The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

November 4, 2012

Brooks, Holley tout qualifications ahead of Tuesday's election

From staff reports

— If it’s true that money wins elections, Republican Congressman and incumbent Mo Brooks should have little to worry about on Tuesday.

As of Oct. 17, the 58-year-old Brooks had raised a total of $825,406, dating back to Jan. 1, 2011. Democratic challenger Charlie Holley, a Limestone County native, has raised only $47,961.

Since winning election to the 5th congressional district two years ago, Brooks has taken a hard-line approach to President Barack Obama’s initiative. He voted against raising the debt ceiling last year and was steadfast in his support of Congressman Paul Ryan’s “The Path to Prosperity,” offered up as a lean and controversial alternative to Obama’s budget proposals.

His conservative agenda won him praise from several Republican groups. The American Conservatives Union, Heritage Action, American Taxpayers Union, Club for Growth and NumbersUSA, all of which ranked him No. 1 in the Alabama congressional delegation on issues involving job creation, free enterprise and illegal immigration.

The U.S. Business and Industry Council also ranked him first out of 93 freshman members of Congress on job creation issues.

“I kept my 2010 campaign vow to protect and promote the foundational principles that helped make America a great nation,” he said. “I helped lead the fight to force a House floor vote on a balanced budget constitutional amendment needed to protect America from the risk of insolvency and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, Democrats in the House overwhelmingly vote against (the amendment), so it failed to get the two-thirds majority required.”

Despite having a junior status as a congressman, Brooks has been involved in several committees and caucuses, including the Army Aviation Caucus that he co-chairs with Democratic Congressman Mark Critz of Pennsylvania. He said that caucus is important because of the amount of jobs in the Tennessee Valley dedicated to Army aviation matters.

When asked what issues would matter most going forward should he win re-election Tuesday, Brooks said he would continue fighting for fiscal responsibility while protecting national defense.

“I have consistently voted for legislation that restrains out-of-control federal spending and against legislation that continues to spend money we don’t have and which increases the risk of an American insolvency and bankruptcy,” he said. “ … There have been lots of appropriation bills that are financially irresponsible that I have voted against which political powers or interest groups wanted me to vote for to spend money we don’t have.”

Brooks added that he’s voted more than 30 times to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” and to repeal “stifling regulations mandated by the Obama administration.” He said he’s also voted to decrease the country’s dependence on foreign fuel sources, including the construction of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to U.S. refineries.

When asked why voters should choose him over Holley, Brooks called Holley a “carbon copy” of Obama’s principles.

“Going forward, by and large, I will continue the same voting patterns and activities established during my first two years in Congress,” he said. “National defense is our top priority and should be funded accordingly. Everything else must be evaluated and prioritized to properly reflect our funding limitations. (That’s) not to exclude national defense; it will take some cuts, too, but it needs to be within the framework of reducing the mission scope of our men and women in uniform. We cannot continue to be the world’s cop on every corner.”

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— Adam Smith

Charlie Holley

Charlie Holley is offering a rare promise these days — a promise to work both sides of the political aisle if elected congressman for United States Fifth District on Nov. 6.

Holley, 48, a Democrat who graduated from East Limestone High School, said incumbent Republican Congressman Mo Brooks hasn’t lived up to his promise to voters.

He offered three examples:

“Our congressman has failed to protect us against the destruction of jobs,” said Holley, a computer administrator at Huntsville Hospital.

He said the 2011 budget deal enacted sequestration — $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts to defense and domestic spending beginning in 2013 because no agreement was reached on cuts by Nov. 23, 2011.

“There will be job cuts unless Congress can reach a compromise, which I doubt Brooks can do.” Holley said. “He has failed to work across party lines, and it is apparent he can’t work with others.”

Stop the partisanship

Holley also said Brooks has failed to represent everyone in the district.

“A lot of people feel totally left out because he has not reached out,” he said. “People feel slighted, like they don’t matter, and I believe they will send him a strong message.”

He believes Brooks does not have his priorities straight.

“Brooks is more interested in taking donors’ money and using it to charter buses to Ohio (a battleground state in the presidential race) to help Romney get elected than he is in serving his constituents.”

Holley said if voters choose him, he could do better.

“I will protect jobs and I will reach across party lines and make sure everyone is truly represented,” he said.

Holley said he invited Brooks to one of his town-hall meetings to discuss the issues and allow voters to ask questions, but Brooks declined.

“He has not been doing anything (to discuss the issues), as if he’s got it made,” Holley said.

Holley is asking Republicans to consider voting a split ticket in order to support him and his initiatives.


“We need to improve roads and infrastructure,” Holley said, naming U.S. 72, Alabama 20 and Old Madison Pike. “Alabama is growing at a fast pace, which is good. But it is not good when roads and the infrastructure are not in shape to handle it. I would do my best to bring more federal dollars here to fund such projects.”

Other top priorities are investing more in small businesses by offering tax breaks and giving them help to pay medical expenses for workers now that they have to provide the service by 2014.

He said the federal government will already help businesses with 25 or fewer employees by 35 percent of the cost, but he wants to obtain tax breaks to help those with 26 or more employees.

Holley, an admitted technology buff, said technology is another of his top priorities.

“We need to help businesses with the cost of computers, software, networks,” he said.

More money for education and more federal funding for Pell grants for families squeezed by the economy are other priorities. He would also like to find a way to create a reliable system of storm shelters throughout the state in order to save lives.

He would pay for the initiatives by closing tax loopholes for those who pay little tax and by letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for those making $250,000 a year or more.

“This would generate $1 trillion to invest in business, education and infrastructure,” he said.

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— Jean Cole