Huntsville Tea Party AL05 surveys

The Huntsville Tea Party posted questionnaire responses from Mo Brooks, Parker Griffith, and Les Phillip.  The questions include:

1. Why are you running for office?
2. Is it better to have individual or collective rights?  Why?
3. What is the role of our federal government?
4. Does Congress have few and defined powers, or numerous and indefinite?  What powers will you have as a lawmaker in Washington DC, if you are elected? 
5. Will you vote for or support any bills that are not derived from a specific power granted in the US Constitution?
6.  Will you champion an effort to repeal passed legislation that is unconstitutional (i.e., federal bailouts, legislation that gives the federal government more control over our health care)?  Do you have a specific plan of action for repealing this type of legislation, and, if so, what is it?
7. Do you agree with the following quote?  “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare’, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them.  To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators”.  How do you interpret the general welfare clause (Article 1, section 8.1)?
8.  How do you interpret the commerce clause (Article 1, section 8.3)?
9.  What are your solutions for job growth in Alabama?
10.  What do you see as the proper balance between what the Federal government should do and what should be left to the states?
11. What will you do to balance the United States’ budget?
12.  What will you do to protect our borders and eliminate illegal immigration into our country?
13. What will you do to help America become energy-independent?
14. Will you commit to meeting with the Huntsville Tea Party for a town hall with your constituents during your first year, if elected?
15.  Candidate-specific questions…

Great questions with informative responses!  The Tea Party interjects comments after some of the responses – the whole set makes for interesting reading.

WVNN candidate get together at Mason’s

WVNN’s Dale Jackson is hosting a candidate get together at Mason’s downtown this Friday, February 26, 2010 from 5PM until 8PM.

Dale Jackson’s last event at the Melting Pot drew a huge crowd – this event should be even bigger.  Mason’s has a great beer list, good food, and a pleasant ambiance – plus they’ll be well-dressed for this event.  If you want to get to know your local politicos, now’s your chance.  If you want to discuss the Free the Hops Brewery Modernization Act with them – I’m sure they’d love to hear about it.

Confirmed officials and candidates include a good mix of Democrats and Republicans:

  • State Senator Tom Butler
  • State Representative Mike Ball
  • State Representative Phil Williams
  • State Representative Butch Taylor
  • State Representative Micky Hammon
  • State Representative Randy Hinshaw
  • State Representative Howard Sanderford
  • AL-05 Congressional Candidate Mo Brooks
  • AL-05 Congressional Candidate Les Phillip
  • AL-05 Congressional Candidate Mitchell Howie
  • Candidate for State Senate (SD-2) Bill Holtzclaw
  • Candidate for State Senate (SD-9) Tony Cochran
  • Candidate for State Senate (SD-9) Don Spurlin
  • Candidate for State Senate (SD-9) John Wilson
  • Candidate for State Senate (SD-9) Clay Scofield
  • Candidate for State Representative (D-20) David Pinkleton
  • Candidate for State School Board Mary Scott Hunter

Amy Bishop – bioterrorist?

The New York Times reports that UAH professor Amy Bishop “might have booby-trapped the science building with some sort of “herpes bomb,” police officials said, designed to spread the dangerous virus… she had done work with the herpes virus as a post-doctoral student and had talked about how it could cause encephalitis. She had also written an unpublished novel in which a herpes-like virus spreads throughout the world, causing pregnant women to miscarry.”

The article goes on to provide a good summary of the other Bishop incidents (shooting her brother, IHOP assault, mail bomb).  This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder…

MCGOP – 20 February 2010

I attended the Madison County Republican breakfast Saturday morning – the place was packed – extra chairs had to be pulled out for seating.  This shows a lot of interest and energy in the Alabama Republican Party, given that the scheduled speakers were “statewide Republican candidates with primary opposition” – that is, no big names were advertised.

The ‘biggest’ speaker was State Senator Hank Erwin, running for Lieutenant Governor.  I’d never met Erwin, but I’ve agreed with him on some issues and disagreed with him on others (he was the biggest opponent of last year’s Gourmet Beer Bill).  I got to speak with him early and found that he’s a nice guy – I’d already thought of him as a pretty good politician.  He talked about passing movie industry incentives last year and how he’d like to recruit ‘wholesome family movies’ to Alabama.  I wonder if the incentives helped bring Bear Grylls’ nude bottom (Man vs Wild) to Alabama…

I caught up with Erwin after the event to speak with him about Free the Hops and the Brewery Modernization Act.  I think he was somewhere between uncomfortable and amused with our discussion.  I hope to turn him around on FTH, but regardless, he has my vote.

