What happens when you rush to pass a law that looks good on paper, but contains a candidate "death penalty" if it's not followed? The Alabama Republican Party is about to find out. And hey... they may have inadvertently done Alabama Democrats a favor if their signature "ethics bill" catches Democratic Supreme Court nominee Harry Lyon in the trap as well.
News broke Tuesday that a Huntsville woman, Sherry Broyles, has challenged the candidacy of Mr. Lyons and a number of GOP court nominees. Broyles charges that all are rendered ineligible to stand for election because they failed to follow the new ethics laws passed by the incoming GOP supermajority in the fall of 2010.
As we noted at the time, the packages of bills has enough loopholes to drive a truck through, but in this case, it's not a loophole but a noose that's snaring candidates right and left. Just ask Madison County District Court judicial candidate, Chris Messervy, who was removed from the ballot by the state GOP executive committee. Messervy didn't file his campaign disclosure reports in a timely manner - as outlined in the revised Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act.
According to Alabama Secretary of State records, of the 22 filings required since September 30, Messervy had at least 15 late filings, 11 of which were less than a week late. One filing due March 9, was filed on the date of the primary election, March 13. His March monthly filing due March 31, was a month late.
The bill text (PDF)appears to be unambigous:
Democrat Harry Lyon has filed nothing and the complaint alleges that the Republican candidates have also failed to file in a timely manner. Justice Jim Main appears to have filed his April report late. Glen Murdock seems to have filed his June report & March report late.
The Alabama Democratic Party was quick to respond:
Alabama Democratic Party Chairman, Mark Kennedy, responded this afternoon to allegations concerning Harry Lyon, the Democratic Party’s nominee for Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice.
“The allegations made against Mr. Lyon are serious. We assure Alabama Democrats and voters across the state that we are taking the allegations seriously and have already begun the process of ensuring they are reviewed in a thorough, proper, and timely manner,” said Chairman Kennedy. “The law is the law and it is important, in our judicial races above all others, that our candidates respect and follow it.”
The complaint argues Mr. Lyon should be disqualified as the Alabama Democratic Party’s (ADP) nominee because he is in violation of Alabama campaign finance laws, specifically the Fair Campaign Practices Act. The ADP also received a copy of a similar complaint made to the state Republican Party that outlines how several GOP judicial nominees have also failed to comply with the same state law.
“I urge Chairman Armistead to take the allegations against the Republican Party’s nominees as seriously as we are. No one is above the law and we must come together to demonstrate to voters that we take the law and their trust in us seriously,” said Kennedy.
The Alabama Democratic Party will take up the matter in order to ensure it is addressed and resolved in a timely manner.
This is going to get really interesting - really quickly - so stay tuned, campers!