Alabama Ethics Commission finds AG Steve Marshall didn’t violate campaign finance law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Alabama Ethics Commission has found there is not sufficient evidence that Attorney General Steve Marshall violated state ethics law to justify sending the case to prosecutors, AL.com reports.

Marshall, who was elected to a full term last month, had received $735,000 from the Republican Attorneys General Association, RAGA, during the 2018 campaign.

His primary opponent, former Attorney General Troy King said the donation violated Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practices Act because RAGA took money from other Political Action Committees. Alabama law bans PAC to PAC transfers.

King filed the ethics complaint against Marshall.

But, Marshall’s attorney Matt McDonald told WHNT News 19 he argued before the Ethics Commission Wednesday that the RAGA PAC is a federal PAC, not subject to Alabama’s campaign finance laws.

McDonald pointed out Secretary of State John Merrill’s website advises that federal PACs aren’t subject to the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Marshall was criticized by both King and his Democratic opponent Joseph Siegelman over the donations, but he maintained his campaign had followed the law.

AL.com also reports the Ethics Commission considered a motion that the matter should be forwarded to prosecutors but that measure was defeated 3-2. Then, the commission voted 3-2 that there was insufficient evidence to show probable cause that an ethics violation occurred.

Merrill told WHNT News 19 he'd asked the Ethics Commission to clarify the issue and Wednesday's ruling does that. He said it will guide his office on the issue going forward. Merrill also said some legislators may revisit  the issue through legislation, but his office isn't going to push for a new law.

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