Steven Reed accepts money from Bruce Pettway, Donald Watkins, Jr. in Montgomery mayoral campaign
MONTGOMERY — Yellowhammer News has confirmed that Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed’s mayoral campaign in April accepted $25,000 from Bruce Pettway and $250 from Donald Watkins, Jr.
Pettway, a Birmingham-area resident, is the brother of the Jefferson County sheriff and recently was met with statewide controversy over obtaining an electronic bingo permit from the city of Graysville in that jurisdiction. Electronic bingo has been affirmed as illegal by the Alabama Supreme Court. Pettway’s permit has since been canceled and refunded by the city.
Watkins, Jr. and his father were recently found guilty in a federal, multimillion-dollar investment and bank fraud trial. Sentencing is set for July 16.
When convicted in March, the Watkins father and son were called “financial predators who truly represent pure greed” by the local FBI special agent in charge.
An assistant attorney general called Watkins, Jr. and his father “frauds, plain and simple.”
When asked by Yellowhammer News about the contributions, Reed campaign spokesman Chip Hill said in a statement, “Judge Reed is grateful to have the support of so many including his lifelong friend Donald Watkins, Jr. and Bruce Pettway, the brother of the Jefferson County Sheriff.”
“But, we certainly understand that as the favorite to win this race, Judge Reed will be the target of smears by our opponents’ floundering campaigns, like Artur Davis who only has a thousand dollars in the bank, negatives in the mid 30’s and enough personal baggage to sink a boat,” Hill added, speaking of former Congressman Artur Davis, who was running second to Reed in a recent poll. Yellowhammer News did not mention Davis in its inquiry to the Reed campaign.
The Montgomery mayoral race features a crowded field, with Reed and Davis enjoying the most name recognition due to their prior political runs.
Reed raised $70,111.52 total in April. You can view his campaign finance report here. His office, as the Montgomery County Probate office, is in charge of administering and overseeing the very mayoral election he is running in. This is a conflict of interest, according to Davis.
In response to Hill’s statement, Davis campaign spokesman Scott Stone told Yellowhammer News, “Steven Reed’s campaign is practicing the oldest rule in politics: when under pressure, lash out at the biggest threat, whom they know is Congressman Davis, who by the way has not said a word about Reed’s contributors.”
“While Artur Davis may not be table to match Reed in money, he is cleaning his clock every day when it comes to clarity of vision, substantive policy proposals, and a commitment to take his message to every single part of the city,” Stone continued. “And when voters learn more about just how Steven Reed runs the probate office, and how he and his associates have misused that office for political and personal gain, we will see just where this race stands.”
Stone also pointed to what he views as questionable campaign finance activity by Reed’s campaign for re-election as probate judge in 2018.
“And we won’t be lectured on how much money we have or don’t have by a candidate who claims he ran up a $100,000 in debt in a Probate Judge race when he was unopposed and used that debt to raise money for the mayor’s race through the backdoor,” Stone concluded.
Reed in April also accepted a contribution from his father, longtime Alabama Democratic Conference boss Joe Reed.
Other candidates include Air Force Gen. Ed Crowell (Ret.), attorney JC Love and local FOX affiliate WCOV owner David Woods. Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean was the first to declare his candidacy but has struggled to pick up steam.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn