Sign up for Our Newsletter

* indicates required
6 months ago

Troy King files suit against Steve Marshall, heating up final days of attorney general’s race

The race for Alabama’s attorney general got hotter Wednesday when Troy King, who faces Attorney General Steve Marshall in a primary runoff next Tuesday, filed suit against Marshall’s campaign seeking a temporary restraining order against Marshall’s use of campaign contributions given to him by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA).

King called those contributions illegal in an ethics complaint that he filed on Monday, alleging that Marshall has committed “intentional, willful, and flagrant violations of Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practices Act” by accepting “PAC-to-PAC” contributions from RAGA. The lawsuit raised the stakes from the initial ethics complaint.

Marshall’s campaign, citing the Alabama Ethics Commission and Secretary of State, said in a statement that there has been no violation of the law.

A laywer for RAGA, which King was an active member of when he was attorney general, yesterday called King’s complaint “a desperate ploy of a flailing campaign.”

Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA) makes it illegal for any PAC or 527 political organization to make “a contribution, expenditure, or any other transfer of funds to any other PAC or 527 organization.”

FCPA also requires such unlawful contributions to be returned. The statute reads, “It shall be unlawful for any person acting on behalf of a principal campaign committee or political action committee to retain or cause to be retained a contribution that the person knows or reasonably should know was made in violation of this chapter.”

RAGA is a 527 organization that has both accepted PAC-to-PAC transfers and contributed funds to Marshall.

However, it’s unclear whether or not RAGA’s contributions, and therefore Marshall’s acceptance of them, are illegal, due to ambiguity from the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Ethics Commission Director Tom Albritton told the Associated Press on Tuesday that such contributions from federal PACs are not illegal.

“Our commission has not formally determined the substantive issues here, but practitioners and the secretary of state’s office have said that it does not violate any laws,” Albritton said.

Even still, Albritton had at one time told candidates inquiring about the matter that such contributions are not legal, according to AL.com’s Kyle Whitmire.

Albritton could not be reached for comment regarding what specifically the secretary of state’s office has said of the legality of contributions such as RAGA’s to Marshall.

Secretary of State John Merrill on Wednesday reiterated to Yellowhammer News the need for the Ethics Commission to offer a clarification on federal PAC-to-PAC transfers.

In any case, Marshall’s campaign accepts Albritton’s argument, saying in a statement to Yellowhammer News that there have been no infractions.

“As Ethics Commission Director Tom Albritton stated yesterday, practitioners and the Secretary of State’s office agree that there is no violation of the law here,” the statement said.

King’s argument focuses on statutory language in Alabama Code 17-5-2 (13) which defines political action committees subject to FCPA’s transfer rules as those located both in the state and outside of it, and says that guidance from the Ethics Commission is wrong.

“It’s not about the ethics commission,” Angi Horn Stalnaker, King’s campaign manager, told Yellowhammer News on Wednesday. “It’s about what the law says.”

As for FCPA’s jurisdiction, a source on the Marshall side of the debate contends that there is a serious legal question of whether Alabama actually has the ability to regulate something like federal PAC-to-PAC transfers, a task that federal law has relegated to the Federal Election Commission.

King’s lawsuit is part of a broader argument that King has made against his opponent’s election, with Marshall’s involvement in RAGA taking center stage.

In a Tuesday press conference, King said that Marshall has been “bought and paid for” by RAGA, as evidenced by his attendance to various meetings and fundraisers also attended by wealthy donors.

However, King was also an active member of RAGA during his time as attorney general. He attended at least 14 RAGA meetings from Spring 2004 to Winter 2010 and held fundraisers at two of the events, according to RAGA.

The following example documents are provided by RAGA to Yellowhammer News.

King fundraiser at RAGA event (Courtesy RAGA)
King fundraiser at RAGA event (courtesy RAGA)
Example RAGA attendance sheet (Courtesy RAGA)

King said in his press conference yesterday that RAGA has become “an organization whose activities have become more sinister and controversial” since he left it.

In response, RAGA lawyer Charlie Spies said Tuesday, “This complaint is a desperate ploy from a flailing campaign filed one week before the election against the wrong entity and based upon an incorrect reading of the law.”

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 hours ago

Aderholt named ranking member of appropriations subcommittee critical to north Alabama’s economy

On Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA and the FBI, amongst other important economic engines.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “It is a great honor to be named the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. This subcommittee is certainly important to America, but even more so for North Alabama.”

193

“This subcommittee is directly responsible for funding NASA and the FBI, along with the Department of Commerce,” Aderholt explained. “The FBI and NASA are two very important agencies to the economy of not only Huntsville, but also the northern portion of our state. NASA, of course, has a long history in this region and gave rise to Huntsville’s name as the Rocket City. And in just the past few years, the FBI has built a presence on Redstone Arsenal and is in the process of growing to a level of approximately 4,000 jobs.”

