Yes, the names are similar, but the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) is not the same as the Alabama Democratic Party (ADP). Nor is the ADC a “wing” of the ADP. It is a separate advocacy organization that happens to have some overlap in membership and goals, but is neither a part of nor subservient to the Alabama Democratic Party or the ADP Chairman. Check the ADP's Bylaws — there's a minority caucus, but no role whatsoever for the ADC.
No matter what you've read in the paper or the comments at al.com, the Alabama Democratic Party is absolutely not trying to overturn the law banning PAC to PAC money transfers. That's the ADC and I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing journalists who ought to know better refer to the “Democratic Party suing” to get the PAC to PAC ban overturned — and also calling the ADC the “black wing of the Democratic Party.” No wings here, just two separate entities that sometimes but not always share common interests.
There was a perfect example of this confusion last week on a conference call with Judge Mark Kennedy, ostensibly about Mitt Romney's use of an Alabama PAC to skirt federal campaign laws. Someone on the call asked Kennedy how the ADP justified a PAC related complaint against Romney at the very time they are suing over the new PAC law. Slightly awkward, since the ADP isn't suing. Judge Kennedy made a good response, which I will paraphrase here.
First, I've only been chairman of ADP for 5 months. As a former Supreme Court Juctice, I will never condone any kind of illegal activity.
The Alabama Democratic Party has filed no suit challenging any sort of statutory law. The Alabama Democratic Conference … has filed that lawsuit.
I have no control over what the ADC does.
I was not consulted, no one suggested I review the materials in that lawsuit, we are not a party to that lawsuit. We are a stand-alone entity.
That's a pretty clear explanation. I spoke with Kennedy a few hours after that call and raised this subject again. He assured me he had absolutely no knowledge of the ADC lawsuit before it was filed. In fact, Kennedy said the first he heard of it was when an irate Democratic legislator contacted him to complain about the party trying to overturn a law that virtually all Democrats in the Legislature voted for … some of them have been voting for it annually for almost a decade. It was not, and is not, the Alabama Democratic Party or Chairman Mark Kennedy suing to overturn the prohibition on PAC to PAC transfers; it is the ADC.
The Alabama Democratic Conference, whose Chairman is Dr. Joe Reed, has filed that lawsuit. You may agree or disagree with their argument — I vehemently disagree and so do many other Democrats — but it's past time to clear up the confusion over just who is trying to get the PAC to PAC ban overturned. It's not the party, not the elected Democrats, not the average Democratic voter or activist; it's the ADC, an outside organization that's in a financial bind without PAC money.