In writing yesterday about the dark side of Alabama Governor Bob Riley, I was reminded of a story that surfaced briefly in the fall of 2006 but has mostly faded from view.
Perhaps the story needs to be re-examined in light of the fact that John McCain, a close friend of Riley, is the likely Republican presidential candidate in 2008.
In fall 2006, Birmingham talk-show hosts Russ and Dee Fine reported on Riley's membership in the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Alabama. This secret society is still governed by documents forbidding membership to "negroes or other inferior races."
Russ Fine was amazed that The Birmingham News refused to touch the story. "It is far more important and sinister than former Florida Congressman Foley's homosexual dalliances," Russ Fine said. "Why? Because a sitting Republican governor is a member of an organization that discriminates against black citizens of his state and a sitting president came to Alabama to endorse and fund raise for him the Thursday after we were fired on Monday."
Yes, you heard that right. The Fines were fired shortly after helping to bring Riley's Grand Lodge membership to public light.
We now know that Riley has quite a history of sticking his nose in other people's business--messing with other people's livelihoods.
That tendency has been most on display in the case of Montgomery insurance executive John W. Goff. Goff has filed a lawsuit against Riley and others, claiming they conspired to ruin one of his businesses. Apparently as a result of the lawsuit, Goff has become a target of a Justice Department investigation.
A hearing on the lawsuit was to have been held on February 5, but that has been delayed. Riley and other defendants had moved that the lawsuit be dismissed, but Goff's lawyers moved that the suit be consolidated and transferred to Judge Eugene W. Reese. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for March.