Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

Inside Alabama Politics – Thursday, January 21

We all thought 2020 was a doozy, but the first three weeks of 2021 have given the worst year ever a run for its money. One silver lining for political junkies is that there is more going on politically than anytime in recent memory. 

That’s what we cover here at Inside Alabama Politics, and we’re honored to have you along for the ride. 

A new administration, a new approach for Alabama

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

Love him or hate him, it is hard to dispute that President Donald Trump’s presidency was good to Alabama in terms of what our state received from the federal government. Trump’s fondness for Alabama was cemented during those initial MAGA rallies in Mobile and Madison, and the state would go on to play an outsized role in his administration, from aides in his inner circle to congressmen with close relationships and even an attorney general there for a while. Having an open door to the Oval Office brought the state billions in federal contracts, significant policy help from agencies and, most recently, the next home of the U.S. Space Command. Congress appropriates the funds, but with the current absence of specific earmarks in appropriations bills, it helps to have friends in the Executive Branch when it comes to spending the money (more on that later). All that changed on Wednesday at noon as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Much of the relatively high clout Alabama enjoyed inside the White House faded away with the incoming administration. It was further eroded at 5 p.m. when the two new Georgia senators were sworn in and Republicans officially became the minority in the Senate. That means Sen. Richard Shelby will no longer chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, but will serve as vice chairman, or highest ranking Republican. That’s not to say the Biden administration will go out of its way to punish or ostracize Alabama, nor that the delegation will suddenly lose all influence. It will just require taking a different approach and punching above its weight. Even as vice chairman, Shelby can still exert significant leverage on Capitol Hill. Close observers will note that throughout his time as chairman these past three years, Shelby has treated incoming Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont very well. Early on, Shelby and Leahy formed a partnership to fix the broken appropriations process and get bills out of committee and to the floor. In an era of extreme partisan bickering, these two men and their staffs worked in concert. Men who have been around the Senate as long as Leahy has (47 years) remember favors, so the cooperation will likely continue as he takes the helm of Senate Appropriations.

On the House side, Congressman Mike Rogers’ rise to Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee is a huge step that can have a big impact for the state. HASC tends to be one of the most bipartisan committees in Congress, where the majority and minority generally work well together, especially when it comes to passing the National Defense Authorization Act. The party out of power tends to pick up seats in midterm elections, and with just ten seats to make up the difference, Republicans are likely to reclaim the House majority in 2022. That would mean Rogers could spend the next four years as chairman of Armed Services. And don’t forget that Mobile native and Auburn University board member Gen. Lloyd Austin will likely be confirmed next week as Secretary of Defense. Having one Alabamian chairing the committee that oversees the military and another that runs the Pentagon would bode well for our state and its significant military bases and programs.

It may not be quite at the level of the Obama years, but don’t discount the large influence of Congresswoman Terri Sewell will have within the Biden administration. In a heated primary that could have gone either way, Sewell was Team Biden early on and that loyalty matters. She also has a close personal relationship with Susan Rice, who is Biden’s top domestic policy adviser. Sewell and Rice attended Oxford University together and were friends, with Sewell even casting Rice in one of her plays. From 2011 to 2016, lots of folks from Alabama would lean hard on Sewell for help getting through to the Obama White House or a federal agency, and that old game is likely to pick back up this year. The difference these days is that Sewell is a much more seasoned lawmaker, a key player in the House majority, and a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. There has been talk that she might not run again in 2022, but perhaps the rekindling of her influence in a Democratic administration will convince Sewell to stay. In any case, Alabama’s approach to pulling the levers of government in its favor will be much different over the next four years than it has been the last four.



House and Senate committee assignments are not yet finalized, but Inside Alabama Politics has some insight as to how they will shake out. Aside from Rogers, the biggest development appears to be Congressman Gary Palmer gaining a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the most powerful panels in Congress. It manages a wide range of policy areas, including health care, medical research, energy, communications and the internet. It also oversees 16 federal agencies. It’s a major get for Palmer and his Birmingham district, where the health care and energy industries are key to the economy.

Congressman Robert Aderholt will remain on the House Appropriations Committee, where he has built seniority for 25 years. The trick to Appropriations is getting on key subcommittees. Last Congress, Aderholt was on Defense; Commerce, Justice and Science; and Agriculture and Rural Development. For his North Alabama district, it’s hard to think of more appropriate and beneficial committees, so he’s likely to stay put. He’ll actually be Ranking Member on CJS, putting him in line to be chairman should Republicans win the majority. That subcommittee controls the budgets of NASA and the Department of Justice (FBI), both of which have a huge presence in North Alabama.