***

Congressman Parker Griffith attended the breakfast.  As usual, Elbert Peters announced the names of elected officals attending and asked for people to hold their applause until all the elected officials were recognized.  Griffith received (light but enthusiastic) applause anyway.  He wasn’t alone in receiving applause, but I thought I’d point it out.

Griffith and I chatted before the breakfast – he recognized me as a contributor here at Flashpoint.  For the record, his face wasn’t beet-red.  Also for the record, the man is a gifted politician.

As someone interested in the art of politics, I think that Griffith is a talented politican and I’ve mused that he wouldn’t have switched parties unless he thought he could win.  So, I asked him how he thinks he can win.

Griffith began by saying that the Congressional Democrats were more liberal than he thought (if only he had read Flashpoint! – and if only I’d been quick enough on my feet to remember that quip!) and that the Democrat leadership was too liberal to work with - Democrats were opposed to issues critical to Alabama like manned space flight and defense.  Griffith mentioned a recent encounter with someone who criticized him for switching parties and he noted that Ronald Reagan and Richard Shelby and Fob James also switched parties (IIRC Reagan and James weren’t in office when they switched).  Griffith noted that the GOP leadership assigned him to the Energy and Commerce Committee – unlike some who diminish this Committee’s power I think that it’s a peach appointment – it’s one of the most powerful committees in the House.  I mentioned that Griffith had gotten a good welcome to the party with the Davidson fundraiser.

An interesting point that Griffith brought up was the number of Republican crossovers who voted for him when he was a Democrat – he’s certainly counting on their votes this time. 

Here’s ace reporter Challen Stephens of  The Huntsville Times on the committee appointment (“Griffith says he’s satisfied with the way he changed parties”):

Griffith, as a new Republican, has emerged as the only freshman member of Congress on the Energy and Commerce committee, a group that touches roughly half of the legislation in Congress. That includes health care and communications reforms, and energy policy, foreign commerce and consumer protection.

Before people start thinking I’ve gone over to Griffith’s side, let me say that he’s my third choice.  However before he was elected to Congress I said that I could vote FOR Griffith on the issues – this was before the hospital scandal.  My biggest problem is still the Huntsville Hospital documents – I read them and they’re disturbing – but I’m left wondering if that’s just me.  After all, Griffith wasn’t arrested and he still has his medical license – if he really did cause “unwarranted pain and suffering” to his patients then something should have been done years ago.  I don’t think I got played – the documents were real – but maybe they didn’t give me the whole story (does that mean I got played?).  That whole mess is disturbing – no wonder people wanted to ignore it.

I spoke with a few people about Griffith’s switch – he’s got a surprising amount of support.  Some of his biggest GOP detractors will vote for him over any Democrat.  IMO if he makes it through the primary – he’ll win the election.

One of the most intriguing items to come from the day was an invitation for Brian and me to meet with Griffith – given that whatever we write on this blog we’ll say to someone’s face - won’t that be interesting…

WHNT Hudson Alpha Debate Summary

WHNT19 and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology hosted the “Race for the Governor” Debate on February 1, 2010.  The debate focused on education.  Patricia McCarter of The Huntsville Times wrote up a nice summary “Gubernatorial candidates quizzed on education issues at HudsonAlpha forum”:

The 90-minute forum, which was broadcast live on WHNT2 digital channel as well as al.com and whnt.com, was not interactive between the eight candidates.

Held at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, the forum was focused solely on educational issues. Partners in the venture were WHNT, HudsonAlpha, The Huntsville Times and ETV…

Candidates were given 15 seconds, 30 seconds or a minute to give their answers, depending on the question.

I watched the WHNT video, but with an eye more for the scheduling and flow of the questions in order to inform the scheduling for the upcoming Huntsville Governors Forum (March 2, 2010 at the Davidson Center – 6:15PM).  These are my rough notes, the times are video run times, enjoy.

8 candidates seated on stage, 4 panelists seated facing candidates.  Draw from hat for seating and first question, then rotate.

2:15 Emcee Steve Johnson from WHNT gives intro of Hudson Alpha, panelists, and rules.  Note that the questions are onscreen – nice touch.

2:30 Panelist 1 = Neil Lamb of Hudson Alpha.

