Alabama Political Reporter Sat, 01 Aug 2015 00:26:00 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Testimony Says Former Chief Deputy Directed Secret Recordings

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Testimony given at Howard "Gene” Sisson’s personnel hearing claimed, that the Attorney General’s Chief Deputy was giving orders to secretly tape and file complaints against the chief prosecutor in the Speaker Mike Hubbard case.
Documents released this week in a motions filing by Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney J. Mark White, disclose that former Assistant Attorney General Henry T. “Sonny” Reagan said Kevin Turner, the AG’s second in command, was instructing him to secretly tape conversations with Matt Hart, the chief prosecutor in the Hubbard case, and to file a personnel claim against him.
In August 2014, this publication reported that Turner was behind a plan to have Hart removed from the Hubbard case. Now, Reagan's testimony has let slip the smoking-gun. Turner, according to Reagan’s testimony, also ordered Reagan to tape the Acting Attorney General in the Hubbard case, W. Van Davis.

While it is not illegal in Alabama to tape a conversation without the other party's knowledge, it is, however, against the written policies of the Attorney General’s office. So, Hart and Davis would have assumed that their conversations with Reagan were not being recorded.
During the personnel hearing, Sisson’s attorney Micky McDermott asked Reagan:
McDermott: “Now, when you— are you saying that somebody with the Attorney General's Office authorized you to violate the policy against secret recording?”
Reagan: "I was directed to record any conversation with Matt Hart or anything that he was doing, by the Chief Deputy."
McDermott: “And that's Kevin Turner?”
Reagan: “Yes”
Reagan’s testimony shows that he and Turner collaborated to secretly record Hart.
McDermott: “And is it your testimony that Mr. Turner told you you should do that secretly?"
Reagan: "Yes."
During his court appearance, Reagan confessed that he knew it was a breach of office policy to secretly record a co-worker, but he did it anyway.
McDermott: "Mr. Reagan. Was it against the policy of the Attorney General's Office to secretly record a conversation with another person with the office?"
Reagan: "There is — it is very clear in the handbook that there is a prohibition on recording fellow employees without their knowledge."
Reagan also testified that Turner directed him to file a personnel complaint against Hart with Charlotte Doucet, Chief of Administration for the Attorney General’s Office.
Reagan: “I had filed a complaint with Ms. Doucet at the direction of the Chief Deputy, who had been recused from a Special Grand Jury Mr. Hart was working on; so I was directed by the Chief Deputy to speak with Ms. Doucet about any complaints regarding Matt Hart.”
According to Attorney General Luther Strange, Sisson and Reagan lost their positions with the Attorney General’s office because they aided the defense team in the Hubbard case. Turner has left his job at the AGs office as well.
As was reported in this publication almost a year ago, Turner’s personal cell phone records observed by the Alabama Political Reporter —show Turner made numerous private calls to Hubbard, Rep. Barry Moore and possibly former Gov. Riley from mid-March 2014 to mid-April 2014.
Turner’s personal cell records show that several calls coincide with the arrest of lawmaker Rep. Greg Wren, and Rep. Barry Moore.
On the same day Reagan was informed he was being placed on administrative leave, he admits he was secretly recording Davis.
Why would Turner, Reagan, and Sisson break office policy and risk their careers to record Davis and Hart?
During a very crucial period in the Hubbard investigation in 2014, this publican learned that Turner informed Hart’s staff that he was reassigning Hart to Birmingham, and that he would no longer have an office within the AG’s office in Montgomery. Turner ordered the case files for the Lee County Grand Jury kept in Montgomery away from Hart’s new office location, all this, according to sources within the AG's office.
According to those present, Hart, upon arriving at his office, found a letter informing him of his reassignment. According to sources with immediate knowledge of the situation, Hart, along with W. Van Davis, confronted Strange, and the ensuing, heated discussion resulted in a reversal of Turner’s orders.
In an internal memo, AG Strange made it clear why Reagan was removed from his position stating:
“During his employment with this Office, Mr. Reagan forged relationships with persons, outside  the Office of Attorney General, who had an interest in undermining the Lee County Special Grand Jury's investigation…While working as a prosecutor in this Office, Mr. Reagan shared legal counsel with the indicted criminal defendant, Rep. Moore. Moreover, the  representations of  Mr. Reagan  and  Rep.  Moore  were  both related to the Lee County Special Grand Jury. By sharing legal counsel with Moore on the subject of the Grand  Jury's  investigation, Mr.  Reagan  created  an  irreconcilable  conflict  of  interests. Mr. Reagan's duties of loyalty and confidentiality to the State of Alabama and to the Office were compromised  by his own personal interest in undermining the grand jury's  investigation  -  an interest he shared with the defendant Moore and his defense team.
Additionally, Mr. Reagan shared legal counsel with Speaker Hubbard, who was the subject of the grand jury's investigation. The representation of Mr. Reagan by Speaker Hubbard's attorney was, likewise, related to the Lee County Special Grand Jury. By sharing legal counsel with the subject of the grand jury's investigation, Mr. Reagan again created a situation in which his duties of loyalty and confidentiality to the State of Alabama and to the Office with respect to the Hubbard investigation, conflicted with and were compromised by his own personal interests.”
Reagan, Sission, and Turner have all left the Attorney General’s office.

]]> (Super User) State Fri, 31 Jul 2015 23:57:50 -0500
Bentley Asks Legislature for $310 Million and a Hotel by the Beach


By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The legislature returns from its recess to consider a package of bills designed to greatly expand what Alabamians pay for State government, move money currently for education to the State’s troubled general fund (SGF), and authorizes borrowing $50 million to build a luxury hotel and conference center at Gulf State Park.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has been pushing for these massive tax increases since his reelection on a "no new taxes and smaller State government" platform since November.

