By Associated Press - Wednesday, March 20, 2019

LINDEN, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama newspaper owner who promoted a revival of the Ku Klux Klan said Wednesday that he had a deal to sell the business just days after the departure of the African-American employee he tapped to run the weekly.

Goodloe Sutton told The Associated Press this week’s issue of The Democrat-Reporter of Linden, Alabama, could be his last. Besides owning the paper, Sutton serves as its editor and publisher.

Sutton - who has refused to apologize for promoting a resurgence of the KKK - would not go into details about the supposed buyer, and he has been trying to sell for years since the death of his wife. The weekly has few local advertisers.

Linden Mayor Charles Moore said he was recently contacted by a representative from a newspaper company interested in purchasing Sutton’s operation.

“She asked me if I thought someone could turn that paper around,” said Moore. “I told her she was going to have to do a lot of legwork.”

Sutton, 80, prompted a firestorm last month with an editorial criticizing Democrats that began: “Time for the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again.” The paper has had a reputation for publishing offensive content for years and lost many advertisers over an editorial criticizing blacks, Moore said.

Two universities rescinded honors previously presented to Sutton, and the Alabama Press Association censured Sutton and suspended the Democrat-Reporter’s membership.

Sutton turned over the operation afterward to an African-American employee, Elecia Dexter, but she left weeks later in a dispute with Sutton.

“She ran out the door. I don’t know if she quit or not,” he said. Dexter did not return a telephone message Wednesday.

The newspaper’s standing with the city of Linden, population 1,900, could be a sticking point in any sale.

The Democrat-Reporter hasn’t purchased a business license in three years and owes more than $800, Moore said. Dexter presented the city with a payment check but also asked the town clerk to delay depositing it, so the payment was returned.

City Council members have asked Sutton to pay the overdue amount and this year’s fee by the end of April, Moore said. The city could take action if the money isn’t paid, the mayor said.

“We can’t pull his license, that’s for damn sure. But there’s nothing wrong with putting a chain on the door,” he said.

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