Whitmire: What was Alabama’s AG doing at the Trump trial? Not his job.

Columnist Kyle Whitmire
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall speaks to the media outside a New York City courthouse during former President Trump’s trial, raising questions about his priorities in Alabama. Meanwhile, (LEFT) Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s absence from Washington is viewed by some as beneficial to national security. (Screenshot)

This is an opinion column.

Did Alabama Attorney Gen. Steve Marshall get lost or something?

On Monday, the state’s top law enforcement officer wasn’t in his office. He wasn’t meeting with state officials at the capital. Nor was he appearing for the state in court.

He was on TV.

In New York City.

In a political spectacle that has more to do with the job he wants than the job Alabamians elected him to do, Marshall spent a few hours watching the trial of former president Donald Trump before ranting about the case to media outside.

“We had more questions about Michael Cohen’s feelings than we did connecting him to any criminal offense,” Marshall said.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville was also there and did his share of ranting and raving too. But any time Tuberville spends away from Washington is probably a net benefit to Alabama, not to mention U.S. national security.

Marshall, on the other hand, has work to do. And he’s not doing it, even as others try to do his work for him.

Two weeks ago, Hannah Dreier, a reporter for the New York Times, won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Her work last year revealed how child labor laws are being flouted in, among other states, Alabama.

In textile factories, meat processing plants and roofing companies, immigrant children are being put to work in clear violation of the law, and few folks seem that concerned, especially at the Alabama Attorney General’s office.

Marshall, it seems, is more preoccupied with what’s happening in the Big Apple than who’s working for Fruit of the Loom.

This wasn’t the first time the media had pointed out this problem in Alabama, either. In 2022, Reuters reported that auto part plants in Hyundai’s Alabama supply chain had been using children as young as 12.

In that case, at least, police in Enterprise, Ala., had tried to do something.

Unfortunately, the something was reporting the problem to the Alabama Attorney General’s office.

When the Reuters reporters asked the AG’s office what it intended to do, Marshall’s spokesman wouldn’t say.

If Marshall wants something to hang his political hat on, cracking down on child labor in Alabama seems like a great opportunity. There’s something here for both Republicans and Democrats to get behind.

Child labor was supposed to be a thing of the past — something FDR put a stop to during the New Deal, something we read about in school —where 12-year-old children are supposed to do their work, writing lines on the blackboard, not working the line cleaning chickens.

And if that’s too touchy-feely for the political right, then there’s the immigration angle of this.

Overwhelmingly, if not universally, the children being exploited here are immigrants, not citizens, because who are they going to complain to when someone gets hurt?

Marshall could argue this problem is another manifestation of Biden’s failure to secure the border. He could say the jobs these children are doing should be done by Americans, and he’d have a point.

This is a real problem, not an imaginary one, but in Alabama, we run away from real problems rather than confronting them, even if that means running away to New York.

Work? That’s for little people.

Marshall has his sights set on higher elected office — either governor or the United States Senate — and he thinks Donald Trump’s endorsement does more for him than him helping Alabamians. Heck, should his courtroom buddy Tuberville get a cabinet appointment, maybe he could get an appointment to the U.S. Senate, instead of having to wade through an Alabama election first.

Marshall would rather talk about what’s wrong with Donald Trump’s former political fixer than fix something wrong in Alabama.

No matter how many kids fall off rooftops in Alabama, at least they’re trying to do a job.

Which is more than we can say for Steve Marshall.