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Aide paid by college, campaign, report says

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A political appointee paid more than $76,000 a year by an Alabama two-year college to work for U.S. Rep. Artur Davis also received $12,000 in 2005 from Davis' campaign, according to a news report Thursday.

The newspaper said records show that Gina Bailey McKell received $1,000 a month from Davis' campaign as a fundraiser in 2005, the same year she received $76,883 from Alabama Southern Community College in Monroeville to work for the Birmingham Democrat.

His far-flung 7th Congressional District covers 12 counties but not Monroe County, where the college is located.

State school board members and Chancellor Bradley Byrne have criticized McKell's arrangement to work for Davis and other politicians while being paid by the state two-year college system.

"I don't know what kind of arrangements the congressman could have made with her to pay her $1,000 a month," state school board member Mary Jane Caylor of Huntsville said.

McKell's stance

McKell declined to discuss her campaign work but said she stands by the work she's done.

"Despite now being labeled as some sort of 'political' operative, the truth is I am a single mother who has always worked very hard at the positions I've held and I remain very proud of the work I have done. I can't help but feel that I have been caught in someone else's crossfire," she said in an e-mail to the Birmingham News.

Davis spokesman Corey Ealons said McKell's campaign work was not unusual, and Davis used campaign money to pay her. "We quite frankly decided to compensate Gina specifically so it could not be said that we were misusing her in some way," Ealons said.

On the payroll of a two-year college in Birmingham, McKell worked for then-Gov. Don Siegelman for nearly two years before Siegelman lost to Republican Bob Riley in November 2002. She worked for four months in Riley's office during the transition before joining Davis' office in May 2003. She left Davis' staff and Alabama Southern's payroll last year.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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