FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Gambling In Alabama – The Worm Within The Shiny Apple
Paul Sanford is a Republican State Legislator from Huntsville, AL. What I learned about him on the Internet Tubes makes me more proud to be a Republican. He makes me feel both vindicated and validated.
Anyone following Alabama politics, by necessity or morbid curiosity, can only nod their heads and ruefully smile as The Victory Land Casino elevates the murky machinations of Alabama politics to the front page of the infamous Drudge report. As the home of Greyhound Racing, Quincy’s 777 Casino and the Oasis Hotel, Victory Land has put Shorter, AL on the map for good or for ill, and provided much-needed employment for 1,500 people. It has also been closed down to avoid arrests at the hands of Gov. Robert Riley’s anti-gambling enforcement task force.
It turns out that the arrests are still taking place. This time the warrants are not for the gambling, but rather for the political corruption that accompanies the legal battles over the licensure of business establishments to cater to vice. Twelve gambling executives and several lobbyists stand accused of attempting to bribe Alabama lawmakers to remove legislative restrictions from gaming in the state. The arrests included several members of Alabama’s state government. Federal arrests were made of the following individuals.
The biggest name arrested so far has been VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, who was arrested at his Montgomery home this morning. Also arrested today have been state senators Jim Preuitt, R-Talladega, Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, Larry Means, D-Attalla, Harri Anne Smith, I — Slocomb and Montgomery lobbyist Jerrod Massey.
This spate of arrests seemingly culminates an intensive investigation in which numerous Alabama State Legislators were subpoenaed. Some even wore wires to collect State’s evidence. Legislators subpoenaed include the Speaker of The Alabama House. A who’s – who follows below.
On Tuesday more lawmakers confirmed they have been subpoenaed. They include Rep. Seth Hammett, D-Andalusia, who is speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. Others who confirmed to the Associated Press that they have been issued subpoenas were Sens. Tom Butler, D-Madison; Hinton Mitchem, D-Union Grove; and Scott Beason, R-Gardendale.
Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, who also confirmed receiving a subpoena, said he was told a large number of subpoenas were issued,…”I understand there are going to be 50-something subpoenas,” Ford said.
The charges involve a rather ham-fisted and crude attempt to buy votes for legalized gambling. Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville) claims he was offered $250,000 for a “Yes” vote on more legalized gambling. Details follow below.
One of those lawmakers, Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, said Montgomery lobbyist Jarrod Massey offered him campaign contributions of $250,000 if he would support bingo legislation. Massey has strongly denied the charge. Another lawmaker, Sen. Steve French, R-Mountain Brook, recently said he, too, was made what he considered improper offers leading up to the Senate debate on electronic bingo.
I have no dog in the fight, and could care less if casino row were built in Mobile or even near Huntsville, where I live. I will occasionally wager a small amount of money and accept my losses as a gentleman. What I do have a problem with is the undermining of the rule of law.
Governor Riley should have raided VictoryLand. The law told him he was responsible for eliminating illegal behavior. If the law read something different, it would be Gov. Riley’s duty to leave them well alone.
Thus, I point out with pride the following. Representative Sanford and Representative French are both Republicans. Both men were offered substantial bribes to vote “Yes” on more legalized gambling. Both men voted their conscience instead. They turned the corruption down. I’m not hearing too many stories of Democrats who would do the same. This is another item to remember in chilly November.
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