Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Friday, February 11, 2011

FY 2008-2009 Annual Report Alabama Ethics Commission

There's no waste like government waste.

The Alabama Ethics Commission's own report shows this agency of 16 employees to be a wasteful use of Alabama's money and more of a over-bloated, taxpayer funded, figurehead entity than it is money well spent to protect the citizens of this state from elected officials who do as they please, rather than follow the written laws.

And yes, Mr. Evans, there were laws on the books already to go after Senator Pittman.

Compare the appropriation amounts with the expenditures and ask yourself why this agency is spending 78.29% of its $1,607,898.00 FY 2009 Appropriation Funds on personnel services and employee benefits, and then compare that with what they take in from investigations and penalties: (which is supposed to be their main function)

                                                                                                            FY 2008                     FY 2009

Complaints Filed with Ethics Commission                                     223                           263
Complaints Closed After Preliminary Inquiry                                *196                         *264
Cases Presented to Commissioners                                                   13                             25
Cases Closed by Ruling of Commissioners                                       1                               2
Cases Forwarded to District Attorney or Attorney General             4                               6
Administrative Penalties Assessed by Ethics Commission            5                             16
Fines Collected by Ethics Commission                                 $2,600.00                $6,435.64
Restitution Collected                                                                      $280.00              $32,439.25

(*Includes complaints/cases that were received prior to October 1, but closed during the
current fiscal year.)

If anyone knows of a private business that can successfully operate and remain profitable under the same manner that this bean counter of a glorified lobbyist fees collection agency does we'd like to hear about it.
While we're in the realm of the surreal, how about an explanation for why a candidate for a local Sheriff's race who puts a campaign sign on a four-wheeler ATV, finds himself the object of an EC investigation and is found guilty of two counts of "using his office for personal gain," but a sitting state senator (and his Baldwin County Commissioner business partner) who are enjoying over half a million dollars in profits because of their elected positions, do not even warrant an investigation by the EC?
Ethics Commission Annual

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  1. That's an easy question to answer about would any private business be able to stay in the black if it functioned like the Ethics Commission does: NO

    I never realized how dismal their numbers actually were. Disturbing to say the least.

  2. FY 2008--87.8% of cases closed after preliminary inquiry

    FY 2009--99.6% of cases closed after preliminary inquiry

    The numbers don't lie. They're doing as little as possible and then some.

  3. Agencies are only as good as their people and their philosophy. All the worker bees bring their own set of thinking into their hive and you have an aggressive African bee in the hive with Michael Choy.
    His reputation is well-known in legal circles. There was a time when he was in charge of scoring Bar Exams and he was replaced because his pass rate was about as bad as the EC's numbers.
    Then there was an incident a few years ago where he was caught on tape screaming at a female reporter.
    Going back to the original thought--agencies are only as good as their employees.

  4. Oh hell yes you're right about that piranha in a pin striped suit! That guy is an egomanical bully of the first degree.
    How about that Bessemer councilwoman that he protected from obvious ethics violations Louise Alexander? He was an expert witness for that crook!
    Hugh Evans didn't agree with Choy and I bet those two had some behind the scenes shoutemups.
    Then there that little incident with Haskell Slaughter and Jeffco:


    He is big time baaaad news!

  5. Saw this line in a news editorial today and it seems fitting here:

    Public service should be just that: a service. Those who turn it into a cash crop should reap a costly harvest.

    So very true it is.

  6. Oh Good Grief!!! Those morons!!!

    Cherry pickers. They go after this sheriff like he is some major drug king pin or worse mafia boss while they let the corrupt politicians get by with whatever they please.

    The little people wake up in the morning and see the news and thank God the AG is doing his job. Yep. And they believe it, too. They go back to sleep thinking all is well.

    While we know so many cases the AG's office has turned their backs on over the years.

    They are there to serve us, not serve us up.

    Good Grief!!!!

  7. I can't believe they have the nerve to be proud of this like they banter about.
    I see absolutely nothing here noteworthy of accolades, but there sure is plenty to question.

  8. Ewww!!! Weeee!!!! This is a good read.

    Whatever happened to many hands make light work?

    These numbers suck. Looks like if the entire EC fell into a sink hole over-night we would not miss a thing. On the contrary. We would be missing all of this cover-up.

    Max, they remind me of cats.

  9. Lookie here..... My oh my....Page 13

    The Alabama Ethics Commission was established in 1973 by Act No. 1056 of the Alabama
    Legislature which has subsequently been amended by Acts 75-130, 79-460, 79-698, 82-429,
    86-321, 92-342, 95-194, 96-261, 97-651, 2000-797 and Act. No. 2001-474.

    The Mission of this law is to ensure that public officials are independent and impartial;
    that decisions and policies are made in the proper governmental channels; that public office
    is not used for private gain; and, most importantly, that there is public confidence in the integrity of government.

    With confirmation from the Alabama Senate, members of the Alabama Ethics Commission
    are appointed by the:

    Lieutenant Governor
    Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives

  10. As in what cats cover up right?


  11. "Mr. Ripp, I am going to dictate this very slowly so you might understand this time. Re-filing the same complaint does not make it a new complaint. Re-filing the same complaint does not make a newly enacted law applicable to an old set of facts," Evans wrote.

    This a patently false statement by Mr. Evans because there already are laws on the books referring to using your public office for personal gain.
    I'm not sure I understand what he and Mr. Sumner are trying to accomplish by acting as there were no existing laws to prevent this sort of thing before the Special Session.
    They know better, but it seems the writers for most newspapers don't think to question them on it.
    That's unfortunate.

