Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cement Industry "Thanks" Dr. Robert Bentley With Huge Donations One Day After Endorsement of Elevated Highway 280 Project

 **Post updated September 29 Wednesday morning, see conclusion
The Alabama's Governor's race illustrates the strange bedfellows of toxic industry and good medicine. The Republican Physician candidate who apparently does not understand one of the fundamental principles of the Hippocratic Oath "to abstain from doing harm."  
Do you think they'll call me a 'hippocratic'?
 Dr. Dr. Bentley's large donations from the cement industry, which is one of the most egregious violators of the environment and is responsible for significant dangerous emissions, seems to fly in the face of what an ethical medical doctor would do.
On August 11, 2010 the Birmingham News ran a story entitled: "Robert Bentley Supports Elevated Toll Road For US 280"

This project is highly controversial for a myriad of reasons, some of which we have covered previously, but it will be a boom to the cement industry, along with big business and other corporate special interests, many of whom are BARD members who are eager to have their depleted finances from the nationwide economic downturn replenished.

Bentley is only too eager to prescribe the medicine they seek.

The campaign contribution records for Dr. Bentley show that the very next day, August 12, 2010, that two very large contributions were recorded from Cemex and American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA).

CEMEX Inc, Employees PAC 920 Memorial City Way STE. 100 Houston, Texas 77024  amount: $25,000.00
ACPA Southeast Chapter (American Concrete Pavement Association) 1745 Platt Place  Montgomery, Alabama 36177  amount: $50,000.00
A third large donation from a company that may stand to benefit from the elevated Highway 280 project:
Eddie Lumpkin (Lumpkin Development LLC) 3020 Mt. Brook Pkwy. Bham, Ala. 35223  amount: $10,000.00
And this one from Mississippi's Governor Haley Barbour's own PAC, not from a Republican PAC which would be expected: 
(What's Mr. Big Oil and Gas doing messing around in the Alabama Governor's race for anyway?)
Haley's PAC (Barbour) P. O. Box 1186 Jackson, Mississippi 39215  amount: $2,500.00
That's a real quick $87,500.00 one day after Dr. Bentley announced his support for the highway.

Does it look like he may have been paid for his public endorsement? Reader decide.

**Note: Readers have alerted us that the above link to Bentley's recent filings is going to a "Forbidden--you don't have authorization to access this server"
Interesting as it was working before and they're public records, no matter, here they are:
Bentley Campaign Records
Birmingham, Alabama is buzzing with a series of "projects" allegedly intended to "boost the region's economy and provide much need jobs." (Dr. Bentley's own television spots show what looks like a Cement and Road Building industry promo clip when Bentley touts jobs.) All of these projects have a few things in common, corporate welfare in the form of federal and local taxpayer's money, expenditures of billions of dollars to realize the usual suspects "visions for Alabama" and massive political pressure from BARD members and their allies.

We cannot think of anything BARD and their ilk have been involved in that has resulted in something positive for the environment and productive for Alabama's communities and citizens. Everything they push moves them ahead and leaves Alabama behind. Not too mention "holding the bag," which is empty by the time the fleecing ends and it's too late to get the money back or undo the environmental assaults.

PACs and PAC to PAC contributions are the bane of the political process, and they enable co-opting of elections by special interests by giving them the ability to create a maze of an an almost unnavigable trail of where the money came from, but it's not impossible if you know who and what gives to certain PACs.

