Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman (R), the chief elections official for the state, says the gubernatorial election will go on without delay despite a lawsuit aimed at forcing the Republican candidate for governor off the ballot and a halt to the election until a replacement can be found.
Former Birmingham city councilman Dr. James D. Blake has a Friday morning court date set in Jefferson County where he'll ask a judge to order an injunction on the election. Blake says he filed the lawsuit to remove Republican Dr. Robert Bentley's name from the ballot citing violations of "The Fair Campaign Practices Act". The Bentley campaign is not commenting specifically on the lawsuit.
Chapmans' office said Thursday that numerous calls were being fielded asking if the election will be postponed. "Next week's election will go on as scheduled," Chapman said. "Any request to stop the election at this late date is unreasonable, would be a huge burden to the taxpayer, and would disenfranchise every single voter in this state. That will not happen on my watch."
The Bentley campaign acknowledged Wednesday that it had addressed several issues that Blake's lawsuit contained.
"The Bentley campaign did receive a letter from the Attorney General's office requesting that we return 6 checks which exceeded the corporate contribution limit," Bentley spokeswoman Rebekah Caldwell Mason said. "We already had done so, 2 days prior to receiving the letter. We have notified the Attorney General's office of our actions and the changes will be reflected in our 5-Day Financial Disclosure Report which will be filed Thursday."
While Bentley's camp is not commenting specifically on the lawsuit, Mason said they became aware of Blake's plans to file a complaint with the AG a week ago. Mason added that once the campaign became aware of the plan, a full review of "every single contribution"and all contributions in question were reported to the state. "Nothing was hidden," she said.
Blake claims Bentley's campaign failed to report that the AEA paid for robo-calls for the campaign and that the Bentley camp accepted six political contributions from corporations in excess of the $1,500 allowed by law. The Bentley campaign said Wednesday that it had, in fact, found eight checks exceeding the legal amount and returned those checks on Saturday, October 23rd.
Attorney General Troy King's office has identified six contributions as belonging to:
- T.A. Hall Contractors of Spanish Fort - $2,500
- General Insulation of Theodore - $10,000
- Command Alkon of Birmingham - $2,500
- Foley Materials Company of Columbus, Georgia $2,500
- Matrix of Auburn - $2,500
- Chris Riles, Chris Riles Insurance Agency, Inc. of Northport - $2,500
The Bentley campaign returned two additional checks reported at $2,500 a piece, but no identification to the owners of those checks was released.
Ala. Code 1975 17-5-8 states that a campaign must disclose contributions within 10 and 5 days before the date of a primary, special, runoff or general election. Alabama Code also goes on to indicate that a person can not be elected or nominated to state/local office if they fail to file any statement or report required under the act. Blake contends that because of these issues, Bentley is not legally entitled to be on the ballot.
Mason said that out of 2,700 contributions totaling almost $4 million, eight checks "slipped through the cracks." The Bentley campaign says all corrections will be put on their 5 day report which goes out Thursday at 5pm.
RON SPARKS REACTS
Robert Bentley's opponent in the gubernatorial race, Democrat Ron Sparks, reacted to the controversy surrounding Bentley saying:
"There he goes again. You can't trust what Robert Bentley does or what he says. He takes illegal corporate donations and only refunds them when he gets caught. He takes gaming money and denies it. He takes AEA money and denies. His son gets taxpayer money to attend school, and he denies it. Imagine what he will deny as governor."