Louisiana GOP Central Committee Member Leads Alabama A&M's Foray Into MAGA Politics
By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on October 12, 2023
An Editorial Opinion
Shannon Frank Reeves, Sr., is the man Alabama A&M University President Daniel K. Wims tapped in July 2022 to lead the university's foray into Alabama's MAGA wing of the Republican Party. Reeves is the university’s Associate Vice President for Governmental Affairs.
Prior to assuming his Governmental Affairs position, Reeves owned and operated a one-man lobbying firm called Reeves Strategies, LLC, from October 2021 to July 2022.
On December 5, 2020, Shannon Reeves was elected to the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee as the member for the 29th Senatorial District, Division A, according to election records obtained from the Louisiana Secretary of State's office.
At the time of his election, Reeves was the Executive Director of the Office of Alumni Affairs at historically black Grambling State University.
By the time President Wims hired Shannon Reeves for the university's Government Affairs position in July 2022, Wims had already embarked on a course of action to embed Alabama A&M deep into the heart of Alabama’s MAGA movement. Shannon Reeves is Wims' co-pilot on this journey.
Dr. Wims privately justifies his foray into MAGA politics by saying it is necessary to get funding for Alabama A&M. In truth, Wims has gotten nothing from his MAGA friends in return but meaningless trinkets that stroke his ego and make him feel good on a personal basis.
Dr. Wims has completely distanced himself from black members of the Alabama Legislature. Reportedly, Wims has no respect for black elected officials, individually or as a group.
Dr. Wims' documented personal campaign donations have been made to white Alabama MAGA Republican candidates, exclusively.
Alabama A&M's board of trustees has not stated publicly whether it approved Dr. Wims' foray into the state's MAGA political movement or whether Wims acted in this politically sensitive territory without seeking board guidance or approval. The minutes of board of trustees meetings do not reflect any specific approval of Wims' concerted actions to make Alabama A&M a trusted ally of the state's MAGA movement.
Alabama A&M Paid Big Bucks for GOP Trinkets
In October 2021, Wims hired Auburn-based Skipper Group, a two-man GOP lobbying firm, and paid the company $220,000 to pal around with the likes of Alabama U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville, Gov. Kay Ivey, former House Speaker Mack McCutheon, state Sen. Sam Givhan, and a host of other Republican officials in Alabama, all of who are devoted followers of Donald Trump’s MAGA movement.
In exchange for the hundreds of thousands of dollars Alabama A&M has poured into courting Donald Trump’s MAGA devotees in Alabama, Dr. Wims and the university have received nothing but token gestures of support.
For example, Alabama A&M received a nice Proclamation from Gov. Ivey declaring October as “HBCU Month.”
Former Alabama House Speak Mike McCutheon gave Dr. Wims the state flag that flew over the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery on the day of Wims’ Investiture as Alabama A&M’s new president.
Finally, Alabama A&M received about two dozen positive news stories in Yellowhammer News, the unofficial MAGA Republican news site in Alabama. The university reportedly paid for this favorable coverage with money that was funneled through the Skipper Group to Yellowhammer News. Buying favorable news coverage is an emerging trend in Alabama and Florida.
None of Dr. Wims' new, expensive, “bought and paid-for” MAGA political friends has offered to help Alabama A&M collect a dime of the $527,280,064 that the state of Alabama owes the university. In fact, all of them are opposed to the state paying Alabama A&M this money. Wims, himself, has been publicly silent on this matter.
What is more, each of Wims' new MAGA political friends supported the Alabama State Legislature’s willful, open, and proud defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court order issued on June 8, 2023, in Milligan v. Allen that required the creation of a second majority black Congressional district in Alabama to remedy racial gerrymandering against black voters in the state's redistricting map.
Equitable Funding for Alabama A&M Has Always Required a Court Order
Equitable funding for Alabama A&M and Alabama State University has never occurred, absent a federal court order.
Only Alabama A&M is the beneficiary of a letter from the U.S. Department of Education and Agriculture to Gov. Ivey confirming that the state of Alabama owes the university $527,280,064 due to chronic underfunding as a land grant institution during the last 30 years. ASU does not have such a letter.
MAGA officials on Goat Hill in Montgomery are convinced that Dr. Wims lacks the intestinal fortitude and presidential commitment to Alabama A&M that is required to collect the $527,280,064 that is owed to the university by the state. They are also convinced that Dr. Wims does not want to cause any discomfort for his MAGA political friends in the state.
Today, Alabama A&M is mired in MAGA Republican politics with no way to extricate itself, short of its board of trustees firing Dr. Wims.
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