Question1 – Alabama has a need for high tech workers, as Governor what is one thing you would do to make sure that our K-12 schools lay a strong foundation in these areas?   Thirty seconds to respond.

2:45 Bentley – Alabama Reading Initiative, need to expand Math and Science Initiative.

3:00 Sparks – get females interested in Math and Science.  We need funding.

3:40 James – expand ARI and AMSTI, need to address 40% drop out rate.

4:10 Byrne – expand AMSTI, one of biggest concerns is what we’re not doing in technical education.

4:45 Johnson – show students how science is relevant to life in the real world.

5:20 Davis – need to identify students with aptitude in math and science.

5:55 Potts – financial accountability, achieve grade level, discipline.

6:20 Ivey – only one running for Governor who was a teacher, get young people excited.

7:10 Bentley Bio

Panelist 2 = Maura Bailey of Grissom High School.

7:35 Question 2 – Teacher shortages due to proration. Given the inflexibility of the Alabama tax structure, do you advocate Constitutional reform in order to fund education?  Thirty seconds to respond.

8:00 Sparks – gambling.

8:30 James – the problem is that education trust fund money is getting siphoned off at the top.

9:05 Byrne – better budgeting and planning.

9:35 Johnson – do not support Constitutional reform, gambling.

10:05 Davis – 100% for Constitutional reform, Constitutional Convention.

10:35 Potts – against reframing the Constitution, fiscal accountability.

11:00 Ivey – prevent pro-ration by budgeting better, cut administrative overhead.

11:25 Bentley – 87% of education budget is earmarked, sees no push in the legislature for Constitutional Reform, need to budget more conservatively.

12:00 Byrne Bio

Panelist 3 = Kevin Wendt of the Huntsville Times
Panelist 4 = Lisa Washington of WHNT

Those 12 minutes took me like 45 minutes to write up, so I don’t think I’ll ever write up the rest.  If you’re interested in more details, read McCarter’s story linked above or watch the video at WHNT19.

***

For a thirty second answer from 8 candidates you need to budget about 5 minutes.  We’ll have six of the GOP candidates (just as with the WHNT debate, Roy Moore has a scheduling conflict).

The Huntsville Governors Forum will start promptly at 6:15PM on March 2 with the presentation of the colors by the Butler HS ROTC Color Guard.  We’ve budgeted about 15 minutes for the ceremony and introduction.

We’re planning on having 3 panelists ask substantive questions in their areas of interest, then providing about 2 minutes per candidate for answers (1 min question + (6 candidates x 2 min answer) = 13 min plus 2 min transitions = 15 minute budget).  Perhaps surprisingly,  2 minutes is a long time to spend on a topic (sometimes candidates only get to make a 2 minute speech).  Maybe we’ll get some detailed answers that will give us more insight into the candidates’ philosophy and plans.

We plan to have a Lightning Round of 10 questions (including a Free the Hops question).  All but one of the questions was chosen by committee from this list.  We’ve got about 30 minutes budgeted for this.  We won’t be posting a questionnaire.

Each candidate will have the opportunity to ask one other candidate a question in a Round Robin – 15 minutes.

The Forum is already a success in that the YRs and Right On are breaking even (venue costs covered by sponsors) – what we need next is a big turnout.  See you there…

Pew report on Underfunded Retirement Systems

The Pew Center on the States published the The Trillion Dollar Gap: Underfunded State Retirement Systems and the Road to Reform”:

$1 trillion. That’s the gap at the end of fiscal year 2008 between the $2.35 trillion states had set aside to pay for employees’ retirement benefits and the $3.35 trillion price tag of those promises.

Why does it matter? Because every dollar spent to reduce the unfunded retirement liability cannot be used for education, public safety and other needs. Ultimately, taxpayers could face higher taxes or cuts in essential public services…

To a significant degree, the $1 trillion reflects states’ own policy choices and lack of discipline:

  • failing to make annual payments for pension systems at the levels recommended by their own actuaries;
  • expanding benefits and offering cost-of-living increases without fully considering their long-term price tag or determining how to pay for them; and
  • providing retiree health care without adequately funding it.

The Pew Report says that the Alabama Retirement System “needs improvement” (Alabama doesn’t fund accrued liabilities at the GAO-recommended percentage – we’re at 77% instead of 80% making us a “laggard in state pension funding”).  Overall on the pension side, Alabama doesn’t rate as a “solid performer” in any category, but we’re not that bad, and we don’t rate “serious concerns” in any category.

