AFA’s ForestPAC Endorsements Need Your Vote on June 3rd


Next Tuesday, June 3rd, Alabama voters will return to the polls to participate in the primary elections for Congress, Statewide offices and the Legislature.  Let us emphasize again; Elections Have Consequences!

AFA encourages our members and friends to show up and vote next Tuesday.  This is our opportunity to elect principled hard working members to our government that can assist in bringing about the reforms necessary to put our State on a course towards fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency.

Here is the list of ForestPAC endorsed candidates for the June 3rd primaries:

• U.S. House District 3- Mike Rogers
• U.S. House District 5- Mo Brooks
• U.S. House District 7- Terri Sewell

Statewide Races
• Governor- Robert Bentley
• Lt. Governor- Kay Ivey

Alabama Senate
• District 2- Bill Holtzclaw
• District 4- Paul Bussman
• District 7- Paul Sanford
• District 8- Steve Livingston
• District 11- Jerry Fielding
• District 12- Del Marsh
• District 13- Gerald Dial
• District 21- Gerald Allen
• District 27- Tom Whatley
• District 31- Jimmy Holley

Alabama House of Representatives
• District 5- Dan Williams
• District 9- Ed Henry
• District 12- Mac Buttram
• District 13- Bill Roberts
• District 14- Richard Baughn
• District 16- Kyle South
• District 26- Kerry Rich
• District 30- Mack Butler
• District 35- Steve Dean
• District 38- Randy Price
• District 42- Kurt Wallace
• District 46- Steve French
• District 47- Jack Williams
• District 61- Alan Harper
• District 64- Harry Shiver
• District 71- Artis (A.J.) McCampbell
• District 79- Mike Hubbard
• District 80- Lesley Vance
• District 90- Charles Newton
• District 91- Barry Moore
• District 99- James Buskey
• District 101- Chris Pringle
• District 102- Jack Williams

AEA Clearly Going All Out- But is it Working?


A careful evaluation of the campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State shows that the Alabama Education Association’s political action committee, Alabama Voice of Teachers for Education (“AVOTE”) has spent a stunning amount in the lead-up to the primary elections on June 3rd.

Approximately, $7 million in campaign related expenditures have been reported to date. Wow!

This includes $1.5 million spent directly on candidates for the Republican primary and $1.7 million on Democrats (who, for the most part don’t have any opposition in the primary).

Ok, so that adds up to $3.2 million, what about the remaining $3.8 million? Good question.

AVOTE’s campaign finance reports indicate that this mysterious $3.8 million was distributed to several companies and that $2.6 million was spent on “advertising,”$90,000 was spent on “Get Out the Vote,” and a loan to the AEA (from their own PAC) was made for $1 million. What was the true purpose of these expenditures? Another good question.

In a previous post, we noted that the $625,000 used by the Stop Common Core PAC to support candidates was funded through a questionable entity called the Foundation For Limited Government (both of which are managed by former State Senator John Rice of Opelika). Where did the foundation get its money? Another good question.

Speculation in Montgomery is that the foundation was supported by some of these AEA mystery funds. We will probably never know and certainly will not know until the elections have come and gone.

With respect to the $1.5 million spent in the Republican primary, here are the major beneficiaries of the AEA and their opponents (most of which are ForestPAC endorsed candidates*):

Senate Candidates:

1. Garreth Moore- $350,000             (Jimmy Holley*)
2. Todd Greeson- $200,000             (Steve Livingston*)
3. Steven Guede- $145,116             (Del Marsh*)
4. Tim Sprayberry- $141,836           (Gerald Dial*)
5. Andy Carter- $131,770                (Tom Whatley*)
6. Gayle Gear- $86,481                   (Open Senate 17 seat)

House Candidates:

