The state's powerful teachers union has given $500,000 to political action committees

The state's powerful teachers union has given $500,000 to political action committees that contributed to an effort to attack Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne.

The ads refer to Byrne as a liberal trial lawyer and are paid for by True Republican PAC of Linden.

True Republican PAC, according to a review of campaign finance documents filed with the Alabama secretary of state's office, has received most of its funding from PACs heavily funded by the Alabama Education Association.

Byrne, a former state senator and former head of the state's two-year college system, has battled with the education association over a variety of issues, including Byrne's attempt to stop employees of the junior college system from also serving in the state Legislature.

"We now know that the slick smear attack being waged against the front-runner in the campaign for governor is being orchestrated by AEA union boss Paul Hubbert in collusion with a paid staffer of the Tim James campaign. Today's (Monday) spending reports tell it all," Marty Sullivan, director of communications and policy for Byrne, wrote in an e-mail to the Montgomery Advertiser on Monday night.

"AEA and a James operative conspired to send a half-million dollars to a fake front group that has sent every dime of it to a liberal Democrat media firm hired to smear Bradley with outrageous claims and no regard for the truth," Sullivan wrote. That's because Bradley has the momentum in this race, and they can't stand the thought of an honest conservative reformer cleaning up politics as usual in Montgomery and moving Alabama forward once and for all."

Hubbert, the head of the AEA and a spokesman for the association, did not return multiple voicemails from the Advertiser on Monday seeking comment.

A spokesman for Tim James, a Republican businessman from Greenville who also is running for governor, and Claire Austin, who was hired to raise funds for James, both denied being part of a campaign to attack Byrne.

James and Byrne are among the seven candidates in the June Republican primary.

(Copyright 2010 by The Montgomery Advertiser. All Rights Reserved.)

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