Congressman Mo Brooks has served on House Armed Services and Science, Space & Technology his entire time in Washington, and it is doubtful that will change in the 117th Congress.

Alabama’s two newest members, Congressmen Jerry Carl and Barry Moore have both been lobbying to get on House Armed Services and Agriculture, two committees their predecessors also started out on. Moore has also discussed an interest in the Veterans Affairs Committee given his service in the National Guard, which would be a strong alternative if HASC doesn’t work out.

UPDATE: Carl and Moore learned the first of their assignments on Monday, Jan. 25. Carl will serve on House Armed Services, a big get, and Natural Resources, a nice fit for the environmentally diverse 1st District. Moore won a seat on the House Agriculture Committee, which is important to the farming-heavy 2nd District.

The House will likely have the final word on committees on next week. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are said to be still haggling over the apportionment of Republicans and Democrats on committees, and three vacancies remain.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are negotiating a pact that would see even representation on committees by party reflecting the 50-50 split in the chamber. McConnell is said to be attempting to get assurance that Democrats won’t eliminate the filibuster. If an agreement is reached, committee assignments will follow in short order. Sen. Tommy Tuberville wants on Armed Services and Agriculture, but has also discussed Veterans Affairs as a possibility.  



Shelby’s Plans

The Alabama political world continues to anticipate when Alabama’s senior senator will announce his plans for the future. Ever since Sen. Richard Shelby told Politico that he would soon make an announcement on his intentions, speculation has run wild. It got worse on Jan. 5 when it became apparent that Republicans would no longer hold the majority in the Senate and Shelby would no longer hold the Appropriations gavel. The question went from whether or not Shelby would run again in 2022 to whether he might resign and have Gov. Kay Ivey appoint a temporary replacement. The definitive word to Inside Alabama Politics is that, no, Richard Shelby is not resigning his Senate seat early. While there is still an open question as to his candidacy in 2022, sources close to the situation say he will not resign to leave early. For one thing, it would go against his nature to spend 35 years building seniority in the Senate just to resign and walk away two years early. Also, as was mentioned previously, he has a strong relationship with incoming Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy and will almost certainly continue to be able to deliver on some of his long-term projects, including the Port of Mobile, medical research in Birmingham and the FBI’s build up in Huntsville. Another factor to consider: many believe Congress may finally end the ban on earmarks that has been in place for ten years. Earmarks are provisions put into appropriations bills that specifically direct federal spending to individual projects. Former Speaker John Boehner banned them by rule in 2011 because the system had been abused over the years. (Ever heard of the Bridge to Nowhere?) But there is a growing movement to bring them back in a more responsible and accountable way. Should that happen, Shelby wouldn’t want to miss out on two years of earmark-friendly spending bills.

Shelby is likely to retire in two years rather than run again, but don’t expect him to go anywhere or slow down before then. 



Space Command news triggers haunting memories

The state got big news last week as the Department of Defense announced the future home of the U.S. Space Command would be in Huntsville. Alabama Daily News broke the story on Thursday, which came with all the superlative and celebratory reactions from Alabama political leaders. They are right to celebrate. It is a very big deal. As many as 1,600 people are expected to work at the Space Command headquarters with a potential economic impact of $450 million. When you consider that the FBI is also building what amounts to a second headquarters in Huntsville, the area’s already strong role as a federal work hub will grow even more. There was talk of politics being injected into the decision, particularly from Colorado officials who stand to miss out. As has been mentioned, Trump loves Alabama and well-placed sources tell IAP that the former president wanted to get the decision out the door before Inauguration Day, partly as a way to thank vocal allies in Mo Brooks and Tommy Tuberville. Countering that narrative is the Air Force saying that Huntsville simply ranked higher on the evaluation criteria.

If politics were at play, it could be trouble down the road. To those who were around Alabama politics in the late 2000s, this announcement may have triggered a familiar and unhappy memory. In 2008, a joint venture between EADS and Northrop Grumman competed for and won a $40 billion contract to build the next generation of Air Force refueling tankers in Mobile. It sent shockwaves across the global aviation industry because the other competitor, Boeing, doesn’t usually lose big bids like that. And in the end, they wouldn’t. After a formal protest, the Air Force reviewed its decision and eventually reversed it, taking the contract away from EADS and Mobile and giving it to Boeing and Seattle. It’s a loss that still stings for those who went through it, and it was hard to ignore the political circumstances at play. The original contract was awarded while George W. Bush was still president. The reversal came under Barack Obama, and it also happened that the late Sen. John McCain was Boeing’s biggest critic in the Senate.

