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Daily News Digest – August 16, 2018

Good morning! Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, August 16, 2018.

1. Bentley talks in deposition. 

  • The other day I speculated that perhaps the reason for the recent Robert Bentley rehabilitation effort was that the Spencer Collier lawsuit was about to get going in earnest and the former governor could use some positive vibes to counter the inevitable stories reminding everyone of his downfall.
  • Today one of those stories hit.
  • In a legal deposition, Bentley talked about his relationship with Rebekah Mason and said it wasn’t sexual. Just “affectionate.”
  • One interesting line is how Bentley believes “special interests” drove him from office. Here’s the quote:

“I’m not going to name them, but there are special interests in Montgomery that never liked me, and they used much of this — they used Spencer, they used my family, they used a lot of people to get rid of me.”

  • Who is he talking about? And why wouldn’t he name them? If someone took me out like that I wouldn’t shut up about it.
  • Every governor makes enemies. But it seems to me the injuries that Dr. Bentley couldn’t recover from were self-inflicted.
  • Full story HERE.

2. Business Council changes governance, companies return. 

What Happened

Why it Matters

  • BCA is one of Alabama’s most influential political organizations. It pools resources from the state’s business community to support its endorsed candidates for office and lobby the Legislature for business-friendly policies.
  • While they succeeded externally with key election wins this year, BCA endured a difficult summer internally amid the departure of several major corporations, which threatened the group’s status going forward.
  • Those companies are now back within the fold and presumably paying the dues that fund the group’s efforts.
  • Some also now have influential roles: CEOs for Alabama Power, Regions, Blue Cross, Protective Life Insurance, and PowerSouth now sit on the BCA board’s executive committee.

What’s Next

  • They’re going to need a CEO.
  • It’s a plum job that pays a lot, but it also comes with a lot of pressure from trying to corral the sometimes divergent interests of a broad business community.
  • Former Congressman Jo Bonner has been mentioned a lot. So have West Alabama Chamber of Commerce President Jim Page and former Riley chief of staff Toby Roth.
  • I’d expect them to move quickly so as to have someone in place well before the legislative session begins in March.
  • Read my full story HERE. Also read Brian Lyman for the Montgomery Advertiser HERE.


A Message from Leverage Public Strategies

Blake Harris and his team at Leverage Public Strategies recently notched major wins in some of the most consequential primary races:

  • U.S. Rep. Martha Roby’s impressive 67% runoff win;
  • Bill Lee’s campaign from political newcomer to GOP nominee for Tennessee Governor; and
  • State Senate candidate Garlan Gudger, who was the only GOP challenger to defeat an incumbent Senator in Alabama’s primary.

Leverage is establishing itself as the “go-to” consulting firm for candidates wanting to get ahead in the highly-targeted analytics and online advertising game.

If you’re looking to take your campaign strategy to the next level, give Blake a shout: [email protected].


3. Roby wants to revamp federal spending.

  • U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby has made a lot of waves for how he has revamped and revived the federal appropriations process in the Senate.
  • Now U.S. Rep. Martha Roby wants to do the same thing in the House, and really for Congress in general.
  • She’s home working in the district during the House recess, and ADN’s Caroline Beck caught up with her in Millbrook at a Kiwanis Club meeting.
  • Here’s an excerpt:

“Four people are in a room deciding on how the budget should be spent and not one of you elected them,” Roby explained to her constituents. “And they are taking the finer points and negotiating them in a room without the input of the American people and that is clearly not the way it is supposed to work.”

Roby also said how she addressed the problems with using the omnibus bill to pass appropriations when she, along with other Republican lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee, met with President Trump this year.

Read the full story HERE.

4. Meet the Conways. 

  • You know that couple that disagrees politically?
  • It starts out cute and kind of endearing, but once they start arguing you worry you’re headed for Michael and Jan’s dinner party, amirite?
  • That’s what it is like reading about Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and her husband, George.
  • She works for the president as perhaps his biggest cheerleader, and he can’t stand him.
  • Here’s an excerpt from Ben Terris’ excellent story in the Washington Post:

“You gotta see this picture,” George, 54, says. “You should like this, it’s your boss.”

“He’s not just my boss,” Kellyanne, 51, says. “He’s our president.”

“Yeah,” George says, walking out of the room. “We’ll see how long that lasts.”

Here at the Conways’, it’s a house divided. She is Trump’s loyal adviser, the woman who carried him over the finish line to the White House. He is one of the president’s most notable conservative critics and wishes he had never introduced his wife to Trump in the first place.

