With the headline “Lawmakers raise millions while running unopposed,” Kyle Whitmire of AL.com reports:
Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, raised $240,161, with about $110,000 coming after no one qualified to run against him.
Under Alabama law, officials can use leftover campaign funds for any expenses reasonably related to the office.
So what’s reasonable? That’s largely subject to interpretation and lawmakers often have imaginations as big as their campaign accounts.
Plane tickets, car leases, new tires for a truck, dinners in Montgomery, dinners out of state, cell phones, laptops — the list is long.
The point of all this is, special interest groups and big-dollar donors who are giving to these candidates aren’t giving them money to run on. They’re giving them money to live on — and live well.
State Senator Rodger Smitherman and his wife Carole, the presiding judge in the Newsome Conspiracy Case, received over $30,000 in campaign cash at critical junctures of the Newsome Case from parties affiliated with Balch & Bingham or the alleged co-conspirators.
Showing up for the Newsome Conspiracy Case deliberations, Senator Smitherman sat in at numerous closed and secretive hearings of the Star Chamber.
Was he there as political enforcement?
In her bias outburst that allegedly implicated her family in the contributions scandal, Judge Smitherman attempted to justify and rationalize the huge sums of cash (many coming in from first-time donors) by declaring she and her husband were running for re-election.
Newsome’s legal pleadings to the Alabama Supreme Court declared that Judge Smitherman’s argument was absurd since Judge Smitherman and Senator Smitherman are both running unopposed.
Now Whitmire has confirmed the absurdity.
Questionable donations include a generous $2,000 contribution to Judge Smitherman from Andrew “Andy2K” Campbell around the time he was appointed the new lead counsel for Balch this past winter.