On Tuesday, Judge Roy Moore blasted Caleb Crosby, the president of the Alabama Policy Institute and co-sponsor of a scheduled September 21 debate between Moore and incumbent Senator Luther Strange (R-AL). Moore says Crosby failed to disclose his close ties with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whose Leadership PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, is backing Strange in the September 26 runoff election.
The winner of that runoff election will face Democratic nominee Doug Jones in the December 12 general election to select a permanent replacement for Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who was confirmed as Attorney General this year. Strange, who was serving as Alabama Attorney General at the time, was appointed to the Senate by now-disgraced former Governor Robert Bentley in February.
Several recent polls show Moore holding a double digit lead over Strange.
“I have declined to participate in the Alabama Policy Institute (API) & Samford University US Senate Debate scheduled September 21st, because it was not disclosed to me or my campaign at the time the invitation was accepted, that the President of API, Caleb Crosby, also serves as the Treasurer for the Senate Leadership Fund,” Moore said in a statement released by his campaign.
“The Senate Leadership Fund is responsible for millions of dollars’ worth of malicious and false ads designed to stain my character and reputation,” Moore noted.
“I have asked my opponent repeatedly to denounce these ads against me, my wife and my family as he knows that the content contained therein is completely false. However, Luther Strange has not done so. In fact, he has warmly embraced McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund and Caleb Crosby as his key allies,” he continued.
“The fact that this debate was being hosted by the Treasurer of a group so partial to my opponent’s personal interests is yet another Washington trick – the same kind of tricks despised by the people of Alabama,” Moore added.
Moore proposed an alternative “mano a mano, no tricks, no moderators, no questions from the press”:
Just Luther Strange and me on the stage presenting our issues and the opponents’ responses thereto. All statewide press and TV present. A timekeeper will be selected by mutual agreement. We will get to the truth about Luther Strange’s appointment deal with Governor Bentley while he was under investigation by the Attorney General’s office, why Luther Strange sided with Mitch McConnell to support the very Senate gamesmanship that has sunk President Trump’s agenda, the basis for the false accusations against me, and why Luther Strange has taken millions in Washington special interest money for his campaign. We will do this Lincoln-Douglas style and have a real debate.
I ask Luther Strange’s Campaign Chairman contact my Campaign Chairman, Bill Armistead, to accept my offer.
In late August, Breitbart News reported that the Senate Leadership Fund had already spent more than $2.5 million in advertising to support Strange. As treasurer of the Senate Leadership Fund, Caleb Crosby would presumably have had a role in authorizing those expenditures, though the primary duty of the treasurer is to prepare accurate reports for the Federal Election Commission.
Organized in January 2015, the Senate Leadership Fund was organized to “work in tandem with other Republican super-PACs, most notably American Crossroads, on messaging, advertising purchases and fundraising efforts to support the new Republican majority in the upper chamber,” The Hill reported at the time.
Crosby has served as the treasurer of the Senate Leadership Fund since it filed its initial Statement of Organization with the Federal Election Commission in January 2015. He was named president of the Alabama Policy Institute (API) in 2014, according to the Alabama Reporter:
Crosby has been API’s Vice President and CFO and has three and a half years of experience with API. Crosby has extensive experience as a GOP campaign fundraiser beginning with the 2004 campaign to re-elect President George W. Bush (R). Crosby served the Bush administration at the EPA and as a financial policy advisor to President Bush. Crosby also served at Treasury under then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. In 2008, Crosby became the CFO at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). The NRCC is the Republican Party’s chief fundraising committee dedicated to electing Republican candidates to the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to information filed with the U.S. Federal Election Commission, Caleb Crosby is the treasurer of American Crossroads PAC, a Super PAC which is controlled by former George W. Bush White House consultant and Fox News Contributor, Karl Rove.
“Another week, another canceled debate from Roy Moore,” WHNT reported that Strange for Senate spokesman Cameron Foster said, adding:
The only time we’ve seen him in the last three weeks was when he was flying to Washington D.C. for a fundraiser with NeverTrumper Alan Keyes. Roy Moore, like so many other career politicians, must believe he is above answering questions from Alabama citizens. What is Roy Moore afraid of? What is Roy Moore hiding? Voters should ask themselves, if Roy Moore refuses to answer questions from voters, will he listen to their concerns in elected office?
But Moore hit back hard against that claim.
“Over the course of the primary election, Luther Strange failed to show up to 8 different forums where I and the other candidates put our positions and candidacy on the line, which is a fact well known to the Alabama press corps who attended these forums,” Moore said.
“I find it hypocritical that Luther Strange is now suggesting that I am the one who is ducking debates. We shall see who is ducking debates,” he added.
With less than two weeks to go until the runoff election, it remains to be seen if Strange will accept Moore’s challenge to participate in a fair and open debate not run by one of his biggest supporters.