Dr. Bentley has become the newest Mule in BARDs stable evidenced by his campaign contribution records from a September 27, 2010 Birmingham News article;:
Business, medical, construction and development interests have poured money into the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Robert Bentley...
Of the $3.3 million Bentley raised since the runoff, his largest contribution came from the Republican Party of Alabama PAC, which put in $435,000 drawn from businesses, other PACs, individuals and other Republican candidates.(We are in the process of recording and detailing the specific PACs tied to Stephen Bradley the creator of BARD and will present that information soon)
PACs operated by Tuscaloosa's Ryan deGraffenried III, which took in money from a variety of businesses including construction and paving, contributed $130,000 to the Bentley campaign. The same amount came from the constellation of business-oriented PACs operated by Montgomery lobby firm *Fine Geddie.(Joe Fine is one of eleven indicted in the gambling probe by the DOJ.)
Montgomery lobbyist Clark Richardson distributed $64,000 from his clients and $50,000 came from PACs operated by Birmingham governmental affairs consultant Steve Bradley.
Trucking industry PACs gave $50,000 to Bentley.
PACs related to the construction and road-building industry gave heavily to Bentley, including $80,000 from cement producers PACS; $50,000 from the Alabama Builder's PAC and $47,000 from the Associated Builders and Contractors PAC. PACs related to the coal industry gave Bentley $31,000.
Of contributions to Bentley $1,000 or greater, $267,500 came from businesses, $979,683 came from individuals and $1.4 million came from PACs. 
This man ran on a platform of a people's candidate when he was facing the Republican challenger for the gubernatorial nomination. BARD and big business were heavy backers of Bentley's opponent. Once Bentley won, he quickly morphed into part of the big business machine that had favored his challenger against him. With a little help from Mike Huckabee.

We would like to know why a Doctor would align himself with big business industries that are so detrimental to people's health and the environment. We would also like to know why a man who presents himself as ethical and claims he will "clean up the corruption in Montgomery" has accepted the big money from certain groups that seem to be the antithesis of ethics based on their behavior in Alabama.

It's bad medicine anyway you look at it.

We were contacted in regards to Dr. Bentley's appearance on a local radio show this morning which involved a Q & A call in segment.
Dr. Bentley talked about his disdain for special interests, their lobbyists, conflicts of interests of legislators and the problem of PACs, along with his continued prominent push for road building as an answer to Alabama's economic and employment woes. Bentley's quote on special interests: "Special interests in general have too much interest. The greatest detriment to government is the lobbyists of special interests groups."
A caller questioned Dr. Bentley about his road building position and pointed out that on that same host's radio show a local, respected by the business community economist had denounced the claims of road building to "stimulate the economy and create sustainable jobs." The caller went on to ask Bentley why he was accepting so much money from the same special interest groups that his opponent in the run off election was heavily criticized for.
Dr. Bentley replied with; "I know the people I have taken money from and I am not ashamed of it. They're fine organizations. We had to get our message out (implying that required money, which we agree it does, but don't see it as an excuse). I know exactly where the money comes from, we have carefully set up our PACs."
He claims he knows "exactly who we have taken money from."
Bentley was on that same radio station, different host and time slot a few days before this morning's show and he was specifically asked about the large contributions from BARD.
His reply was "Never heard of them."
Dr. Bentley has a rather obvious and serious ailment which manifests itself with the main symptom as causing him to demonstrate a glaring inability to tell the truth to Alabama's voters. In short, he lies.

Here's our question to Sparks--Do you really want to be the next Governor of Alabama and move this state forward with long overdue representative and ethical leadership or will you cave like a prize fighter who throws a fight because he's been "influenced" by the power players? If you do want to be the Governor, then fight for it sir because as it stands Bentley is who the people are hearing from in the media.

**Update # 2 Wednesday PM
The following was sent to us by one of our media watchers, more flip flopping and distortions coming from the "honest, open, ethical and I have nothing to hide" Bentley:
Well, I've seen different video clips on different newscasts of the same story, but I don't recall one that sounds like two completely different stories.  That's what I witnessed today, though. 
On the local noon news, gubernatorial candidate Dr. Robert Bentley was shown touring the empty Hwy 280 building and shown talking about how Trinity Medical Center's move there would be a great economic shot in the arm for the area, how not just the building but the future offices could house not just medical meetings but all kinds of events. 
Flash forward to 5 PM newscast on the same station, and the audio says that Bentley isn't taking a stand on the hospital's relocation.  
In that video, Bentley said he "didn't want to make the situation political, that [taking a stand on the issue] just wouldn't be right."
If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe it.  That's quite some different choice of video footage.

