Lawmakers question Club for Growth scorecard methodologies
Thursday, Club for Growth Foundation unveiled two scorecards critical of the Alabama Legislature in two categories — economic policy and attendance.
Both scorecards gave lawmakers relatively low scores, an average economic score of 21% in the Senate and 15% in the House based on votes on legislation chosen by the Club for Growth, and lackluster attendance scores — questioning the number of missed vote by lawmakers, with an average 15% of the votes missed in the Senate and 30% of the votes missed in the House.
However, after publication, Yellowhammer News received several inquiries protesting the methodologies used by Club for Growth to track attendance.
One legislator speaking on background pointed to what Club for Growth deemed a “Massive Ad Valorem Tax Scheme,” which according to Club would levy “a potential 600% tax increase on property owners in Montgomery County for the county’s School Tax District.”
Given the tax referendum was a local bill, most lawmakers outside of Montgomery County, as a courtesy, did not vote on the legislation and therefore were penalized under both criteria.
State Rep. Tracy Estes (R-Winfield) took exception to the scoring and offered Yellowhammer News the following statement:
Honestly, I was troubled when I first saw this report because I had a little doubt the information was misleading. In the three sessions in which I have served thus far, I have missed one day. In that instance, I was attending an education policy conference at the request of the speaker, due to my prior experience as a former school board member and a member of the Alabama Association of School Boards board of directors.
As a former journalist, I take pride in the principle of accountability— accountability to my family, to my savior and the voters in my district.
Having personally discussed this issue with a representative from this organization, I have learned a lawmaker is considered absent, if he chooses to abstain from a vote. I have never failed to vote on issues coming before the legislature regarding statewide policy, laws or funding. However, I have chosen to abstain in most instances when local legislation is before the body. I do not feel it proper for me to attempt to influence local issues, issues with which I have little knowledge. I believe such policies and decisions should be made at the local level by the community’s respective representative, senator, local governing bodies and most importantly, the voters in that district.
To me, I feel I illustrate more statesman-like demeanor by not voting on these issues, as opposed to attempting to influence these local decisions.
In addition to abstentions on local legislation, some lawmakers also objected to the timing for the scoring conducted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many legislators citing CDC protocol sought to avoid the Alabama State House given the health threat.
Club for Growth added a disclaimer in its release accompanying the scorecard, stating the scoring was for “educational purposes only.”
“Lawmakers miss votes for a whole host of reasons, including medical issues, family concerns, or prior commitments,” Club for Growth stated. “But they may also miss votes because they are purposely ducking an issue or do not want to upset leadership. The Club for Growth Foundation makes no judgment on why a lawmaker misses votes. The Foundation simply publishes this quantified information for educational purposes only.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.