The Governor’s proposals are aimed at protecting against significant cuts in services in the General Fund, through a combined approach of budget reforms and revenue increases.  

State government has let General Fund spending get out of control for years.  Governor Bob Riley (R) and the then Democratic Party controlled State legislature raided $110 million from the Alabama Trust Fund (which still hasn’t been paid back) and accepted Obama Administration stimulus dollars to prop up spending at levels well beyond State revenues. 

Governor Robert Bentley (R) and the Republican supermajority dominated State legislature avoided rightsizing State government for the past three years by raiding $435 million from the Alabama Trust Fund (which they haven’t paid back).  Now the legislature is tasked with paying to continue the artificially high levels of State spending by raising taxes as Governor Bentley wants them to do; expanding legal gambling in the State to increase State revenues as Senate President Del Marsh (R-Anniston) wants to do; or finally rightsize the size of State government to actually fit the revenues the State currently has.

Despite the massive deficit spending, legislators have already eliminated 5,500 State jobs over the last four years and if they pass something similar to the austerity budget passed by the legislature in June (but vetoed by Governor Bentley) there will likely be similar government job cuts as well as prisoner releases, and a cut in Medicaid benefits and other costly government services.

The budget level proposed by the Governor funds most State agencies in the General Fund and provides funding for the implementation of Medicaid and Prison Reforms passed by the Legislature.

The proposals include budget reforms: 

The existing Use Tax would be un-earmarked for education and schools and transferred to pay for the SGF.  Gov. Bentley wants to un-earmark approximately $400 million from other General Fund agencies to provide State agencies additional flexibility with General Fund appropriations.

The Rolling Reserve Act would be weakened and amended to remove certain restrictions.

The BP Oil money would be spent paying off debts, including the $545 million of Alabama Trust Fund dollars raided over the past six years.  The State also owes tens of millions of dollars it wrongly charged the Federal government in the troubled Alabama Medicaid program. 

Hundreds of thousands of Alabamians would see their income taxes soar by the removal of the FICA Deduction. Bentley is proposing removing the Social Security tax deduction from the State individual income tax to offset the proposed loss of the use tax revenue in the Education Budget. Taxpayers who do not itemize (approx. 50 percent of Alabama taxpayers) would not be affected.

The wealthy would see much less of an increase proportionally than working people do because for 2015, the 6.2 percent FICA tax is not levied on income in excess of $118,500.  The Medicare tax deduction is not affected.  The Federal Medicare Tax is uncapped.

Gov. Bentley also wants to remove the deduction on Federal income tax.  Hundreds of thousands of Alabamians will pay more income taxes to the State government if this passes. 

Changing the Business Privilege Tax so that small business would see their tax eliminated; but increasing the maximum tax and rates for larger businesses.

Smokers would pay more by increasing the tobacco tax by 25 cents per pack.  Bentley also wants to tax consumable vapor products.

The Fraud Prevention Act would repeal the tax withholding exemption. 

These proposals would raise an estimated $310 million a year for State coffers.  Education would lose an estimated $31 million to the General Fund which would balloon to over $1.9 billion.

Recent polling shows that there is enormous across the board opposition to tax increases of any kind.  66 percent of Alabama voters do not want these tax increases.  We will find out in coming weeks whether their representatives are going to pass this on them anyway.

The Governor is also asking the legislature to let him borrow $50 million to build his pet project luxury hotel and conference center on the Alabama Gulf Coast.


]]> (Super User) State Fri, 31 Jul 2015 10:58:06 -0500
Robbing Our Children Is Not The Answer

By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford 

The crisis in the General Fund budget has dominated lawmakers’ focus this year, and for good reason. But one proposed solution that continues to come up, and it would be devastating for Alabama. 

State Sen. Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) has introduced a bill to combine the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets. In the past, I argued that all that would do is spread the General Fund’s problems to our public schools. And while that is still very true, there’s another important reason why we don’t need to combine the budgets.

Even though the Education Trust Fund (ETF) isn’t in as much trouble as the General Fund doesn’t mean that the ETF is out of the woods.

Since 2008, Alabama has cut per student funding for k-12 schools by more than 20 percent, according to the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That means Alabama is spending $1,242 less per student than we were before the recession. At the same time, funding for post-secondary schools (i.e., community colleges and universities) has been cut by more than 35 percent!

What do those spending cuts look like in the real world?

A perfect example is the Russellville City Schools Rocketry Team. These kids, some of whom are only 13 years old, just came back from the Paris Air Show in France where they won the international rocketry competition. They aren’t just national champions. They are international champions. 

And do you know how much funding they received from the state? Zero.

These kids had to raise the money on their own to compete in their competitions. And on top of that, they had to spend hundreds of hours over the last year working in a building that had no heating or air conditioning.

So when some legislators start talking about a “surplus” in the education budget, keep in mind that that doesn’t mean the education budget has money to give away. It just means we collected more money than we budget to spend. And there are very real needs in education where that money needs to be spent.

Unfortunately, some legislators have forgotten that. They would rather take even more money away from our children’s education than let the people vote on a lottery and gambling, or make tough choices about budget cuts and tax increases.

After more than 20 percent cuts in k-12 and more than 35 percent cuts in post-secondary education, the answer isn’t taking more money away from education. If anything, we should be putting more money into education!

If we did, it would help the General Fund in the long run. The General Fund’s biggest expenditures are prisons and Medicaid. People who are better educated are less likely to make choices that land them in jail, and are also more likely to make better health choices.

And after years of asking educators and state employees to do more with less and for less money, it is long-past time that we give our educators and state employees a pay raise instead of balancing the budgets on their backs.

But our current leadership has not supported public education. Their signature policies, like the Accountability Act and charter schools, only undermine public education and set it up to fail.

