Tag: politics

BENTLEY RESIGNS

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Former governor Robert Bentley speaks at a press conference at the State Capitol on Friday, April 7. Bentley resigned from office on Monday, becoming the first Alabama governor to do so since 1837. (Albert Cesare/AP)

Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief

Alabama governor Robert J. Bentley resigned from office on Monday, April 10 after allegations arose that he had used campaign funds for personal gain.

ersonal gain. Bentley’s reputation was irreparably damaged when an affair with his top adviser, Rebekah Mason, was brought to light in March 2016. Bentley’s wife, Dianne, had filed for divorce the previous year, and it was finalized in September 2015.

The governor’s resignation comes in the wake of official impeachment hearings that began Monday morning.

“All indications are that Governor Bentley is going to resign shortly,” Koven L. Brown, a state representative for District 40, wrote on Facebook on Monday. “He has submitted his letter of resignation to Lt. Gov. [Kay] Ivey and she is to be sworn in a little [later] this evening. As sad as this situation is, I am relieved that it is over and our state can move on. We have much work to do in this legislative session and it will hopefully move smoother with this cloud lifted. Please continue to pray for all of us in state government. Most all of us love to serve our respective districts and take our legislative positions very seriously.”

Bentley, who was serving his second term as governor, had been under investigation by the Alabama Attorney General’s office for criminal felony charges. The Alabama Ethics Commission confirmed that it had probable cause to support these accusations.

Bentley pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors: failing to file a major contribution report and knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use.

As per the plea deal, Bentley has one week to pay $36,912 in campaign funds, essentially emptying that fund and giving the money to the state. He will also be required to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket fines to return the misappropriated money to the campaign fund before that fund can be closed.

Bentley must also perform 100 hours of community service and is prohibited from running for public office again.

In a report released on April 7, the lawyer for the Alabama House of Representatives alleged that Bentley had coerced, sent threatening messages to and threatened to prosecute some of those who had criticized his affair with Mason. The report also described how Bentley reportedly used a member of his security detail to end his relationship with Mason on his behalf and how he allowed Mason to use official state

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A “not anymore” sign was taped under Robert Bentley’s name on an Alabama welcome sign on Monday night. (The Ostrich/Facebook)

vehicles after she had left state payroll.

Also included in the report are accounts of how Bentley attempted to cover up audio tapes of sexually charged conversations between himself and Mason.

Bentley will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, a former state treasurer, high school teacher and bank officer. Ivey is only the second female governor of Alabama, the first being Lurleen Wallace, who served from 1967-68.

“The Ivey administration will be open, it will be transparent and it will be honest,” Ivey said on Monday.

President Obama’s State of the Union Address

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama delivered his seventh State of the Union Address. This time, he was more confident and enthusiastic than we have seen since the beginning of his term.

“The shadow of crisis has passed,” Obama said in his speech. “And the State of the Union is strong.”

This was how the president introduced his message to the world.

The president went on to outline many economic indicators that have significantly improved over the past few years: unemployment rates, fuel prices, stock exchange rates, etc. Then, with a smile and a wink, President Obama declared: “This is good news people.”

The presidential address has often been used for outlining specific agenda items and detailed proposals the president wants implemented. However, President Obama used this address more so as one to encourage faith in the nation’s economy and future.

In fact, about half of his speech was dedicated to highlighting the hardships Americans have gone through since the Great Recession. By reminding viewers of where the nation was when he took office, the president was able to reflect on how far it has since come.

While President Obama used his time to convince us of a ‘turning of the page,’ he did not completely forfeit the opportunity to spout off a few of his own policy proposals. This package, he announced, is centered on an idea of middle class economics.

What is that? Middle class economics, to the president, means: affordable child care, guaranteed paid sick/maternity leave, gender pay equality, raising the minimum wage, free community college, and the opportunity to lower monthly student loan payments – just to name a few.

Now, just because the president proposed it does not mean it will become reality. Oddly, the president seemed like one whose party had just taken over Congress – not one that lost its majorities just two months ago.

President Obama is entering this seventh year of his presidency with a Congress completely controlled by the opposing party. It’s safe to say that he has an uphill battle with almost all of his agenda proposals.

One only has to glance at the election returns from the 2014 midterm elections. The American people gave a resounding mandate for conservatism and a shift to the right in national policy: specifically concerning domestic policies like those that President Obama discussed in his speech.

As for the President’s proposals? Well, the proverbial proof is in the pudding.  We will see how far his poise and confidence will get him with this new Congress.

