AEA admits role in Byrne political attack ads

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The longtime head of the state teachers organization says it played a role in the secretive group that ran ads attacking Bradley Byrne in the Republican runoff for governor.

Paul Hubbert, executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association, said AEA had an interest in the group called the Conservative Coalition for Alabama. But he declined to say how much money it contributed to the group running the ads.

The ads contributed to Byrne's defeat July 13. Byrne accused the group of violating state campaign laws by not filing disclosures with the secretary of state.

But Hubbert says the Conservative Coalition followed the same federal law used by some business organizations to run ads in state Supreme Court races. The coalition filed with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt political organization.

Byrne spent considerable time and energy during the campaign fighting off the attacks. Having won the largest percentage of the vote in the primary but not an outright majority, Byrne was forced into a runoff with second place contestant Dr. Robert Bentley.

Bentley ultimately defeated Byrne for the nomination.

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