1. Robert McKay- $72,945              (Mack Butler*)
2. Connie Rowe- $61,794               (Bill Roberts*)
3. Tim Wadsworth- $60,088            (Richard Baughn*)
4. Isaac Whorton- $48,857              (Open House 38 seat, Randy Price*)
5. Corey Harbison- $48,804             (Mac Buttram*)
6. Melvin Hastings- $45,744             (Ed Henry*)
7. Ginger Fletcher- $36,683              (Kerry Rich*)
8. Bobby Jackson- $27,413              (Dan Williams*)
9. Keith Foley- $27,195                     (Alan Harper*)

Interestingly, a careful review of this list reveals that one huge name is missing. Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard. His opponent Sandy Toomer has not received any reported direct AEA support. But wait a second, if you watch WSFA in Montgomery, there are constant commercials running attacking Mike Hubbard and the disclaimer on the add is clearly AVOTE. Shouldn’t that be reported as an in-kind to Toomer? Another good question.

Toomer, by the way, has received a whopping $228,000 from Stop Common Core PAC. So the fact that AEA is not reporting anything, but Stop Common Core PAC is going all out against Hubbard might be indicative of a linkage that would confirm the speculation that the two are joined at the hip.

Final question. Is the onslaught working?

Campaign polls, that we have had access to, show that the massive negative spending is having an impact on maybe 5 House races.  So it does not seem to have that dramatic of an effect.

Keep in mind though that it might not take much to sway the balance of power. There are currently 67 Republicans, 37 Democrats and 1 Independent in the House of Representatives. 53 votes are needed to elect a Speaker when the new legislature convenes. There are approximately 12 Republicans that, at best, can be described as squishy…especially when it comes to voting with AEA. Theoretically, those 12 could join with the 36 remaining Democrats (Charles Newton is a recent convert to the Republican ranks, and by the way, he is under attack as well) and that would leave a mere 5 more seats needed to change things significantly.

While that particular scenario may appear to be far reaching, a more likely strategy involves diluting the super majority. In order to invoke cloture and shut off debate, the Republicans need 63 votes. If they have 67 now, but lose 5 to the AEA ranks, that would certainly dramatically impact the ability to pass difficult legislation.

According to their latest filing, AVOTE has a balance remaining of $1.1 million.  At this point there is less than 2 weeks left prior to the election.  We will continue to monitor their spending to see what happens next.

Lots of questions, we will answer them slowly but surely.


Reflection on the Power of the Gavel


Kay Ivey is Alabama’s Lieutenant Governor, and for that, we are quite thankful.

The key role of this office is to serve as the President of the Alabama Senate. In this capacity, the President presides over the parliamentary actions of the Senate. Of most importance is that the chair determines who gets to speak, who gets recognized for motions and then makes determinations on the merits of motions.

Before we get into the value this role brings, let’s take a little step back in history.

Republican Kay Ivey defeated incumbent Democrat (and former Governor) Jim Folsom, Jr. in the general election of 2010. Jim Folsom was considered to be one of the elective “elite;” a, “can’t lose” candidate. 1,477,900 votes were cast in the race and Ivey garnered 51.5% of the vote to 48.5% for Folsom. A measly 3% (approximately 45,000 votes) separated the two.

Ivey took in around $1.2 million in campaign contributions with more than one-half of that coming as personal loans. The Alabama Forestry Association and the Alabama Farmers Federation were two of her larger supporters.

Folsom, on the other hand, had well over $2 million in support. His largest donors included the Alabama Education Association, the Poarch Creek Indians, Drummond Coal and the Business Council of Alabama (interesting set of allies….)

Now let’s spend a few minutes thinking about what would have occurred (or more importantly, what would not have occurred) if Democrat Jim Folsom were sitting in the chair presiding over the Senate.

Some of the major accomplishments in the Legislature over the past four years were passage of the Rolling Reserve Act, the plan to institute Repayment of the Alabama Trust Fund, The Alabama Education Accountability Act, passage of balanced budgets (that have not required proration and, in the case of the education trust fund, significant strides have been made to repay the borrowed rainy day funds) and…

Most of these actions required swift and thoughtful actions from the chair in order to be successfully enacted. AEA was, and remains, opposed to most all of these initiatives.

Now let’s return to present times….

