HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore started this week with a resounding win Republican runoff, but faces a new controversy as the week ends.
Moore is named in an ethics complaint filed Friday by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, which wants an investigation into whether Moore violated Senate rules or federal law concerning disclosures about his finances.
In a letter addressed to the Senate Ethics Committee’s chairman and ranking member, the center wrote:
“The Campaign Legal Center (“CLC”) respectfully requests an immediate investigation into whether U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore failed to declare honoraria earned, liabilities owed, and compensation received on his financial disclosure statement, in violation of federal law and Senate rules.”
Concerns about Moore’s Senate disclosure form were raised Thursday by the online publication, the Daily Beast.
WHNT News 19 has reviewed Moore’s Senate disclosure form — required when he announced his candidacy in April — and a required 2016 financial disclosure form he filed with the Alabama Ethics Commission because of his seat on the Alabama Supreme Court. The forms were submitted in April and June 2017.
The records show that Moore said on his state form that he earned between $50,000 and $150,000 in speaking fees – honorariums – in 2016.
On the Senate disclosure form, Moore was also asked if he was paid more than $200 or had that amount or more donated, for any speech, article or appearance.
Moore answered, “No,” on the Senate form.
The center also questioned Moore’s failure to disclose $150,000-$250,000 in liabilities on the Senate form that he listed on the Alabama form. A campaign spokesman told WHNT News 19 in an email that the Senate form does not require mortgage information.
The Moore campaign criticized the Daily Beast article, calling it a “misleading attack on Judge Moore and his wife,” and said the Moores disclosed all of their income and liabilities on the Alabama form and to the IRS.
The Moore campaign said:
"First, the 990 Form, as reported in the Daily Beast story, is a manipulated document. Second, the liabilities Judge Moore disclosed on his Alabama ethics filing were not required to be disclosed on his U.S. Senate filing, which does not require Senate candidates to disclose mortgages on their personal residences. Third, all of the Moore Family's income and liabilities for 2016 were fully disclosed to the State of Alabama Ethics Commission and the Internal Revenue Service by McGriff Dowdy & Associates, a professional accounting service."
Concerning Moore’s failure to list the $50,000 to $150,000 he was paid in speaking fees in 2016, the Moore campaign offered the following response:
“Any perceived discrepancy in the reporting of honoraria on the form Judge Moore filed with the U.S. Senate will be corrected swiftly by the filing of an amendment, as provided in Chapter 5 (p. 127) of the Senate Ethics Manual.”
The Campaign Legal Center’s letter to the Senate Ethics Committee’s asks that if the committee finds Moore knowingly failed to disclose required information, it should turn the matter over to the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal investigation.
“Moore cannot claim that he was unaware of his income, assets or liabilities, given that he filed a substantially similar report with the Alabama Ethics Commission just two months before filing the Senate report,” the Center argued in its letter. “What’s more, Moore is an attorney and was the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court until April of this year, so cannot claim that he was unable to grasp the basic legal responsibilities of filing a complete and accurate report.”
The campaign of Doug Jones, Moore’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race, did not respond to WHNT News 19’s request for comment.