Governor Countermanding

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 20, 2004

Accountability Proposals

This week, members of the Alabama House of Representatives began fulfilling their promise to bring more accountability to state government by passing the first of several accountability proposals.

Legislation to ban PAC-to-PAC transfers has been the on legislative agenda for the past decade and is part of the Democratic Accountability Package being introduced during the regular session.

House Bill 55, sponsored by Representative Jeff McLaughlin, D-Guntersville, will prohibit transfers between certain political action committees.

McLaughlin, who has refused to take any campaign contributions, has been praised for this bill in the past; however, some who once supported the measure have come out attacking it.

A February 9, 2004 article in The Birmingham News quotes the Governor as saying, “New loopholes are not the people’s idea of accountability and reform.

At the last minute in committee, they added a glaring loophole to the ban — a loophole that is not in my proposal to ban PAC-to-PAC transfers.”

The truth is that House Bill 55 by Rep. McLaughlin not only passed out of the Constitution and Elections committee unanimously, but also without being amended.

This is the same bill Rep. McLaughlin introduced and passed in the House during the 2003 Regular Session; and the same bill that Rep. McLaughlin was approached to introduce as a part of the Governor’s package if there had been a special session on accountability.

The Governor is speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

Why, at a time when we are focusing on accountability and bringing forth concrete action is the Governor criticizing the reform?

The Governor is playing politics with the issue of accountability.

It is obscene for him to attack a measure that he, not only supported six months ago, but seemingly plans to promote again, as long as it accompanies his accountability proposals and is presented during an unnecessary special session.

In his State of the State address on February 3, Governor Riley said, “I will be proposing almost two dozen accountability and reform measures that tackle our most difficult challenges, from education to ethics, from budgets to benefits.”

The Governor has only brought forth 15 accountability proposals, and has yet to introduce any proposal to the legislature on the PAC-transfer issue.

In a March 10, 2003 article that appears on the Governor’s website titled, “Alabamians Are Turning Honesty Into Hope,” Governor Riley writes, “There’s no sense in holding grudges or avoiding new coalitions because of old disagreements. I have long believed that honesty breeds hope, and no matter how long the row or tough the field, Alabamians can face any crisis as long as we’re told the truth.”

The Governor and his henchmen are not holding to the truth.

They are unjust and misleading with their remarks and outright lied about an amendment adding a loophole to House Bill 55.

We are not seeing any attempts on his part to forge coalitions in support of the accountability issue.

Luke 6:47-49 says, “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.

That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock.”

The people of Alabama have said they want more accountability in their state government and House Bill 55 is a step in the right direction.

We have heard the people’s words and are taking action.

I call on the Governor to support this measure and stop the Republican filibuster so that we can move forward in building a solid foundation of accountable state government.