Will the real Kay Ivey please speak up? The wide divide between Ivey’s official and campaign messages

Kay Ivey4
[Photo Credit: Office of Gov. Kay Ivey]

Politicians everywhere would kill for Governor Kay Ivey‘s approval ratings. She is amongst the most popular governors in the nation. Just last month, a poll showed Ivey as the third highest ranked governor, with a 67% approval rating.

With numbers like that, at this point all she has to do is not screw up royally to keep both her seat and her popularity in tact. Which begs the question: why, oh why, can’t her office stop fumbling the football on easy asks?

Several months ago Alabama Today detailed the painstaking efforts it took to get the names of the governor’s appointees since taking office. If you’re curious they can be found here. What we do with the data once we get it is simple — we post the list. Heck, we don’t even give commentary. We just provide the public with information we believe they should have. We’ve posted gubernatorial appointments since our site began years ago. Governors everywhere release their appointees, usually celebrating their diversity and experience. It’s a no-brainer or at least it should be. Here’s how it should work, just as it did when Bentley was governor: A media outlet (in this case Alabama Today) emails the governor’s communication staff and says, “Hey, can we have your appointments?” then the same day or a day or two later they respond with the list. Bam. Media outlet posts list. It’s that simple.

Ivey’s campaign has centered its messaging around her bringing accountability and transparency back to Montgomery. She went so far to take what the Anniston Star called a TRANSPARENCY PLEDGE when she first took office in 2017. It was pretty simple, let’s see here:

“The Ivey administration will be open, it will be transparent, and it will be honest.”

Well that seems pretty direct. So why did a list that Governor Robert Bentley’s office produced overnight take 61 days for Ivey’s office to produce? And why, oh why after finally producing them and telling us that they have a new process so that they can turn them around quicker, are we here again now 4 weeks and 4 days from the time I most recently requested them? Not only do I not have a list after emailing the Press Secretary Daniel Sparkman (4x times) and Communications Director Josh Pendergrass (3x) then looping in the Chief of Staff Steve Pelham on the third and fourth follow up emails, we’re getting crickets. That’s right, not even so much as an acknowledgement email.

So when the Governor promised transparency and accountability was it only to media outlets she and her staff like? Is that one’s who don’t run commentary on how hard it is to get simple information? Or was it my asking about her Bentley hold-overs that earned me the silent treatment?

Or am I simply making excuses for the fact the Governor herself doesn’t want the public to see who she’s appointed to boards and commissions? Has she been making appointments that are controversial and she doesn’t want that to come out two weeks before an election?

It’s important to remember Ivey kept professional communications consultants on through her transition and initial months in office citing the need for their expertise. Those same consultants are now her campaign team, along with a highly (if not over) qualified communications director, Debbee Hancock who’s experience make both the staff in the governors office look like amateurs.

That brings us to the final possibility, the governor’s official office simply doesn’t have the competency levels needed to understand that they’re not hurting me personally by not giving our publication information, but that they’re hurting the governor herself? They represent Governor Ivey. They are her voice. No one is getting up on Election Day to vote for Daniel Sparkman or Josh Pendergrass, but people going to the polls will note when a candidate doesn’t fulfill their promises and/or hides information from them and that’s exactly what Ivey is doing at this moment by refusing to disclose her appointments (and her elusive schedule).

Ivey has two teams and currently two diametrically opposed positions on transparency and accountability. Let’s hope the strong voice in the governors ear is the one that gives the people what she has promised and the Ivey administration will be open, it will be transparent, and it will be honest moving forward. Maybe even as soon as today since we checked back with them on appointments this afternoon; we’ll keep you posted.

More to come on this topic before the election.