most understanding of this mistake.”
Read Bonner’s letter to McCutcheon below.
The governor’s communications staff has since explained to Yellowhammer News that a completely unintentional, human error was to blame, as the incorrect House mailing list was used.
“There was no malice or ill-will; it was simply a careless error during a rather stressful day when we were trying to do a lot of different things all at the same time,” Bonner wrote to the speaker.
Bonner stressed that the governor and her office fully intended for all 140 members of the legislature to receive her apology. He also explained that the correct Senate list was used, including “no” vote senators, which could expel any remaining doubt that they were trying to leave out “no” votes. Bonner also offered to send the letter to any legislator who was accidentally omitted and gave out his cell phone number to any of them who want to talk about the error.
“This was truly an honest mistake for which I regret,” he concluded.
Back in March, the Rebuild Alabama Act passed the Alabama House by an 84-20 margin. Those that vote “no” included the follows:
District 3 – Andrew Sorrell, R
District 9 -Scott Stadthagen, R
District 12 – Corey Harbison, R
District 15 – Allen Farley, R
District 18 – Jamie Kiel, R
District 22 – Ritchie Whorton, R
District 23 – James “Tommy” Hanes, Jr., R
District 31 – Mike Holmes, R
District 33 – Ronald Johnson, R
District 34 – David Standridge, R
District 37 – Bob Fincher, R
District 43 – Arnold Mooney, R
District 47 – David Wheeler, R
District 48 – Jim Carns, R
District 49 – April Weaver, R
District 51 – Allen Treadaway, R
District 52 – John Rogers, D
District 59 – Mary Moore, D
District 73 – Matt Fridy, R
District 88 – Will Dismukes, R
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article included State Rep. Jeff Sorrells, District 87, as a “no” vote on Rebuild Alabama. He voted “yes.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn