The former chair of a Republican-leaning PAC said Thursday that a PAC controlled by House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, made a transfer to his PAC days after the Legislature passed a ban on the practice and hours before Gov. Bob Riley signed the ban into law.
The news came after the chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party accused Republican legislative leaders of breaking the law against PAC-to-PAC transfers, which a spokesman for Hubbard vigorously rejected.
“Not only did the PAC the Speaker was affiliated with abide by the law, but it disclosed every penny,” said Todd Stacy, a spokesman for Hubbard. “It was all out there, disclosed for the people to see.”
NETPAC sent $5,000 to 136 Years PAC on December 20, 2010, according to 136 Years PAC chairman John Ross, a former Alabama Republican Party executive director. Ross said the transfer — made days after the Hubbard-led House approved the PAC-to-PAC ban — paid bills as the PAC was being terminated.
“We accepted that transaction the morning of the 20th,” Ross said in an interview. “It was perfectly legal.”
Hubbard was listed as treasurer of NETPAC.
In its successful bid for the Alabama Legislature last year, the Alabama Republican Party campaigned on ethics reform and promised a ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers, a practice traditionally used to hide the source of political contributions. Hubbard touted the legislation in article on his website dated October 17, 2010.
“Republicans understand that we must limit the influence of special interests who control much of what happens in Montgomery,” he wrote. “A Republican majority will introduce legislation to require all spending by lobbyists be reported — even down to a cup of coffee — and ban PAC-to-PAC transfers, which hide the true identity of a campaign’s financial support.”
Riley called a special legislative session following the election. The Legislature passed a PAC-to-PAC ban on December 15, which became effective immediately after Riley signed it into law on December 20.
A Riley-chaired PAC admitted last week to accepting $50,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee, three months after the governor signed the ban into law.
Earlier in the day, the chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party accused Hubbard and Senate Majority Leader Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills of violating the state’s ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers. Mark Kennedy, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, cited a check written on December 20 by Monica Cooper, then an aide to Waggoner, to 136 Years PAC. Two days later, the New Alabama Leadership Committee, of which Cooper was treasurer, wrote her a $100,000 check for “reimbursement.”
“It’s a cover-up, it’s a ruse, and we not only as Democrats but as Alabama citizens take offense to that,” he said.
Cooper said in an interview this afternoon that she had been directed by Waggoner, chairman of the New Alabama Leadership Committee, to write a check from that PAC to 136 Years PAC. Cooper said she inadvertently used a personal checking account for the amount. The check had cleared, she said, before it could be canceled, and they reimbursed her from the New Alabama Leadership Committee.
“I literally grabbed the wrong checkbook,” Cooper said. She said she did not know what time of day the check was written on the 20th.
Cooper stepped down from Waggoner’s office earlier this year to take a new job, and was honored with a Senate resolution. Prosecutors in a trial of nine individuals accused of buying and selling votes related to gambling legislation have said Cooper received payments from VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, one of the defendants.
Campaign finance records for the New Alabama Leadership Committee also show the following PAC-to-PAC transfers taking place following the signature of the bill:
– Sun PAC, a PAC described as “helping industrial growth” that received the majority of its funding from gambling interests, transferred $1,000 to the New Alabama Leadership Committee on December 21.
– Gulf PAC, a PAC organized by University of South Alabama retirees, transferred $1,000 to the New Alabama Leadership Committee on December 21.
– The South Alabama PAC of Higher Ed, another PAC closely tied to the University of South Alabama that threw most of its support behind Republican candidates, transferred $3,000 to the New Alabama Leadership Committee on December 23.
Waggoner said in statement any errors were “clearly unintentional.”
“We will begin working immediately with our finance team and attorneys to identify and return any inappropriate contributions, regardless of size,” he said.
Under the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act, violations of the ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers are Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine. The complaints have been forwarded to Montgomery County District Attorney Ellen Brooks.
– posted by Brian Lyman