The report notes that our 2008 State Retirement “latest liability” is $40,206,232,000.  Our “latest unfunded liability” is $9.2B.  Our “annual required contribution” and “latest actual contribution” was over a $1B  (we were one of the few States to meet the contributions to the penny – for example Illinois, which is in crisis, should have contributed $3.7B but only contributed $2.2B).

However, on the retiree health care side we don’t do as well:  the report notes that the State Retiree Health Care “latest liability” is about $16B with the “latest unfunded liability” at about $15.5B – this is bad.  The State’s “annual required contribution” is $1.3B and the “latest actual contribution” is $1.1B – that’s a couple of hundred million worth of bad.  Focusing only on the retiree health care funding we are in the seriously messed up category.

Some of the general recommendations Pew makes are:

“Keep up with funding requirements”
“Reducing benefits or increasing the retirement age”
“Sharing the risk with employees” (i.e, 401K)
“Increasing employee contributions”
“Governance and Investment Oversight” (i.e., Alabama’s RSA)

Some “structural issues” that “make it more difficult for states to keep up with the needs of current workers and retirees” are:

“Early retirement” (bad idea – like Huntsville’s buy-out)
“Cost of living adjustments”
“Sharing excess returns”
“Double dipping”
“Spiking final salaries”

Pew notes that dealing with public sector unions (i.e., AEA) make addressing the problem “a struggle”.  They also say that “Pension Obligation Bonds” are a bad idea (“use caution”) – think the JeffCo Sewer mess.  Another problem is that states use rosy “investment return assumptions” – Pew says Alabama assumes 8% return on investments.

Pew identifies four states as “models for success”.  Florida for “providing consistent funding”; Nebraska for “reducing risk through a cash balance plan” (like an IRA);  Iowa for “benefit caps and adjustable employee contributions”;  and Georgia for “understanding the impact of reform” (any legislation affecting retiree benefits requires an actuarial study of the long term impact).

The State pension plans included in Pew’s analysis are: “Teacher’s Retirement System”, “Employee’s Retirement System”, and “Judicial Retirement Fund”.  The State retiree health plans included are: “Retired State Employees’ Health Care Trusts” and “Retired  Education Employees’ Health Care Trust”.

The Pew report is a good read, but kind of scary.

Riley appoints Dennis O’Dell to judgeship

Governor Bob Riley appointed District Judge Dennis O’Dell (R) to the Circuit Court judgeship vacated by retiring Judge Buddy Little (D).

From The Huntsville Times:

“There’s a lot of work to do, and I want to get to work as soon as possible,” O’Dell said.

The Circuit Court caseload is around 100,000 cases a year, O’Dell said, roughly twice that of the District Court.

The District Court caseload is about 50,000 cases a year, O’Dell said “and there are four judges. So, it comes out to be about 12,000 cases per year. It’s a massive caseload.”

***

Governor Riley now has a District Court judgeship to appoint.  I’m not on the Madison County Judicial Commission, but I think that they might recommend Assistant District Attorney Bill Starnes (as one of their three recommended candidates).  Note to Governor Riley – if Starnes is on the list – I recommend that you appoint him.

Best in the Barrio

Dan and I road-tripped down to Montgomery yesterday for the Free the Hops Legislative Tasting at the RSA Plaza.  The Tasting provided FTH with an opportunity to speak with about 25 Legislators in support of this year’s Brewery Modernization Act – which should actually be called the Jobs and Industry Creation Act.

After the event, about a dozen FTH organizers went to the El Rey Burrito Lounge in the Old Cloverdale neighborhood of Montgomery (on East Fairview off I65).  Great place – nice atmosphere, tasty food, and great beer and wine selection.

The owner of El Rey joined us for awhile and thanked us for passing the Gourmet Beer Bill last year.  He said that passing that bill had made a world of difference in his business during these tough times.  In comparing his detailed year-to-year sales information – he told us how adding Gourmet Beer to his menu had improved sales enough to offset losses in other areas.  This is a real world anecdote of a FTH talking point – good beer is good for business.  The City of Montgomery has a growing restaurant, people have jobs, and taxes get collected.  Thank you to the Legislators who voted for the Gourmet Beer Bill last year.

This year’s Brewery Modernization Act will create jobs and help grow an industry that’s good for people and good for tourism.

