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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Riley, McCain Dance an Unsavory Two Step

Kudos to Bob Martin, of The Montgomery Independent, for shining some much needed light on the ugly little dance that apparently has been going on for years between Alabama Governor Bob Riley and Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

Martin spotlights the efforts McCain took in the U.S. Senate to cover up Riley's ties to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. And what did McCain receive for the "Get Out of Jail Free" card he extended to Riley? Well, he got a hearty endorsement from the guv. Can we say quid pro quo?

Martin certainly can. And he says much more:

Riley has steadfastly denied that he has ever taken any gambling contributions, however, it is documented that (Michael) Scanlon funneled nearly three-quarters of a million to his campaign for governor in 2002 through the Republican Governor's Association and other political action committees. Scanlon's income was derived primarily from the scam he and Abramoff, along with with former National Christian Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed, were running against the Indian people.

In the late 1990s when he was in Congress Riley signed a fund raising letter for a nonprofit group closely tied to Abramoff's clients. The letter, written on behalf of the U.S. Family Network, announced a petition drive to block the Atmore-based Poarch Band of Creek Indians from building a casino in Alabama. That was potentially significant to Abramoff's tribal clients in Mississippi and Louisiana that already had casinos and did not want more competition.

Riley clearly had close ties to Abramoff and Scanlon, relationships that McCain helped cover up, but will Alabamians care the next time they vote in state or national elections?

The new revelation of the governor's familiarity with Abramoff and the instructions given him by these two jailbirds, ought to cause some curiosity in the big time Alabama media, but I doubt it. Nonetheless, the governor owes an answer to those citizens who are curious. According to sworn statements the gambling interests in Mississippi spent $13 million to elect Riley governor. That's a lot of dough. If Riley didn't get any, there must have been a lot lost somewhere along the way. McCain's huge lost e-mail favor didn't come without a quid pro quo and he got it last week with a resounding endorsement from our governor. The only question left is who arranged that deal?

I don't know who arranged that deal. But it's a safe bet that somewhere in the McCain/Riley Two Step you will find the footprints of Dax Swatek. He served as Riley's campaign manager in 2006 and was senior advisor in Alabama for McCain until the campaign ran into funding problems.

Dax Swatek's father, Pelham-based attorney William E. Swatek, just happens to be the attorney who filed a bogus lawsuit against me that led to the blog you are now reading. In fact, not long after this blog started, we posted about the curious connections both Dax Swatek and Bob Riley have had to "pro family" organizations with ties to . . . Jack Abramoff. Hmmm.

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