Chamber Board member Mark Sullivan wrote a letter-to-the-editor which was intended to exonerate The West Alabama Chamber of Commerce from accusations of “buying” the election.
“I am on the board of the chamber, serving as its past-chairman, and I can attest that the chamber did not contribute a single dime to any candidate for this race or for any other municipal race, either directly or through a PAC. There are business people who chose to give of their own means to support candidates who they believed would do the best job of serving our children, and I am one of them.”
Mr. Sullivan was not not a contributor to the controversial Educate Tuscaloosa Political Action Committee ( ET PAC ) which contributed large sums of money to challengers of three incumbent School Board members. However contributing to the ET PAC were the Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Chair and Board member Jordan Plaster ( $2,000) and Board member Terry Waters ( $1500 ). The ET PAC received $5,000 from the Advantage Realty Group, which is represented by Alice Maxwell on the Chamber Board.
One of the challengers to School Board incumbents supported by the ET PAC was the Chamber’s Board member Renwick Jones. Norman Crow, Chamber Board member and Chair of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Council, was unopposed in District 3 after Sena Stewart decided not to seek reelection.
Undoubtedly the Chamber’s Poohbahs in the not too distant past came up with the idea of “plausible deniability.” It was decided that the Chamber’s FUTURE PAC, which had contributed to School Board candidates in past elections, would not dole out money this year to candidates with Chamber ties.
After all the Chamber had set a new priority “The Chamber will recruit seasoned business leaders to seek elected office on local boards of education, beginning in 2013, to significantly improve the policy-making, financial management and operations of local public school districts.”
Added to that priority should have been that the Chamber will never admit that it supported any candidates, even those who might be on its Board. Also, Chamber members should be sure to contribute to any other PAC than the Chamber’s FUTURE PAC in 2013.