  • Time for one of those “House Divided” car tags.
  • Go read the full story HERE.

5. News Briefs

Let’s talk Turkey

  • Did you know we are in a bit of a trade war with Turkey? We are and it is contributing to their currency crisis, kind of like with China.
  • Squeezing your adversary is good in trade disputes, but this is different. Turkey has been our ally in the rough neighborhood of the Middle East for some time. Sure, our alliance has been shaky at times, but we certainly don’t want it to fall off completely.
  • That’s why it’s a little unnerving that Qatar has propped them up financially.
  • This is going to be a big deal, so get smart on it by reading today’s Washington Post story. Also Kevin Williamson has an excellent piece in National Review that is worth your time.


  • A Kindergarten teacher in Calera has been arrested on multiple counts of possession of child pornography.
  • 40 counts. 40 counts of possession.
  • This was his second year teaching Kindergarten. There is no evidence any students were involved.
  • Read more from AP and watch the full story via WBRC-Birmingham.

“Dear Frances, Love Edward”

  • You’ll want to read this heartwarming story about Edward Clanton, an Alabama airman during the 1950s whose undelivered letters to his sweetheart were recently found and returned to his family.
  • I love stories like this and The Montgomery Advertiser’s Melissa Brown did a great job telling it.
  • Read it in full HERE.

BONUS: Skip Tucker

  • Our friend, Skip Tucker is back this week.
  • He writes about a boyhood memory of watching a crew hammer railroad spikes.
  • A giant he swears was John Henry himself was fascinating for Skip to watch, and a pleasure to read about. Here’s an excerpt:

The art of the thing, for art it was, was that the shaker, gloveless for God’s sake, held the spike in place. The steeldriver, gloveless as well, bent to his waist and swung the hammer left from his body, torqued it around and over his immense back and brought it down over the top of his head.

PING!, and the spike was set and the shaker pulled back his hand. They didn’t sing. They worked.

Ping! Ping! Ping! Four strikes, maybe, incredible muscles flashing in the sun, and the spike was embedded in the tie.

  • Read Skip’s full column HERE.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bentley discusses relationship, investigation in deposition. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Caroline Beck: Roby wants to avoid shutdown, reform spending process. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – BCA changes governance; major companies return. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Skip Tucker: Wherein he watches John Henry drive steel. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Calera Kindergarten teacher arrested on 40 counts of child pornography. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Republicans blast Peal Jam poster of burning White House. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Inside a Super PAC that spends money on everything but winning. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump pulls Brennan’s clearance, links move to Russia probe.  

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Dear Frances, Love Edward: Alabama airman’s forgotten letters find family.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Chambers Sheriff candidate arrested in Autauga.

DOTHAN EAGLE – State Dems’ insider turmoil.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Koch Foods announces $80M expansion at Gadsden plant.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – The media, including some in Alabama, continue endorsing aggressive action by liberals that will lead to violence

DECATUR DAILY – Morgan sheriff refuses public records request on inmate-food money.

GADSDEN TIMES – Koch expansion something to celebrate.

ANNISTON STAR – Rogers: Health care repeal could come after election.

ANNISTON STAR – Administration’s Medicaid rule change seeks to end union dues diversion.

ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star:  The core principles of journalism.

AL.COM – Alabama adds new class of officers for short-staffed prisons.

AL.COM – New I-59/20 ramps in Birmingham to open this month.

AL.COM – Regions, Alabama Power back in Business Council of Alabama.

AL.COM – Murder-suicides have claimed dozens of lives in Alabama this year.

AL.COM – State launches new investigation into ‘Beach House Sheriff’ following sexual allegations.

AL.COM – Pro-life group urges Doug Jones to support Kavanaugh.

AL.COM – NASA boss Bridenstine ‘100 percent’ behind SLS and Alabama center.

AL.COM – What Diamondback’s acquisition of Energen means.

AL.COM – Despite ‘distraction,’ Bellefonte project pushes forward.

AL.COM – Contributor Susan Spann:  Don’t ban straws, disabled Alabamian says.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump’s lawyers prepare to fight subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court.

WASHINGTON POST – Ryan Zinke blames ‘environmental terrorist groups’ for severity of California wildfires.

WASHINGTON POST – Real wages are down over the year — but Republican satisfaction is spiking.

WASHINGTON POST – Sumter County, Ala., just got its first integrated school. Yes, in 2018.

NEW YORK TIMES – The New York Times:  A Free Press Needs You

NEW YORK TIMES – Bleak New Estimates in Drug Epidemic: A Record 72,000 Overdose Deaths in 2017.

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