It should be noted that Boeing is a generational Alabama corporate citizen, employing more than 3,000 people at its Redstone Arsenal campus. And that EADS, better known as Airbus, ended up locating a private jet building facility in Mobile that is growing every year. All’s well that ends well 

We would hope politics doesn’t enter into important military basing decisions, but we also aren’t naive. Who’s to say the same thing would happen in this situation, but if the Biden Pentagon starts talking about a “review” of the decision, it’s time to get nervous. It probably won’t help that some of Alabama’s leaders have been among the most outspoken nationwide about their belief that Trump really won the election. This would of course include Brooks, who’s district is slated to house the Space Command.  


Planning for the legislative session

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

Believe it or not, the 2021 Regular Session is only 12 days away. Right about now is when Montgomery is usually abuzz with budget hearings, legislative briefings, press conferences to announce agendas, and just general excitement about the start of the annual session. Not this year. With COVID-19 still a serious concern in Alabama, the State House is eerily quiet. While staff and lawmakers are working hard to make their final preparations, there isn’t that familiar buzz filling the hallways. That oddness will continue even as lawmakers arrive on Feb. 2. The socially-distanced session will look and feel much different than previous years. In the House, only members, staff and some press will be allowed on the 5th and 6th floors. The Senate has enough room to offer some first-come-first-serve seats to the public in the gallery, but it won’t be much when taking into account spreading seats apart. Lobbyists and members of the public wishing to see lawmakers must make an appointment. That will be much easier in the Senate, where they have more staff help for individual members. Lobbyists can sit and watch the proceedings and presumably take their appointments in the spacious Room 200 on the 2nd floor.

This is going to be interesting to watch and not a lot of fun for anyone involved. While some tend to attach a negative connotation to lobbyists, they actually play an essential role at the State House during session. Beyond simply advocating for their various organizations, lobbyists also write and edit a good deal of legislation at the request of lawmakers. While Othni Lathram and his team at Legislative Services are consummate professionals, our Legislature doesn’t have enough legal staff to satisfy the bill writing needs of all members in real time. Many times lobbyists fill that gap, and it all happens by physically running up and down the stairs between the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th floors. It will be interesting to see how that process is impacted by distancing requirements.

Up until now, we have only been able to speculate about the initial schedule of the session. According to multiple sources within the State House, the House and Senate will meet for two weeks, with six legislative days, and then adjourn for at least a week. This is intended to allow the Legislature to pass essential bills and then retreat to assess the virus situation among members and staff. What are the essential bills? The two economic development statutes (Alabama Jobs Act and Growing Alabama Tax Credit) that are only being held up by executive order at the moment, a bill to ensure Alabamians aren’t taxed for COVID relief funds, liability protection for Alabama businesses and nonprofits, and legislation reprograming federal CARES Act funds.

Some have pointed out to IAP that this plan has its potential pitfalls. Gathering 140 lawmakers in Montgomery and then sending them all back out to every county in the state could be problematic transmission wise. For instance, even if lawmakers don’t contract the virus in Montgomery, how can anyone be sure they won’t then catch it back home during a one or two week break? In a best case scenario, with no or few infections, lawmakers could return to Montgomery by mid February and begin taking up more and more bills, perhaps even beginning the budget process in the same two weeks on, one week off schedule. However, if cases reach a level that makes members uncomfortable, the session could be delayed for several weeks or even months until more vaccine is readily available. Given the limited slate of initial bills, the first two weeks should be relatively drama free. The essential legislation has little if any opposition. What could complicate and prolong things is if individual members or even caucuses demand other bills be brought up as well. Remember that this will be the first time in eight months lawmakers will have had the chance to speak at the podium. A lot has happened in those eight months and some may want to do some grandstanding.

Also, while it should be worked out between now and session, word to IAP is that there is a difference of philosophy developing between the Legislature and the Department of Commerce over the economic incentives legislation. Some want a more thorough evaluation and rewrite of the law. If disagreement continues, they could just reauthorize the statutes and come back to it later in the year. Another item potentially under consideration is placing a provision in the statutes allowing the governor to extend the incentives past their expiration date in a state of emergency. Sources tell IAP such a provision would have prevented a lot of headaches if it existed prior to last year.  

