Alabama AG says ethics chief mishandled charitable trust

Published 8:59 pm Thursday, March 2, 2023

The state attorney general has accused the head of the Alabama Ethics Commission of mishandling a charitable trust, named for a former secretary of state, by allowing his children to benefit from its scholarships.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall made the accusation this week in an ongoing civil lawsuit regarding the trust, accusing Tom Albritton of improperly benefiting from a charitable trust for which Albritton was a board member. Marshall asked to have Albritton added as a defendant in the ongoing civil litigation over the Mabel Amos Memorial Trust.

The Tuesday court filing was first reported by the south Alabama newspaper Lagniappe, which has written extensively about the scholarships and dispute over the trust.

Albritton, executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, did not immediately respond Thursday to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment. The commission is the state agency that helps enforce Alabama’s ethics law.

“Thomas A. Albritton, as a member of the Board of the Mabel Amos Memorial Fund, allowed or caused his own children to impermissibly receive scholarship awards from the very trust he was charged with administering,” Marshall’s office wrote in the court filing.

The motion said, “Albritton caused, allowed, or otherwise acquiesced in the award of scholarships to his children from the Trust totaling more than $100,000,” calling that “prohibited self-dealing”” and a violation of the terms of the Trust.

Mabel Amos served as Alabama’s secretary of state from 1967 to 1975. Before she died, she filed a will to create the Mabel Amos Memorial Trust at a bank, which eventually merged with Regions. According to the motion, she wanted to fund scholarships for Alabama students who needed financial assistance for college.

Family members last year filed a lawsuit against Regions alleging breach of trust, saying fees increased dramatically after oil was discovered on the Amos property and that board trustees benefited personally.