Merrill: Signs regarding 1-cent tax improperly placed around schools

Signs advocating against and for the 1-cent tax are seen at Fairview High School Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. Merrill said the signs advocating against the tax (showing Uncle Sam) were improperly placed. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

Updated 2-21-20 12:39 p.m.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – “After being made aware of political signage being improperly placed in Cullman County, Alabama Sec. of State John H. Merrill called for the immediate compliance of these signs,” read a press release from Merrill’s office Friday morning.

It said, according to a reporter in Cullman, who was not named, “These signs were placed around schools late on the night of Thursday, Feb. 20, advocating for citizens of Cullman County to vote a particular way on a local tax referendum in the March 3 Primary Election.”

Signs advocating for the tax and paid for by the PAC Advocates for Excellence in Education are in compliance. They read, “VOTE YES FOR OUR STUDENTS ON MARCH 3RD.”

Merrill’s Press Secretary Grace Newcombe told The Tribune, “The sign with Uncle Sam is the one we are referring to.”

The Uncle Sam signs read, “I WANT YOU TO VOTE NO! ON THE .01 SALES TAX.”

Merrill’s office said the Uncle Sam signs are in clear violation of the law and should be immediately brought into compliance. The signs do not list a disclaimer containing the identification of the person, candidate, principal campaign committee or political action committee responsible for the printing of the signs, as required by Section 17-5-13 of the Code of Alabama.

“It is extremely important to keep the citizens of Alabama informed of accurate and complete information – especially during election season. Though it is not always the intent of the distributor to spread false or partial information, it is on everyone to hold each other accountable,” explained Merrill.

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Wendy Sack