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Jefferson County candidate receives untraceable $150,000 donation ahead of March 5 primary 

A Democratic candidate for Jefferson County District Judge received a $150,000 donation in a single contribution from an unidentified source, despite attempts to verify the donor, which does not appear to be legally registered in Alabama. 

According to a major contribution report filed with the Alabama Secretary of State on February 12, candidate Chuantae Brown’s campaign balance jumped from $7,441.87 to $156,441.87 thanks to a considerable donation from “WOHRAY, INC.” designated as a business or corporate contributor. 

The entity is not registered with the Alabama Secretary of State’s business division, however, is listed on the contribution report as being headquartered at a Hoover, Alabama address. The address is a corporate office complex, which could not be verified by Yellowhammer News as leasing any space to the company. 

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When asked about the contribution, Brown told Yellowhammer News she wished to keep the source of the contribution “anonymous” and that the business entity is “a legit company.” 

Despite further attempts to verify any trace of WOHRAY, INC. within Alabama or elsewhere, Brown provided the following statement on February 19:

“I regret to inform you that, despite our efforts, my campaign manager and banking institution were both unable to verify the legitimacy of the donation. We have followed all necessary procedures and protocols by reporting the contribution immediately on the campaign finance report but as of today, the funds from Wohray, Inc. have not cleared on our end.”

At time of post, no amendments were made to the major contribution report, and campaign spending continued as per Brown’s latest weekly campaign report filed on February 26.

Brown currently works as an attorney in the Jefferson County Law office. She previously ran for the same office in 2018, eventually being defeated by Thomas Thrash in the Democratic primary.

The Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA), Alabama’s campaign finance law, sets the rules for how and when candidates can raise and spend money. The law also specifies how campaign finance activities are reported. The following clause of Alabama’s FCPA law comes into play regarding donations made in the name of an entity different than what is reported:

“(a) It shall be unlawful for any person, acting for himself or herself or on behalf of any entity, to make a contribution in the name of another person or entity, or knowingly permit his or her name, or the entity’s name, to be used to effect such a contribution made by one person or entity in the name of another person or entity, or for any candidate, principal campaign committee, or political action committee to knowingly accept a contribution made by one person or entity in the name of another person or entity; provided, however, that nothing in this chapter prohibits any person from soliciting and receiving contributions from other persons for the purpose of making expenditures to a candidate, political campaign committee, political action committee, or elected state or local official required to file reports pursuant to Section 17-5-8.”

The Democratic Primary for the seat will be held on March 5.

Update as of Monday at 2:00 p.m. from Chuantae Brown: The finance report has been amended, but will not reflect the changes until the next filing date on March 4, 2024.

Grayson Everett is the state and political editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270. Austen Shipley contributed to this report.

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