[lg policy] Alabama: Alfa-backed group: Get segregation language out

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 1 15:29:45 UTC 2012

Alfa-backed group: Get segregation language out
PHILLIP RAWLS, Associated Press
Published 12:41 p.m., Wednesday, October 31, 2012


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A conservative, pro-business foundation is
airing radio ads to tell Alabama voters that updating the state
constitution and removing its decades-old racist language could help
the state's economic recovery. The Alabama Public Policy Foundation,
which was formed in 2003 to fight then-Gov. Bob Riley's tax plan, is
running the radio ads on stations in some of Alabama's largest cities.
The ads say Amendments 4, 9 and 10 would be good "for jobs in

The foundation has strong ties to the Alabama Farmers Federation and
its sister organization, Alfa insurance. Also on the board are state
leaders of Eagle Forum and the National Federation of Independent
Business, as well as a former Alabama leader of the Christian
Coalition. As in 2003, the foundation has carefully worded its ads not
to mention Election Day Nov. 6 and not to specifically say vote "yes."
That prevents it from having to disclose its campaign contributors.

Amendment 4 removes no-longer-enforceable language in the constitution
providing for segregated schools and the payment of poll taxes to

The poll tax language dates back to 1901 and the schools section to 1956.

Amendments 9 and 10 update the parts of the constitution dealing with
corporations and banking to reflect modern business practices.

The foundation's radio ads use the voice of a lobbyist for Alfa and
the Farmers Federation and use the same address as the Farmers
Federation. The foundation's board includes Jerry Newby, president of
Alfa and the Farmers Federation.

With an unusually long list of 11 proposed constitutional amendments
on the ballot, foundation secretary Brian Hardin said the nonprofit
group is trying to make sure voters take the time to read and
understand the amendments rather than skipping them.

"We hope people will see the advantage of moving forward," said
Hardin, assistant director of government and agricultural programs for
the Alabama Farmers Federation and a lobbyist for Alfa.

Amendments 9 and 10 are the work of a state commission that has been
helping the Legislature update the constitution one section at a time.
Hardin said he hasn't heard of anyone else running ads for or against
those two constitutional amendments.

Hardin said the foundation supports updating Alabama's constitution
one topic at a time, rather than writing a new constitution with a
constitutional convention, because that allows voters to focus on each

Amendment 4 has drawn opposition from the Alabama Education
Association, black political groups and some top Democrats because it
reaffirms language in the constitution, also dating to 1956, that says
there is no right to an education at public expense in Alabama.

Hardin said the foundation likes Amendment 4 because it removes
outdated racist language without changing current education policy.

The Alabama Public Policy Foundation was formed in 2003 to help defeat
Riley's $1.2 billion tax plan. In that campaign, the foundation worded
its ads to avoid mentioning the date of the statewide vote on the tax
plan. The ads criticized the plan without urging a "no" vote. That
allowed the foundation to raise money without disclosing its donors
because it did not qualify as a political action committee.

Janice McDonald, director of the elections division in the secretary
of state's office, said the foundation would not have to report
because they are informational and don't ask for a yes or no vote.

The Alabama Education Association, the state teachers' organization,
is running TV ads that mention the Nov. 6 election and encourage
people to vote against Amendment 4. AEA Executive Secretary Henry
Mabry said Wednesday the organization's name is clear on the ads and
it will report its expenditures to the secretary of state.

"We have been real up front about this," he said.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Alfa-backed-group-Get-segregation-language-out-3997395.php#ixzz2Az99n88N

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