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC-TV) - A Republican candidate for governor has high praise for Trinity Medical Center's relocation to the digital hospital on 280.     
On Wednesday, Robert Bentley toured the building along with Trinity Medical Center officials.
Earlier this month, a state medical regulatory agency okayed (sic) the move. Brookwood and St. Vincent hospitals continue to oppose the project believing it will hurt their medical operations.
Bentley says he is not taking sides but says the relocation will have a huge economic boom for the area. "Not only will we have the hospital, we're building other facilities. We are talking about using all of this campus here. To expand it to use it for medical meetings and all types of meeting," said Bentley.
Trinity CEO Keith Granger tells FOX6 News Brookwood and St. Vincent's may still try to legally challenge the relocation. Granger says within the next 30 days they should be able to announce timetable for getting the hospital up and running.
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  1. I'm done Doc--you aren't what I voted for the first time around.

  2. Ditto for me.
    The last thing Alabama needs is four more years of the last eight years influenced by the same groups that put Riley in office.
    To hell with all this road building and pie in the sky development, fix what we have and stop playing class warfare by moving hospitals out of less than affluent communities to more affluent, big republican voting block areas.
    What a sham this is! Alabama better wake up!!!!

  3. Sparky Boy I hope you are listening good. Max and his army wield a pretty good kick themselves (just ask Steve French, oh that's right he is out of a JOB which is the point) and they can help you if you let them and LISTEN.

  4. No Quarry in VincentSeptember 29, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    Bentley just keeps moving himself further into the negative column with each passing day.

  5. I voted for Bentley specifically because (1) Time James = road building, (2) besides his one lump sum of $315,000 from a gigantic contractors association, Byrne also was getting pretty much the same contributions that Bentley is now, and (3) I'm underwhelmed by Sparks. Well, I still don't like Sparks, but I sure as shootin' won't vote for Bentley.

  6. I don't care too much for Sparks seems like he has been the invisible candidate and allowed the opposition to define who and what he is.
    Almost as if he wants to lose this thing.
    Maybe you're onto something with that Max.
    I know the guy has aegop though you have to running for office. If someone would fix him he has a chance to become a legend in Alabama's history by being the one who fixed the toilet called Montgomery.
    Or at least gave it one helluva try.

  7. Bentley is going to be such a good lil' Mule ain't he? He sure will if you folks like rammerjammer stay home and don't vote at all. You might have to vote against your grain this year just to slap those Mules because if you sit home and don't vote at all you may as well go on ahead and vote Bentley.

  8. Bentley's comments are most disturbing--whether he deliberately prevaricated or just doesn't know.

    Alabama is in crisis and heading towards catastrophe and we will need a governor who is flexible, open to input from a lot of sources and pragmatic. Sparks has shown that pragmatism in the past.

  9. What's it going to be Mr. Sparks?
    Are you going to come out of hiding and listen to your potential voters?

  10. It seems that just endorsing the Hwy 280 double-decker isn't enough for Bentley. Today he appeared on local TV noon news touring the 280 building that will house Trinity Hospital, which recently obtained a Certificate of Need to relocate there. And, of course, the good doctor didn't miss an opportunity to tout the economic development benefits of the hospital's move to the 280 site. Gee, you think that BARD contributions might be behind that? [Am I correct in my belief that Daniel Corporation, which owns the 280 property is a BARD member?] Link to news report: http://www.myfoxal.com/Global/story.asp?S=13236910

  11. Campaign Finance Reform

    In the United States, candidates for public office have always needed money to run for public office.
    To get it they have often depended on wealthy contributors expecting favors in return.
    In 1971, the federal government passed the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), in an attempt to combat this phenomenon. The FECA (which was amended several times until 1979) put a cap on the amount a single donor could contribute to a campaign for federal government, and required public disclosure of these contributions.