Ivey is under a well-coordinated attack from several of the same interests that opposed her in 2010, primarily, the AEA. Unlike 2010, the attack now is coming in the Republican Primary.

Her opponent’s campaign is being coordinated by Spot On Strategies and Claire Austin; the same folks that are working on many AEA supported legislative campaigns. The attacks on Ivey have been personal as witnessed in this webcast produced by the Alabama Political Reporter (watch here).

Sadly the webcast, holds itself out to be maintaining journalistic integrity, however three of the four “hosts” are actually actively working on the campaign for Ivey’s opponent.

Yesterday, a questionable poll was released publicly that shows Ivey with a narrowing lead over her opponent. Our internal polling shows the opposite (Ivey has a 60.8% approval rating, 56.6/10.4 favorable to unfavorable and a 58.2%/17.2% lead over her opponent).

All of this taken together gives pause for concern. Will Ivey’s opponent make headway over the last two weeks of the campaign? Probably not, but we need to pay attention.

Go to the polls on June 3rd. Elections have consequences. Important consequences. There is much left to accomplish in the next four years as we work to straighten out the mess that has accumulated over past years of poor leadership. Pension reform, Medicaid reform, fiscal responsibility and accountability….all these are going to require tough votes and all of them will be opposed by powerful special interests.

We need a leader like Kay Ivey in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. The Alabama Forestry Association and its political action committee, ForestPAC, has proudly endorsed our friend and long time member Kay Ivey in the 2014 election for this office.

Vote on June 3rd and vote for Kay Ivey.

Attorney General Strange on Top of His Game as Lynch Moves to Consideration before the U.S. Supreme Court


The United States District Court’s Northern District of Alabama’s Court has ruled. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has ruled. Now it’s time for the United States Supreme Court to rule as to whether the plaintiffs in the Lynch lawsuit have an issue worthy of their consideration.

On April 10, 2014, the plaintiffs submitted a 1,193 page Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States asking for the court to take up the Lynch case. The State of Alabama intends to submit a Brief in Opposition by August 12th. Plaintiffs will then have two weeks to respond in a Reply Brief.

The timing of this is important because the Supreme Court takes a summer recess. That recess will result in hundreds of cases lining up for the Court’s consideration when they return. The Court normally has a scheduling conference on the Friday preceding the first Monday of each month. This first meeting after the recess historically contains so much material that it is called the “Long Conference.” The result here is tha’t of all the scheduling conferences, this is the one where a case has the lowest chance of getting the Court’s attention.

This is good news for the good guys. This didn’t happen by accident.

Under the capable leadership of Attorney General Luther Strange and Solicitor General Andrew Brasher, they knew this would work in our favor and it’s just one more indicative reason why we are lucky to have an Attorney General (and a terrific staff) that’s on top of his game.

In addition to this administrative burden working against the plaintiffs is the fact that two lower courts ruled against them and that there is no competing rulings from other appellate divisions.

All this adds up to the conclusion that Luther Strange has done an admirable job positioning the State to best defend this lawsuit.

Now it’s up to the Supreme Court. We anticipate a ruling on the Cert Petition to be issued on Monday, October 6th. If the Court denies the petition, this case is finally over. Finished. Kaput.

When you get the opportunity, please express your appreciation to General Strange for his attention to this matter. Take a moment to reflect on what would be the outcome to timberland owners if the State’s Attorney General didn’t support our cause. Property taxes would go up by at least ten times, not to mention the loss of the Current Use treatment.

Elections do have consequences.

In the meantime, now is not the time to claim victory. We still have work to do as we will be assisting the State in its preparation of its Brief in Opposition. Translation: We still need financial resources to get to the finish line.

Stay tuned….

Alabama Forest Products Industry Loses Frank Montgomery Woods, Jr.


The Alabama timber industry lost a legend this past week. Frank Montgomery Woods, Jr., former director of Scotch Plywood Company, passed away on Thursday, May 8, 2014 in San Francisco. Frank is survived by his wife, Kay Harrigan Woods, his three children, Dorine Woods Towle, Frank Montgomery Woods III and Alexis Woods and six grandchildren.

