25 Nov 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, November 20 Congressman-elect Gary Palmer (R) announced that he has named William David Smith Jr. as his Chief of Staff.
The Ozark Native is presently U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions’ (R) Chief Counsel.
Congressman-elect Palmer said in a statement, “William is a man of utmost integrity and high intellect. I am honored to have him serve alongside me. He is an Alabama native and his vast experience will be an asset as we work hard to accomplish great things for our state and nation.”
According to information supplied by Palmer’s office Smith currently serves as Chief Counsel, Committee on the Budget, for Senator Jeff Sessions. In this capacity, he chairs an oversight working group with House and Senate staffers and conducts oversight investigations of government programs for waste, fraud, abuse and ineffectiveness. Smith also served under Sessions as Chief Counsel, Committee on the Judiciary. In this role, he worked on the confirmation process of the four most recent Supreme Court justices and shepherded Alabama’s federal judicial nominees through the confirmation process.
Sen. Jeff Sessions said, “William is a patriot, a man of action, a man of principle, and a man of faith. He will be a terrific leader for the fine team Gary is assembling.”
Smith said, “Working for Congressman-elect Palmer is a true honor and privilege. I know he is dedicated to the principles upon which our great nation was founded and will work to protect and restore them. I look forward to the challenges ahead, as we serve the nation and specifically the people in Alabama's 6th District.”
Smith has spent more than 10 years working with Senator Sessions. Smith also served as the Executive Director of Congressional Relations for Americans for Limited Government, where he advised members of Congress and their staff on fiscally conservative policies and instructed more than 20 grassroots organizations on how to impact Congress’ legislative agenda. Smith is a past associate with Starnes & Atchison LLP and worked as a clerk and staff attorney for former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Harold F. See.
Smith has a Masters Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Information and Library Science, a law degree from the University of Alabama: School of Law, and a bachelors degree in Telecommunications and Film from the University of Alabama.
Smith is an elder at Arlington Baptist Church, in Arlington Virginia and is a member of the Foundation Board of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a member of the Conservative Action Project coordinating committee.
Smith is originally from Ozark, Alabama and owns a home in Helena. He and his wife, Diamond, presently live in Burke, Virginia with their three children.
On November 4, Gary Palmer was elected to represent Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District. Popular incumbent Representative Spencer Bachus (R from Vestavia) is retiring at the end of the year and chose not to seek a 12th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Gary Palmer co-founded the Alabama Policy Institute which he headed as President until stepping down late last year to run for Congress.
24 Nov 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Last week, the Acting Attorney in the investigation and prosecution of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, broke his silence and addressed what he called “false accusations” being made by Hubbard and his criminal defense attorney, J. Mark White.
In an interview with the Alabama Political Reporter, Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis explained why the prosecution felt the need to publicly address the accusations being made by Hubbard and his defense team, and also reiterated the need for public clarity on certain elements of the Hubbard case.
“We have tried to do everything to stay on the high road on everything, strictly by the book with conventional methods to do everything within our power to make sure everything is done properly,” said Davis. “That is why it is concerning to us when they refer to myself and the guys that are working on the case as rogue prosecutors.”
Hubbard, who is charged with 23 Felony counts of public corruption, has repeatedly claimed that he was being hounded by “rogue prosecutors.”
Davis says his team has worked “strictly by the book… to make sure everything is done properly,” but Hubbard’s spin machines has worked tirelessly to paint the State’s team as political, and as being part of a “political witch hunt.”
Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney White took exception to Davis speaking with the media, calling it unethical and perhaps illegal. But a change in the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct Advocate, Rule 3.6. concerning Trial Publicity in 2008, made it both ethical and legal for the prosecution to respond in-kind to allegations made by defense attorneys and their client(s).
Davis says that he didn’t quite follow White’s logic saying, “I don’t know what he was referring to there because the Code of Professional Conduct absolutely allows it, unless he is unfamiliar with the amendment. We have a right to reply in-kind to anything that the defense is saying.”