  12. Put frankly, it is hard to conceive that the citizens of Alabama would stand for this degree of incompetence.
    Have we no pride?
    Do we bow this low to incompetence and political protection masquerading as citizen protection?
    If so, we deserve what we have.
    What are YOU going to do about it people?

  13. Do the math.

    15 People.

    880,649.00 + benefits for those 15 people 327,376.00 for a total of 1,208,025
    Which is 78.29% of the budget.

    For now - forget about the rest of the list of expenditures.

    263 Total Complaints
    25 Complaints to the Commissioners
    5 Formal Opinions
    65 Informal Opinions

    38,874.25 Collected Fines

    692 Lobbyists Registered

    59,135.64 General Fund Deposit

    49,381 Statement of Economic Interests

    44 Seminars
    11 DVD's

    (Busy Work)

    That's the cost to the State for the 15 people and all they do in order to perform whatever it is they do for the state.

    EC budget for all 263 complaints + the various other responsibilities like the seminars, making all those forms for people to fill out, collecting some fines and fees and of course,
    pay days was 1,511,383.79

    That would be everything.

    It occurred to me as I was reading this annual report ---- these people are not there as the missions statement defines --

    The Mission of this law is to ensure that public officials are independent and impartial;
    that decisions and policies are made in the proper governmental channels; that public office
    is not used for private gain; and, most importantly, that there is public confidence in the integrity of government.

    Most important is, the public believe this commission is doing the job to make certain this state has high ethics in government - which by the way - we DO NOT currently have.


    And this one for laughs ---

    PLAN 2010 Our Vision for Alabama

    Our Priority:
    Many events of the past year have left little doubt that some parts of state government have long been mired in the corrupt politics of Alabama’s past. Indictments and convictions of a number of high-level government officials have highlighted the “good ole boy” political system that has shackled our state for far too long. Finally, these underhanded sweetheart deals are coming to light, and Alabamians are demanding change. With our administration, change is exactly what they are getting.....

    Yeah - change from one group of crooks to the next group of crooks. Change.

    Too bad this is all talk and window dressing and the Alabama Ethics Commission spent 1.6 million in 2009 and looks like (to me) this is all to protect their own.

    It's nice to see this info available from The Sunshine Review --


    And it would be nice if this case went all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court and we got a chance to see what they have to say about it.

  14. Chris E. Warner in FairhopeFebruary 12, 2011 at 4:07 AM

    I find the corruption nauseating. However, the apathy on the part of the voting public is perhaps more disturbing.

    I know people are upset but they should not be afraid of speaking out for what is right.

    Not speaking out has gotten us where we are.

    Dr. Warner

  15. Last two comments are dead on.

    On apathy:
    "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."
    Edmund Burke

    On the real function of the EC:
    We're paying $1.6 million for this agency to protect elected officials from US, the citizens.

    Time to wake up and demand better.


  16. A state of corruption
    Author: JOHN EHINGER Huntsville Times Feb 13, 2009

    Legislators must fight for stronger ethics laws, not weaker ones
    Ethics in Alabama government is more than problematic. It's almost an oxymoron, meaning an expression that is internally and inherently contradictory. Witness actions in Montgomery's halls of power this week.
    To its credit, the House Judiciary Committee has sent to the full House a measure that would grant the Alabama Ethics Commission the power of subpoena, something it lacks now.
    Investigating possible criminal activity is difficult enough for law-enforcement agencies. To conduct such investigations without the power to compel people to appear is almost impossible.
    The subpoena power is one item in Gov. Bob Riley's package of proposed ethics reforms. In recent years, the number of state and local officials, present and former, who find themselves in legal trouble is nothing short of an embarrassment. And where the individual's sense of right and wrong as pertaining to public service is so often lacking, other safeguards, such as subpoena power, are needed.
    Whether the measure will pass the entire House is uncertain. It is even more uncertain in the Senate, a body that has long been stubbornly resistant to ethics reforms.
    Just this week, state Ethics Commission Director Jim Sumner found it necessary to write state senators urging them to block a version of an ethics bill introduced in the Senate.
    In addition to dealing with a number of procedural steps in ethics investigations, the bill also stipulates that all complaints turned in to the Ethics Commission must be investigated in no more than 30 days.
    That's a deal killer. If passed, it would render the commission impotent, and that may well have been the intent.
    Sumner notes that his agency has only three investigators - three in a state where thousands of state and local officials are covered under the 1975 Ethics Law.
    Equally alarming is the fact that at present complaints to the commission come in at the rate of more than 220 a year, or more than four a week. Each investigation takes time. To set a 30-day time limit is both absurd and insulting to the citizens of Alabama.

    The Senate bill should be killed before it ever reaches a vote. If the bill passes, Riley should be prepared to summarily veto it.
    In fact, the Legislature should not only strengthen the Ethics Law, as Riley has proposed, but it should find the money to perhaps triple the number of investigators.
    The taxpayers of this state have had to watch for years a pattern of corruption that undermines the credibility of state government and cripples the state's image nationally.
    Time to stand up
    No single member of the Legislature would fail to condemn corruption. Now it's time for each of them to stand up for principle. It's time to pass meaningful ethics measures and to refrain from watering down the limited law now in place.
    Enough is enough.

  17. Well what do you expect from a former lobbyist for UA? We're all up in arms about lobbyists and their influence and here we have one running the damn Ethics Commission!
    Remember when Sumner was blaming the lack of investigations on Troy King? That wasn't finger pointing by accident, that was Riley directed blaming.

  18. All paid gatekeepers under the guise of true ethics. This is disgusting and criminal. This is fraud. A deliberate breach of faith or trust. It's treachery. A perfidy which has gone unpunished - til now.

    They have been generous with themselves and taken advantage of the public trust until there is none left.

    And they are about to find out how generous I can


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