    But the landmark 1976 Supreme Court ruling, Buckley v. Valeo undid a portion of these reforms. The most controversial aspect of the ruling was that spending limits (as opposed to contribution limits) for candidates for public office were a violation of free speech. (However campaign contribution limits were acceptable as long as they were not so low as to prevent a candidate from geting his message across.)

    Despite these reforms, and, in part due to the Buckely v. Valeo decision, wealthy donors have been able to indirectly contribute vast sums of money to the candidate of their choice.
    For instance, unlimited contributions can be made to the parties for "party-building activities", but often end up bolstering individual campaigns.
    The 1996 and 1998 elections for Congress and the presidency broke all previous campaign fundraising records, but Congress has failed repeatedly to act on even modest reform proposals to obstruct the flow of "soft-money".

    Meanwhile, the states have been plagued by the same problems afflicting campaigns for federal office.
    As the costs of campaigning for statewide office and state legislative seats skyrocketed over the last few decades, legislators have begun to place greater emphasis on fundraising. PACs and large donors have played an increasing role as sources of campaign revenue, and incumbents have been outspending challengers by larger and larger sums.

    PAC led that campaign contribution limits were acceptable, it indicated that they must not be so low as to prevent a candidate from getting his message across.

    The Buckley Valeo decision has proven an obstacle to enacting effective campaign finance reform, and many activists are pushing to get it reconsidered, but the Supreme Court has repeatedly turned down cases that would allow it to reconsider its 1976 decision.

    A Supreme Court decison in Jaunuary 2000, Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC, was the court's first ruling on campaign contributions and free speech since Buckley v. Valeo. In it the court essentially reaffirmed Buckley vs. Valeo, by allowing state limits to campaign contributions, but not spending, so long as the contribution limit was not "so radical...as to...drive the sound of a candidate's voice below the level of notice, and render contributions pointless."
    However, the decision did counter a trend whereby federal courts have recently been striking down contribution limits even above the $1,000 (per individual) permitted in Buckley v. Valeo.

    As of 2008, five states have passed "clean election" laws, laws that provide public money for state election campaigns if a candidate agrees to strict spending limits.

    Out of State Contributions

    Out-of-state or out-of-district campaign contributions corrupt the political process because an elected official may become more beholden to these contributors than to the community she represents.

    Mr. Barbour, what is your dog in this fight and what do you expect from Dr. Robert Bentley in return?
    Same question to all of you special interests.

  12. HAWK--

    Appreciate your input, but please try not to post on top of posts.


  13. I am sick and tired of these candidates just thinking we will blindly follow them right over the cliff just because some slick PR companies have them all polished up for the media.
    Dr. Bentley, you are an extreme disappointment, not to be trusted (when I thought I could because you told me I could) and as much as I hate to admit it, you just drove me over to the other camp.
    But if they don't get out and tell me something I want to hear, neither candidate will get my vote.
    For once, JUST ONCE, could you gubernatorial candidates act like you really give a damn about the citizens you want to elect you??????????

  14. This is what happens when you depend on the party of big business to save you what you really get is SCREWED.
    Massa Barbour what are you doing meddling in Alabama's affairs?
    Don't you have a CCC BBQ to attend or something?

  15. Leftem....HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
    That was a priceless swipe or maybe beat-down to Barbour!

  16. You have to wonder just how legal all of this is. If it is not an outright violation of the law, probably because of Alabama's weakness and deliberate stalling of legislation to enact any real reforms, it sure as hell violates what WE THE PEOPLE think and pushes hard on ethical lines.
    It also has no likeness to what my opinion of a Christian would do, Dr. Bentley.
    Consider me out of your camp too.

  17. Another day of nothing but Bentley on the airwaves and TV.
    C'mon Sparks get moving will you? You need the ammo gift wrapped for you or what?


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