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Alabama’s leading teacher’s union, the Alabama Education Association (AEA), continues to bankroll political candidates across the state with total donations of over $1.5 million during the current election cycle.
The AEA donates to campaigns via its political action committee, Alabama Voice of Teachers for Education (also known as AVOTE and A-VOTE).
Just in this last election cycle, from Jan. 1, 2019, until the present, AEA has contributed $1,585,622.91 to candidates, lawmakers and school board members across the state.
The AEA donated $1,066,475.69 to Republicans and $519,147.22 to Democrats this election cycle.
The Republican individuals that reported receiving $20,000 or more are:
1. State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) -$50,000
2. State Senate District 12 candidate Keith Kelley (R-Anniston) - $45,000
3. State Sen. Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva) - $35,000
4. State Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) - $35,000
5. State Rep. Gil Isbell (R-Gadsden) - $34,228.42
6. State Sen. Randy Price (R-Opelika) - $32,604.66
7. State House District 40 candidate Julie Michelle Borelli (R-Anniston) - $30,000
8. State House District 15 candidate Leigh Hulsey (R-Helena) - $30,000
9. State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) - $30,000
10. State Rep. Phillip Pettus (R-Killen) - $30,000
11. State Rep. Tommy Hanes Jr. (R-Bryant) - $25,000
12. State House District 20 candidate James Lomax (R-Huntsville) - $25,000
13. State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence) - $25,000
14. State Rep. Debbie Wood (R-Valley) - $25,000
15. Former State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) - $25,000
16. State Rep. Proncey Robertson (R-Mount Hope) - $20,000
17. State Rep. Cynthia Lee Almond (R-Tuscaloosa) - $20,000
18. State Rep. Corey Harbison (R-Cullman) - $20,000
19. State Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre) - $20,000
20. State Rep. Jamie Kiel (R-Russellville) - $20,000
21. State Rep. Ritchie Whorton (R-Owens Cross Roads) - $20,000
Some of the legislation Whatley has sponsored during this time period has included:
A bill to delete language from the Alabama Literacy Act and allow third graders to continue to fourth grade without demonstrating sufficient reading skills,
A bill to allow out-of-state children of military members who are planning to move to Alabama to enroll in schools remotely,
A bill to revise sex education materials in the state, including taking out language that “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public,” and
A bill to authorize local school boards to offer yoga in schools.
As 1819 News pointed out in February, for Republicans, there is a party rule that discourages taking donations from the AEA. It reads, “The Alabama Republican Party shall not accept money, in-kind contributions, or anything of value, directly or indirectly, from (i) the National Education Association (NEA) or (iii) any of the NEA’s state affiliates or their related organizations. Officeholders and candidates are strongly admonished to follow the same rule and, because the NEA is a veritable adjunct of the Democratic Party, failure to heed this admonition shall be regarded negatively by the Committee.”
Some Democratic candidates and politicians have also taken donations from AEA. Here is a list of those who reported taking $20,000 or more:
1. State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) - $45,000
2. State Rep. Dexter Grimsley (D-Newville) - $30,000
3. Former State Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma) - $30,000
4. State Senate District 56 candidate Ontario Tillman (D-Bessemer) - $30,000
5. State Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) - $25,000
6. State Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) - $25,000
7. State Sen. Merika Coleman (D-Pleasant Grove) - $25,000
8. State House District 57 candidate Patrick Sellers (D-Birmingham) - $20,000
State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) serves as a member of the Education Policy Committee in the legislature along with:
Chair Sen. Tim Melson (R)
Vice-chair Sen. Donnie Chesteen (R)
Ranking member Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D)
Member Sen. Tom Butler (R)
Member Sen. Chris Elliott (R)
Member Sen. Jim McClendon (R)
Member Sen. Randy Price (R)
Member President Pro-Tem Greg Reed (R)
Member Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R)
The AEA not only lobbies for education professionals but also offers legal services for members.
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