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1 year ago

“Strange for Senate” Explains Campaign Finance Questions

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (Photo: Facebook)

This week in Montgomery, questions emerged regarding the “Strange for Senate” campaign’s compliance with Alabama’s state campaign laws.

The issue in question was one of funds that were moved from Luther Strange’s U.S. Senate campaign account to his Alabama Attorney General campaign account. Specifically, transfers between campaigns can’t exceed $1,000 and the two transactions in question totaled $1,418.27, fueling the questions about whether or not Alabama’s campaign law was broken.

Upon hearing these rumblings, Yellowhammer contacted the Senator’s campaign office. They connected us with Megan Newton and Ben Ginsberg, lawyers from Jones Day that are tasked with ensuring the Senator’s compliance with Federal Elections Commission laws. Mrs. Newton explained that the actions in question were actually steps the Senator took to comply with federal campaign laws.

As she pointed out, Senator Strange’s U.S. Senate campaign purchased two domain names from his state Attorney General’s campaign. Federal law requires that such purchases be recorded, and that’s what occurred. In other words, it wasn’t a transfer of contributions between campaigns, it was an accounting entry for a transaction, which the federal law requires.

Yellowhammer also contacted Alabama’s Secretary of State, John Merrill, who provided us with the following statement:

The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office is the agency tasked with receipt and collection of all campaign finance filings from state, county, and certain local officials. Once these reports are collected, Secretary of State staff review the reports for errors, issues, or concerns. When issues are identified, a request for a formal review is forwarded to the Alabama Ethics Commission or the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

At the completion of the review performed by our team, potential concerns with Senator Strange’s filing were identified. As is our normal practice, it was reported to the appropriate agency. This referral does not attempt to assign, insinuate, or indicate guilt nor act as an indictment of Senator Strange’s actions regarding the filing of his report.

Senator Strange and his team believe Federal law preempts contributions to his Alabama Principal Campaign Committee for Attorney General. With that said, in the Secretary of State’s Office, we have a responsibility to follow the law and will continue to address issues and forward items of concern as they are identified.

Our office will refer any future questions regarding this issue to the Alabama Ethics Commission as the body tasked by the Alabama Legislature to rule on these matters.

While the response from the Ethics Commission is unknown at this time, Mr. Ginsberg further explained that federal law supersedes state law and the transaction took place to keep the Senate campaign in compliance with federal law.

As he stated: “It is legally incorrect for anyone to suggest that a violation of law has occurred here. Senator Strange’s campaign closely followed federal law by purchasing two web domains at fair market value from his state campaign committee.  This was an asset purchase, not a contribution.  In fact, not only was this purchase legal, it was required under federal law to avoid his Senate campaign receiving a prohibited contribution from a non-federal source.  Federal law preempts state law for all matters involving campaign contributions and expenditures.” 

6 mins ago

Ainsworth defeats Cavanaugh in Lt. Gov runoff election

After a long and hotly contested race, the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor in Alabama has been decided. Will Ainsworth defeated Public Service Commissioner Twinkle Cavanaugh in Tuesday night’s runoff election.

With 99 percent reporting, Ainsworth defeated Cavanaugh with a little more than ten thousand votes. Ainsworth received 51 percent of the vote, leaving Cavanaugh with 49 percent.

Ainsworth issued a tweet thanking those who supported and voted for him saying, “This is your victory as much as ours.”

Ainsworth also used the hashtag #ANewDayForAlabama in his first tweet since becoming the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor of Alabama.

Ainsworth mentioned Cavanaugh as he spoke after the election results were revealed and said that he looked forward to working with her in the future.

Cavanaugh conceded around 9:30 p.m., saying,”He ran a strong race — Will Ainsworth — and he now, I hope, will go on to be our next lieutenant governor here in the state of Alabama.”

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33 mins ago

Steve Marshall beats Troy King in heated attorney general runoff

Alabama Republicans have chosen their candidate for attorney general: incumbent Steve Marshall.

Marshall beat his Republican competitor former attorney general Troy King in Tuesday’s primary election runoff, winning 62 percent of the vote as of 9:30 p.m., with 92 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

A last-minute endorsement by close Trump ally Roger Stone proved unable to deliver King a victory in what became at times both a heartbreaking and heated campaign.

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Marshall and King both temporarily suspended their campaigns in late June, following the tragic death of Marshall’s wife, Bridgette.

In the race’s final weeks, King argued that Marshall’s acceptance of campaign contributions from the Republican Attorneys General Association was an infraction of Alabama’s campaign finance laws. He filed a lawsuit in Montgomery Circuit Court against Marshall last week, but a judge dismissed the case.

Marshall faces Democrat Joseph Siegelman in November’s general election.

6 hours ago

Live blog: Alabama votes — Runoff Returns

The state of Alabama (well, likely an “extraordinarily low” percentage) is voting Tuesday, July 14.

The lieutenant governor race pits Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh against Will Ainsworth in the runoff, while incumbent AG Steve Marshall squares off with former AG Troy King for attorney general. Also on today’s ballot, Martha Roby faces Bobby Bright for House District 2 and the race for commissioner of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries between Gerald Dial and Rick Pate.

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Update 9:40:
It’s no longer Dial time

Update 9:22:

Update 9:08:
Still a tight one for Cavanaugh and Ainsworth

Update 9:05:
A touching tribute

Update 9:01:

Down goes the King

Update 8:36:

AP calls House District 2 for Roby. She will face Tabitha Isner in November

Update 8:22:

NY Times has Roby 19,651 (67.2%) and Bright 9,599 (32.8%)

Update 8:15:

Update 7:48:

Marshall party enjoying the MLB All-Star Game

Update 7:40:

Update 7:25:

Per Montgomery Advertiser:
Lt. Gov race is a tight one.
Ainsworth: 105
Cavanaugh: 104

AG race also close early on.
Marshall: 125
King: 93

AG Commissioner close early.
Pate: 108
Dial: 96

NY Times shows big lead early for Roby in House District 2:
Roby: 261
Bright: 101

Update 7:00:

Polls are closed. Now we wait as results come in.

