Amendment 2 was Riley-Moore political test
The defeat of Amendment 2 on last year's ballot was a victory for Roy Moore over Bob Riley. Riley adamantly urged approval of the amendment that he proposed and put on the ballot. Riley declared that the amendment was simply a constitutional overhaul to take provisions supporting segregated schools and the poll tax out of our antiquated constitution. The Roy Moore followers successfully sent out the message that the benign amendment was a tax increase. The chief opponent to the proposal was Moore's lieutenant, Justice-elect Tom Parker. Parker continues to be Moore's spokesman. It was an amazing victory, especially because the opponents basically spent no money to successfully defeat the measure. It was like a silent drumbeat that resonated throughout the state, that "it's another tax increase." The rank and file conservatives don't trust Riley. They think everything he has anything to do with is a hidden tax increase. They believe he is a Judas. It shows how deep a gash he cut on himself with his ill-fated 2003 tax proposal. It is a scar that will not heal.
The provisions of Amendment 2 were ruled unconstitutional nearly a half a century ago. Therefore, the language does not have to be taken out. It is dead hapless verbiage; purely housekeeping that does not have to be done. Gov. Riley should let sleeping dogs lie and leave the issue alone because he obviously cannot win. It is a tar baby. Hopefully, Riley will not try to muster another vote on the issue as voters are obviously already leery of it and will once again call the measure a tax increase. Alabama already has a black eye nationally after defeating a measure that simply would have removed racist language from Alabama's 1901 Constitution. The defeat of Amendment 2 sends a message to the country that we are still backwater racists. A second defeat would make us appear to be third world Neanderthals.
Speaking of black eyes, Alabama's Christian Coalition definitely got a shiner during the 2004 election year. A significant revelation occurred that the average voter may have overlooked, but Alabama politicians did not. It was reported by the Washington Post that Indian casino gambling money had been filtered through Washington lobbyist Ralph Reed and ultimately to Alabama's Christian Coalition.
Most of the state's large daily papers including the Huntsville Times, Montgomery Advertiser, and Birmingham News, exposed the scandal and took them to task in editorials. The Birmingham News lambasted the Christian Coalition in an editorial, saying "Alabama's Christian Coalition has long denied getting money from gambling interests. It has also refused to disclose where its money came from. It turns out the group was gambling with its reputation on both counts, and its lucky streak just came to an end." The amount of money that John Giles' "Christian group" collected from Indian gambling interests far exceeds the amount they fronted for groups opposed to Gov. Riley's 2003 tax proposal.
The gambling lobbyists filtered the money to Reed, he could not deny it. Reed conceded that he took $4 million from the gambling lobby, and then John Giles, the director of the Alabama Christian Coalition, admitted their receipt of the money. Giles has adamantly opposed legislation that would require political action groups like his to disclose the sources of their funding. Now we know why.
James Evans, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Auburn, in a scathing editorial in September of 2004 shortly after the disclosure, said, "a group calling itself Christian and enjoying the tax benefits of a nonprofit nonpartisan organization is called to a higher standard. The Alabama Christian Coalition has been exposed as hypocrites hiding their goals in the cloak of religion. They have given Christians a bad name."
See you next week.