Frank had a remarkable life balancing family and entrepreneurial interests. During the 1960’s and 1970’s he was involved in politics, helping Ronald Reagan in his 1966 and 1970 gubernatorial campaigns and was in charge of 11 southern states in Reagan’s 1968 bid for President.

He helped develop and market the Four Seasons Ski Resort in Breckenridge, Colorado and had a marketing company, Marketing Continental, which developed and introduced products such as the Pine Mountain Log, Tiger’s Milk (predecessor of Carnation Instant Breakfast) and the Shell No-Pest Strip.

Frank also had a notable career in the wine business. In 1974 he founded the award-winning Clos du Bois winery in Sonoma County, ultimately selling his interest in late 1980s. Over the years, Frank was an avid advocate for the American wine industry, especially for Sonoma County and served as chairman of the Wine Institute.

Services for Frank will be held at 3pm on Monday, May 19th at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. In lieu of flowers, the Woods family requests that remembrances to the deceased be sent to the Gladstone Foundation, 1650 Owens Street, San Francisco, CA 94158.

MeadWestVaco Chairman, John A. Luke, Jr., to Participate in AFA Annual Meeting

index Planning for AFA’s Annual Meeting is off to a great start with the confirmation today that John A. Luke, Jr., the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MeadWestvaco, will participate on one of the scheduled CEO panels.

The Annual Meeting, scheduled for September 7-9, 2014 at Orange Beach’s Perdido Beach Resort, is anticipated to be an exciting event with hopefully record setting attendance.

Mr. Luke joined WestVaco in 1979. In 1983, he was elected treasurer, and in 1986 he was elected vice president. Between 1987 and 1989, as a senior vice president, his responsibilities expanded to include the corporate marketing function and the international sales organization. In 1989, he became a member of the board of directors. He was elected executive vice president in 1990, president and chief executive officer in 1992 and chairman in 1996. He was elected chairman of MeadWestvaco in November 2002.

From 1971 through 1974, Mr. Luke served as an officer with the U.S. Air Force in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict. He is a graduate of Lawrence University and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Board of Directors and past Chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Forest & Paper Association.

MeadWestvaco Corporation is a global packaging company providing innovative solutions to the world’s most admired brands in the healthcare, beauty and personal care, food, beverage, home and garden, tobacco and agricultural industries. The company also produces specialty chemicals for the automotive, energy and infrastructure industries and maximizes the value of its development land holdings. MWV’s network of 125 facilities and 16,000 employees spans North America, South America, Europe and Asia. The company has been recognized for financial performance and environmental stewardship with a place on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since 2004.

Sign up for the Annual Meeting is scheduled to be available on June 1st, so mark your calendars and check back soon to get registered!

AFA Releases Poll in U.S. House District 6 Republican Primary

The Alabama Forestry Association is releasing today a poll conducted last week in the race for the United States Congress House District 6 Republican Primary.  401 likely Republican voters were canvassed by UAB pollster, Larry Powell, to determine their views on this race.  The poll was conducted by telephone and has a margin of error of 4.9% with a 95% confidence level.

In the head to head analysis, former State Representative Paul DeMarco leads the field at 24% of the vote.  He benefits from the highest positive name identification (62% overall, 51% positive) and receives solid support from the “over the mountain” communities of Vestavia Hills and Hoover.  Former State Senator Scott Beason is currently second with 17% of the vote.  Beason benefits from solid support in Gardendale and Blount County.  He has the second highest name identification at (51% overall).

Chad Mathis is in third with 14% of the vote.  His overall name recognition is at 35%.  Will Brooke (8%) and Gary Palmer (7%) are essentially tied for fourth.  Robert Shattuck and Tom Vignuelle are essentially out of the running with each receiving less than 2% of the vote.

