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Report: Ala two-year colleges spend on lobbyists despite ban.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Millions of dollars have been spent on lobbyists and lobbying firms by some of Alabama's two-year colleges despite a ban prohibiting the schools from hiring them, The Birmingham News reported.

Most of those firms are tied to former college administrators, including a friend of fired Chancellor Roy Johnson
    Roy Cleveland Johnson (February 23, 1903 - September 10, 1973) was a left fielder/right fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Detroit Tigers (1929-32), Boston Red Sox (1932-35), New York Yankees (1936-37) and Boston Bees (1937-38).
    , the newspaper reported.

    Fifteen campuses spent almost $2 million on 50 contracts to lobbyists and lobbying firms during the 2004 and 2005 fiscal years, despite a 1995 ban by the state school board prohibiting any institution under it "from paying with state funds for the services of a lobbyist on a contract or consulting basis."

    The newspaper said some of the agreements with lobbying firms state they are not for lobbying services, and most agreements describe the services as consulting, research grants development or strategic planning Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people. .

    Andre Taylor, the two-year system spokesman, declined comment. Questions were referred to the colleges that approved the contracts.

    At Shelton State, which paid five lobbyists or lobbying firms during the two-year period, spokeswoman Leigh Hays said the college is allowed to employ consultants to assist with governmental affairs and business relations. She said they help the college obtain grants from state agencies and keep campus officials aware of federal initiatives.

    More than $410,000 in contracts were given by some colleges to Jimmie Clements or firms that hired Clements, a longtime friend of Johnson's, the News said. The two met 30 years ago, and Clements led Johnson's political campaigns when he served in the Legislature.

    Former Shelton State Community College Shelton State Community College, a community college in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is one of the largest in Alabama. The school enrolls approximately 8,000 students from all backgrounds and income levels. The majority of Shelton State students are "traditional" students.  President Thomas Umphrey received $67,000 from October 2003 through September 2005 in contracts with colleges for his firm, Thomas E. Umphrey & Associates. State Ethics Commission In the United States, an Ethics Commission is a commission established by State law to discourage dishonest practices by their public employees and elected officials. Almost all American states have such a commission.  records have Umphrey listed with several lobbying firms receiving more than $740,000 in contracts during that time, the News said.

    He declined to comment, the News said, and referred questions to the colleges.

    It's unclear what services Umphrey and Clements or their firms provided to the colleges. The consultants and firms, in most cases, were not required to provide a report or explanation.

    State school board member Stephanie Bell of Montgomery wants the board to revisit re·vis·it  
    tr.v. re·vis·it·ed, re·vis·it·ing, re·vis·its
    To visit again.

    A second or repeated visit.

     the issue.

    "I think it's crucial to get to the bottom of it when they are in violation of a state policy." she said.
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    Publication:Community College Week
    Date:Aug 14, 2006
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