Inside Alabama Politics

Inside Alabama Politics, Volume 30 Number 3 February 13, 2015

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APPPLE HIRES FORMER LEGISLATOR TO LOBBY

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Jay Love

*Since Publishing This Story Jay Love Has Had His Lobbying Contract Terminated By Apple, Inc.

Julius Kenneth Love, aka former Representative Jay Love, R-Montgomery, recently showed up on the Ethics Commission lobbyist list as representing Apple, Inc. It was only a few months ago when Alabama native Tim Cook, CEO of Apple was in Montgomery being inducted into the Class of 2014 Alabama Academy of Honor at the State Capitol. “As a state, we took too long to steps toward equality,” he said. “We were too slow on equality for African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage, and we are still too slow for the equality for the LGBT community,” Cook said while speaking on behalf of the inductees. A few days after Cook made those comments he publicly announced he was gay.

In a 2008 campaign ad while running for Congress in a failed attempt to replace retiring Rep. Terry Everett, R- AL, Love was the first Republican in the country to advertise against California’s gay rights decision to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. In a campaign commercial Love calls gay marriage a part of the liberal Democratic agenda in Washington that he will fight against.

In March of 2008, CBS NEWS reported Love used the California decision to rally support for his campaign quoting Love’s campaign ad “Jay Love will stand up to the liberals and fight for what’s right. He’ll defend the unborn [and] traditional marriage.

On April 9, 2009 Love introduced a resolution in the Alabama legislature honoring Miss California for opposing gay marriage, during the question segment in the Miss USA contest, Miss California answered a question concerning gay marriage saying she felt marriage should be between a man and a woman. The Alabama House of Representatives passed the resolution on a voice vote.

While it isn’t unusual rhetoric from Republicans and even many Democrats running for office, especially in conservative states’ like Alabama, it does seem slightly unusual he was hired as a lobbyist by Apple, unless of course Apple didn’t know of his past stance on the subject of same-sex marriage.

Recently Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, announced plans to introduce legislation preventing discrimination against gays. She announced plans to name the legislation after Tim Cook. Initially Apple appeared hesitant but later responded:

“Tim was honored to hear that State Rep. Todd wanted to name an anti-discrimination bill after him, and we’re sorry if there was any miscommunication about it. We have a long history of support for LGBT rights and we hope every state will embrace workplace equality for all.”

IAP is curious if Love will be advocating for the passage of Todd’s bill, seeing as it is named after his new boss. Somehow we doubt it.

 

ALABAMA POWER IS WELL REPRESENTED AT THE STATEHOUSE

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Quentin Riggins

Alabama Power, widely considered to be the most powerful cooperation and the most powerful lobby in the state, has twenty registered lobbyists led by their Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Quentin Riggins. Riggins, who is no stranger to Alabama politics, replaced Leslie Sanders in late 2011 after she was promoted to vice president of Alabama Power’s Southern Division. Before joining the Alabama Power team, Riggins had built quite a resume having worked under former House Speaker Seth Hammett, as well as, three Governors before heading the governmental affairs division of the Business Council of Alabama for six years. After leaving the BCA he formed his own lobbying firm before receiving the call from Alabama Power.

Riggins is also known as an ALL-SEC linebacker for Auburn University from 1986-89 and has been the Auburn Sports Network sideline reporter for the past twenty-three seasons.

Also registered as lobbyists for Alabama Power are another eight Power company employees, including another former football player Wesley Britt, a former Alabama offensive tackle who played a few seasons in the NFL. Christine Baker, manager of regulatory pricing, Matt Bowden, Vice President of Environmental Affairs, Jason Davis, legislative affairs manager, Thomas Harris, major accounts manager, Tim Brown, in the Governmental Affairs division, RB Walker, a governmental relations analyst, Mark Wood, Director of Governmental Relations, Power company employee Ronald Buford and Nick Sellers, Vice-President of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs. Sellers previously worked for Matrix later becoming policy director in the Siegelman administration and then manager of external affairs for the Business Council of Alabama before joining Alabama Power in 2003.