He continued by saying, “They said in 2008, that prosecutors, on behalf of the State of Alabama, could reply in kind…that they had a right to do that to protect the interest of the State,” said Davis. “That is something that I looked up and wanted to make sure before I made any comment about what was being said about this being a political witch hunt and referring to us as rogue prosecutors and that type stuff.”
Davis, who served as a district attorney for 18 years, takes grave exception to Hubbard’s characterization. “That is first time in my entire career that anybody has ever made a comment like that directed toward me,” said Davis.
In his career, Davis has overseen thousands of criminal cases even involving political figures, but this one has been particular nasty because Hubbard and his attorneys have used the media to attack the Attorney General’ s Office on every turn.
Hubbard’s public relations team mailed thousands of cards to residents of Lee County accusing the Attorney General’s Office of a political witch hunt conducted by rogue prosecutors.
This is believed to be a part of a larger scheme to poison the jury pool that will hear the Hubbard trial in Lee County.
Hubbard and US Congressman Mike Rogers have even attacked Attorney General Luther Strange, suggesting that he sought indictments against Hubbard to cripple Hubbard’s political career and leave a clear field for Strange to run for governor in 2018.
Davis said he has heard those allegation, “Attorney General Strange recused himself personally from this case and I was contacted to handle the case and that is what I have done.” Davis says he has “no political agenda,” and that the work he is conducting in Lee County is part of his responsibility as a supernumerary district attorney.
“I know they make those allegations but I know of nothing that they could produce to substantiate that kind of political prosecution.”
Davis made it clear that he was asked by Strange to oversee the investigation into Hubbard, and that he accepted the job as part of his supernumerary responsibilities.
“The nature of the DA’s retirement is that we are classified as supernumerary and in that capacity we are called upon from time-to-time if someone has a conflict… it goes along with our retirement. Obviously, I take that pretty seriously,” said Davis.
Davis said he, like other retired district attorneys, handles cases as the need arises. “I have handled many, many cases since I retired in several counties in the State for district attorneys...as part of a supernumerary’s responsibility to the State."
This is not his first case involving an Attorney General and a high profile political figure. Years ago he was called upon by then Attorney General Bill Pryor to oversee an ethics complaint against Judge Roy Moore.
Hubbard has claimed that his indictments, being made so close to an election, was proof of political motivation. However, Davis was quick to point out that the timing of the indictments were due to the statute of limitations on some of the charges against Hubbard.
“Some of the counts in this indictment relate back to his service as chairman of the Republican Party. On those particular counts there was a four-year statute and it was about to run out, so we had to take action,” said Davis.
Hubbard, White and others have also exaggerated the length of the Special Grand Jury's service, to make it appear that the Attorney General’s Office was abusing the Grand Jury members.
“To say that we drug this out…when you deal with a case of this magnitude, it takes a while. We heard a lot of witnesses. Some of them were short witnesses, some of them were long witnesses. It is just the nature of the case anytime you are doing this type of investigation.”
Davis says that they wanted to address these accusations saying, “They also made reference to a case that has been under investigation for two years. I was appointed in January 2013, the Grand Jury wasn’t convened until some time in August, and we didn’t start taking testimony until the first of October. So, we spent twelve months and we didn’t meet every day of the month. We would meet three to four days a month…whenever we had access to the grand jury room.”
In fact, the Grand Jury only met a total of 46 days over a 12-month period, not an unusual amount of time for a case involving over 150 witnesses and hundreds of thousands of pages of testimony.
Davis also addressed the defense's claim that there had been leaks from inside the Grand Jury proceedings.
“We actually took time away from presenting our case to investigate the allegations of leaks,” Davis said. Some of the allegations of leaks were made by the defense team but Davis says, “To this day, nothing has been presented to us of any credible evidence of any leak involving grand jury testimony or anything that has gone on in the Grand Jury.”
Davis took the opportunity to responded to allegations by Hubbard and his team that they State’s prosecutors had “smeared” the good name of some business leaders.
