Judge denies TRO, dismisses lawsuit by AG Marshall's challenger

Updated: Jul. 12, 2018 at 4:54 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery Circuit Judge James Anderson on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Troy King against Attorney General Steve Marshall over contributions from the Republican Attorneys General Association. Anderson also denied King's motion for a temporary restraining order to stop the Marshall campaign from spending funds from RAGA.

Anderson heard from both Marshall's and King's counsels. King alleged Marshall's campaign has been using funds obtained illegally from RAGA, a federal political action committee or PAC. King's lawyer Al Agricola made the argument that RAGA falls under the state's PAC-to-PAC transfer ban, which prohibits Alabama candidates from accepting funds from PACs that also receive money from other PACs, as RAGA does. He says this falls under the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Ted Hosp, the counsel for Marshall, argued that federal PACs like RAGA are not subject to the act. He said there is no state law that prohibits candidates from receiving funds from federal PACs that also accept PAC money; federal PACs would be regulated by the Federal Election Commission.

Hosp also said the King campaign could have filed the action sooner, rather than less than a week before the runoff election. He said the first disclosure of funds made to the Marshall campaign from RAGA was made on March 2, more than four months ago.

Anderson questioned the proper jurisdiction for the suit, saying the Republican Party would usually hear the claim. Agricola confirmed that no action was filed by the King campaign with the Republican Party.

The issue was also raised that the King Campaign is seeking a declaration on a criminal law in a civil lawsuit; some argued civil court was not the appropriate venue. Hosp argued that seeking civil declaration prior to criminal prosecution could violate due process, and Anderson stated he was having a problem granting the TRO sought by King when the claim is possibly something that is not meant for civil court.

Anderson denied the TRO and dismissed the litigation because he said he did not feel he had the jurisdiction to declare the funds illegally obtained. After the ruling, King spoke to media, saying Marshall is bought by special interests and he does not intend to file any other action before the runoff election on Tuesday, rather he will appeal to the "court of public opinion."

The King campaign also released this statement:

"Today, we stepped into a time capsule and returned to the days when a Democrat Attorney General, this one masquerading as a Republican, Steve Marshall, picked up where Jimmy Evans left off.  When Democrats ruled Alabama back then, they routinely used the courts to do their dirty work.  Here we go again. In 2010, Republicans took control of the Alabama Legislature and, as a first order of the day, banned the generations old practice of laundering money through PAC-to-PAC transfers.  No exceptions.  The Democrats lacked the votes to stop them.  Instead, they have bided their time and, today, RINO Steve Marshall, an Obama supporting Democrat who hired Ted Hosp, Siegelman's lawyer and John Kerry's Presidential campaign organizer, to argue to a Democrat judge who is a former leader in the Montgomery County Democratic Party, that he should dismantle the ethics laws that the Republican Legislature passed banning PAC to PAC transfers and, as a result, declared the work of the Republican legislature null and void. I intend to appeal this ruling.  Not to more judges but to the court that really matters – the court of public opinion.  I trust that real Republicans will reject make-believe Republicans like Steve Marshall and restore order and the rule of law that he trampled today. The ruling today impacts more than just the Troy King v. Steve Marshall race. It threatens the election of Republicans from the top of the ballot to the bottom. Steve Marshall has given Democrats the weapon they need to destroy the entire Republican party using out of state liberal money.  We took this state from the Democrats in 2010 and now we are going to have to do it again!"

The Marshall campaign also released a statement:

"Troy King has abused the judicial and ethics process this week to stage a political stunt. He did so routinely as AG and Republicans fired him in 2010 because of it. We are glad the court has confirmed this and look forward to getting back to the issues Alabama voters actually care about in the final days of this campaign."

Marshall did not attend the hearing.

The runoff election for Attorney General will be Tuesday, July 17.

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