The latest questionable move by Davis comes with news that he has spent $120,000 in federal campaign funds without registering as a gubernatorial candidate with the Secretary of State's office. Alabama law requires anyone spending $25,000 or more on a state campaign to file papers with the Secretary of State within five days.
Davis' campaign struggled to come up with creative explanations for the spending. The campaign said Davis is not officially running for governor, and he is living up to a pledge he made in February not to start spending his leftover congressional campaign money on the governor's race until other state candidates can start fundraising on June 1.
"We have a legal opinion on that," campaign spokeswoman Anna Ruth Williams said. "Congressman Davis did not explicitly say, 'I am not running for Congress; I'm running for governor.' He said, 'I intend to run for governor.'"
Associated Press reports that Davis, a three-term congressman from Birmingham who announced his gubernatorial bid in February, has not yet filed papers with the Secretary of State, even though he has been traveling the state to build support and hiring a small staff and outside consultants to run his campaign.
Although state candidates can't start fundraising until June 1, Davis had about $1.1 million left in his congressional campaign account. His most recent finance report shows he spent $120,477 from the account from January through the end of March, while raising about $110,649.
Much of the spending appears to have gone toward gubernatorial activities, including his campaign staff salaries, for example, and the $205 rental fee for the hall in Birmingham where he announced his intention to run.
So how is Davis apparently getting around the law? His campaign spokesperson noted that Davis' campaign signs say only "Artur Davis 2010," without specifying an office.
This is one of several apparent missteps Davis has made in recent weeks.
In a book by journalist Gwen Ifill, Davis indicated that he never was serious about holding members of the Bush administration accountable for politicizing the U.S. Department of Justice. Davis said he thought most Alabamians didn't care about the issue, and he thought the Don Siegelman case would fade from view by 2010.
Davis has shown a fondness for accepting campaign cash from people and organizations connected to Alabama Business Council President Bill Canary, the very individual who apparently was at the heart of plans to corrupt the justice system in the Siegelman case.
Many Alabama progressives, who once saw Davis as a shining star in the Barack Obama mold, now seem to be wondering if he is deserving of their support.
And one political expert says the latest news won't help Davis' standing among those looking for a new kind of politician. Reports AP:
David Lanoue, chairman of the political science department at the University of Alabama, said the campaign's position that Davis is not running for governor "strains credulity."
"He's obviously running for governor," Lanoue said. "I guess it depends on what you think the meaning of the word 'technically' is."
"This is the political world basically," he added. "Candidates are very good at distinguishing circumstances and explaining in very arcane detail why what they're doing now doesn't contradict what they said they were going to do."