Alabama Power is also well represented by Eason Balch, Jr. and Alexia Borden, both partners at Balch & Bingham in the Governmental Relations Practice Group. William Logan Martin, Jr. a former Alabama Power Company attorney founded the corporate law firm of over 250 attorneys in 1922.

Rounding out the group is the powerful lobbying firm of Fine, Geddie & Associates along with longtime contract lobbyist Tom Coker, contract lobbyists and former legislators Blaine Galliher and Taylor Harper and lobbyists Michael Cole, Tami Teague and Amy Herring.

 We’d say that Alabama Power has the field covered when it comes to protecting their interests at the state government level.

In upcoming issues of IAP we will explore the representation of some of the other Associations, Organizations, Corporations and Tribes who employ lobbyists to watch after their interests.

COUNTY COMMISSONER DAN HARRIS ENTERS MONTGOMERY MAYORAL RACE

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Dan Harris

Dan Harris, Vice Chairman of the Montgomery County Commission and first elected to office in 2012 announced his decision to enter the race for mayor this week. Harris, raised in Montgomery, retired from Mutual of Omaha in 2003 as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel.

Harris couldn’t have picked a worse time to announce his candidacy, the same day a federal stay was lifted to allow same sex marriage in the state. He would have had better luck making the announcement last week on College football signing day.

Some speculate Harris, a relative political newcomer with low name recognition, is getting into the race at the urging of Mayor Todd Strange to split some of the black vote Artur Davis is expected to receive. IAP spoke to a local political operative who thought Harris wouldn’t be the last candidate to enter the race for mayor and suggested Strange wouldn’t be the only white candidate running.

BEEKER PREACHES TO THE CHOIR

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Recently elected Public Service Commissioner Chip Beeker apparently thought he was in church standing at the pulpit. In a six-minute rant Beeker went off on the Federal Government, gay marriage, teen pregnancy and anything else he considered evil shortly after the PSC began their meeting last Tuesday. None of which has anything to do with regulating Alabama’s utilities, which is what the PSC is elected to do.

BROOKS FEARS MEASLES COMING FROM MEXICO

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Mo Brooks

Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, in a recent interview with Birmingham radio talk show host Matt Murphy insinuated the recent measles outbreak might have been caused by illegal aliens (not the kind from outer space) who crossed the Mexican/United States border. “It might be the enterovirus that has a heavy presence in Central and South America that has caused deaths of American children over the past 6 to 9 months,” Brooks said Tuesday. “It might be this measles outbreak. There are any number of things,” said Brooks.

It is worth noting that on average over the last five years Mexico and Central America have a higher immunization rate for the measles than the United States does and the likely culprit for the recent outbreak is more Americans choosing not to vaccinate their children. The recent epidemic has many pediatricians now refusing patients who have not been vaccinated.

GAY MARRIAGE: IT’S A WRAP

You really could hear a pin drop in a room full of Alabama politicians, as long as Chief Justice Roy Moore and a few dozen probate judges weren’t in the room, since gay wedding ceremonies began in Alabama on Monday.

Most recently, Federal Judge Callie Granade on Thursday ruled, Mobile County Probate Court Judge Don Davis, cannot deny a marriage license “on the ground that plaintiffs constitute same-sex couples or because it is prohibited by the sanctity of marriage.” The order only pertains to Mobile County, however it is anticipated more probate judges will follow suit.

Previous to the ruling 23 probate offices have been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, 26 had stopped issuing any marriage licenses and 18 were only allowing licenses to opposite sex couples.

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the issue in April with a decision expected in June. Things might have gone a little smoother had Judge Granade stayed her initial order until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer, instead her 14-day stay expired Monday and the U.S. Supreme Court in a 7-2 order rejected Alabama’s bid to stop Granade’s ruling from taking effect. Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were the two dissenters. Most pundits believe the High Court will rule in favor of same-sex marriage and by allowing the stay to be lifted in Alabama seems to confirm the justices have made up their minds on the issue.

IAP has been told the Probate Judges Association is exploring legislative options to remove their office from the issuing of marriage licenses and possibly moving that responsibility to the Center for Health Statistics at Public Health.

