Let's revisit our post from a couple of days ago about the notorious ExxonMobil ruling and its possible impact on a 2008 race for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court.
An article by Bob Lowry of The Huntsville Times raises issues that deserve close attention:
* What influence does cold, hard cash have on Alabama's appellate-court races? Well, more than $54 million has been spent on Alabama Supreme Court races since 1993, which places us a solid No. 1 in the nation. Texas is a distant No. 2 at $30 million.
* Lowry states that the justices who ruled in Exxon Mobil's favor have received millions from business-oriented PACs since 2000. And he adds that two of the pro-business PAC operators are registered lobbyists for Exxon Mobil, according to the Alabama Ethics Commission.
But then he adds this curious information:
But Bob Geddie of the Montgomery lobbying firm of Fine Geddie & Associates, a registered lobbyist for Exxon Mobil, said he doesn't believe the company contributes to PACs in Supreme Court races.
"I know that allegation was made in last year's (2006) campaign, but as far as I know, Exxon Mobil does not make any contributions to candidates running for the Supreme Court in Alabama," he said.
This doesn't square with an article by Legal-Affairs Contributor Scott Horton, at Harper's.org. Horton reported that justices on the court received $5.5 million from ExxonMobil lobbyists, lawyers, and groups allied with the company.
Lowry does go on to state that seven PACs controlled by Fine Geddie made $293,000 in direct campaign contributions to the justices.
* Issues involving ExxonMobil and the Alabama Supreme Court are not going away. Lowry reports:
The Supreme Court is likely to hear another Exxon Mobil case.
Alabama could be forced to refund more than $83 million in oil and gas severance taxes if a judge's ruling survives an appeal in Mobile County Circuit Court. The state had denied requests from Exxon Mobil for about $41 million in refunds, plus interest, based on additional costs.
An administrative law judge earlier ruled in the company's favor in a case that centered on where and how natural gas should be taxed, but the state Revenue Department is appealing.