Daily News Digest – May 16, 2018

Daily News Digest – May 16, 2018

Good morning! Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, May 16.

1. So that’s what Scott Dawson was doing. 

Alright, get comfortable. There’s a lot here.

Swing and a miss?

  • I was pretty underwhelmed with Birmingham minister and candidate for governor Scott Dawson’s media tour yesterday.
  • In case you missed it, Dawson highlighted a State of Alabama grant to an LGBT organization made under Gov. Kay Ivey’s watch. He said the grant “betrayed Alabama values.” That story HERE.
  • It turns out the grant was pass-thru federal dollars and the feds pretty much require us to have some organization assigned to LGBT anti-bullying and suicide efforts. The group is now defunct and the state is auditing the grants.
  • So, swing and a miss for Dawson. Or so I thought.

The L word

  • Even if the stunt didn’t pan out in the press, it did elicit a somewhat predictable response from Ivey saying “I certainly don’t agree with the agenda or values of that organization.”
  • That was apparently enough to lead retiring State Rep. and current LBGTQ activist Patricia Todd to audaciously spread rumors about Ivey’s private life on social media.
  • Todd is lesbian and has threatened to “out” other public officials she thinks are gay. That’s a pretty big no-no in the gay community, but some think it’s okay if the targeted politician doesn’t embrace the LBGT agenda.
  • Of course, Ivey says she isn’t gay. Categorically and forcibly. Her campaign called it “a disgusting lie pushed by a paid liberal political hack,” referring to Todd.
  • Hmm. If it’s frowned upon to “out” people who are gay, how bad is it to mistakenly “out” someone who isn’t and use sexual orientation as a political weapon?

Sorry

  • Look, I’m the first to remind people that politics ain’t beanbag. But this is plain sorry.
  • Spreading unsubstantiated rumors about someone’s sexuality is out of bounds. It was wrong when it happened in the Attorney General’s race several weeks back and it’s wrong now.
  • And many in the media seemed all too eager to run with it once Patricia Todd made it a story. I get it. It’s news and I need the clicks, too. But let’s not peddle this on one hand and preach about gutter politics on the other.
  • Was Scott Dawson really this clever? If this was a “Friends” episode, would it be titled “The one where the evangelist teams up with a gay rights activist to spread gay rumors about the governor”?
  • Dawson’s camp says no. However, when you’re repeatedly saying “I don’t want to fuel rumors,” how long until that’s exactly what you’re doing?

What’s next

  • Interestingly, this episode could backfire for both Dawson and Todd. Dawson had been building appeal as a refreshing truth-teller in the race. It’s hard to look at him the same now. Todd’s new LGBT rights employers in Florida can’t be too thrilled about her committing a big gay community no-no.
  • Either way, I doubt it amounts to much for Ivey. Many Alabama voters – including many conservatives – will see her as the victim here and they will be right.

Read more

2. Farm Bill up this week. 

  • The U.S. House of Representatives is taking up a new Farm Bill this week.
  • The Farm Bill is legislation enacted every five years or so to update / reauthorize the nation’s agriculture policies and funding mechanisms. It’s also how food stamps are authorized.
  • It’s a big, complicated bill with a lot of competing interests. So big, in fact, that the House will consider two separate rules for how to proceed: one for general debate and another for how to consider the more than 100 amendments that have been submitted so far.
  • There are a several amendments affecting Alabama that our lawmakers and Ag industry types will be watching closely, including several aimed to strip funding from the crop insurance program.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture went more from a direct farm payment system to further reliance on crop insurance under the last Farm Bill, which was a pretty fundamental shift. Now some want to cut that safety net away even further.
  • There will also be big fights over food stamp eligibility and the GOP proposal to require stricter welfare work standards.
  • Agriculture is Alabama’s largest industry and is heavily affected by federal farm policy.
  • The Dallas Morning News has an editorial that lays out some of the divisions pretty well. Read that HERE.
  • The Freedom Caucus is trying to use its leverage on the Farm Bill to bring a conservative immigration bill to the floor. That’s in Roll Call today.

3. Personnel update. 

There has been lots of moving & shaking going on among Alabama politicos. Here’s an update.

Tracey Meyer out at Dept. of Education

  • On his first day on the job, State Superintendent Eric Mackey relieved Dept. of Education government affairs staffer Tracey Meyer of her duties. Officially, the position was eliminated.
  • It came as a saddening shock to Meyer, who posted on Facebook about it. Her husband Michael Meyer was recently moved from the Dept. of Education to the Dept. of Human Resources.
  • Mackey and the Department had no official statement about the shakeup. Some have speculated that Meyer’s friendship with Mackey’s primary challenger for the job – Craig Pouncey – is the reason. The two worked together in various roles within the Department for 12 years and have remained friends. The Department is known for dramatic internal politics, and Mackey believes he needs to surround himself with loyal lieutenants, folks have told me.
  • That’s probably true, but it’s not easy to lose your job like that. And many in the education community are trying to make heads or tails of this one.

