Why did Governor Ivey appoint a Democrat to the Madison County Commission? by Taxpayer Tom Scovill

The death of Democrat Commissioner Bob Harrison on October 25, 2017 created a vacancy in District 6 of the Madison County Commission. His demise came less than one year after he was reelected to a four-year term in November 2016. This was a sad note just as primary election campaigns were picking up speed with the start of the January 9 to February 8 primary qualification period looming just 75 days ahead.

The governor of Alabama has the authority and responsibility to fill county commission vacancies, a responsibility Governor Ivey met after 135 days on March 9 by appointing JesHenry Malone, a captain in the city of Huntsville Police Department. Malone is also a Democrat. He voted in the 2017 special Democrat primary for the US Senate and he says he was mentored by Democrat Commissioner Harrison.

Upon the announcement of the appointment, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said, “I commend Governor Ivey for her thorough process in seeking the most qualified person to serve the Madison County Commission.”

I say the selection process was not thorough at all and I find the appointment troubling.

Captain Malone is in bankruptcy and has over $6,100 in tax liens from the Alabama Department of Revenue. His financial crisis is an incentive for corruption (as shown, for example, by the recent conviction of Republican House majority leader Micky Hammon). Captain Malone is more risk than voters should have to accept.

Captain Malone is keeping his job in the Huntsville police department. The police power of government should be subordinate to those in elective executive and legislative office. Placing police in elective office is a recipe for trouble and smacks of banana republicanism. And although we elect sheriffs, our sheriffs are largely subordinate to county commissions because they do not make law and they do not enact budgets.

Captain Malone has a conflict between his role as a senior employee of the city of Huntsville and his role as a county commissioner. The interests of these two distinct jurisdictions are not congruent and are often at odds as the recent flap between the city and the county over a costly jail illustrates.

Captain Malone now has two well-compensated jobs to keep him busy and we cannot expect him to do both as well as the people deserve.

Captain Malone received a scholarship from the Huntsville Committee of 100 in 2013, a thing of value from an organization which employs a lobbyist, a likely ethics violation (Alabama Code 36-25-5.1).

Governor Ivey has stomped on the voting rights of the citizens of the County Commission District 6 by waiting overlong to fill the vacancy. The most likely explanation for the delay is that Captain Malone needed time to establish the required one-year residency. Had she acted within 75 days before the filing period for the primary opened, the position would have been on the November 2018 ballot and voters would have had the deserved opportunity of deciding who would fill the last two years of the late incumbent’s unfinished term. District 6 voters demonstrated how they value voting opportunities when in 2016 when they unseated a city councilman and city school board president.

Governor Ivey has disrespected District 6 Republicans by not selecting one of the qualified Republicans who applied for the appointment. That this district tends to vote Democrat is no excuse. The vacancy was an opportunity for Governor Ivey to put a well qualified Republican before the voters to  demonstrate good governance. Instead, she has assured a Democrat of a three year term and the advantage of long incumbency in the next election.

Governor Ivey is a disloyal Republican. Gubernatorial appointments are essentially elections with the franchise limited to one person, the governor. Governor Ivey’s unprecedented appointment of a Democrat to an elective office is an affront to the Alabama Republican Party and its standing rule which lists support of a candidate of another party as one of the bases for denying ballot access. Because the best politics is good governance and the best governance is based on Republican principles, members of the Republican Party cooperate to win elections to control government and enact an agenda based on Republican principles. Appointing Democrats to fill vacancies in elective offices is an act of disloyalty and destructive to the purpose of the Republican Party.

As a point of honor, JesHenry Malone should resign his seat on the Madison County Commission.

And in our June primary, Republican voters should reject Kay Ivey’s quest for governor.

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