And that’s why I’m not surprised that some of them now see combining the budgets as the solution to the General Fund’s crisis. But robbing our children is not-and never will be-the answer!

Furthermore, combining the budgets has the same problem that gambling has with  getting us out of this crisis, because it would require a constitutional amendment voted on by the people in a special election. That means the quickest we could start transferring money out of the ETF would be the spring of 2016.

If we were going to do that, then why not let the people vote on a lottery and gambling bill instead? We could start receiving money from gambling just as quickly, plus it wouldn’t take anything away from public education.

There’s a reason Alabama keeps education funding separate from everything else: to protect our schools from being raided every time the General Fund gets in trouble. And even with that protection, education has still been gutted over the last few years. 

Just because the ETF has a surplus this year doesn’t mean it has more money than it needs. That surplus needs to be spent on education, like it was intended to be. What it doesn’t need to be is a bailout for politicians who would rather take money away from our children’s education than have to make tough decisions.

Robbing our children is not-and never will be-the answer!


Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.


]]> (Super User) State Fri, 31 Jul 2015 10:54:35 -0500
Promises to Keep

By John Rice
President, Alabama Foundation for Limited Government

Gov. Robert Bentley and scores of lawmakers promised not to raise taxes throughout election season just last year.

Now, Governor Bentley is breaking his promise, and he says he has been meeting with most lawmakers in an attempt to get them to break their promises, too.

Governor Bentley spent millions of dollars on his race for re-election, and the centerpiece advertising used the slogan, “More Jobs. Less Government. No New Taxes.”

Within months of these ads running all over Alabama, the Governor made an about face by calling for more government and more new taxes.

The people of Alabama should be incensed at such hypocrisy.

What changed?

When Robert Bentley was running for Governor, he signed a no-taxes pledge saying, “I, Robert Bentley, pledge to the taxpayers of the State of Alabama, that I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

Now, these words ring hollow, and Alabamians who voted for the Governor should be angry concerning this betrayal of trust.

Bentley wants to tax working people.

Bentley proposes to abolish the FICA income tax deduction.  

Bentley wants to tax every man, woman, and child who drinks a Coca-Cola.

Bentley proposes a beverage tax on soft drinks, but he leaves beer and liquor alone.

Bentley wants to tax cigarettes, and he wants to tax businesses all over Alabama.

All told, the Governor wants to stick Alabama taxpayers with another $300 million tax tab, year after year.


Because he wants to pay more money for Medicaid and prisons.

Big promises broken.

Alabama has gotten along just fine for decades without a Coca Cola Tax or eliminating the FICA deduction.

All Alabamians, and the businesses that employ them, have suffered the plight of an economy that has limped along throughout Governor Bentley’s occupation of the Governor’s office 

Instead of more government and more taxes, Governor Bentley should concentrate on each of his three promises to Alabama and proactively work toward the more jobs.

Promise to help your State, rather than hinder your State.

We put our lives in your hands and you promised to take good care of us. Why have you forsaken us?

Why, all of the sudden, is it imperative to create these new tax sources?

The real answer is: it is not.

The real answer is: the Governor needs to tighten the State’s belt, just like every Alabama family has had to do since 2008.

In 2012, we told Alabama not to raid the Alabama Trust Fund, but  they did it anyway. State government needed to get its house in order then, but instead, it raided the Trust Fund to pay for regular expenses. A bad move for our future. Now, after kicking the can down the road for three years, we have a governor in panic mode trying to throw more money at Medicaid and prisons.

Gov. George Wallace told me in 1983 when I was in the legislature, that Medicaid is a “black hole” that can never be filled.  Now, instead of seeking non-tax solutions to fixing our out-of-whack budget, the Governor is doing the opposite.

In 2012, State government took almost $500 million from the Alabama Trust Fund.  Governor Bentley and lawmakers promised to repay this money. They have not repaid a dime. 

In another turn of events Alabama now will receive over $1 billion in an oil spill lawsuit settlement from British Petroleum (BP). Instead of squandering this windfall, the first priority needs to be repaying the Alabama Trust Fund as promised.  Is Governor Bentley and are lawmakers going to break this promise, too?

Now is the time for public officials to hold true to their campaign promises. Alabama taxpayers need to hold Governor Bentley and every legislator accountable to their campaign promises.  

Alabama taxpayers deserve honest service from their elected officials, and keeping the most basic of promises is the first step for faith to be restored in State government.

And by the way, do the officials not owe us an explanation for all this?


]]> (Super User) State Fri, 31 Jul 2015 10:51:31 -0500
Abortion Opponents Respond to More Undercover Videos


By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Wednesday, July 30, a third video was released by abortion opponents about allegations of unethical, and possibly, illegal marketing of body parts from aborted fetuses. 

Planned Parenthood went to a judge to get a restraining order to stop the release of more of these videos.  A judge granted the request, but a fourth video was released apparently suggesting that some infants may have been aborted alive and then dispatched. 

Members of Congress are asking than an independent counsel be appointed to investigate this and many other charges being thrown about by abortion opponents as the US Senate considers legislation, perhaps as early as Monday, August 3.

Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) said in a statement, “The videos distributed by the Center or Medical Progress provide strong evidence that Planned Parenthood may have broken Federal law by selling fetal body parts for profit.  If this is the case, the entities that purchased the fetal organs and tissue may have also violated Federal law. Consequently, the investigation goes beyond Planned Parenthood.  We are calling for an independent counsel to ensure an impartial and thorough investigation is conducted.”

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) said, "The third Planned Parenthood video was released today, and it is the most disturbing yet. Once again, it is clear that this organization is “pricing” aborted baby organs in a market-based way." 

