Photo | Courtesy of Baykeeper
Alabama Power has long been one of the state’s most powerful political forces, donating heavily to campaigns across the state.
Alabama Power (APCO)-linked Political Action Committees (PACs) spent almost $100,000 in contributions to local statewide candidates during the 2018 election cycle, and have pushed even more than that to elected officials in the first half of this year, information from Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s office reveals.
The majority of the contributions — about $78,000 — comes from a PAC set up by employees of the utility. Other, much smaller contributions came into local campaign coffers from the Alabama Trucking Association, MACC PAC and Alabama Works PAC.
The contributions touch almost every local politician holding statewide office and flow across party lines, with both Democratic and Republican members of both houses benefitting from money linked to the massive, statewide utility.
Republican Sen. Chris Elliott, of Fairhope, received the most money from these PACs during his first campaign for the office last year. During the race, he received a total of $17,500 in four separate contributions from the Alabama Power employees’ PAC. The next closest amount was $12,500 roped in by fellow GOP Sen. Jack Williams, of Wilmer.
Both Elliott and Williams received all of their contributions from the employees’ PAC; however, others received funding from some of the other PACs Alabama Power contributes to. Sen. David Sessions, R-Grand Bay, brought in $10,000 in contributions from the PAC.
For instance, a total of six Republicans received small, either in-kind or cash contributions from MACC PAC. Those include State Reps. Alan Baker, of Brewton; Harry Shiver, of Bay Minette; Chris Pringle, of Mobile; Victor Gaston, of Mobile; Chip Brown, of Mobile; and Matt Simpson, of Daphne.
A total of two Democrats received contributions from the Alabama Works PAC, which Alabama Power has contributed to in the past. State Reps. Adline Clarke, of Mobile, and Barbara Drummond, of Mobile, have received those donations. Former Mobile Mayor and current State Rep. Sam Jones, a Democrat, received $2,500 from the Alabama Power-supported Alabama Trucking Association PAC. Jones has received the largest amount in contributions from the utility among Democrats with $7,000 total from the truckers and employees.
With $2,500 from Alabama Works and another $4,000 from the APCO employees, Adline Clarke is just behind Jones in contributions among Democrats at $6,500.
While the contributions from Alabama Power-fueled PACs touches many on the political spectrum here locally, statewide numbers are more eye-popping. In about a year, from November 2017 to November 2018, the company spent more than $700,000 on statewide races.
For example, Gov. Kay Ivey received a total of $51,000 in cash contributions from the Alabama Power employees’ PAC from November 2017 to November 2018.
Since the calendar flipped to 2019, spending has seen an uptick. These PACs and Alabama Power have given $165,000 in contributions. Specifically, the employees’ PAC gave more than $100,000 to Ivey, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth and Attorney General Steve Marshall respectively. The utility itself donated $20,000 to Alabama Works and another $35,000 to MACC PAC this year.
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