An opportunity to meet five Republican candidates vying for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Martha Roby was available during the Republican Women of Coffee County meeting Jan. 15.
Thomas W. Brown Jr., Jeff Coleman, Troy King, Barry Moore and Bob Rogers were introduced alphabetically and allotted five minutes to outline their respective political platforms during the program held at the Enterprise Country Club.
Jessica Taylor, who will also be on the ballot, was unable to attend but sent a letter which was read to the capacity crowd in attendance by RWCC officer Carol Boylston.
“I believe that somebody needs to stand up for my generation,” Brown said. “Given a victory, the Left would no longer be able to claim to be a party of the youth if your elected representative was the youngest sitting member of Congress.
“Clearly we have a spending problem as a nation and I understand that if someone does not bring awareness to this issue, it may get so far out of hand that it will fall on my generation,” Brown said, adding that “out of control” health care cost is also a key issue.
Brown, from Houston County, said he was funding his campaign himself. “I think we need to prove to America that you don’t need a million dollars to win a congressional race,” he said. “Change the world and trust in God.”
Coleman, from Dothan, said he is a businessman running for office to “push back against the nonsense we’re seeing.” The economy, the military and farmers are his priority, he said, pointing out that that his great-great-grandfather started his family’s moving company with two horses and a wagon.
“Everything we’ve done we’ve earned,” Coleman said. “We employ 2,500 teammates—500 Alabamians. I’m telling you, I’m the job creator in this race. I’m about economic development and what we can do to make a difference in this country.”
King shared memories of growing up in Elba. He told a story about campaigning, as a child, for Ronald Reagan. “What I learned as a little boy is there are people in Montgomery and Washington who get to make decisions that affect the quality of life for little boys in places like Elba,” he said. “I knew when I was 10 that if there were people who got to do that I wanted to be one of them.
“I don’t think I’ve ever lost Coffee County any time I’ve ever run for office because we share values. And what was true then is true now: The man in the White House, the people in Washington, are making decisions that affect us.”
King said that as state attorney general, he prosecuted an abortionist for breaking Alabama law and helped create a law that said that any criminal assault on a pregnant woman was also an assault on the unborn child. “If you want to change Washington, change the House of Representatives, send people up there who are not afraid of a fight,” King said.
A former two term state representative, Moore said he went to Montgomery in 2010 to vote his convictions. “It’s okay to settle on your preferences but it’s never okay to settle on your convictions,” he said, adding that his was the lone “no” vote on the issue of unemployment extension.
Moore said he carried through more bills to help veterans and military than any other state legislator. “I’m running for what I believe in and what I’ve done,” he said. “The fact that I’ve served eight years and don’t have a bunch of special interests backing me should say something about me.”
Rogers, originally from Indiana, lives in Montgomery. He said improved education in all schools and all grades was a priority of his. “The issue of open borders is disturbing to me,” he said. “We’ve got an encroaching problem with non-American ideologies coming in here.”
The audience had the opportunity to submit written questions for the candidates, some of which were read aloud by the forum moderator during the remaining minutes of the meeting.
Coleman and Moore each were asked about separate court actions involving each of them personally.
Coleman was asked about a civil complaint filed in 2012 alleging that Covan Worldwide, his family’s company, over billed the government by fabricating numbers for household furnishings it moved for the military claiming shipments weighed more than they actually did. Two company employees in Georgia reported the allegations.
In 2015, Coleman and Covan settled the civilt lawsuit for $5 million. A manager was sentenced to prison in the criminal suit.
“First of all I’m going to tell you that ligation in this country is wrong, it’s out of control,” Coleman said in response to a question about the lawsuit settlement and subsequent employee prison sentence. “This was a frivolous and meritless case and if you don’t think it’s important to get involved in getting President Trump reelected, get out and vote.
“We’ve got to get President Trump re-elected and I’ll tell you why. Two Supreme Court Justices, our U.S. attorneys, our federal judges our judicial system that we stand on in this country, it was frivolous, meritless,” Coleman said. “Our company did nothing wrong. It was a settlement based on, it was alleged at that particular point, it was legal fees, the only people who make any money in this litigation.”
“According to a news release from the Department of Justice, the alleged fraud was indeed systematic and companywide with direction to commit the fraud coming from home office,” said the forum moderator. “The Department of Justice said that during those three years of investigation that fraud was indeed committed on over $700 million that was paid to you for moving military families and that fraud was committed on over 400 weight tickets to include a major general right here at Fort Rucker,” the moderator said, reading the submitted question. “There was a civil case and a criminal case. The federal civil case was settled for $5 million before the court trial and in the criminal case, one of your managers went to prison. So, Mr. Coleman, how can you say that no wrong doing was found?”
“I will tell you it was brought by the Department of Justice, by a U.S. Attorney—by President Obama people—it was also brought by a lawyer in South Carolina. It was unfair and meritless. Our people did nothing wrong. I have 2,500 teammates. I fight for them every day and we are, in this country, out of control on frivolous and meritless lawsuits and I’m going to Washington to push back against that,” Coleman replied. “It’s wrong. It hurts good companies in this great country. The United States Military, we’re proud to serve them each and every day.”
Coleman was also asked if his company will bid on an upcoming $2 billion Department of Defense contract for a sole-source manager of household good movers for military personnel and the ethics concerns it could raise on issues of military transportation, if he was elected.
“Our company will operate as a sub-contractor, so we will not bid on that particular contract,” he said, adding it was a “huge contract” that “is vitally needed.”
“I would recuse myself in any way. I’ve just served as a civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army. I’ve been cleared, I’ve gone through every procedure to get that. I’ve always operated with honor, care, respect and integrity and humility and I’ll always do that.”
Moore was asked about his 2014 grand jury indictment in an investigation by the state attorney general.
“What you find out is when you go to the swamp—whether it be in Montgomery or Washington D.C.— if you’re standing for people and values and start to get in the way of the money and special interests, you put a bull’s-eye on your back,” Moore said. “I was the victim of a perjury trap.
“But I’ll say this: Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘I know the plans I have for you. The plan is to prosper you and not to do you harm.’ Through that process I learned that you should never seek authority without humility because at some point it becomes more about you than the people you serve.
“I would not be standing here today had I not had that experience,” Moore replied. “There’s a God, guys, and we’re not him.”
The candidates will be on the Republican ballot in the March 3 primary election.