Whether or not any of his policies are given the light of day is one thing. Whether or not he will veto legislation that goes against his vision is another.

But one thing’s for sure; the American people have always appreciated a confident, strong-standing leader – even if they disagree wholeheartedly with his policy positions.

Brett Johnson
Staff Writer

Marsh, Stewart ideas clash in debate before election day

The Justice and Civil Rights Initiative partnered with College Republicans and JSU College Democrats to hold a debate between the State Senate candidates Del Marsh and Taylor Stewart on October 29, 2014 at the Lela Sarrell Learning Center at Wallace Hall.

The debate gathered a crowd of an estimated 250 people that overflowed into the hallway and lobby of the building, with a promise of having some of their key questions answered regarding each candidate’s campaign and strategies.

Republican Senator Del Marsh and Democrat Taylor Stewart shared their opinions and beliefs about their current government and visions for the future of the government in Alabama in the hour-long debate at Jacksonville State University.

The topics discussed ranged from raising the minimum wage to education funding in Alabama public schools.

Stewart’s ideas of raising the minimum wage were met with remarks from Marsh regarding where that money would come from. Marsh argued that by raising the minimum wage, companies would not be able to keep as many employees.

“We can’t start raising the minimum wage and then find at the end of the day that they lose those jobs,” Marsh said.

Stewart said that the more money made by employees, the more those employees could afford to spend and give back into the economy, which in turn would create more money for companies to pay their employees.

Another major issue discussed was the education fund and problems within the education system, namely the Accountability Act, a major conversation starter in the campaign this year.

Stewart said this act has cost the state’s public schools $40 million, and claimed that much of that money went into scholarship-granting organizations run by Marsh’s cohorts. Marsh has been open about his plans to expand the program even more, thereby taking more money from the public school’s funding.

“Who knows, it might be $100 million next year,” Stewart suggested as a possible cost of the act to the education fund.

Stewart accused Marsh of a lack of sincere concern for our students, teachers and schools. Stewart said that the district wanted and needed a leader who cares about the area’s public schools, and about proper funding for public schools more than scholarship funds run by their friends.

While the debate showcased the major differences in the beliefs of the two candidates, both candidates agreed upon the reform of the Alabama Constitution of 1901, the longest state constitution in the nation.

Marsh founded the Constitutional Revision Commission, a commission that planned to make many detailed changes to the state constitution. Most of these changes have not been put into effect.

After Tuesday’s elections, Marsh came out of the race victorious, beginning his fifth consecutive term in office.

Cassidy Smith
Staff Writer

A note on partisanship

Four years ago, in my high school government class, I learned about a political party that existed very briefly in American history and has since helped shape my worldview on politics and government.

The Populist Party, otherwise known as the People’s Party, was formed in 1891 as a result of revolts by farmers and laborers against the Democratic and Republican Parties for ignoring their interests and difficulties for over a decade.

Their main platform focused on asking the federal government to buffer economic depressions, regulate banks and help laborers who were suffering in hard times. However, it was not so much the specific demands, but the spirit behind those demands that caught the attention of millions of followers back then—and, quite frankly, myself that day in government class.

The organized Populist Party is noted in history to have existed until about 1908. I am no historian, but I tend to disagree with that timeline.

Sure, the official Populist Party may no longer be organized. But I truly believe that in the heart of the political attitude of the American people lies an essence of populism.

We see it in different forms today: from the rise of the Libertarian movement, to the fairly recent Occupy Wall Street movement, even to Tea Party sentiments. There is one underlying theme transcending the current American electorate: the goal of shifting the focus of government back to the every day citizen.

Since that year in government class, other things have unfolded that have led me into the realm of politics and public policy. Early into my years of involvement in politics, I toiled with the question of “what party do I belong to?” While I have my leanings in some directions over the other, I still cannot say that I am 100 percent this or that.

I have come to learn that the national Democratic and Republican parties are really just two big groups that divide the public based on varying differences of opinion. The reality is, partisanship is just a tool used to simplify political beliefs—that’s it.

What we as voters should be focused on is who our elected officials actually represent. When you think of your senator or congressman, what comes to mind first: how he or she has represented the interests of you and your peers? Or do you think of his or her political party affiliation first?

Since the birth of our country’s modern government, it has always been intended to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It should never be intended of the Democrats, by the Republicans, for the special interest groups.

From common man to businessman, it is our job as citizens of this nation to see to it that we are led by those who understand the plight of every person.

Brett Johnson
Staff Writer