Corruption Risk Report Card
Rank among 50 states: 17th

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The story behind the score

Alabama has strengthened its ethics commission and tightened its lobbying regulations, but the state’s reform effort remains a work in progress. Read more from SII State Reporter Ed Mullins.

Latest state news for Alabama

State integrity news for Alabama, from the Los Angeles Times:

It's usually difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a campaign contribution influenced a public official to take an official action. That's why other ways to limit the influence of money in politics, such as disclosure rules and limits on contributions, are so important.

But sometimes the link between cause and effect is so clear that a politician can be convicted of criminal bribery. The Supreme Court last week wisely refused to make such convictions harder to achieve.

Read the rest of the story at the Los Angeles Times.

State integrity news for Alabama, from the Montgomery Advertiser:

The Legislature may have capped gifts to teachers at $25, but there are no similar limits to the trips lawmakers can take abroad. At least four lawmakers took a jaunt to Turkey last year where travel and accommodations were paid in whole or in part by a group promoting bonds between Turkey and the United States.

The groups sponsoring the trip offered a similar package to lawmakers at the beginning of the month, a journey that for individuals would cost anywhere from $4,000 to $14,000, according to pricing on the web site Travelocity.

Read the rest of the story at the Montgomery Advertiser.

State integrity news for Alabama, from the Montgomery Advertiser:

A Montgomery County grand jury urged the Legislature to revisit ethics reform in a report issued last Friday, saying the state’s financial disclosure requirements and ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers were not clear enough to allow prosecution of offenses. The grand jury, empaneled by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Johnny Hardwick, examined 12 complaints of PAC-to-PAC transfers or failure to file reports in a timely manner filed over the last year.

The complaints entangled a number of state leaders, including former Gov. Bob Riley, who headed a PAC that received a $50,000 contribution from an out-of-state PAC just a few months after Riley signed a law banning the practice.

Read the rest of the story at the Montgomer Advertiser.


State integrity news for Alabama, from the New York Times:

In a serious setback for justice in Alabama, primary voters chose Roy Moore to be their candidate for chief justice of the State Supreme Court in November. He is now the odds-on favorite to win. You may remember that Mr. Moore lost that job in 2003 when a special ethics court removed him from the bench after he defied a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building in Montgomery.

In all, 31 states are holding elections for their top court this year — multicandidate races and “retention” votes for a total of 73 judgeships nationwide. Requiring would-be judges to cozy up to party leaders and raise large sums from special interests eager to influence their decisions seriously damages the efficacy and credibility of the judiciary.

Read the rest of the story at the New York Times.

Legislative immunity in Alabama was once necessary to protect lawmakers from a surprising threat: The governor.

“In the olden days, it’s my understanding that the governor would send state police to arrest legislators to keep them from voting,” said Alabama Senator Arthur Orr. With a laugh, Orr added: “I don’t believe that’s a concern anymore.”

Orr (R-Decatur) is seeking to repeal the legislative immunity law as part of an “accountability package” he hopes will take away some of the special privileges elected officials enjoy. Citing a recent case in which an Alabama legislator avoided arrest for driving under the influence by invoking the immunity clause, Orr said it’s unfair to have different levels of culpability for officials and citizens.

“Those in public service, in office, should not be held to a different standard than those they represent,” Orr said.

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