Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, sits on the floor of the Alabama Senate on March 7, 2023. Legislators gathered Tuesday for the first day of the Alabama Legislature’s 2023 regular session. He added an amendment to HB1 to direct money to stormwater projects. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)
Members of the Legislative Contract Review Committee Thursday criticized the Alabama Board of Pharmacy for hiring a private lobbyist.
The board has hired the Montgomery-based Southern Group as a legislative consultant. The contract is worth $160,000 and runs through September 2025.
“I will have a piece of legislation coming up here in February that says boards can’t employ lobbyists,” said Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Josephine, a member of the committee. “You have got associations that are lobbying already. For the state paying lobbyists to then lobby the state, to me, is going too far.”
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The committee held the contract because members have a standing rule to not approve contracts that do not list the proprietors of the firm, and the board did not list the members of the business. A hold can last 45 days. The committee cannot stop contracts from being executed.
A message seeking comment was left with The Southern Group on Thursday.
According to the accompanying agenda packet, the Board wants to use the firm because it is a “non-merit, checking account agency.” Money for the contract will come from fees, costs and fines.
According to filings with the Alabama Ethics Commission, other state boards have hired private lobbyists. The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, for example, enlists the services of Windom, Galliher & Associates in Montgomery.
“They will be keeping us abreast of legislative activities,” said Scott Daniel, chief investigator, legal and legislative liaison for the Board. “I believe Sen. Elliott mentioned earlier himself he proposes legislation and he doesn’t know who all the players are. We are a small agency without eyes and ears on the ground. We are in the same position.”
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