US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) wrote in a statement, “I'm proud to join the efforts in the Senate to ?#?DefundPlannedParenthood by cosponsoring S1881 today. This bill prohibits Federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America or any of its affiliate organizations while protecting federal funding for health services for women.” 

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said, “This morning yet another tragic video surfaced regarding Planned Parenthood’s "black market" harvesting and selling of human fetal tissue. These potentially criminal actions shock the conscience and demand answers. That’s why I joined more than 100 of my colleagues in sending a letter to the Department of Justice calling for an immediate investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices.”

Rep. Roby said, “Momentum is building in the House to cut off Federal funding from this organization. I continue to work with my colleague Rep. Diane Black on her bill to do just that. At the same time, the Senate is reportedly taking up the effort too. They work a little differently than the House, and many times items like these are attached as amendments to other bills. These are votes we should pay close attention to.  I encourage you to read about and watch the video, but seriously it is pretty grisly, so be warned.” 

Rep. Palmer said that he and 55 of his Congressional colleagues called for an independent counsel; because during the 2007 United States Supreme Court case of Gonzales v. Carhart, Attorney General Lynch signed onto a brief supporting Planned Parenthood’s opposition to a partial birth abortion ban. Palmer wrote that because of this support, there is a justifiable public perception that she cannot conduct an impartial investigation of Planned Parenthood. 

National Right to Life said in a statement that the US Senate will vote Monday, August 3, on a bill -- strongly backed by National Right to Life -- that would cut off all federal funds to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and all of its affiliates.

The bill, S1881 was introduced on July 28 by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), with numerous co-sponsors, including Sen. Shelby.  It has the strong backing of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who has vowed to force a US Senate vote on taking up the measure early during the week of August 3, 2015.

The legislative director for National Right to Life Douglas D. Johnson said, “Senator Ernst's bill would push the snout of Planned Parenthood, a bloated abortion mega-marketer and a fetal organ trafficker, out of the US Treasury feeding trough...National Right to Life strongly supports this legislation.” 

The bill states simply, "Notwithstanding, any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or to any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics."  The bill also contains language to provide that "all funds no longer available to Planned Parenthood will continue to be made available to other eligible entities to provide women's health care services."  In other words, any funds removed from Planned Parenthood would be reallocated to women's health services provided by others (but such funds cannot be used for elective abortions).

There were protests across the country including at least three in Alabama on Wednesday.

The New Media Coordinator for Students for Life of America Amanda Lord said in a statement, “Thank you for coming out yesterday to join your local ?#?WomenBetrayed Rally – as final reports are coming in it looks like we were in 65+ cities and over 12,000 strong! This is a huge victory! We are asking you to continue this momentum to defund Planned Parenthood by signing up now for the #WomenBetrayed Action Kit at When you sign up you will be sent everything you need to get started defending women and children from abortion by ending taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood in your town! You will also get information to join a National Webcast on August 11th where you will receive training on researching the local dollars that go to Planned Parenthood, how to organize a community educational outreach, and information on how you can join in another nationwide event! Together we will see this abortion Goliath defunded and ultimately abolishing abortion in this lifetime!”

The group is also claiming that at least two babies, one in Houston and one in Pittsburgh were saved from Abortion by the rallies.

The President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards dismissed the organization’s critics as “extremists” last week in response to the videos.  President Cecile wrote in the Washington Post, “Since our very beginning, our health centers, providers and patients have come under outrageous attacks, political and otherwise.”  “The most recent attacks in this decades-long campaign represent a new low.”

Planned Parenthood, which is recognized as a charitable non-profit by the government receives $528 million from government to perform other services.  It is the nation's largest provider of abortions -- about one-third of all abortions in the U.S. are performed at PPFA-affiliated facilities.

(Fox News, the National Catholic Register, and the Daily Caller contributed to this report.)


]]> (Super User) State Fri, 31 Jul 2015 10:47:35 -0500
Planned Parenthood Defends Record

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, July 30, a fourth undercover video by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) was shown alleging that Planned Parenthood doctors and staff may have performed unethical procedures in order to extract body parts from aborted fetuses for profit.  Planned Parenthood denies that anything illegal or improper has occurred and defends its record.

The President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, Staci Fox released the following statement:

“For over 70 years, Planned Parenthood has provided high-quality, affordable health care in Alabama. Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our patients, which is why we are standing strong and calling this latest attack what it is – part of a decade-long campaign to deceive the public, make false charges, and terrorize women and their doctors, all in order to ban abortion and cut women off from care at Planned Parenthood.”

Fox said that, “As a high-quality health care provider, Planned Parenthood follows all federal and state laws and regulations. Our physicians adhere to the most rigorous professional standards.”

Fox said that, “While Planned Parenthood Southeast doesn’t provide tissue donation services, it is a standard practice in the medical community. In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases.  Women who have abortions are no different. Health centers that provide this service do so just like every other high-quality health care provider does – with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.  There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for the health center.  In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.”

President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards dismissed critics as extremists Wednesday in the wake of the videos that allegedly shows how the group harvests fetal organs. Richards wrote in the Washington Post,

“Since our very beginning, our health centers, providers and patients have come under outrageous attacks, political and otherwise. The most recent attacks in this decades-long campaign represent a new low.”

Richards did apologize for Dr. Deborah Nucatola’s casual tone in the first video, “In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect” compassion, she said. “This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements.”  Cecile Richards (57) is from Waco, Texas and has led Planned Parenthood since 2006.  She is the daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards (D).

Many mainstream media outlets have come to Planned Parenthood’s defense.

Planned Parenthood Southeast’s Spokeswoman Helen Cox provided the Alabama Political Reporter with over a dozen instances of media reporting that was supportive of Planned Parenthood’s version of events:

MSNBC’s Steve Bene wrote: “It’s not clear why the Washington Post put the story literally on the front page, since there are no credible allegations of wrongdoing.”  Benen acknowledges in the article that his wife is a Planned Parenthood employee in the article.  He is a also producer for the Rachel Maddow Show.

Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak wrote: “The group behind the sting edited a three-hour meeting down to eight minutes of detailed medical description, then blasted it across the country proclaiming that they have evidence that Planned Parenthood is harvesting baby parts for profit. Um, no — not even remotely….The truth is, this video is nothing more than another one of those graphic abortion protest posters of mutilated fetuses waved at people and passing children on the street. Totally out of context and totally horrible.”

The New York Times Jackie Calmes wrote, “While the video...alleges that Planned Parenthood is guilty of the crime of selling fetal remains, the official tells her questioners more than once that the cost, $30 to $100, is reimbursement for clinics' expenses.”

Planned Parenthood Spokesman Eric Ferrero denied in a statement that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts for profit.  Ferrero says,

“At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.  There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood.”

Obviously Planned Parenthood’s Pro-Life critics disagree.  Katie Mumma a Canterbury fellow at the Beckett Institute for Religious Liberty attacked Planned Parenthood for the mechanics of the fetal tissue donation program.  In a Wednesday column she asserts that Dr. Nucatola explains how to avoid dealing with a live fetus in a later term abortion by injecting a fatal quantity of digoxin, a cardiotoxic drug, into the baby’s heart before dismembering or delivering it so the baby dies from a heart attack. The drug also makes the tissues softer and easier to pull apart.  The problem here is that digoxin would make the organs and tissues unusable for the research that Nucatola is discussing selling/donating the parts for with the actors. Therefore to use the fetal tissue no digoxin is used.  According to Mumma, “These babies are being strategically maneuvered, crushed, and dismembered under ultrasound guidance—while still alive.”

In the fourth video that came out on Thursday, Planned Parenthood Colorado Dr. Savita Ginde is asked by the actors if she ever gets intact specimens.  She replies, “Sometimes, if we get, if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then we are intact.” CMP alleges that, since this particular Planned Parenthood affiliate does not use feticides like digoxin in its second-trimester procedures, then any intact deliveries prior to an abortion “are potentially born-alive infants under federal law.”

Planned Parenthood Southeast said in a released statement that:

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) is an extreme activist organization whose sole mission is to prevent women from accessing health care and to destroy Planned Parenthood. The board members of this group believe that abortion is “genocide,” and employ people who went to jail for attempting to bomb a women’s health clinic. They are also connected with the man who murdered abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.”

Planned Parenthood Southeast said that, “CMP has used footage obtained through deceit and unlawful behavior, including possible violations of state recording laws, federal tax laws and falsified state identification. Then, they concoct wildly false stories through selective editing. We expect this video will be no different in that regard; however, footage yet to come is expected to represent an extreme violation of patient privacy by including footage of post-abortion fetal tissue neither patients nor health care professionals authorized be filmed. The extremists who entered Planned Parenthood labs under false pretenses violated research protocol, and, worse, violated the privacy of patients involved.”

Planned Parenthood Southeast acknowledged, “Some of the conversations and protocols that occur in medical settings and among professional peers can sound jarring when taken out of context.  While this can be difficult to hear or watch, it should not be used as an excuse to defund Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood South East is asking the Alabama Political Reporter and other media outlets not to broadcast any of the videos because: “CMP gained access to Planned Parenthood facilities under false pretenses and filmed without securing approval from the Planned Parenthood staff being filmed or the patients whose privacy is compromised by this secret videotaping.  The material should not be aired.”

The US Senate is set to vote as early as Monday on defunding Planned Parenthood.  Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) is one of the original co-sponsors of that legislation.


]]> (Super User) State Fri, 31 Jul 2015 10:45:06 -0500
66 Percent of Alabama Voters Oppose Higher Taxes to Deal with Budget Crisis

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Six months of gloom and doom by the Governor and his media allies has not swayed voters to support new taxes to deal with the supposed “crisis” in the General Fund. New polling commissioned by the Alabama Jobs Foundation was released on Wednesday showing that voters do not support higher taxes and this is true across all demographics: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Whites, and Blacks.

The news is devastating for Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R), and his latest plan to hike taxes on the people by as much as $500 million a year.

The polling by Target Point Consulting in Alexandria, Virginia, supports results in earlier polling commissioned by news outlets including the Alabama Political Reporter and Yellow Hammer News on the tax issue.

Most Republicans running for office in Alabama in 2014 or 2010 have, at some point, pledged not to raise taxes on the people of Alabama. The pollster asked likely voters: “In the last election, a number of elected officials in the state legislature promised during their campaigns that they would not raise taxes. Now a number of those legislators say they may vote to increase taxes to meet the demands of the state budget.  Knowing that they are changing their position, how would this affect your vote for them in the next election?  Would you say would vote FOR the candidates who vote FOR the tax increases or AGAINST the candidates who vote FOR tax increases?”

6 percent said they would "Definitely vote for" the tax pledge breaking candidate; 17 percent "Probably For"; 25 percent said they would vote "Probably Against"; 38 percent were "Definitely Against'; 12 percent did not know what they would do and 2 percent refused to answer the question. Breaking your no new taxes pledge helps with 23 percent of the voters and hurts with 63 percent of likely voters.

The poll made it very clear that the people surveyed do not want their representatives raising their taxes.

The pollster asked: “Governor Bentley has called the legislature into Special Session and the Governor is proposing the legislature into Special Session and the Governor is proposing the legislature raise taxes by a total of $310 million. The Governor says the tax increase is necessary in order to avoid drastic cuts in state services? Do you support or oppose the Governor’s proposal to raise taxes in order to avoid drastic cuts in state services?”

