THE SUMMARY: Allen did vote against restoring $1 million for Highway 216 in the 2007 state budget, but it’s not quite as cut and dried as that.
ANALYSIS: Every four years, the state elects a new Legislature whose members can establish new procedural rules for the next four years. Although Democrats controlled the state Senate in the first year of the outgoing Legislature, Republicans and conservative Democrats were close to forming a coalition majority in 2007.
Poole held out as a swing vote that year, unapologetically leveraging his position to get money for his district. After siding against the conservative coalition likely to be more favorable to Gov. Bob Riley and camping with the majority, Poole managed to earmark $1 million for road repairs to Highway 216, the only legislator that year to get a road earmark on the general fund, which does not pay for state road construction and repair.
Both houses passed the general fund with Poole ’s earmark attached.
However, Riley, in a bit of political payback, did a line-item veto of the earmark and returned it to the Legislature in the waning hours of the last day of the session. A Republican filibuster in the house could not be broken before the session ended to override Riley’s line-item veto, leaving the $1 million for Highway 216 out.
Allen voted “yes” on the general fund budget sent to Riley, but when it was sent back with the line-item veto, he was one of 47 representatives who voted against ending the filibuster, dooming Poole ’s earmark as time expired on the session.
In a common theme for the election, Poole accuses Allen of siding with Riley and his party over the needs of his district.
Allen, though, said he stuck with his principles despite that the money would have gone to a road through his district.
“I stayed with the governor because the general fund wasn’t set up to fund roads,” he said. “Where are you going to draw the line? Let’s just give everybody a road project, then.”
It’s true Allen was the only member of the county’s House delegation to vote against the earmark, but the other Republican representative at the time, Robert Bentley, didn’t vote.
Poole doesn’t apologize for his effort.
“You take opportunities where you get them,” Poole said. “If there had been anything improper about it, it would have been ruled out somewhere in the legislative process.
“Instead of criticizing me, maybe (Allen) should take notes.”