The congressman concluded, “With my leadership on this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that North Alabama continues to lead as we return to the moon, put boots on Mars and travel into deep space. And with the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, and growing footprint in North Alabama, I will also be a voice to let my colleagues know that North Alabama is in a prime position to be a hub for matters concerning our national security.”

Aderholt also serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Is Doug Jones a foot soldier in the Democrat Civil War for taking a shot at liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

If you are Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) right now, you probably know you have almost no chance of being elected to a full term as a United State senator.

This obviously could change. Roy Moore could continue to crave the spotlight and enter a Republican primary field in 2020, but this is obviously a long-shot for him.

Complicating Jones’ life right now is a number of new Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They are outspoken, silly and contrary to the carefully crafted image Jones wants to sell to Alabama. Jones wants to be Mr. Moderate, a conservative-ish Democrat in the mold of former Congressman Bud Cramer (D-Huntsville), but he can’t do that if he is constantly dealing with a 24-hour news cycle where his fellow Democrats are acting nuts.

281

Jones seems to know this, and the clearest way to distinguish himself from members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is to directly scold her to The Hill.

He said, “I think it skews what’s really there for the Democratic Party.”

Jones seems to want to differentiate himself from Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of non-stop Twitter trolling will endear her to the same media that can’t let a Trump tweet go without an analysis of its impact. But Jones didn’t stop there. He also thinks this style of bomb-throwing is ineffective politics.

“When it gets time to get things done, that’s what people are going to be looking at — they’re going to be looking at the middle-of-the-roaders because it’s the only way to get anything done,” Jones stated.

If recent history is any judge, Ocasio-Cortez will not let these comments slide without a response. The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on and Jones will likely find himself out-gunned and without many powerful allies.

In response to similar criticism from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ocasio-Cortez responded with the following tweet:

Will Jones double-down or will he slink back to his backbench for fear of his party’s base if she hits back?

For now, Jones sounds like he thinks his voters want him to get stuff done, but considering that Jones’ main accomplishment at this point in his Senate career is his vote against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation it is likely most Alabama voters would prefer he enjoys his time in Washington D.C. as a spectator before being sent home in 2020.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

4 hours ago

Trump AG nominee: Sessions ‘probably did the right thing’ in recusing himself from Russia probe

Attorney General-nominee William Barr on Tuesday said Jeff Sessions “probably did the right thing” in recusing himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991-1993. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe because he was involved in the Trump campaign.

“I am not sure of all of the facts, but I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr said.

132

This came the day after Sessions attended Alabama’s Inaugural Day festivities, including the swearing-in ceremony for all statewide elected officials and reception for state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

During Marshall’s event in the attorney general’s office building, Sessions said, “Do the right thing every day and usually things will work out… [well,] not always.”

After the laughter of the room started to subside, he added, “At least in the United States, when they fire you, they don’t shoot you like they do in some countries.”

Sessions’ relationship with President Donald Trump was eroded by the recusal and the president’s public attacks on both that decision and Sessions personally. He resigned at the request of the president in November.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen responds to judge striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act — ‘Judges are not kings’

On Tuesday afternoon, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, criticized Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Graffeo made the ruling Monday.

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly,” Allen said in a statement. “A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”

He continued, “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is ‘undisputed’ that the majority of residents of Birmingham are ‘repulsed’ by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

92

“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations. The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate,” Allen advised.

He concluded, “The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Judge voids Alabama law protecting Confederate monuments

A judge has overturned an Alabama law meant to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, ruling the act infringed on the rights of citizens in a mostly black city who are “repulsed” by the memorial.

The 10-page ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments wrongly violated the free speech rights of local communities.

The law cannot be enforced, Graffeo ruled, but the state could still appeal.

256

The attorney general’s comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The state sued the city of Birmingham after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (16-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Rather than toppling the stone marker, the city built a 12-foot (3.6-meter)-tall wooden box around it.

Birmingham’s population of 210,000 is more than 70 percent black, and the judge said it was indisputable that most citizens are “repulsed” by the memorial.

He rejected the state’s claims that lawmakers had the power to protect historical monuments statewide.

The law includes a $25,000 penalty for removing or altering a historical monument, but the judge said the penalty was unconstitutional.

The city has not had to pay while the lawsuit worked its way through court.

The ruling came hours after the inauguration of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who signed the law and opened her campaign last year with a commercial that prominently showed Confederate monuments.

“We can’t change or erase our history, but here in Alabama we know something that Washington doesn’t. To get where we are going means understanding where we have been,” Ivey said in the ad.

Supporters of the law contend it protects not just Confederate memorials but historical markers of any kind, but rebel memorials have been an issue nationwide since a white supremacist gunman killed nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.