Only 12 percent said they “Strongly Support” the Bentley plan. Just 15 percent “Somewhat Support” the controversial tax increase plan. 15 percent “Somewhat Oppose” while an overwhelming 50 percent of the people surveyed answered they “Strongly Oppose” raising the tax burden on the people of the state. Five percent did not know what they think and one percent refused to answer the question.

66 percent of respondents oppose tax increases while just 28 percent think this manufactured budget crisis justifies higher taxes. This is uniform across demographics. 66 percent of Republicans oppose Bentley’s tax increases to just 27 percent in favor. 68 percent of independents oppose to just 24 percent in favor. 64 percent of Democrats oppose higher taxes; while only 33 percent are in favor.  72 percent of African American voters oppose the tax increases.

While the polling shows no support for raising taxes it did show that there is considerable support people support a vote on gambling and more specifically for the Marsh plan.

89 percent of voters said that they support the people voting on gambling versus letting the legislature or the governor decide the issue.

The pollster asked respondents about the Marsh plan: “The Alabama Legislature is considering a constitutional amendment that would do the following three things: Allow Los Vegas-style table gaming at the state’s four do tracks; Create an education lottery and provide college and technical school scholarships; AND Authorize the Governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and require them to pay fees for their casinos.  Based on this description would you vote YES in favor of or vote NO against the constitutional amendment?”

46 percent answered that they would "Definitely vote Yes."  19 percent said they would vote, ‘Yes, but could change their mind"; 4 percent "Lean Yes," 0 percent "Lean No"; 8 percent "No" but could change mind," 21 percent will "Definitely Vote No" and 1 percent don’t know how they will vote yet.

The pollster also asked about the Poarch Creek plan: “Another alternative proposal, which would avoid having a statewide vote on it, is with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians that currently operates the only existing casinos in Alabama. They have proposed to make an upfront payment of 250 million dollars to the state of Alabama, along with additional smaller amounts of money in future years to help alleviate the budget shortfall.  In exchange for this payment the state would grant the Poarch Band tribe a full monopoly on gaming in the state of Alabama, restricting gaming in Alabama only to current casinos operated by the State. Based on the description would you say you SUPPORT this proposal or would you OPPOSE this proposal to give the Poarch Creek Band a monopoly on casino gaming in exchange for an initial payment of 250 million dollars and eliminate a statewide vote on the Constitutional Amendment?”

19 percent say that they "Strongly Support" the Poarch Creek plan. 18 percent said they "Somewhat support" the plan; 3 percent "Lean Support"; 1 percent "Lean Oppose"; 15 percent "Somewhat Oppose", 41 percent said they "Strongly Oppose", and 3 percent said they don’t know.

If given a choice between the two gaming plans, 77 percent prefer the Marsh plan; while only ten percent prefer the Poarch Creek Plan.  Nine percent responded that they can not support either plan; while three percent did not know and one percent declined to answer the question.

80 percent of the people of Alabama said that they support a lottery.

Alabama Jobs Foundation Executive Director Chip Hill said that this new polling data reinforces what they already believed. Hill thanked Senate President Del Marsh for being there for the press conference at the Harbert Center in Birmingham.  Director Hill said that the Foundation had a new full page ad that began running this weekend.

Hill said that the Foundation was committed to find solution for the budget crisis in Alabama and that they believe that the Marsh Plan is the best option for Alabama. They also are recruiting more involvement from prominent business leaders to join the foundation.

The Executive Vice President at Brombergs Frank Bromberg III said that it was vitally important that on an issue like the lottery that the people of Alabama have the right to vote.

Bromberg said that over 80 percent of the people of Alabama supported the lottery and joked that the 10 or 11 percent that said “NO” didn’t understand the question.  VP Bromberg said, I hope and pray that the legislature will go through with this suggestion. It is the right thing to do.

The President of the Alabama Jobs Foundation former Auburn Head Football Coach and Athletics Director Pat Dye said in a written statement, “These results simply confirm what I hear from Alabamians across the State. They are ready to vote on this issue once and for all." The voters are clear about what they support: an education lottery and gaming that brings jobs, revenue and economic development to our State.

The President and Managing Partner of Target Point Consulting Michael Meyers said that his group telephoned 809 likely voters in Alabama. 34 percent of those were on cell phones and they used live operators to ask the questions.  Meyers said that the poll has a good mix of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

Meyers said that according to the survey there will be repercussions when they go back to their districts if legislators vote to raise taxes. Meyers said the majority of respondents reject the tribal plan. “These numbers are pretty compelling.”

Senate President Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said, “The voters of Alabama are speaking as load and clear as they can on this issue. They demand the right to vote on this issue. They support my lottery and gaming constitutional amendment by large numbers. And just as important they do not support raising taxes, period.”

The Alabama Political Reporter asked the voters rejected tax increases but did the poll look at budget cuts?

Meyers said, the survey asked respondents: Some legislators have proposed cutting state budgets 20 to 30 percent do you approve or disapprove of this proposal. 49 percent answered that they approve of the budget cuts. 37 percent are opposed. There is a lot of partisan differences in this. 60 percent of Republicans answered that they support budget cuts; while 57 percent said that they opposed cutting the budgets.

Sen. Marsh said that his plan is based on an Auburn University of Montgomery study that showed that the plan would create 11000 jobs. That is the same size as the auto industry in Alabama.

Senator Marsh said, “I don’t game. I don’t gamble. I have never bought a lottery ticket.” Marsh said that he see this as an economic development issue. “Gaming is another industry.”

Sen. Marsh warned, “This gaming piece of legislation will not solve this year’s budget situation.” It will take time to set this up. It will not solves this year’s budget problem, but it will solve future budget problems. The lottery portion will go to education and his current plan creates a scholarship program out of some of that money.

