The final financial reports before the Tuesday special general election for the District 40 seat were filed this week with the Office of Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman. Republican candidate K.L. Brown received the most money during the past month, but Democratic candidate Ricky Whaley spent thousands more than Brown. Brown spent less than $5,000 during the last reporting cycle.
Brown received more in in-kind services from the state Republican Party than Whaley did from the Democratic Party.
For the entire election race to date, Whaley has spent $94,011.32 and received in-kind contributions worth $12,435 while Brown has spent $16,563.19 and received $45,656.60 of in-kind contributions, records show.
Independent candidate Carol Hagan filed a waiver of report, indicating she received no contributions and had no expenditures.
The candidates are running for the seat vacated when Rep. Lea Fite died in October. Whoever wins the election will serve the remainder of Fite’s term and face another round of elections this fall.
Both Brown and Whaley had an influx of money from political action committees (PACs), with Brown receiving about $45,000 while Whaley received around $25,000.
According to the most recent reports, of the two PACs that contributed to Whaley’s campaign, JDC PAC and the ECODEV PAC, each reported receiving $18,500 from Macon County Greyhound, which is part of VictoryLand, a gambling establishment in Shorter.
The JDC PAC also received an additional $18,500 from the Jefferson County Racing Association, which oversees Birmingham greyhound racing. Together, these two PACs contributed $13,500 to Whaley’s campaign, records show.
Whaley said he was unaware there was any gambling interest money indirectly donated to his campaign, noting members of the state Democratic caucus have helped him raise much of his money.
“All I know is my friends with the caucus raised the money and wrote me the checks,” Whaley said. “I couldn’t have raised all that money any other way.”
Whaley added he is against gambling personally, but supports the public’s right to vote on the issue.
“I believe the people are supreme and have the right to vote up or down,” Whaley said.
Calhoun County Republican Party Chairman Gene Howard said in his opinion, Whaley’s PAC money indicates he will be influenced by special interests if elected.
“It proves what we’ve been saying all along … he is being controlled by special interests,” Howard said.
However, it appears Brown also indirectly received special interest money, albeit from insurance companies.
In the latest annual financial re-ports of two of the PACs that contributed $2,000 to Brown’s campaign, Capitol Resources PAC and Big I PAC, each listed receiving thousands from insurance companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.
Brown said he was not fully informed of the PACs funding his campaign and that receiving money from PACs concerns him in general.
“One of the things that bothers me is the names of these things can be very deceiving,” Brown said. “Some have the word families in their names, but when you start digging into their depths, they have gambling interests tied to them.”
Roy Hanner, chairman of the Calhoun County Democratic Party, said he was not surprised about the amount of money being pumped into the campaigns.
“We fully expected there to be a lot of money put into the campaigns,” Hanner said. “The Republicans, they have unlimited funds it seems like.”
Hanner said the high amount of money spent for this special election indicates how expensive elections have become in general.
“It’s really gotten to the point where when a House district race here in north Alabama costs this much, it takes a lot of people out of the opportunity to participate in politics,” Hanner said.
David Lanoue, chairman of the University of Alabama political science department, said it was not unusual that both political parties were spending large amounts of money for a special election.
“Obviously, whoever wins the election is going to be the frontrunner going into the next race,” Lanoue said. “If you are going to have an influence on the seat, now is the time to make your move.”
10 day finance reports, Alabama House District 40 race K.L. Brown (R)
In-kind services: $44,656
Ricky Whaley (D)
In-kind services: $12,435
Carol Hagan (Independent)
Reported no contributions or expenses.
*Source: Alabama Secretary of State's office