***

Got to see my friend Jason of Good People from Birmingham.   We talked about getting their Coffee Oatmeal Stout to Mason’s in downtown Huntsville – I also got to introduce Representative Randy Hinshaw (D-21) to a sample of the stout (he was tentative in his praise, but IMO Randy just wasn’t used to the taste of this big beer).

Jason and I also spoke about brewfests.  FTH is gearing up for the Rocket City Brewfest on May 7 and 8, 2010 at the Depot Roundhouse.  With the rising popularity of brewfests around the country, breweries are having to make tough calls every weekend as to which events they will attend.  For example, Jason said that his brewery had three invitations for events held at the same time as the RCBF – he chose us because Huntsville is an important market for his company – but you get the picture.  Brewfest organizers are increasingly going to have to compete for breweries – and may have to start actually (gasp!) paying for the beer (at cost).

Being the inquisitive and obviously rude person that I am – I asked Jason if Good People was making a profit – I am happy to report that they are, and I’m happy for them – it means that they can keep making and selling great beer!

Dan at Straight to Ale brought a couple of fine beers – his brewery at Lincoln Mills will be opening soon, which along with Olde Towne makes Huntsville the beer capitol of Alabama with TWO breweries!

***

Got to see Brent Buchanan and Josh Pendergrass - a couple of the people behind the Public Strategy Associates ‘GOP Governor and Attorney General Poll’.  I also got to meet Matt Braynard from DC, who “worked for the Republican National Committee through three election cycles and was part of the initial team assembled by then Chairman Hailey Barbour to develop the Republican Party’s first national voter database” (the ‘Voter Vault’) – he’s a brilliant guy and very nice.

The poll of “likely Republican primary voters” showed Gubernatorial candidates Bradley Byrne at 20%, Roy Moore at 17%, Tim James at 8%, Robert Bentley at 4%, Kay Ivey at 3%, and Bill Johnson at 2% – with 46% of GOP primary voters Undecided.

The poll showed Attorney General candidates Troy King (incumbent) at 27% and Luther Strange (24%) – with 49% of GOP primary voters Undecided.

IMO this is a good opening poll for the GOP.  It shows that half of the primary voters have a candidate in mind and half are up for grabs (as could be expected).  For the gubernatorial candidates, it reinforces the ‘conventional wisdom’ of Byrne as the leading candidate with Roy Moore a close second.  The poll provides a check to the Moore folks who believe that Moore’s numbers were as high as the 30s or 40s, however, it also shows that Moore has a lot of strength with “very conservative” voters.

IMO the biggest “news” out of the poll is the relative weakness of the incumbent Attorney General Troy King – he is essentially tied with Luther Strange.

Thanks to Public Strategy Associates for conducting the poll – fun reading!

***

I also got to meet a lobbyist from Birmingham who is an investment banker.  We talked about the sewer mess (his firm wasn’t involved) – he doesn’t think that Jefferson County can walk from the sewer debt – that a bankruptcy judge would still make the County pay (and possibly appoint a ‘special master’).  We also talked about the legislature wanting to raid the Alabama Trust Fund – he said the legislature shouldn’t “invade the corpus” of the trust fund.

Huntsville Governors Forum Website

The Madison County Young Republicans and Right On Huntsville are hosting the Huntsville Governors Forum on Tuesday March 2, 2010 at the Alabama Space and Rocket Center’s Davidson Center. 

The forum is open to the public and starts promptly at 6:15PM – that’s when the Butler High School Junior Air Force ROTC Color Guard opens the event with the presentation of the colors.  If you know their Instructor, then you know that this event -shall- start on time.

There will be a private Reception with the Gubernatorial candidates starting  at 5:00PM (tickets are $50 each, available online).

I’m announcing a milestone of sorts – the Huntsville Governors Forum website is UP!  Check it out!  The links work!  The reception ticket ordering system works!

We are developing a questionnaire for the candidates - their responses will be featured at the HGF website.  There will be nine questions – plus the softball.  If you have a question that you’d us to consider, or if you’d like to chime in on which questions we should ask, please comment.  Note that a Free the Hops question will (likely) be asked during the Forum itself.  Also note that a question on tapping into the Alabama Trust Fund will (likely) be asked during the Forum.  Here’s a draft list of questions:

1.  Do you support Initiative and Referendum?
 
2.  Do you support the re-authorization of Forever Wild?
 
3.  What is your position on gambling?  Do you support dog-tracks, lottery, casinos, bingo, making a compact with the Creeks?
 