“One of the things that they alleged that we had demeaned the good name of high profile people and business people. I think I answered that in the statement that they are named in those indictments because they are material witnesses to those counts. Nobody in the Grand Jury was trying to harm anybody, it is just the nature of the charges that you have to specify with particularity to the charge and that is just part of it.”
The prosecution has kept a low profile during their investigation into actions taken by Hubbard, only speaking to the press after the indictments were carried out and now when the defense allegations are reaching a critical mass in the media.
“As you well know, I have not talked to the press during the duration of this case until after these indictments came out and they start making allegations against me and my team about this being political, I felt like I had to. I had to respond. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are out here just trying to do a job. All of this will be decided by a Lee County jury at some point,” Davis stated.
Davis says the case should be tried in a court of law and not in the media, but “they have certainly been very vocal in the media…unfortunately when you are dealing with a public officials it is hard to keep it out of the press.”
Davis says he deeply respects the role of the press because “people out there have a right to know.” But he also wanted to take the opportunity to set the record straight, given the fact that so much misinformation was being reported as a result of Hubbard’s many unexamined statements.
Davis says he and his team are still hard at work and that the Grand Jury is still empaneled, but on recess for now.
Hubbard stands accused by the State of four counts of using of his office as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party for personal gain. One count of voting for legislation with a conflict of interest. Eleven counts of soliciting or receiving a thing of value from a lobbyist or principal. Two counts of using his office as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for personal gain. Four Counts of lobbying an executive department or agency for a fee, and one count of using state equipment, materials, etc., for private gain.
24 Nov 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, the Tuscaloosa County Young Republicans (TCYR) selected Dalton S. Dismukes as their Chairman for 2015. Dismukes thanked the members present for their faith in him.
Chairman Dismukes said in a statement released to Facebook, “I am honored to announce that last night I was confirmed, and announced as the new Chairman for the Tuscaloosa County Young Republicans. I was glad to serve as Vice Chairman for this organization for the past year, and I am looking forward to moving this group forward as we further the Republican cause of limited government in the future!”
Dismukes also thanked Representative Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn) for his participation in the event. “We had an excellent event with the Alabama Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard. He gave an excellent keynote address, telling us what he was proud of and what can expect in the next quadrennium of the Republican Super Majority.”
Speaker Hubbard was invited to be the keynote speaker at the event before a Lee County Grand Jury indicted him on 23 counts of public corruption. The Speaker proclaimed his innocence, dismissed the prosecution as a, “political witch hunt”, and the TCYRs expressed their faith in him and his innocence by reaffirming the invitation despite the allegations.
Alabama Secretary of State-Elect, John Merrill, who had previously represented Tuscaloosa County’s Alabama House of Representatives District 62, received an award from the TCYR’s for his service. Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R from Jasper) presented the award.
Chairman Dismukes said, “I want to give a big thank you to the new officers of this club. None of this would have happened if they didn't make it work. Matt Hood who is the new Vice-Chairman, Katy Harp, the new Secretary, Ashley Butts who will serve as Treasurer and lastly Robert Crocker- the new State Committee Man. This people are incredible and will surely lead this group to stable growth, all while maintaining conservative values!”
Dismukes said, “Thank you all who attended, as we had over 50 people in attendance! The largest crowd this club has seen in a number of years! Thank you to John McDonald and Austin Bigoney for taking tons of pictures, Deanna K. Frankowski for representing the Alabama Constitutional Conservatives, and Michael Cleveland for representing the University of Alabama College Republicans!”
The event was held in the Governor’s Room of the Capstone Hotel in Tuscaloosa.
The Tuscaloosa County Young Republicans meet every third Wednesday at 7:00 pm CST., in the Hotel Capstone Lounge area. The Chairman of the Tuscaloosa County Young Republicans is Dalton Dismukes. The Co-Chairman is Matthew Hood.
24 Nov 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R from Alabama) said that President Barack H. Obama’s new Executive orders giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants already in the country and making it easier for corporations to import even more foreign workers makes more profits for powerful corporate CEOs, whom Sessions refers to as: "Masters of the Universe" while depressing wages for the American middle class whose interests are ignored by the President.