Sen. Marsh said that 66 percent of the people oppose new taxes and Governor Bentley proposed $700 million in new taxes. That has now fallen off to $500 million. It is hard to believe that is the solution.

Marsh said, “We will pass a budget. Will the governor sign it I don’t know.”

Senator Marsh said that as the Senate President Pro Tem, “I could probably force this issue to the floor,” but said that he won’t do that.

Marsh said that it makes sense to take up this plan after the budget has been passed.


]]> (Super User) State Thu, 30 Jul 2015 10:38:37 -0500
Governor Offering Great Deals on Arizona Oceanfront Property: Opinion

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter 

A new poll released by Gov. Robert Bentley’s non-profit, Alabama Council for Excellent Government claims, that Alabama Republicans would rather have their taxes increased than see government services cut. 

This fits the actual definition of incredible, in other words, the poll results are not credible.

Here’s a good test: if you are a Republican, call up 5 of your friends, and ask which they preferred: pay more taxes or cut Medicaid spending? If 68 percent said that would rather have their taxes raised, then you should believe the Governor’s poll.

Also ask them if they want to pay more taxes or see cuts to preventive health care services, if 77 said raise my taxes then you can trust this poll.

Does anyone actually believe that 83 percent of Republicans would rather pay more taxes than endure fewer restaurant inspections. reported the poll showing, “62 percent of likely GOP voters saying they would rather Republican lawmakers vote to raise taxes on cigarettes, soft drinks and close the loophole that allows some Alabamians to deduct their federal income tax from their state taxes rather than cut funding to Medicaid, preventive health care programs or cut funding to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management or ADEM.”

Most republicans I know would close the Alabama Department of Environmental Management in a New York minute. Is it possible that Republicans would truly want to pay more taxes on sweet tea or Dr. Thunder?

This is as close to perpetrating a fraud as can be imagined by a Republican governor. 

Most Republicans are baffled with Bentley’s new found obsession with raising taxes. People I hear from are concerned, confused, and asking who is giving him such bad advice. 

Bentley is a good man; most all would agree. And while some of his proposals make some sense, this poll cannot be taken seriously by anyone who even knows 5 Republicans.

Perhaps the Governor is just channeling George Strait: 

“I got some ocean front property in Arizona. From my front porch you can see the sea. I got some ocean front property in Arizona.  If you'll buy that, I'll throw the Golden Gate in free...

]]> (Super User) State Thu, 30 Jul 2015 10:37:22 -0500
Are They All The Same?

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter


We hear it all the time: “They're all the same.” That is what people say about Democratic and Republican politicians. Here in Alabama, most people have recently begun to vote Republican to a large degree, because they don’t like the President; but they still believe that all politicians are alike.

So, when Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard is charged by the State with 23 Felony counts of public corruption, people just shake their heads thinking, “They’re all the same.”

Now, if Republican lawmakers had called for Hubbard to step down from his leadership position, and even more so, if he had been forced to leave the House altogether, then people might have said, “Hmm, I guess those Republicans are different.” But, no one did and so the collective wisdom of the people is proven right:

“They're all the same.”

When Hubbard and the Republicans of Alabama released their “Handshake with Alabama” in August 2010, they promised, among other things, to, “End[ing] Corruption in Montgomery.” Instead of ending it as promised since April 2014, four legislators have been arrested and one has had to resign in disgrace.

In the “Handshake” promise, they reminded voters that, “Democrats have held the majority in Montgomery for 136 years, and during that time, they created an atmosphere that breeds corruption and encourages graft. The recent criminal convictions of numerous Democratic legislators and other Democratic officials provides ample evidence of that fact.”

What does Hubbard’s arrest and indictment provide ample evidence of?

They're all the same.

In the "Handshake" memo that originated from Hubbard’s office, the Republicans say that they would no longer tolerate, “legislators and other public officials…holding questionable contracts with government agencies and those wishing to do business with the State.”

Most of the Felony counts against Hubbard are related to holding questionable contracts and representing those wishing to do business with the State. Yet, when Hubbard is charged with these offenses, not a word is heard from Republican lawmakers. This again leads people to believe, “They're all the same.”

The editorial board of the Dothan Eagle said it succinctly:

"Hubbard is considered innocent until proved guilty in court. However, we cannot forget that Hubbard crafted an attack on what he called 'a culture of corruption in Montgomery' to lead a sweeping GOP takeover of the legislature four years ago, wrestling control from Democrats who had held the majority for more than a century. Considering that he now stands accused of the same sort of corruption he used as a springboard to power, it’s reasonable to conclude that his ability to effectively lead our State’s governing body would be undermined by both his circumstances and the distraction of his defense preparations.”

(See article here.)

The Eagle also says that for Republican legislator to allow him to remain in his position, “suggests that the perception of corruption is immaterial, which erodes public confidence in the prospect of a productive upcoming session.”

Sadly, the Dothan Eagle is the only publication, other than the Alabama Political Reporter, to call on the State’s lawmakers, to do what is right and remove Hubbard. Where is the Anniston Star, the Decatur Daily, the Gadsden Times, Montgomery Advertiser or AL.Com?

If Republican lawmakers will not stand up to corruption within their ranks, should not at the very least, the fourth estate call them to answer? Since when are editorial boards silent in the face of such blatant disregard for the people's House? The State House does not belong to Hubbard or the Republican Party, it belongs to the citizens of Alabama.

More than once, Republican lawmakers have said they are biding their time to allow the courts to deal with the Hubbard situation. That is a coward’s stance, proving they're all the same.

In the "Handshake with Alabama," Hubbard said, “When you look someone in the eye, give them your word and shake their hand, you make a bond. This Handshake Agenda is our bond with the voters of Alabama, and if Republicans are successful in taking over the Legislature, these are the items we will immediately work to pass.”

