On Monday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl announced he was personally pursuing a rule change to prohibit campaign contributions from the National Education Association (NEA) and the Alabama Education Association (AEA) for its school board and superintendent candidates.

The AEA downplayed its association with the NEA in response to the announcement. A statement from AEA executive director Amy Marlowe called Wahl "irresponsible."

"It is irresponsible of ALGOP Chairman John Wahl to make false accusations of the Alabama Education Association's standards and mission," her statement said. "The 'A' in AEA stands for Alabama – and we take pride in Alabama's values. Our voluntary membership comprises almost 90,000 Alabamians, with 72% identifying as conservative Republican voters. AEA prioritizes all education employees working to teach children in Alabama's local schools. Our focus is on education with no partisan perspective or fringe ideologies. We do not feed into the narrative of the baseless culture wars expressed in Wahl's press release – and we ask that he or other party leaders bring forth any person who has said they have been lobbied by AEA advocating for the concepts referenced in his release."

"Republican leaders have expressed a desire for the party to be focused on the ALGOP's core values and the upcoming 2024 election," Marlowe added. "As always, AEA will continue with its primary mission to advocate for all Alabama teachers and educators."

Later on Monday, ALGOP released a statement attributed to Wahl. In it, Wahl claimed AEA was "free to disassociate" with the NEA at any time.

"It's ironic that the AEA would take offense to my comments regarding woke policies, considering they are affiliates of the NEA, who make no secret of their promoting transgender and woke policies," Wahl said. "If they are serious about supporting Alabama values, they are free to disassociate from the NEA at any time. It's also important to remember that just a few weeks ago, they sent an update to their members promoting that a divisive concepts bill was defeated, and bragging about how they killed school choice, and opposed the Republican-led effort by the state legislature to cut the state grocery tax."

The statement referred to the June 6 issue of the AEA's weekly newsletter, The Pulse, which claimed success in thwarting efforts on school choice, cutting the grocery tax and the divisive concepts bill.

Wahl's announcement rekindled the feud between the two entities that predates the Republican Party's 2010 takeover of the Alabama Legislature.

The late Paul Hubbert, the former executive director of the AEA, was once known for leading an organization with tremendous sway over the Democrat-led Alabama Legislature. In 2010, Alabama Republicans were able to ride the Tea Party GOP midterm wave to gain control of the Alabama State House under the leadership of then-ALGOP chairman Mike Hubbard, who would go on to be Alabama House Speaker before his 2016 conviction on ethics charges.

In recent years, the AEA had made inroads with Republican lawmakers, giving to them by a 2-to-1 margin through the 2022 election cycle.

Wahl's proposed ban would not apply to those running for the Alabama Legislature.

Jeff Poor is the editor in chief of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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