HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Now that Rep. David Cole has resigned, a special election will be required to fill the Alabama House District 10 seat.
Cole was arrested last week and charged with voter fraud, allegedly voting in a location that he was not authorized to vote in, which is a Class C felony. He subsequently pleaded guilty in an agreement that involves his resignation, as well as jail time.
Prosecutors said Cole falsely claimed to live in District 10, which includes south Madison County and Madison, in order to run for the seat. They claimed he never ate a meal or spent one night in the home he claimed to be renting in District 10.
Cole’s plea agreement also includes restitution of any money Cole was paid while serving as a legislator. Cole was paid salary, mileage, and a per diem while a House member.
Records show his salary began in November of last year, following his election. His legislative salary for this year was just over $2,200 every two weeks, including a check on Aug. 29, the day he was arrested.
Records show that the mileage and per diem totaled around $9,150 and the overall salary figure is just over $43,000.
But taxpayers will foot the bill for the special election to replace him.
Gov. Kay Ivey’s will make a decision on an election date within the next few weeks.
Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger said the cost for that election will be at least $75,000 and it could well be higher. Barger said he should have a firm number soon.
The accusations about Cole’s residency date back to early 2022. At the time of his arrest, he was facing a lawsuit alleging he didn’t live in the district at the time of the election, brought by libertarian Elijah Boyd.
Boyd said this was an outcome he didn’t expect.
“I’m shocked by the criminal charges and happy about the resignation,” Boyd said. “The State House had the opportunity to resolve my challenge to Mr. Cole’s residency, and they didn’t. After so long, I thought I had lost to apathy or corruption. I’m looking forward to a special election.”
Cole is a medical doctor. If his plea goes through, a felony conviction is a violation of Alabama’s Medical Practice Act. However, the conviction does not automatically lead to license revocation or other discipline, according to the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners. If there is a challenge to his license, Cole could face a discipline review process.