Entrekin leaving Speaker’s Office 

  • Although House Speaker Mac McCutcheon’s office hasn’t confirmed it, I’m told Jimmy Entrekin will soon leave his post as Chief of Staff.
  • His exit has been long rumored but never reported until now. Sources say Entrekin plans to move into the position of General Counsel for the Legislative Services Agency. There’s no question the very busy Othni Lathram can use a lawyer with Jim’s legislative experience.
  • Word is the Speaker has his sights set on retiring Rep. Mark Tuggle to replace Entrekin as Chief of Staff.

Andy Newton comes home to Shelby / Approps

  • Longtime Alabama Delegation staffer Andy Newton has returned to Capitol Hill and taken over as Staff Director for the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Subcommittee. Staff Director = chief of staff for committees.
  • Over the years, Andy has worked in the personal offices of both Sen. Jeff Sessions and Sen. Richard Shelby, and later went to the appropriations side under Shelby.
  • Most recently he had been working in the Treasury Department as the lead liaison to the Appropriations Committee.

Palmer’s press shop

  • Cate Cullen, who has worked as Congressman Gary Palmer’s Communications Director for the last few years, has left to take a job in the cruise industry. Don’t all hit her up at once for cruise discounts.
  • Elizabeth Hance has taken the reins of the Palmer Press Shop.

Ryan Adams back to the private sector

  • Ryan Adams has left his position at the State Personnel Department to go work for Bob Riley & Associates governmental affairs firm.
  • He’ll be that firm’s primary lobbyist in Montgomery.
  • Ryan has worked all manner of campaigns in Alabama, from Shelby’s recent reelect to various state legislative races.

4. News Briefs. 

  • Politico has a story about how Cliff Sims tried to get President Trump to sign a football for the University of Alabama to give to Gov. Ivey. It’s a funny read. Some have taken it as negative toward Cliff, but I don’t see it that way. Who among us, if we were in that same position, wouldn’t try to get a football signed? I mean it’s not a treaty or something. Hard to blame a guy for having ‘too much Bama in him.’ Deadspin also wrote about it.
  • Sen. Doug Jones is a NO on President Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel. His full statement HERE.
  • Mobile Bay Magazine’s Brecke Pappas (brother of Fox News’ Alex Pappas) has a great post up today. It’s former 1st District Congressman Jack Edwards’ retelling of President Reagan’s trip to Alabama in the 1980s. Give it a read HERE.

5. Skip Tucker: Faded Love

  • Continuing on his theme from last week, Alabama Daily News contributor Skip Tucker has some thoughts about the challenges facing news media in today’s polarized political environment.
  • Skip reminisces about the “good ol’ days” of newspapers and wonders aloud how more progressive-leaning outlets will continue “trading” in states like Alabama.
  • Read Skip Tucker’s latest HERE.

Headlines.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dawson criticizes grant to LGBT group.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Heat records eclipsed in Alabama.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Cadence Bank, State Bank Financial Corp. announce merger.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey, six other governors sign letter supporting Trump for Nobel Peace Prize.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Woman sentenced to 19 years for multi-state crime spree.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump backs 2 successful U.S. Senate candidates in primaries.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – GOP gubernatorial candidate attacks anti-domestic violence grant for LGBT teens.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Montgomery Councilman Burkette wins lengthy Senate District 26 race, for now.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Weakness of lieutenant governor’s office doesn’t faze candidates.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – MPS Board approves $225,000 contract for superintendent Moore. 

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS –  Tuskegee University names new leader, and she will need to play a role here.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Alabama school system spends $3.2M on propane-fueled buses.

NBC NEWS – Democrat Doug Jones offers his party a recipe for success beyond Alabama.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Dale Jackson: Sports gambling should not be used to create new spending in Alabama.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Dawson hits Ivey over grants to gay rights group.

AL.COM – Gay Alabama lawmaker suggests governor is lesbian; Ivey calls it ‘disgusting lie’.

AL.COM – Alabama congressional candidate to give away an AR-15.

AL.COM – Alabama may face fewer barriers to sports gambling than lottery: Where do the candidates stand?

AL.COM – Kay Ivey still outraising challengers in Alabama governor’s race.

AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey fires back at Scott Dawson over awarding of LGBTQ grants.

DECATUR DAILY – Toyota-Mazda generating interest in Morgan park.

DECATUR DAILY – Moore wins special state House race.

TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at Chamber of Commerce event.

ANNISTON STAR – Trump’s uncertain world.

WASHINGTON POST – Gordon Hartogensis, brother-in-law to Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao, tapped to lead pension agency.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump officials faulted climate panel for having only ‘one member from industry’.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump administration preparing to hold immigrant children on military bases.

WASHINGTON POST – Senators, watchdog hit Social Security over closed offices and poor service.

NEW YORK TIMES – North Korea Threatens to Call Off Summit Meeting With Trump

NEW YORK TIMES – ‘Impossible to Ignore’: Why Alaska Is Crafting a Plan to Fight Climate Change

NEW YORK TIMES – 3 Key Takeaways From Tuesday’s Primaries. 

No front pages today, sorry.