MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Ethics Commission upheld a $4,500 fine on Wednesday against State Rep. Marilyn Lands (D-Huntsville).

The fines are civil penalties imposed by the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office for five campaign finance violations. Lands defeated Teddy Powell, a Republican, in a March 26 special election that received heavy coverage from national media outlets due to Democrats flipping the House District 10 seat from red to blue. Lands narrowly lost in 2022 against former State Rep. David Cole. The 2024 special election for the House seat happened after Cole resigned in August after being arrested for voter fraud.

RELATED: Liberal media continue pushing Democrat HD10 win as catalyst for abortion referendum in Alabama, nationally

Alabama Ethics Commission and Secretary of State’s Office staff testified the fines resulted from the Lands campaign not filing daily campaign finance reports as required by law in the last week of the special election campaign when donations or expenditures exceed $5,000 during a 24-hour period.

Peck Fox, an attorney representing Christine Starnes, who prepared campaign finance reports for the Lands campaign, asked the commission to reduce the fines because the campaign self-reported the offenses.

“Although they raised a good deal of money through the election, they had absolutely no filing issues until the last week. Ms. Starnes, who was doing the reports as a volunteer, even though she had done the reports in a previous cycle, the only other time she had done these, didn’t remember that daily reports were necessary if a campaign raises or spends more than $5,000 in a 24-hour period in the last seven to eight days before an election. There were five days that week where the campaign raised and/or spent and it’s looked at collectively, you can raise $3,000 and spend $3,000 and go over the daily report. They did not file those daily reports. The Monday before the election they did file a weekly report that reflected all those contributions and all those expenditures,” Fox said. “In the past in a lot of situations if the campaign self-reported and if there was disclosure anyways and it was all the same offenses and it was discovered at the same time, the prior commission had seen fit to reduce the number of fines and offenses.”

The total fine assessed to Lands is relatively high for campaign finance violations. The Alabama Ethics Commission and Secretary of State’s Office routinely reduce or vacate campaign finance violations against candidates or PACs they believe made honest mistakes.

Mike Jones, general counsel for Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen, said their recommendation to uphold all of the penalties and fines against the Lands campaign was a “unique position.”

“It’s not our standard position,” Jones told the commission. “It was substantially over $5,000 on that daily basis. I think one day it was over $30,000 on one of those daily reports. One day it was only $6,000. The purpose of those daily reports right there at the end of an election cycle is obviously transparency. That’s obviously the purpose of it. When there’s a large amount of activity, that’s one of the reasons the dailies are there. Once again, we looked at the previous cycle and I think she had run two years before. We looked at that just to see if there were any problems with the dailies there or any lack of understanding. I think two or three of the dailies were filed. We saw that clearly that they knew that the dailies were required. Everybody was the same as far as their listings. The treasurer was the same person. I believe you were on there as well Ms. Starnes and the person who was running. We didn’t see new faces or new names that might explain why they would not be filing those dailies.”

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.