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Monday, August 10, 2009

Candidates must stop fundraising

Candidates for governor are among those who abruptly stopped their efforts to raise money for their 2010 campaigns when Gov. Bob Riley called lawmakers into special session on Monday.
The Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act does not allow candidates to accept or solicit contributions during a legislative session. Riley called legislators into a special session that started at 6 p.m. Monday to address the financial crisis in Alabama's most populated area, Jefferson County.
At least one candidate for governor, Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, had not scheduled fundraising events during the week because of speculation Riley would call the special session, said Sparks campaign manager Justin Saia.
The campaign of U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, a Birmingham Democrat running for governor, canceled two events including one in Tuscaloosa and another in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, according to his campaign spokesman Alex Goepfert.
"We suspended all events and solicitations in accordance with the law," he said.
The office of Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman received several calls about the issue and posted information on its Web site Monday to remind candidates.
"Fundraising and solicitation of contributions for 2010 general election candidates for state office will be suspended temporarily at the start of the special session and will remain suspended until the adjournment of the special session, sine die," according to the site.
The suspension does not apply to federal, municipal or special elections, according to the Secretary of State’s site.
Saia said the Sparks campaign stopped soliciting and accepting donations Sunday night. He said the Sparks campaign understood that a candidate could not raise money at all beginning the first day of the special session until the last day, and criticized Davis for not taking down the contribution link on his site and canceling events sooner.
Goepfert said the fundraising portion was taken down about 11 a.m. Monday and that the events were canceled. He said technical issues kept the campaign from pulling the fundraising link until about 11 a.m. Monday.
Davis received five contributions on Monday morning for a total of $30, Goepfert said. All of those contributions were voided and the donors received an e-mail, he said.
When people click on the contributions link on the Davis site, they see the message "We are not currently accepting donations."
State Rep. Robert Bentley, R-Tuscaloosa, sent out two e-mails on Monday, one inviting people to an event in St. Clair County and another apologizing for mistakenly attaching contribution information to the bottom of the first e-mail. Bentley is one of six Republicans who have announced they are running for governor.
"The solicitation was not supposed to be a part of that email, as Alabama law does not allow a candidate to solicit funds during a session of the Legislature," Bentley wrote to supporters.
If people clicked on the Bentley link on Monday afternoon, they would go to a Web site informing them "Due to the special session of the Alabama Legislature, we are not able to accept contributions at this time. Please check back shortly."
The only Web site for a gubernatorial campaign where people still appeared to be able to contribute online as of 7 p.m. Monday was the site of former Birmingham City Councilman Bill Johnson, a Republican who was also appointed by Riley to head the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
People were able to contribute to former Chief Justice Roy Moore Monday afternoon, but contributions had been stopped by Monday evening, and people were informed about the state law. Moore, a Republican, is in his second run for governor and has reported receiving contributions from all 67 counties in Alabama and all 50 states.
On Monday afternoon, there did not appear to be active fundraising links on the sites of Greenville businessman Tim James, state Treasurer Kay Ivey and former two-year college system Chancellor Bradley Byrne. All three are Republicans running for governor.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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