Out of office legislators still accepted free Iron Bowl tickets

January 1, 2011
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News release
December 30, 2010

Birmingham, AL – A recently released list of public officials who received free Iron Bowl tickets and parking passes from the University of Alabama shows that several legislators accepted the gifts even though out of office.

Jim Metrock of Obligation, Inc., a Birmingham-based child advocacy organization, made a year-long effort to have the University send free Iron Bowl tickets intended for public officials to charities that benefited children or to wounded soldiers.

Both universities have repeatedly stated the purpose of the ticket giveaway was to show lawmakers and other officials their campus facilities.  They contended it was an important lobbying tool for the schools.

“This long-standing tradition gives the universities an opportunity to showcase the important and positive impact we have on issues that are critical to the state, including economic development,” said Cathy Andreen, UA’s director of media relations.

So why send tickets to Lowell Barron? or other citizens no longer in the legislature or who will be out of their appointed office in months?

State senator Lowell Barron lost his District 8 senate race on November 2 and under Alabama law was immediately no longer a senator.  The University of Alabama’s policy is to offer free Iron Bowl tickets to those in office on January 1.  Mr. Barron therefore was due tickets, but did he have to accept them?

Those who were out of office and accepted the tickets include:

Locy Baker   section SS-13, row 33, seats 3,4

Lowell Barron  SS-12, 34, 9,10

Kim Benefield  SS-12, 34, 15,16

Charles Bishop  SS-12,34, 17,18

Mike Curtis  SS-13, 30, 6,7

Bobby Denton  SS-12, 34, 23,24

Larry Dixon  SS-12, 33, 1,2

Bill Dukes  SS-13, 29, 8,9

Hank Erwiin  SS-12, 33, 5,6

James Fields  SS-13, 28, 8,9

Steve French  SS-12, 33, 9,10

Mac Gipson  SS-13, 27, 10,11

James Gordon  SS-13, 26, 4,5

Betty Carol Graham  SS-13, 26, 6,7

Ronald Grantland  SS-13, 26, 8,9

David Grimes  SS-13, 25, 1,2

Ken Guin  SS-13, 25, 3,4

Seth Hammett SS-13, 25, 7,8

Earl Hilliard Jr. SS-13, 24, 5,6

Randy Hinshaw  SS-13, 24, 7,8

Jody Letson  SS-13, 21, 1,2

Ted Little SS-12, 33, 17,18

Zeb Little  SS-12, 33, 19,20

Jimmy Martin SS-13, 21, 7,8

Frank McDaniel SS-13, 18, 1,2

Jeff McLaughlin  SS-13, 18, 3,4

Wendell Mitchell SS-12, 32, 1,2

Hinton Mitchem SS-12, 32, 3,4

Pat Moore SS-13, 17, 3,4

Jack Page SS-13, 16, 5,6

Myron Penn SS-12, 32, 7,8

Phil Poole SS-12, 32, 11,12

Jim Preuitt SS-12, 32, 13,14

Yusuf Salaam SS-13, 15, 7,8

Tommy Sherer SS-12, 35, 5,6

Butch Taylor SS-12, 35, 11,12

William Thigpen SS-12, 35, 13,14

James Thomas SS-12, 34, 1,2

Standing in sharp contrast to Mr. Barron and the others is former State Senator Tom Butler.  Mr. Butler was the first legislator to write UA president Dr. Robert Witt refusing the tickets.  He did this before the election which he lost.

Obligation’s president Jim Metrock said, “This shows how hard it is to pull a politician off the feeding trough. These former officials should be ashamed of themselves. This list shows how deeply entrenched the political entitlement culture is in our state. One gets the feeling these are the people that take towels from hotels. On the way out of public service they just can’t help taking the expensive tickets they feel they deserve.”

No difference between Republicans and Democrats

Metrock said, “There was no discernible difference between parties when it comes to which public officials accepted free Iron Bowl tickets.  Republicans grabbed the tickets just like Democrats.”

For the list of ticket recipients furnished by the University of Alabama click here.

A bargain

Several officials paid for their tickets, but according to a recent Birmingham News editorial the officials only paid face value ($65 per ticket).  Metrock said, “Regular citizens do no receive unsolicited Iron Bowl tickets and a parking pass in their mail and these officials should not have either. They evidently had a small amount of concern about the appearance of things so they decided to pay for the tickets.  They could have reimbursed the University the market price of the tickets but they elected to pay the least.  These officials still believe they are entitled to receive nice gifts because of their office. They don’t ‘get it.'”

Officials who paid for their tickets:

Philip Dotts SS-12, 31, 21,22

Rusty Glover SS-12, 33, 11,12

Mac McCutcheon SS-13, 19, 5,6

Steve McMillan SS-13, 18, 5,6

Governor messed up

Metrock said, “I was very disappointed in Governor Riley’s decision to take 20 free tickets just days before his ethics special session. He said he didn’t want to be ‘disingenuous’ after having taken the tickets for the past seven years.  This twisted logic might make sense to the Governor but I think to few Alabamians. He should have been more concerned about being ‘ethical’ than ‘disingenuous’. In fact, by taking the tickets he showed himself to be very disingenuous when it came to ethics reform. Governor Riley sent a bad message to the legislators when he refused to match his actions with his words. When he had a chance to set a great example, he blew it.”