MERRILL SPEAKS ABOUT INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP

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John Merrill

In the last issue of IAP we made brief mention that documents existed proving an extramarital relationship between now Secretary of State John Merrill and someone else. We did so only after a website made the information public. IAP received the same information and documentation as many other public officials, lobbyists and political reporters did in the form of a 2010 divorce deposition in May of last year via email. IAP made the decision, as apparently many others did at that time, not to report it.

Since becoming public this month John Merrill sat down with AL.com to give his side of the story. In that interview he told AL.com that the woman’s assertion that they had a consensual encounter in September 2010 is correct. But he said, she was the aggressor, taking him by surprise, and he denied it went as far as her performing oral sex on him, as she testified.

Merrill said that he and the woman kissed, she unbuttoned his shirt, undid his belt, fondled him, and then he stopped her from going further. She testified that they both had clothing partially removed, they touched one another sexually and she performed oral sex on him. She said she wanted to have intercourse but Merrill declined.

Merrill told AL.com reporters: “Basically, when I walked in, we started talking. She kissed me, I kissed her back. Then she started unbuttoning my shirt, and after that, she started to become more aggressive, and she actually did some other things in trying to engage me in some physical activity with her, which I declined, and I indicated to her that I was not going to do that.

“I stopped, and I said, ‘I need to go, I’m not going to be here anymore’.”

That interaction – from the initial conversation to Merrill shutting it down- lasted about eight minutes, Merrill said. The woman testified that they spent several hours together that day, but most of the time just involved talking.

Asked why the discrepancy exists between his version and what the woman testified to 10 days after the incident, Merrill said: “I don’t know, I don’t know that I ever will know. But I do know this – I’d know if that (oral sex) had happened. I would know that, and I know it didn’t.”

The woman declined to talk on the record with AL.com. You can read the full interview at AL.com.

It has been rumored for sometime that Merrill has aspirations to run for Governor in the future.

 WHAT POLITICIANS ARE SAYING ON ALABAMA BECOMING THE 37th STATE TO ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE

“So I want to do everything I can to make sure that the people across the country, the people across the world, realize that Alabama is a different state and that we respect the rule of law and that’s what I’m going to do.” – Governor Robert Bentley

“God’s word never changes, and neither should our defense of His truths. Though we are being tested, we will stand true to our principles and fight for the rights of the states. I thank those elected officials who are standing with us to defend those truths we hold on high.” – AL GOP Chairman Bill Armistead

“I will never perform a so-called same-sex marriage. A federal court can put me in jail for life, and I will still never perform a so-called same-sex marriage.” – Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen

“Do they stop with one man and one man or one woman and one woman? Or do they go to multiple marriages? Or do they go to marriages between men and their daughters or women and their sons?” – Chief Justice Roy Moore

WINTON BLOUNT III PASSES AWAY

Winton Malcolm Blount III, 71, passed away Monday, February 9 at his Montgomery home of natural causes.

A Montgomery businessman, political strategist, and philanthropist, he was instrumental in the early successes of the Alabama Republican Party. As Chair, he worked tirelessly, crisscrossing the state on behalf of candidates in the early 90’s. As a Republican Candidate for Governor in 1994 and 1998 he brought Education and Civil Justice Reform to the forefront of the primary discussion.

Winton was a man who loved laughter, political stories, and spending time with his children playing football. He was the kind of person who found the positive side of everyone and everything he encountered.

One of the founders of Leadership Alabama, he was also instrumental in the early successes of the Business Council of Alabama and the A+ Education Partnership. He was a volunteer for the Montgomery YMCA and was on the boards of the Alabama Power Company and the Business Council of Alabama. He also served as chairman of BCA’s Progress PAC and of the Central Alabama Community Foundation.

At Blount International, Ltd, where he eventually served as CEO, Winton was proudest of the company’s accomplishments at King Saud University, Launchpad 39A for the moon shots at Cape Canaveral, the New Orleans Superdome, and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

He was laid to rest Thursday.