As Auburn prepares to unveil statues honoring its three Heisman Trophy winners this fall, how about adding one more to the list? The bold move last week by Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh to block the reappointment of Bobby Lowder and others to the Auburn Board of Trustees is every bit deserving of a Heisman size statue.
The Anniston Republican and Auburn graduate took a stand for all Auburn people by blocking the reappointments and with it, put himself at political risk. It’s becoming apparent that new Alabama governor Robert Bentley is every bit as corrupt as some of his predecessors.
Despite telling Auburn supporters during last year’s gubernatorial race that he would honor term limits as it pertains to trustee appointments, Bentley turned his back on Auburn people by supporting Lowder for another term. The controversial former banker has been on the Auburn board for 28 years.
As The Andalusia Star News put it last week, “This vote was equivalent to Bentley taking a high-powered rifle and shooting Auburn in the gut.”
When Bentley stood up at the Auburn National Championship Celebration and proclaimed he was, “All In” little did we know that he wasn’t talking about Auburn football.
In case you haven’t been following this nauseating spectacle, here’s a quick recap: The Auburn trustee selection committee, led by Bentley, voted April 18 to reappoint trustees Jimmy Rane, Virginia Thompson, Sarah Newton, Byron Franklin, Charles McCrary and Lowder. The committee also picked three new trustees: B.T. Roberts, Jimmy Sanford and Elizabeth Huntley.
The kicker is the search committee announced on March 31st that it was taking nominations for the board and the cut-off to apply was April 8th - one week later. Why was the governor in such a rush?
Did I mention that Lowder’s wife donated $25,000 to Bentley’s campaign last year? Or that Charles McCrary served as head of Bentley’s transition team and while overseeing the Alabama Power Employees Political Action Committee, donated $15,000 to his campaign.
In light of these apparent conflicts of interest, why wouldn’t Bentley do the logical thing and abstain from voting during the nomination process? Any guesses?
The story gets even sleazier.
Despite the short turnaround time to apply, more than 200 applications were received by the committee. How many interviews did they conduct with candidates? Zero. Nada.
Instead, the governor fast tracked the nominations of the above names and hurriedly sent them to the state senate for approval. On Friday, using his powers as Senate Pro Tem, Marsh stopped the proceedings and refused to allow a vote on the senate floor.
Talk about Profiles in Courage.
To make a long story short, Marsh is now working with other state leaders to reform the selection process for board members. In the short term, Lowder and the others will remain on the Auburn board while everything is sorted out.
Don’t underestimate the guts it took for Marsh to step to the plate and attempt to protect Auburn. You can bet at reelection time, there will be money pumped into his opponent’s coffer. It’s important that Auburn people not forget it.
I tend to stay away from politics on TET; but in this case, Marsh needs our support. In a state where politics is sleazy and perhaps even corrupt to the core, Marsh has put his neck on the line to do the right thing. It’s important that Auburn be there for him at election time.
If you run into Mr. Marsh be sure to thank him. But more importantly, don’t forget him on Election Day.
He’s a true Auburn man.