Alabama Republican Party chairman Armistead defends AEA funds

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Some Republicans are attacking Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead for taking $5,000 from the Alabama Education Association, which has long been considered a sworn enemy of the ALGOP.

One blogger attacked Armistead this week without any response from the chairman, who has announced he will run early next year for a second two-year term as chairman.

Last month, when asked about the contribution, Armistead said the $5,000 was actually for a table at a Republican dinner featuring U.S. Rep. Allen West of Florida, a favorite among Tea Party conservatives.

“I wouldn’t read too much into that,” Armistead said of what appears as a $5,000 contribution from the Alabama Education Association to the Alabama Republican Party on a form filed with the Secretary of State’s office for the month of September.

Armistead said former Alabama Republican Party Chairman Winton Blount, who now works as a consultant for the AEA, indicated to him he was purchasing a table at the dinner with AEA funds.

Armistead said it could possibly be an olive branch from the AEA to indicate that the AEA is willing to work with Republicans, but said he did not discuss that with Blount.

Henry Mabry, executive secretary of the AEA, has said the association will likely contribute more funds to Republicans in the 2014 election. Historically, the AEA has contributed more funds to Democrats and its two previous leaders, Paul Hubbert and Joe Reed, were vice chairmen of the Alabama Democratic Party. Republicans took control of the Alabama House and Senate for the first time in more than a century in the November 2010 election and enacted legislation that many believe was targeted at the AEA and similar organizations.

Prominent Alabama Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Hubbard, have voiced concerns about the AEA supporting candidates friendly to their causes in Republican primaries.

Although Armistead has announced he plans to run for another term as chairman, some Republicans are beginning to rally behind another candidate. And some prominent Republicans, including those who previously supported Armistead, are expected to join that coalition.

While party insiders have known about the AEA contribution for weeks, if not months, they are now pushing it as they begin to try to undermine Armistead, who has had public disagreements with some top Republicans in the state.

– posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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