Senator Sessions said in a statement, “It’s time for us to stand up for the American worker, for a change. One thing you didn’t hear last night in the President’s remarks was any concern about recent immigrants’ salaries; American workers’ difficulties finding a job, [or] the steady decline in wages that have occurred in this country…”
Sen. Sessions said, “A nation owes things to its people. It owes responsibility and fidelity to their interests. And the average working truck driver is worth just as much as Mr. Zuckerberg. Just as much as the Wall Street ‘Masters of the Universe.’ Who’s representing them? Mr. Gates demands action from President Obama… The same week Microsoft laid off 18,000 workers… If you want to be able to lead the American people, you should serve their interests.”
Sen. Sessions continued, “President Obama’s immigration orders will give work permits to 5 million illegal immigrants—allowing them to take jobs from Americans in every occupation—while substantially boosting the supply of new foreign labor for IT corporations, despite a surplus of 11 million Americans with STEM degrees but no STEM jobs. Obama’s immigration orders expanding record immigration rates will cause enormous harm to the middle class and their wages—all to help the special interests whose legislation was defeated by Congress.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions has been very outspoken on this issue for the last few years on this issue and in recent days has made guest appearances on Fox News and CNN to voice his objections to President Obama’s executive orders, which bypasses Congress.
Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution reads: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; To borrow Money on the credit of the United States; To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization…”
Article 2 Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution on the President reads: “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Critics of the President’s policy argue that President Obama has usurped the power of the Congress to establish and set the uniform Rule of Naturalization, while violating his own oath of office.
FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a written statement, “The president’s announcements tonight have nothing to do with immigration. This fight has to do with whether or not we are a country with laws and a separation of powers designed to protect the will of the American people from the arbitrary actions of Washington insiders.”
Kibbe said, “The president himself, who taught constitutional law as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, explained that he is ‘not the emperor of the United States, [his] job is to execute laws that are passed.’ By proceeding, President Obama is not only breaching constitutional limits on his power, he is asking every single public official who took the oath to uphold the Constitution to break the law with him.”
Kibbe warned, "The expansion of executive power under this administration has created a dangerous pattern of unilateral action that will almost certainly be abused by future presidents, regardless of party."
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) serves on four Senate committees: Armed Services, Judiciary, Environment and Public Works, and is the Ranking Member on the Senate Budget Committee. Sessions was recently reelected to his fourth term in the United States Senate.
21 Nov 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
BIRMINGHAM—On November 4, the American people rejected President Barack H. Obama’s policies up and down the ballot. On November 20, Obama struck back and declared an unprecedented amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants as well as changes to America’s immigration laws to allow in more legal immigrants.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said what many Americans believe when he said in a statement: “Obama's Executive Order is clearly illegal and in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
Sen. Richard Shelby (R from Alabama) echoed Armistead’s opinion in his own written statement. Alabama’s senior Senator said, “President Obama’s plan to unilaterally grant amnesty to millions of individuals who have broken our nation’s immigration laws is unconstitutional and must not be tolerated. If the President truly believed that this approach was in the best interest of the American people, he would not have waited until after the election to make this long-anticipated announcement.”
Sen. Shelby said, “I strongly oppose providing amnesty to those who have entered our country illegally. Border security, enforcement, and removal must be the first response to illegal immigration. President Obama’s failure to enforce our nation’s immigration laws has led us to where we are today and his decision to reward lawlessness with amnesty places additional undue burdens on the American people.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R from Alabama) unveiled his own plan to thwart the President’s unilateral edicts. Sen. Sessions called on Americans and their Representatives to stand up and make their voices heard. Sen. Sessions said, “It is time to stand strong for the American people. It is time to champion the interests of those constantly neglected on the question of immigration: the men and women and children we represent—the citizens of this country to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance. Every American must ask their Senator where they stand.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R from Montrose) said in a statement, “This type of Executive Action is not the way our government is supposed to operate. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to push back against this action in a meaningful and constructive manner. We will not stand by idly and allow the President to continue to act against the intentions of the Constitution and the will of the American people.”
