Filing Fees to Run for Elected Office in Alabama

This case involves an appeal of filing fee to run for elected office. The case was appealed from Jefferson County, Alabama, in the case ofDrake v. Alabama Republican Party.

Thomas Drake and Kimberly Drake, both lawyers in Cullman County, Alabama, referred to as the (“Drakes”), filed a complaint against the Alabama Republican Party, (“the Party”), alleging that the Party failed to return their “qualifying fee” each of them paid to qualify for the November 2014 elections.

Mr. Drake was seeking to be a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and Mrs. Drake was seeking to be a candidate for the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. The amount of fees in question amounted to $6,600.

The Party refused to allow either of the Drakes to be listed as candidates. The district court entered a judgment for the Party and the Drakes appealed to the circuit court. Accordingly, the Party filed a motion for summary judgment, which the circuit court granted. The circuit court held that the Drakes failed to exhaust their administrative remedies to obtain a return of their “qualifying fees” and that the Drakes failed to demonstrate how they were entitled to a return of their “qualifying fees.” Also, the circuit court held that it lacked jurisdiction pursuant to Ala. Code 1975, § 17-16-44, which states that a court only has jurisdiction for ascertaining “the legality, conduct or results of any election” if it is governed by statute.

The Drakes appealed the grant of summary judgment. On appeal, the Drakes only addressed the issue regarding their claims being barred by failing to exhaust administrative. The Drakes did not address the jurisdiction issue. Consequently, the Court affirmed the judgment on the basis “that when an appellant fails to argue an issue in its brief, that issue is waived.” Boshwell v. Keith, 418 So.2d 89, 92 (Ala. 1982).

The appellate court decided that the Drakes, in effect, waived the jurisdiction issue when they failed to mention one of the grounds that was the basis for the summary judgment. The appellant’s lacked clarity of what must be contained in their appellant brief and left the Court with no choice but to confirm the summary judgment.

I am not sure the reasoning the Republican Party refused to let these two fine lawyers run as a Republican. There have been many individuals run for an elected office as either a Democrat or Republican that may not necessarily fit the party standards. This appears to be a case that relates more to personalities than qualifications.

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