It appears that the musical chairs of Senate chairmanships has come to a stop. The departure of Cam Ward to Pardons and Paroles opened up the Judiciary Committee chairmanship, which will be filled this year by Sen. Tom Whatley of Auburn. That opens up the chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee, which will be filled by Sen. Larry Stutts of Tuscumbia. Sen. Clay Scofield’s ascent to Majority Leader leaves his old Confirmations Committee in need of a chairman. That job will go to Sen. Clyde Chambliss of Prattville, who will maintain his role as Republican Floor Leader. Confirmations is sometimes thought of as a dull committee with a lot of work, but it also affords the chairman the opportunity to meet influential people from all over state and work closely with the governor’s office. Having co-chaired the Sunset Committee these last few years, Chambliss no doubt knows the work of keeping the place running without necessarily getting all the credit. 
If there was an odd man out in this game of musical chairs it was Sen. Steve Livingston of Scottsboro. Sources tell IAP that he made a play for Confirmations chair, but lost out in part due to being the fly in the ointment during the Caucus election of incoming Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed, as previously reported



State of the State changes 

Sad news for everyone who enjoyed getting dressed up and going to Alabama’s nerd prom, better known as the governor’s State of the State Address: the governor’s speech will be virtual this year. There will be no joint session of the Legislature to serve as the venue for the address, meaning all the pomp and circumstance of the annual event will go by the wayside this year. Sources tell IAP that the governor will still give a live televised address, but it won’t be to a gathering of lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and the Cabinet, to say nothing of the rest of us who just show up to be seen. The change is predictable. How can the Legislature justify gathering its members into the Old House Chamber of the Capitol under these conditions? And what’s the point in speaking to a mostly empty room? In many ways, a televised speech could be a good thing. Without all the applause lines, Gov. Ivey could get more said. Plus, if she wants, she’ll have the opportunity to address the state at large rather than just the Legislature. 


Pardons and Paroles back downtown?

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

About a year after its move to east Montgomery, the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles could be heading back to downtown Montgomery, the agency’s new director told Alabama Daily News.

“I will be looking for what is most cost efficient but also what’s the best way that allows us to interact with other governing agencies who we should be partnering with, (Alabama Department of Corrections, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency) and what is the best way to help those we serve,” Cam Ward said in a soon-to-be-released “In the Weeds” podcast.

The bureau announced in the fall of 2019 its move from the Retirement Systems of Alabama-owned building on Ripley Street in downtown Montgomery that also houses the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Department of Corrections offices. Colonial built the 209,000-square foot building in 2006. Three years later, the bank failed. The property is now owned by an Arkansas-based company.

Former bureau director Charlie Graddick said he made the move, which was completed last year, as a way to bring together a “disjointed” work environment and it would be saving the bureau money but Ward said he is not sure if it has saved them money. So far this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1,  the agency has paid a little more than $416,000 in rent at the Capital Commerce Center, according to state records. It was paying a little over $1 million a year for the RSA space downtown.  

RSA confirmed that it is negotiating a lease to get the bureau back into the RSA Criminal Justice Center.

Ward said the current lease will be up in 2023 and he is not sure if he would move locations before then. It will depend on what is legally possible with the lease.

Ward also said the three-member parole board has some security concerns in the new building and thinks a larger parole hearing room would be better for all parties involved.

“Security wise, I can tell you that it makes them very worried to be there, but that by itself doesn’t mean you’re going to move but you have to take it into consideration because they are a very important part of this bureau,” Ward said.  


High unemployment rate will affect Alabama businesses for a while

By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News

Those hoping for a V-shaped economic recovery from the coronavirus may want to temper their expectations as businesses will feel its effects for years because months of high unemployment rates will cause the state’s unemployment insurance tax to increase instead of decreasing as previously expected.