4.  Alabama is currently coping with budget shortfalls that have led to pro-ration and forced the state to use the “rainy day fund”.  What solution would you pursue as Governor? If spending cuts or tax increases are involved please provide specifics.
 
5.  What measures would you support to increase transparency and accountability in our state government?
 
6.  Do you support eliminating the grocery sales tax? If so, how do you propose to replace the lost revenue?
 
7.  What is your position on Constitutional Reform? Would you support a Constitutional Convention?
 
8.  What role should the state play in economic development?
 
9.  What ideas do you support for conserving the natural (environmental) and cultural heritage of Alabama?
 
10. What ideas do you have for roads and bridges – what is your transportation plan and how will you fund it?
 
11. What economic development incentives or initiatives do you propose and how will you pay for it?
 
12.  What ideas do you propose for improving health care?
 
13.  How often should property valuations for property taxes be conducted?
 
14.  Is PACT a promise and if so, how will you fund it?  Should the program be continued?
 
15. What ideas do you propose for improving education?
 
16.  What do you think about the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?
 
17.  How are you going to break the AEA’s hold on State government?
 
18.  How do you plan to allocate gas tax revenues?
 
19.  How much do you love guns and the Second Amendment?
 
20.  Do you support limiting the use of Eminent Domain?  What is your definition of “public use”?
 
21.  What water policy ideas do you support?
 
22. What ideas do you propose for improving trade and technical education?
 
23.  Do you support a State-wide system of building regulations and inspections?
 
24. What are your views on marriage?
 
25.  How will you improve public safety?

School Board Hijacker Indicted

Finally!   Note that this story has Huntsville ties.  Steve Raby has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate in the AL05 Congressional race and I wrote about Jyles Machen not long ago (“Democrat hack creates front group”):

Jyles Machen heads a shady PAC named “Real Democrat PAC, The” (TRD PAC) – note how the acronym helps hide the name of the PAC.  Machen is a Democrat hack – even worse, he has no respect for elections.  Machen is one of the scum who tried to “hijack” the State Board of Education Republican primary in June 2008…  Fellow Democrat hack Steve Raby also pumped $100,000 into the attempted hijacking (Tennessee Valley PAC).

If someone at the Huntsville Times wants a story – here it is in your backyard.

From Matt Quillen at The Daily Home “Grand Jury indicts BOE member”:

SYLACAUGA — City Schools Board Member Troy “Skip” Smithwick was indicted on two counts relating to campaign contributions by a Talladega County Grand Jury.

A spokesperson for the Talladega County Sheriff’s Department said Smithwick was charged on Friday and released on a $5,000 bond. The two charges were failure to file annual reports and improper reporting of contributions.

Both charges are Class B misdemeanors under state law.

The indictment stems from an investigation into contribution forms submitted by Smithwick during a 2008 campaign. That year, he ran in the Republican primary for the District 3 State School Board seat…

Under state law, all candidates are required to submit their annual contribution reports no later than Jan. 31 of the following year. Smithwick’s final report was dated as received Oct. 6, 2009, by the Secretary of State… Donations totaling around $52,000 had not been reported until October. The previous report Smithwick had filed in May 2008 showed donations totaling approximately $253,000.

The second charge stated Smithwick failed to report a contribution from a group named The Real Democrat Political Action Committee. The group claimed a $100,000 contribution was made to “Smithwick for School Board” in their annual report received January 2009.

Jyles Machem, head of the Huntsville-based PAC, said in October that his group did not contribute any funds to Smithwick’s campaign…

Smithwick had claimed on his reports a $100,000 contribution from another Huntsville-based group, called the Tennessee Valley PAC…

Another apparent error appeared as both PACs claimed an $85,000 contribution to them in May from a group called the Senate Majority PAC. Senate Majority’s annual report showed only one $85,000 contribution being made, to The Real Democrat.

Both Tennessee Valley and Senate Majority PAC reports have the signature of Steve Raby as the “Chairperson or Treasurer of Political Committee.” Both groups are also listed at the same address…

Betty Peters, the District 2 representative for the state BOE, made the official complaint regarding Smithwick to Attorney General Troy King.

“This should be an example for all future candidates that the law has teeth and it will be enforced,” Peters said. “If somebody is going to be on the state school board making decisions affecting children and teachers, everybody makes mistakes but this is beyond a mistake.”