Congressman not worried about security

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The first time U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Montgomery, had a Congress on Your Corner event, he held it in the parking lot of a large grocery store in Dothan.

His former district director, Al Allenback, said when he saw news coverage of a terrible shooting spree at a similar event in Arizona at which a congresswoman was shot and six people were killed, he had an immediate flashback.

But both Allenback and Bright said security was never a worry during the countless meet-the-public events Bright, a Montgomery Democrat, did in the Wiregrass in his two years in office.

“My staff worried about it sometimes,” Bright said Monday afternoon.

He didn’t. He said as a graduate of the Police Academy who’d completed SWAT training, he felt capable of defending himself.

Similarly, Allenback had spent 28 years in the Air Force and was trained in security. He said he contacted Capitol Police in Washington, D.C., weekly for intel updates that would have alerted him of anything happening in south Alabama.

“We were on the road a lot, but we always contacted the mayors and let them know when we’d be in towns,” Allenback said. “Every place we went, the sheriff, chief of police or an officer in one of the departments showed up. Whether we were in a city like Dothan or a smaller town, they showed great pride and professionalism in being aware they had a congressman in town.”

Bright knows U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Tucson, who was killed in the attack, very well.

“She is a Blue Dog Democrat, very centrist and fiscally conservative,” Bright said Monday.

Ironically, she also is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms.

Bright served with her on the Armed Services Committee and considers her a good friend. The two of them, along with Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, visited Afghanistan and Pakistan together in 2009.

Bright said that he has concerns about the divisive nature of today’s politics, which he’s expressed a number of times. Like Bright, Giffords had shared her concerns and had said she wanted to “tone the rhetoric down.”

A 22-year-old, Jared Loughner, has been charged in the shootings.