It appears from this sampling that a run-off is highly likely, with the three most probable candidates to make the runoff being DeMarco, Beason or Mathis.  A second choice ballot was used to assess potential run-off scenarios.  With this approach, DeMarco leads a DeMarco/Beason runoff by 32% to 21%.  A DeMarco/Mathis runoff shows DeMarco leads at 35% to 17%.  In a Beason/Mathis runoff, Beason leads 24% to 18%.

Based on these numbers, it appears that DeMarco is the front runner, but that there will be a runoff.  If that’s the case, Beason most likely has the best opportunity to be competitive with DeMarco in the runoff.  The poll also indicated that over 27% of the voters are undecided at this point, so their votes will most likely have an important impact on the race’s outcome.

The AFA has not endorsed in this race at this time.




The Tangled Web of Alabama Politics

Here are some facts. You draw your own conclusions.

Most of this information comes from the Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance Reporting system as of April 30, 2014.

On March 3, 2014, the Alabama Education Association’s political action committee, AVOTE, loaned the AEA’s general operating budget $1 million.

In March and April, 2014, AVOTE made payments totaling $810,000 to National Research Services, LLC, a Delaware company with a Brentwood, Tennessee post office box as an address. These payments were $350,000 on 3/3/14, $175,000 on 3/10/14, $150,000 on 3/12/14, $35,000 on 3/13/14 and $100,000 on 4/10/14.

In March and April, 2014, the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government made contributions totaling $700,000 to a newly formed political action committee called Stop Common Core PAC. These contributions were $200,000 on 3/25/14, $100,000 on 4/18/14, $100,000 on 4/22/14 and $300,000 on 4/24/14. Both the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government and Stop Common Core PAC are run by former State Senator John Rice.

Stop Common Core PAC has made contributions totaling $635,000 to candidates running for Lt. Governor, the State Board of Education, four State Senate campaigns, and seven State House of Representatives campaigns.

In the Lt. Governor’s race, $65,000 was contributed to Stan Cooke who is running against Kay Ivey.

In the State Board of Education races, $20,000 was given to Patricia McGriff who is running for the open District 6 seat and $10,000 was given to Mike Parsons who is running against the incumbent Mary Scott Hunter

In the State Senate races, $33,500 was given to Jonathan Berryhill who is running for the open SD1 seat, $100,000 went to George Barry who is running against incumbent Bill Holtzclaw in SD2, $53,500 went to Steven Guede taking on incumbent Del Marsh in SD12 and $5,000 went to Tim Sprayberry who is running against incumbent Gerald Dial in SD13.

In the State House of Representatives races, $25,000 went to Corey Harbison running against incumbent Mac Buttram in HD12, $10,000 to Ritchie Whorton running against incumbent Wayne Johnson in HD22, $25,000 to incumbent Steve Hurst running against Steve Dean in HD35, $20,000 to Isaac Whorton running against Randy Price in the open HD38 seat, $228,000 to Sandy Toomer running against incumbent Mike Hubbard in HD79, $15,000 to Alex Balcum running against incumbent Lesley Vance in HD80, and $25,000 to Josh Pipkin running against incumbent Barry Moore in HD91.

Stop Common Core PAC also reported an expenditure of $15,000 to Spot On Strategies, LLC. Spot On Strategies also received payments from candidates Sandy Toomer (Mike Hubbard), Stan Cooke (Kay Ivey), and Josh Pipkin (Barry Moore). Candidates supported by Stop Common Core PAC also made payments to Red Clay Communications in Atlanta, Georgia including Sandy Toomer (Mike Hubbard), Steven Guede (Del Marsh), Alex Balkcum (Lesley Vance), Corey Harbison (Mac Buttram) and Josh Pipkin (Barry Moore). So there appears to be some consistency in the use of this money.

Spot On Strategies is a political consulting firm formed in 2013 by Baron Coleman and Jack Campbell. Spot On Strategies prominently advertises (as well as the Alabama Education Association, the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government and the Wind Creek Casino) on the web based political blog, Alabama Political Reporter (see:

Baron Coleman and Jack Campbell also appear on a weekly webcast associated with the Alabama Political Reporter called “The Voice of Alabama Politics” (see: for a flavor of their style of “reporting”…this particular segment includes a personal attack on Kay Ivey). Also note that Claire Austin appears on the webcast, she is a paid consultant for Stan Cooke (opposing Kay Ivey). So much for unbiased “journalism.”

