|Steve Marshall and "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley|
From a report at al.com:
The Alabama Ethics Commission voted 3-2 today that there was insufficient evidence that Attorney General Steve Marshall violated the state campaign finance law.
Former Attorney General Troy King had filed the complaint and was at today’s meeting but left before the vote was taken.
King had alleged that Marshall’s campaign contributions from the Republican Attorneys General Association violated the state campaign finance law. Marshall has said the contributions were legal. King filed the complaint in July, while he and Marshall were engaged in a runoff campaign for the Republican nomination for attorney general. Marshall won the runoff and went on to win the general election over Joe Siegelman.
USA Today brought national attention to the RAGA donation in an article published on Nov. 5, the day before the midterm elections. How outrageous is the Alabama Ethics Commission's conduct in the Marshall matter. As we showed in a Dec. 5 post, it did not just start getting nutty with yesterday's vote:
Marshall, appointed AG in February 2017 before scandal-plagued governor Robert Bentley left office, defeated Democrat Joseph Siegelman in the November midterms despite national reports that he had accepted $735,000 from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which officials from both parties said violated Alabama law.
The Alabama Ethics Commission failed to resolve the issue before the Nov. 6 election, so complaints are pending, both with the ethics commission and the Montgomery County district attorney's office. Before the election, Siegelman noted that Marshall could be forced from office if the ethics commission applied state law properly.
Was there serious doubt the donation violated Alabama ethics law? Consider these words from Bill Britt, publisher of Alabama Political Reporter (APR), written on Oct. 11 about Marshall's cozy relationship with 3M, a major polluter in Alabama:
RAGA is not registered with the state and commingles its funds with other political action committees, masking the donors contrary to Alabama law. Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton knows Marshall’s contributions were unlawful, so does Secretary of State John Merrill, but no one is willing to act. Even Marshall himself is on the record saying the type of contributions he received from RAGA are illegal and banning such contributions was, “the only legal protection standing between Alabama voters and the reality or appearance of quid pro quo corruption.”
The right remedy in the Marshall situation lies with the Alabama Republican Party, which is responsible for pursuing such violations and taking appropriate action, but the so-called party of law and order has taken a pass on the Marshall fiasco, choosing to remain silent.
So, even Republicans know the RAGA donations are unlawful, but Marshall is a favorite of the Mike Hubbard-Robert Bentley-Bob Riley wing of the party -- as evidenced by his recent firing of special-prosecutions chief Matt Hart. Does anyone expect that crowd to take ethics violations seriously?
APR reported yesterday that Troy King received notice of the hearing less than 24 hours in advance, and he was the primary complainant. That was a sign the fix was in.
Butch Ellis proved to be the fixer, a role with which he is quite familiar from his years of turning Shelby County into a racist, ethical sewer. How racist? Butch Ellis played a central role in a U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. Butch Ellis' father, Handy Ellis, joined with notorious Birmingham Safety Commissioner Bull Connor to lead a walkout of Alabama delegates at the 1948 Democratic Convention. The issue of contention? Civil rights, primarily for black Americans:
Butch Ellis’s father was Handy Ellis, a former lieutenant governor and the chairman of the Alabama delegation at the 1948 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
With Birmingham Commissioner of Safety Bull Connor, Ellis led the Dixiecrat walkout of the convention after declaring that Alabama delegates were instructed “never to cast their vote for any candidate associated with a civil rights program such as adopted by this convention.”
Bottom line: Butch Ellis is the son of a prominent Dixiecrat, meaning he has been a thinly veiled white supremacist for much of his life. At yesterday's Ethics Commission meeting, Ellis stood up for the white elites who want a do-nothing AG like Steve Marshall, so they can keep Alabama as one of the most corrupt states in the nation. From al.com:
The commission heard a number of other cases behind closed doors today. After the commission reopened the meeting, Commissioner Butch Ellis made a motion that there was insufficient evidence that Marshall violated the state campaign finance law. Commissioner Beverlye Brady offered a substitute motion saying there were “ample facts” to show that Marshall had violated the law.
The Ethics Commission determines whether there is probable cause that the law was broken. Had Brady’s vote prevailed, the case would have been referred to a district attorney.
Brady and Fielding declined to comment on the case after the meeting ended.
Brady and Fielding probably could not comment because they were trying not to puke.
As noted above, complaints regarding the RAGA donation remain with Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey. Attorneys Julian McPhillips and Melissa Isaak apparently filed the complaint with Bailey's office because they expected a sham ruling from the Alabama Ethics Commission.
If that was the case, McPhillips and Isaak certainly proved to be on target. Is there any chance Daryl Bailey will be different, that he actually has respect for the rule of law? I'm not holding my breath.