Update 6:50 p.m.:

Listen Live: Yellowhammer’s Jeff Poor and Dale Jackson on with Mobile FM Talk 106.5’s Sean Sullivan 8-10 p.m. at fmtalk1065.com.

Preview stories:

Five things to watch for on Runoff Election Night
The anatomy of races for attorney general and House District 2: What a win might mean
Here are the Alabama candidates who won the money race ahead of runoff

8 hours ago

Republicans don’t have to oppose Trump because he refuses to admit Russia meddled and wanted him to win

Russia meddled in the 2016 election and President Trump’s Director of National Intelligence acknowledges it. Russia wanted Trump to win, Russian President Vladimir Putin even admitted it. This does not mean there was collusion, it does not mean the election was stolen, and it doesn’t mean you have to support Hillary Clinton in 2020 or Democrats in 2018. It also doesn’t mean I, nor anyone else, has to second guess our reasoning for voting for Trump in 2016.

My reasoning was the open Supreme Court seat that would become Neal Gorsuch’s and the one that will become Brett Kavanaugh’s. A good friend of mine messaged me last night taunting me about Trump’s performance at the Trump/Putin press conference:

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You know what, it was.

But the game here is quite simple: Putin wanted Trump over Hillary, therefore you shouldn’t have.

The problem with that is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are actually to blame for all the problems that are being brought to bear today, and Trump fails to acknowledge that.

Take this by former Congressman Mike Rogers (not Alabama’s) Tweet as a guide:

Let’s check the timeline…

— Waged continuous & increasingly aggressive cyber attacks against us – 2015(?)-present
— Interfered in our 2016 elections – 2015-2016
— Annexed Crimea – 2014
— Shot down a civilian airliner – 2014
— Supports Assad in Syria – 2013
— Invaded our ally Georgia – 2008
— Murdered opponents in London – 2018

A grand total of one of those events started during Trump’s term.

More interestingly, the media, Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continued to act as if Russia was an ally — or at best a nuisance.

Clinton offered a reset button:

Obama asked for space so he could win an election:

How is it that Trump’s failure to call out Russia’s acts before he was president is ushering in a more powerful Russian Federation, but years of straight-up weakness should have been rewarded with a third-term for team Obama? It makes no sense.

Now, I have been clear, President Trump should acknowledge Russian-meddling, but that meddling does not de-legitimize his win. He needs to acknowledge this, but so do his opponents.

There is more to the world than our relationship with Russia. The economy matters, the Supreme Court matters, controlling our borders matters, and no one can tell you that your choice in 2016 was wrong because Obama failed to do his job.

10 hours ago

Once a Trump critic, Roby looks for redemption in Alabama runoff

Rep. Martha Roby is seeking Republican redemption in an Alabama runoff election that hinges on her loyalty to President Donald Trump.

Roby is facing Democrat-turned-Trump Republican Bobby Bright on Tuesday, trying not to become the third congressional Republican to lose her job this primary season.

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From the outside, the race shouldn’t be close. Roby is a four-term incumbent in deep-red Alabama. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have endorsed her. And her Republican opponent supported Nancy Pelosi when he served as a Democrat in Congress.

But as is often the case in the Trump era, the conventional rules of politics do not apply.

Roby’s political survival depends on whether Alabama voters are sufficiently convinced that she’s made amends for turning her back on Trump in 2016 after he was caught bragging about sexually predatory behavior in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape.

The remarks, she said at the time, made Trump “unacceptable” as a Republican candidate for president. She’s spent much of the last two years trying to convince her red-state constituents in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District that she is a reliable vote for the administration.

Roby failed to convince a majority of Republican primary voters back in June, earning just 39 percent of the vote in the first primary contest, which forced a runoff against the second-place vote getter.

Despite her past criticism, the Trump White House has emerged as Roby’s most powerful backer.

Trump himself endorsed Roby on Twitter, calling her a “reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda” and bashing Bright as “a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat.”

Vice President Mike Pence recorded automated calls for Roby distributed to district voters beginning on Saturday. He calls Roby a reliable vote for the Trump agenda and urged voters to send her back to Congress.

“We can always count on her vote,” Pence says in the call.

Armed with an endorsement from Trump, Roby has argued that she’s “a conservative Republican with a proven record.”

“I’ve worked with the administration to get conservative policies across the finish line. My opponent voted for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker,” Roby said during a campaign stop at a south Alabama lumber company. She also touted her support for a border wall and opposition to abortion.

Bright, who represented the district for two years as a Democrat, argues that he’s more conservative than Roby, whom he calls an establishment Republican who hasn’t “stayed connected” with the heavily agrarian and military district.

“I’m not an elitist. I’m not what they refer to as a blue blood. I’m a populist. I talk with the people and so does (Trump),” said Bright, the 13th of 14 children born into a sharecropping family.

Roby has enjoyed a 5-to-1 fundraising advantage over Bright. She’s used the arsenal to hammer Bright in television ads over his Democratic background — particularly his 2009 vote for Pelosi as House speaker.

A mailer distributed by Roby’s campaign promotes Trump’s endorsement and lists Pelosi’s name five times in attacking Bright.

While many Washington Republicans expect Roby to win on Tuesday, the anticipated low turnout in the midsummer affair offers an air of unpredictability. Less than 20 percent of eligible voters are expected to participate.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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