FACTCHECK: Ad targets GOP leadership - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

FACTCHECK: Ad targets GOP leadership


A political advertisement that's made the rounds on statewide television over the past month comes from the Foundation for Limited Government. The group was founded by former lawmaker John Rice. He's a former Democrat and Republican.

The group's website touts the Alabama Anti-Corruption Pledge and it provides a list of activities that the signee will commit to supporting. The list includes bans on accepting gifts from lobbyists, imposing term limits, and outlawing fundraising during the state legislative session.

The group released a political ad earlier in the year and It makes several claims about top Republicans, some of which are true and others may have truths but are stretches at best.

Statement: "They told us to trust them. Gave us their word. Vowed to clean up Montgomery but Mike Hubbard's Handshake with Alabama was nothing more than an illusion."

Analysis: This statement is more abstract than it is making a claim but it does attempt to show Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard in a poor light. Marsh pledged to change Montgomery when Republicans took control after the 2010 General Election and Rep. Mike Hubbard helped to formulate the GOP agenda for the 2010 election cycle. The Handshake with Alabama wasn't merely an abstract line of political rhetoric touted at campaign events. The Handshake included all of the top GOP priorities for the 2011 legislative session if they were elected into power, which they eventually were. The list included bills like the state's gutted immigration law, the Rolling Reserve Budget Act aimed at making the budgeting process for education more consistent, and doing away with the state's Deferred Retirement Option Program. Calling the Handshake an "illusion" is nothing more than rhetoric ad the Handshake is tangible and it in fact passed with GOP support.

Statement: "back room deals, pay to play politics, nothing's changed and it's even worse."

Analysis: There isn't much to refute or back up this claim as it's more an opinion on what's happened in Alabama politics. Before Rep. Greg Wren resigned his position and pleaded guilty to an ethics violation for using his office for personal gain, there wouldn't be much credence to this statement. However, Wren's guilt and plea changed that. The events surrounding Rep. Wren don't suggest a chain of events, nor does it exonerate all Republicans. It's worth pointing out that numerous Democrats were indicted on varying charges when they controlled the legislature and controlled the governor's office. Simply, Rep. Wren took part in a sort of "back room deal" and a sort of "pay to play politics" that he claims he didn't realize was wrong. The court sided with him which is why he pleaded to a scaled down charge. It's difficult to stretch that much further without proof.

Statement: "now the legislative leadership in Montgomery is blocking real ethics reform. They told us to hold them accountable."

Analysis: This line is a matter of opinion on a highly charged political debate in Montgomery regarding a bill that would make it illegal for former lawmakers to become lobbyists for two years following their time in office. Democrats successfully added an amendment to the bill that put new limits on lobbying for family members and even restrictions on lawmakers and elected officials receiving tickets to sporting events like the Iron Bowl. Even though Republicans were opposed to the amendment, they voted for it so as not to be caught with a bad vote on ethics legislation, but it was later stripped out during a House Committee meeting. Democrats clearly attempted to make Republicans look weak on ethics and always knew the reforms they pushed for were dead on arrival in the Alabama House. Further, Democrats never proposed anything similar during the 2010 Special Session on ethics legislation. Perhaps one can say the ethics reform Democrats attempted was blocked in a House Committee, or that the bill was changed and later voted on without the changes.

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