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TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2006
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EDITORIAL

PSC questions timely for attorney general

A report in the Mobile Press-Register about lax filing of two Public Service Commission members' campaign expenses brings attention to Attorney General Troy King's election campaign.

The newspaper reported that PSC President Jim Sullivan and long-time Commissioner Jan Cook not only failed to report expenses properly, they spent hefty amounts on what appears to be personal expenses.

While the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act requires candidates and elected officials to report expenditures precisely, the newspaper said the two lumped multiple expenses together. Over six years, records show, Mr. Sullivan spent more than $115,000 on automobiles, paying $43,000 in a single payment. That suggests he paid cash for a new luxury vehicle.

Ms. Cook's expenses, while not as costly, also have questionable filings as to how she spent campaign money.

Mr. King said his staff is looking into the reports. Both Democrats and Republicans will watch closely to see if the appointed attorney general has the courage to take on two popular officeholders and conduct a non-partisan investigation.

Like Mr. Sullivan, the attorney general is a Republican, while Ms. Cook is a Democrat.

A jury convicted former Gov. Guy Hunt and forced him out of office in 1993 for using political donations for personal purposes.

Even if the two PSC members have spent the money properly, they apparently are in violation of how and when they filed campaign expenses.

Mr. Sullivan's seat on the PSC isn't up for election this fall, but Ms. Cook has Republican opposition. The third seat is a contest between former state Sen. Perry Hooper Jr. and former state Auditor Susan Parker, a Morgan County native.

Ms. Parker charged this week that records in the secretary of state's office show Mr. Hooper also guilty of improperly filing campaign expenses.

With political action committee money so plentiful, and transfers making it almost impossible to trace, proper filing and accounting becomes more important to the public.

How he handles this potential scandal could either elect or defeat the questionable Mr. King.

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