The voters gave Hubbard the chance and he failed them. Completely.

But, not all Republicans are the same, but you can't tell that from their actions. The State heard the Republican “Handshake promise” and they believed it. But, as any honest person knows, deeds, not words, are the proof of promise.

So, by leaving Hubbard to run the State, the Republicans have left the people with an example of how they are all the same.

There is time to change that perception, but the clock is ticking.


]]> (Super User) Bill Britt Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:16:20 -0600
Hubbard Business Interests Real Winners in Fundraising Efforts?

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, has been busy raising campaign cash. The latest FCPA reports show that his personal campaign account raised $89,000.00 in September, while his political action committee, Storming the State House PAC, brought in $22,400.00. Storm PAC has shown an anemic ability to raise funds over the last year, due in part to the growing public corruption probe that has cast a shadow over Hubbard’s future.

(See disclosure)

On September 4, Hubbard held a pricy fundraiser to replenish the empty coffers of Storm PAC. Much of the new money raised came from that event.

(See article)

One of the major contributors to Hubbard’s PAC was Software Technology, Inc. (STI) who, in August, announced a partnership with the Alabama Department of Education to provide technology to “enhance school culture by noting and rewarding positive behavior of students…through a program called “Learning Earnings.”

(See article)

Also Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton,  personal injury attorneys, gave Storm PAC a substantial contribution.  A list of usual contributors also includes the Realtors Association, ALFA and Clark Richardson.

The PAC listed $33,941.28 in expenses with most of the money going to the campaigns of Representative Lesley Vance, Tommy Hanes, Nathaniel Ledbetter, and Bob Fincher.

Hubbard’s personal campaign account faired much better than Storm PAC by raising almost $90,000 in cash. Hubbard’s contributors are a whose who of special interests with business before the State Legislature. BCA’s Progress PAC,  Forest PAC and the Builders PAC being the heaviest hitters.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Hubbard's business interests were at the top of expenditures for his campaign fund, with Auburn Network and Craftmaster Printers, Inc., taking $30,741.26 of the 56,996.18 in expenditures.

(See disclosure)

Hubbard faces little opposition in his quest for reelection, however, the ever present specter of the Lee County Grand Jury hangs menacingly over his head.


]]> (Super User) Bill Britt Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:45:02 -0500
Hubbard “Obsessed” with $200K Renovation of Committee Room

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—A cavernous room just off the Washington St. entrance to the State House is receiving a six figure facelift on orders from Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

“He is obsessed with renovating that room,” said a State House insider who asked to not be publicly identified in this report. The over $200,000 that is being spent to renovate room 200 comes from a 2006 Bond Issue according to the State’s Finance Department.

Under the Republican lead legislature, to date, over $2 million has been spent to refurbish the State House. The building is now replete with granite-topped tables, expensive leather chairs and faux marble flooring.

The stated purpose for the expensive renovation of room 200, is to offer the legislature a new joint conference committee meeting room. The Legislative Building Authority, which is overseeing the project, has justified the expenditure by saying that many conference committee meetings spill out into the halls due to the number of people wanting to witness the proceedings. Most of those attending conference committees are in fact lobbyists and not concerned Alabama citizens.  In a time of financial crisis, this is just the latest in lavish spending for the comfort of lawmakers and lobbyists.

Beyond the new carpet, faux marble and expensive chairs for the State House,  the Senate chamber is receiving a $200,000 facelift with new hickory desks custom built by State inmates at J.F. Ingram State Technical College in Deatsville.

The renovation of room 200 and the Senate facelift combined will cost State taxpayer around $500,000, at a time when budget shortfalls are estimated at well over $100 million for the coming fiscal year.

This is just the latest spending spree by the Republican Supermajority. (See Article: Hubbard Furnishes Luxury Cloakroom for Legislators at Taxpayer Expense)

During the 2013 legislative session, Hubbard authorized tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to paint and furnish a "cloakroom" for legislators to "relax in" on the fourth floor of the State House.

Information gathered from the Legislative Building Authority shows that Hubbard spent over $30,000.00 on furniture, paint and carpeting for room 402. This does not include built-in-bookshelves, a full kitchen or other amenities and construction costs.

This room, which has never been used, was adorned with expensive furnishings, all with an air of absolute refinement; the likes of which was never seen under the GOP's Democratic predecessors.

There was even a grand, eleven-foot conference table that cost the taxpayers $4,464.00. The hardwood table was surrounded by 20 San Simeon Fabric high-back chair with a price tag of $6,380.00.

Beyond the huge conference table, the opulent space was also decorated with 4 couches costing $6,166.00, chairs and a love seat priced at $6,537.00 and tables, et cetera at $3,051.00.

All this occurring while the State was forced to borrow $437 million from the gas and oil trust fund.

After this publication made its report on Hubbard’s cloakroom, the project was abandoned and some of the furniture was sold.

Speaker Hubbard has wildly expanded State spending on the trappings of power adorning his own office with new carpet, new paint and $2000 in silk plants at taxpayer expense. The Speaker’s suite is also outfitted with multiple flat-screen televisions, one completely dedicated to a continuous rotation of pictures featuring Hubbard with political dignitaries. The Speaker routinely travels with an entourage and personal body guard, many times in two black SUV’s with tinted windows. It is the Speaker's privilege to be provided a State employee for protection; however, few have ever accepted such a high level of security. (See Hubbard Wildly Increases Spending in Speaker's Office)

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh does not use a security person or State vehicle, which would be his privilege as well.

Once again, Hubbard is using his power as Speaker to spend more taxpayer money on luxurious vanity projects.


]]> (Super User) Bill Britt Mon, 15 Sep 2014 10:52:31 -0500