The Alabama Senate approved a $1 million appropriation for Troy University’s Johnson Center for Political Economy last week in its Education Trust Fund budget, but Johnson Center executive director Allen Mendenhall said he only found out about this when a reporter showed him the bill.

“When a reporter reached out to me last week to ask about a line item for the Free Enterprise Scholars program, I told him that I thought he was mistaken,” Mendenhall said. “He emailed back with evidence of the proposed appropriation in the budget, and I was shocked. I had no idea that was coming.”

The appropriation is specifically for the Johnson Center’s Free Enterprise Scholars program, which is designed to train business leaders who are not beholden to progressive political ideology.

This comes shortly after Mendenhall spoke to the Alabama Senate Republican Caucus about the threat of environmental, social governance (ESG) last week. Moments before Mendenhall addressed the room, the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee delayed a hearing for State Sen. Dan Roberts' (R-Mountain Brook) anti-ESG bill.

Sources informed 1819 News that state lawmakers and ESG opponents received harsh backlash from Alabama's big business lobbyists, such as Business Council of Alabama manager of Government Affairs William Newman and Regions Financial's head of government affairs and economic development Jason Isbell.

The committee made several revisions to the bill before passing it to the Senate on Wednesday.

1819 News reached out to State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), chair of the Senate Education Budget Committee, to ask for an explanation for suddenly appropriating money to the Johnson Center. Orr did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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