It’s their turn now.
After lots of tough election talk, it’s time for the Alabama Republicans to deliver on their campaign promises. First among those promises to be ethics reform. Republicans leaders say they will ban PAC-to-PAC contributions, give the Alabama Ethics Commission subpoena power and further restrict lobbyists.
If Alabama Republicans can deliver those reforms in short order, they could maintain their political momentum and embarrass Democrats who have stymied similar proposals for decades.
At least one out-going Democrat is doubtful. Former Rep. Jeff McLaughlin of Guntersville, who championed a PAC-to-PAC ban every year and refused campaign donations, lost his seat this election cycle. Talking to the Birmingham News, he questioned whether legislators will scuttle a system that put them in power.
“I hope the words are successful in overcoming actions. Because probably every single fellow that got elected this time, particularly in the Republican landslide, got elected by getting a lot of money that flowed from one PAC to the other,” McLaughlin said.
Governor-elect Robert Bentley received money from the Alabama Education Association that was disguised by PAC-to-PAC transfers, but Bentley, too, is promising to change the campaign finance system.
“First and foremost, we are going to end these PAC-to-PAC transfers,” Bentley said, referring to the practice of shifting money among political action committees that tends to obscure the source of campaign cash. “I promise you that if we don’t do anything else — and we will do more — we are going to stop what is nothing more than laundering money.”
Alabama Republicans say one issue won’t be on the Legislature’s agenda: gambling. For the last two sessions, pro-gambling legislation has clogged the legislative system, and after one round of indictments, a federal investigation still hangs over Montgomery. The Republican majority has no interest in legalizing gambling further, several lawmakers told the Montgomery Advertiser, and those on the fence have no stomach for a fight.
Meanwhile, the new majority comes at a precious moment for Republicans. With the latest census complete and the decade at a close, it’s time for congressional redistricting.
Ten years ago, Alabama Democrats drew district lines to include more of their supporters across multiple districts. Expect to see those changes undone, Rep. Mike Rogers tells the Birmingham News. Black Alabamians will likely be further politically quarantined to the 7th Congressional District, preserving a 6-to-1 dominance for the GOP among House districts.
“People have a right to expect to maintain the homogeneous nature their district has,” Rogers said. “They develop relationships with their member of Congress and it’s unfair to move them around like political pawns to hurt or help somebody.”
Montgomery Advertiser: Republicans have eyes on ethics reform http://bit.ly/bgnve8
Birmingham News: Tougher ethics laws top Alabama GOP lawmakers’ agenda http://bit.ly/bPLtfr
Birmingham News: Now Alabama’s GOP draws line in the sand http://bit.ly/buahXs