The Alabama Foundation for Limited Government (see: was formed on September 12, 2013. There is no public information available to determine its source of funding.

Those are the facts. Now for a bit of speculation. Over $1.8 million of AEA’s AVOTE political dollars have “disappeared” from public finance records. A new foundation and political action committee suddenly “appear” out of nowhere to finance attacks on folks that supported education reforms (opposed by the AEA). This is really not too difficult a stretch to connect the dots.

For further speculation, you might want to visit this article that spells it out fairly well (

Private foundations can protect the identity of their donors to some extent, so we may never know the full truth. One thing is for sure…we will not know the answers until after the election on June 3rd and by then it will be too late.

AEA Active in Republican Primary

As of the close of the April reporting period, The Alabama Education Association’s political action committee, “Alabama Voice of Teachers for Education”, or “AVOTE” has contributed over $971,000 to candidates in the Republican Primary scheduled for June 3rd. Total contributions by AEA in both primaries exceed $2.6 million.

So how do these contributions stack up relative to the candidates that are supported by the Alabama Forestry Association?

The contributions for Senate candidates total $758,812. They include $25,000 to Bruce Whitlock (opposing AFA endorsed Paul Bussman), $150,000 to Todd Greeson (opposing AFA endorsed Steve Livingston), $101,317 to Steven Guede (opposing AFA endorsed Del Marsh), $79,871 to Tim Sprayberry (opposing AFA endorsed Gerald Dial), $75,970 to Gayle Gear in the open Senate District 17 seat (formerly held by Scott Beason, AFA has not made an endorsement in this race) and $76,654 to Andy Carter (opposing AFA endorsed Tom Whatley) and $250,000 to Garreth Moore (opposing AFA endorsed Jimmy Holley).

Note a trend here?

Additionally, AVOTE has contributed $450,000 to Senate Democrat candidates that will be opposing AFA endorsed candidates in the General Election. These contributions include $25,000 to “Doc” Mancuso (Paul Bussman), $50,000 to Larry Means (Phil Williams), $50,000 to Taylor Stewart (Del Marsh), $175,000 to Phil Poole (Gerald Allen) and $150,000 to Harri Ann Smith (Melinda McClendon).

Summarizing the Senate, AEA has contributed a whopping $1.13 million to the competitors of AFA endorsed candidates in 9 Senate races; Paul Bussman (Cullman), Steve Livingston (Scottsboro), Del Marsh (Anniston), Gerald Dial (Lineville), Tom Whatley (Auburn), Jimmy Holley (Elba), Phil Williams (Gadsden), Gerald Allen (Tuscaloosa) and Melinda McClendon (Dothan).

Now let’s take a look at their contributions in the Republican Primary for the House of Representatives.

Their contributions to House candidates are $213,138 in a total of 8 races. In each of those races, they are supporting candidates opposing AFA endorsed candidates. $25,000 to Bobby Jackson (Dan Williams), $22,797 to Melvin Hastings (Ed Henry), $21,493 to Corey Harbison (Mac Buttram), $21,493 to Connie Rowe (Bill Roberts), $31,758 to Tim Wadsworth (Richard Baughn), $25,778 to Ginger Fletcher (Kerry Rich), $36,364 to Isaac Whorton (Randy Price), and $15,895 to Brian Foley (Alan Harper).

On the Democratic side, AEA has contributed $130,000 to four candidates that will run against AFA endorsed candidates in the General Election. $25,000 to Rex Cheaham (Terri Collins), $30,000 to Daniel Boman (Kyle South), $50,000 to Terry Jones (Jim Patterson), $25,000 to Dylan Oliver (Mark Tuggle).

When you add all this up, AEA has poured $1.48 million into campaigns where they are supporting candidates that are running against AFA endorsed candidates.