Rileys actions questioned
Published 6:35 am Wednesday, February 25, 2009
In last year’s U.S. Senate investigations surrounding the convictions of the infamous duo Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, it was revealed that Bob Riley’s 2002 Election Campaign received at least $600,000, and probably close to $2.5 million, in contributions from out of state gambling interests. This is a lot of money, even in today’s political environment. It would easily be the largest contribution to Riley’s campaign, if not the largest to any campaign in Alabama history.
The investigation was called for by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs chaired by Senator John McCain. The investigation was conducted by numerous federal agencies, including the Justice Department and the FBI. The report detailed the campaign dollars coming from the Mississippi Choctaw Casino Operators through Abramoff and Scanlon. In the hearings, it was reported that the Mississippi Choctaws had funneled the money through the now convicted Abramoff “to get the Governor of Alabama elected to keep gaming out of Alabama so it would not hurt their market in Mississippi.”
It would appear by Riley’s actions over the last six years that he has pretty much done the bidding of the Indian gambling interests. The chairman of the Poarch Creek Indians in Alabama was quoted in the Mobile Press Register as saying Riley was recently a special guest at the opening of their Wind Creek Casino and Hotel near Atmore.
This cozy arrangement between Riley and the Indian gambling interests is similar and reminiscent to another scenario in Ala-bama politics. In 1970, the State was in the throes of one of the fiercest and closest governor’s races in history. The Albert Brewer vs. George Wallace gubernatorial contest is one of the most pivotal battles in Alabama political history.
One of the most tantalizing stories that emerged from that epic 1970 Governor’s Race was the fact that $400,000 was delivered to the Brewer campaign in a brown paper bag. It was given to Brewer by the Richard Nixon for President Campaign for only one purpose, to defeat and end the career of one George Corley Wallace.
Much like the Brewer/Nixon Watergate money, the Riley/Indian gambling money is strikingly similar. There may be no real compromise by Riley in his acceptance of the benevolent campaign gift. The marriage between Riley and the out of state gambling interests is a marriage made in Heaven. They are simply using Riley’s position on gambling to protect their monopoly and avoid paying any taxes in Alabama.
Steve Flowers is a political columnist who served 16 years in the state