The Alabama Department of Labor recently reported the official count for initial unemployment claims filed during the week ending on Jan. 9. During that time, 14,084 initial claims were filed either online or by telephone. Of those claims, 11,124 are estimated to be COVID-19 related. Weekly unemployment claims have seen a sharp increase since the week ending on March 21, 2020, when the coronavirus began to ravage the economy. The week ending March 14, 2020 saw a total of 1,824 claims. That number shot up to 106,739 for the week ending April 4, 2020 and stayed high for weeks. The increase was significant enough to cause the unemployment rate from March 2020’s rate of 3% to shoot up to 12.9% the following month. Unfortunately, the state’s unemployment rate has stayed elevated from pre-pandemic levels for months. While December 2020’s unemployment rate is still waiting to be announced as of this writing, November 2020’s rate of 4.4%, was the lowest of the pandemic. There’s no way to tell if that number will continue to decrease however as the state is still receiving thousands of weekly claims and the coronavirus continues to ravage the nation.

According to ADOL Communications Director Tara Hutchison, numerous things can cause the unemployment rate to increase but the coronavirus is the contributing factor to the state’s current business climate. However, it could be worse.

“Thanks to the two deposits allocated from the CARES Act, ADOL was able to somewhat soften the blow and keep the UI tax rate from what it would normally be,” Hutchison said. “After the two transfers from the CARES Act funds, we expect the [tax rate] so increase to be 92%. This is significantly lower than the 500% increase employers would’ve faced had we not had any relief.”

According to ADOL, those newly liable under the Alabama UI law pay a tax rate of 2.70% on the first $8,000 of wages for each employee. This rate can decrease over time based on experience. The department says an employer that has operated for a sufficient period of time to qualify for experience rating earns a tax rate based upon the employer’s own experience, such as benefit charges and taxable payroll, modified by statewide experience (schedule and shared cost). Including the 0.06% Employment Security Enhancement Assessment, an employer’s rate can vary from 0.20% to 6.80% depending on one of four rate schedules in effect, plus any applicable shared cost.

“If the employer doesn’t lay anyone off it technically won’t affect their experience rating, but it can impact shared costs, which all employers absorb,” Hutchison said.

She also said that while the state’s rate schedule hasn’t changed from before the pandemic (Schedule D), the rise of the unemployment rate because of Covid will keep the schedule from dropping down to Schedule C. The state’s UI tax law applies to a vast majority of employers who become subject to it if they meet any of the following conditions:

Non-farm business employers:

  • When the employer has had in employment one or more workers on some day in 20 or more different weeks, whether or not consecutive, during the current or preceding calendar year.
  • Has paid wages of $1,500 or more in any calendar quarter during the current or preceding calendar year.

Household domestic employers:

  • Domestic employers become subject when the employer pays domestic workers in a private household, college club, fraternity or sorority house a total of $1,000 or more in cash wages in any calendar quarter during the current or preceding calendar year.

Agricultural employers:

  • When the employer has had in employment 10 or more agricultural workers in 20 or more different weeks during the current or preceding calendar year; OR
  • Has paid a total of $20,000 in wages to agricultural workers during any calendar quarter of the current or preceding calendar year.

While a large majority of businesses pay into the state’s unemployment insurance fund, not all industries are subject to Alabama’s UC tax. According to ADOL, governmental agencies and certain nonprofit organizations are exempt. Not everyone who is unemployed receives unemployment compensation. To be eligible for benefits, one must have lost their job through no fault of their own, such as an employer closing its business. Meanwhile, one is considered “unemployed” if they have no job but are ready and willing to be hired. The two things do share one common thing though; in both instances, one must be actively searching for work to be counted. Losing one’s job can be an incredibly stressful and trying life event. In certain instances, it’s important a lifeline exist so that those affected aren’t plunged into despair. However, the virus has affected industries to the point where a comeback will have to be a concerted effort that spans months.  


ALGOP resolution opposing Cheney to be considered next month

By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News

Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) sharply criticized President Donald Trump in the wake of the Capitol riot earlier this month, which has some questioning her standing in the GOP. Former Alabama state representative and Trump campaign surrogate Perry O. Hooper, Jr. will introduce a resolution asking Cheney to step down from party leadership for consideration during the Alabama Republican Party’s winter meeting on Feb. 27.

“Based on her early support of Nancy Pelosi’s one day farce of an Impeachment proceeding, Liz Cheney no longer deserves to be the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives,” Hooper said in a statement on Jan. 8. “Fellow Alabama State Executive Committee Member Ann Bennett and I are sponsoring a Resolution for the Alabama Republican Executive Committee to demand her immediate removal from the Chairmanship of the GOP Conference. Cheney should have used her leadership position to call for committee hearings and a thorough investigations of the protests at the Capital on January 6th. Instead, her early support for the impeachment has been used as justification by Nancy Pelosi for not holding hearings and an investigation before bringing the Impeachment proceedings to the floor for a vote. She has betrayed the Republican Party and the 72 million voters who voted for the re-election of President Trump. She has shown her true colors. She is not a leader of Republican values but a rhinosympathizer of the democrat’s radial agenda.”