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R from Montgomery) said, “President Obama believes he is above the law - above our Constitution, and that he alone can rule this country. That’s not just wrong, it’s dangerous. And every American who believes in our way of life ought to be outraged.”
Congressman Mike Rogers (R from Saks) said in a statement, “President Obama’s decision to essentially legalize up to five million illegal immigrants by Executive Order is nothing short of an unprecedented presidential overreach. This immigration crisis is of the president’s own making, and in signing this order, he has significantly escalated it further.”
Congressman Spencer Bachus (R from Vestavia) said on Twitter, “Acting unilaterally on immigration, President is dividing, rather than uniting to reach consensus. Like Obamacare, serves the public poorly.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an email to supporters: “President Obama just announced an unconstitutional executive action granting amnesty to millions. The Constitution does not grant the President the power to act as a one-man legislature when he disagrees with Congress and with voters — but that didn't stop President Obama. The last time the President issued an executive order to change our immigration laws, he created a crisis at our border, leaving thousands of children at risk and ripping apart the families he claims to be protecting today. President Obama's action does not secure our borders, and his action violates our country's balance of power. The American people rejected the administration's policies during the midterms; and now President Obama is resorting to breaking the Constitution for his own political gain.”
Chairman Armistead said, “As is customary with this president, he steps off the podium and retreats to one of his fun activities. Although this time it isn't golfing, Obama will instead head to a political pep rally in Las Vegas on Friday. This president just doesn't get it, and he apparently could not care less about what Americans think...President Obama apparently learned nothing from the beating Democrats took in the mid-term elections, when Americans stood up against his failed policies. Obama's arrogant attitude towards Congress and American voters is unlike anything we have ever before witnessed from a President.”
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R from Pennsylvania) said in a statement, “Today's executive order is a slap in the face of the democratic process and every voter who came out in this past November's election.”
Representative Byrne said, “We are a nation of laws, and there would never have been a right time for executive amnesty. In the elections earlier this month, the American people indicated they want the President to work with Congress to advance solutions, not act unilaterally through executive action.”
Rep. Roby said, “Despite the president’s ill-advised decision, the American people need to know that Congress is working to make it right. We are looking at ways to stop the president before he does permanent damage to this country. We are going to fund the government, but we are not going to endorse or enable this president’s unconstitutional actions.”
Rep. Rogers said, “President Obama blames Congress for allegedly forcing him to take this extreme step because Congress did not pass his proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill. This is nonsense. The American people want the president to work with Congress to solve our immigration crisis, first, by securing our borders – not to govern by executive action.”
Rep. Byrne said, “This action will be difficult to defend; it raises serious legal questions and flies in the face of how our Founding Fathers intended our government to operate...We need a deliberate discussion on securing our borders and dealing with illegal immigrants already in the United States, but executive action from a ‘lame duck’ President is entirely the wrong approach. I encourage the President to come down from the White House and work with Congress on the immigration issue and many of the other serious issues impacting American families.”
Chairman Armistead called President Obama, “A man who has preached, but never practiced, bipartisanship is defying the will of the people by violating his oath of office and contravening the very Constitution he swore to uphold...Obama is trying to codify his illegal acts in order to stack the deck for decades to come, and enable liberal Democrats to control the United States government. He would like nothing more than to eventually make these illegal immigrants 'legal' voters and accomplish his end goal to 'fundamentally transform America',” Armistead said.
Sen. Santorum said, “We need an immigration policy that first and foremost stands for the best interest of America and the American worker. President Obama's Executive Order providing amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is the antithesis of this goal. At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to find work and coping with stagnant wages, the President has decided to allow an additional 5 million individuals to legally compete with the existing American labor pool - diluting wages and opportunities for American workers further. This decision flies in the face of basic principles of supply-and-demand and any interest in the welfare of the American worker.”
Democrats, meanwhile, were urged to rally to their President.
An email to Democrats timed with the announcement read: “President Obama just announced a plan to fix our broken immigration system. The GOP has promised to fight him “tooth and nail.” This is an important moment and we need to get his back.”