However, not all share Hooper’s point of view. One executive committee member who asked not to be named tells Inside Alabama Politics they plan to challenge the resolution, saying Alabama Republicans shouldn’t have any say on what Cheney or Wyoming voters do. 

“I will be voting no on this resolution, because as a member of the State Executive committee, I believe our time would be better spent tending to our own business and stop rehashing this mythology of an alternative reality where Donald Trump is still president and anyone who dare speak with a rationale thought is considered a dissident,” the person said.

Fissures within the Republican Party are starting to show themselves in the wake of November’s presidential election and the subsequent fallout from Trump encouraging supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6, resulting in five deaths and legislators being scurried away to safety instead of certifying the results of the presidential election. Multiple media outlets have speculated about Trump starting his own political party since losing the election. The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 19 that Trump has discussed with associates splintering off his supporters from the Republican Party to start his own, currently dubbed the “Patriot Party.” Trump has decried the election results since the race was called with multiple unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud and views the Party’s tepid response to those claims as insufficient. Meanwhile, Cheney and nine other GOP Congressmen voted to impeach Trump in the wake of the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6. Other prominent Senate Republicans such as Mitch McConnell and Ben Sasse have strongly criticized Trump since the storming of the Capitol but have given no indication as to how they’ll vote when the Senate takes up the impeachment later this week. It appears that despite Trump’s popularity in the state, even the ALGOP faces divisions. The resolution must go through the ALGOP’s resolutions committee, which will recommend to the passage or not to the greater Executive Committee, which could potentially vote on the matter in party’s meeting in late February.  

Moving up and moving out at BCA

By now most have heard the news that Molly Cagle has left the Business Council of Alabama to become Senior Director of Government and Public Affairs at Birmingham-based Shipt. Molly was BCA’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Director of ProgressPAC for the last two years. That’s a job few would leave except for a uniquely advantageous opportunity, which is what the Shipt gig appears to be. The company is growing and expanding its presence in the public arena, both on a federal level and state by state. Cagle is an experienced political professional, having previously worked for Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Manufacture Alabama before her time at BCA. 
As with all high profile moves, other dominoes are falling alongside. BCA is promoting three people within the organization in a reshuffling of sorts. Susan Carothers has been named Vice President of Investor Relations. She has long managed big events and fundraising for BCA, but had been working part time of late. This new position will see her back full time as a member of senior management as well as overseeing communications effort, which Cagle previously did. 
Drew Harrell has been named Vice President of Governmental Affairs. Harrell most recently had run the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure, which BCA and other groups started to champion the Rebuild Alabama gas tax plan. That gave him valuable experience working with a wide range of the state’s most important leaders and lobbyists. 
Helena Duncan has been named Senior Vice President of Operations and Investor Relations. Since joining BCA a year ago, Duncan has been working as the Director of Strategic Operations and Growth. She previously spent more than 30 years working in the financial industry, primarily at the executive management level. In her new role as senior vice president of operations and investor relations, Duncan will continue to oversee membership, finance and human resources, but will also assume leadership of investor relations, communications, marketing and events.

More Potpourri 

Chris Williams is leaving the Associated General Contractors after more than 30 years as director of governmental affairs and Montgomery/Dothan section manager. Williams is a familiar face to anyone who has been involved in Alabama politics the last three decades and his presence will be missed. Elizabeth Moody, who Williams calls his “right arm” will be taking over his day-to-day operations. 
Leigha Cauthen is the new director of government relations for Jacksonville State University. She had worked for several years at the Agribusiness Council. Cauthen is well known not just in Montgomery circles, but on Capitol Hill where she visits with delegation members regularly. That experience will serve her well at Jacksonville State as the school expands its footprint. 
Sarah Griffin is the new member of the government affairs team at the Alabama State Department of Education. She had been working the last several years in House Speaker Mac McCutcheon’s office where she handled member relations. People forget that state agencies need lobbyists, too, and ALSDE could no doubt benefit from someone with so many close relationships with lawmakers. 


Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia