Consider Homewood-based attorney Rob Riley, the governor's son. Documents obtained by Legal Schnauzer indicate that Rob Riley has an extensive background in gaming. In fact, the story of Rob Riley's gambling ties includes all kinds of intriguing entities (Las Vegas, Canada, the Mississippi Choctaws, the Chinese government) and names (convicted felons Michael Scanlon and Jack Abramoff).
How we do we know this? It involves a behind-the-scenes tale about the investigative piece 60 Minutes ran in February 2008 on the Don Siegelman prosecution.
In the weeks leading up to the 60 Minutes piece, it became known that Alabama attorney and GOP whistleblower Jill Simpson was going to play a major role in the story, describing in detail the Republican dirty tricks behind the Siegelman case. Rob Riley apparently wanted to do an on-camera interview for 60 Minutes too, in an effort to counter Simpson's story that the Siegelman prosecution was orchestrated for political reasons by GOP operatives.
In his haste and arrogance, Riley apparently forgot a minor detail: Jill Simpson knows him, and his business dealings, all too well.
Simpson worked up a list of questions that could be asked of Riley about two organizations: an Alabama-based company called Crimsonica and a Virginia-based company called Triad Management Services. The list of questions made their way to a key person at 60 Minutes, and when Riley learned about some of the questions that might be put to him, he suddenly decided that an on-camera interview wasn't such a good idea after all.
Let's focus first on Crimsonica because that is what ties Rob Riley to gambling. The story unfolded in 2002 when a Birmingham businessman named William Cobb "Chip" Hazelrig gave $10,000 to Bob Riley's campaign for governor. The campaign returned the money when it discovered that Hazelrig was a stockholder in Paragon Gaming, which was formed in 2000 to help Indian tribes organize casino gambling on their reservations.
At the time, Bob Riley acted as if he had no clue what Paragon Gaming was about. But he should have known. After all, his son was involved with the company up to his eyeballs.
Let's consider some of Simpson's questions for Rob Riley, which found their way to 60 Minutes:
5. In fact, Mr. Riley, the way Mr. Hazelrig came to make this contribution was through an organization named Crimsonica that you were involved with. Is that not correct?
6. In fact, Mr. Riley, was not your best friend and college roommate, Robert Sigler, the founder of this corporation?
7. Also at the time that your father accepted this money was Mr. Sigler not operating out of your old office and at that time Bob Riley's campaign headquarters, a group called Crimson Group Birmingham, 1806 Oxmoor Road, Birmingham Al 35202 and using your telephone number of 205-970-9866 at your law office? Isn't it a fact Mr. Riley, that you and Mr. Sigler have been operating Crimsonica together since 1985 and isn't it a fact that you did all the legal work helping tribes organize casino gambling and facilities on their reservations on at least four different Indian reservations in the United States and Canada?
Rob Riley did legal work to help tribes establish casino facilities on their reservations? And his dad is Alabama's anti-gambling crusader? Yikes, no wonder Riley Jr. backed out on the 60 Minutes interview.
And that wasn't all Simpson had up her sleeve. Who assisted Rob Riley in his work with Indian tribes? Consider these questions:
12. You used the assistance of Michael Scanlon, your father's former press secretary, and Mr. Abramoff to help you with these Indian tribes, is that correct Mr. Riley?
13. Mr. Riley, after this article ran in the (Anniston) Star, you had your name removed from Crimsonica at the Secretary of State's office in Alabama, is that correct?
14. Did you not then go to Las Vegas, Nevada, and through the Nevada Secretary of State, form several corporations with your friend, Mr. Sigler to again do work for these Indian tribes in organizing gambling on their reservations?
15. You are still an investor today in Paragon Gaming, are you not?
Rob Riley must have broken into a voluminous flop sweat when he saw those questions. Scanlon? Abramoff? Las Vegas?
And Simpson still was not done. She was about to get into some interesting Chinese connections, along with Riley's ties to specific gambling facilities:
16. Mr. Riley do you know Chong Man Lee and was he at one time with the corporation known as the Sextant Group and is he not an investor also with you and Mr. Sigler and others in these casinos? Was he not also an investor at the time Crimsonica was formed?
17. Is John Cahill, the president of Beijing Inc., also a partner with you in this corporation? Do you know where the monies are coming from that he has gotten to specialize in pre-construction management for Paragon and could those monies be coming from the Chinese government PLA?
18. You have had an interest in the management and assisted in the organization and building of the facilities for the following four casinos, have you not Mr. Riley? River Creek Resort and Casino, Eagle River Casino and Travel Plaza, Edgewater Casino and Augustine Casino.
Yep, Bob Riley wants to protect Alabamians from the evils of gambling. It just seems word about that has not filtered down to his son.
We will be examining Rob Riley's connections to Triad Management Services in a future post. But for now, let's take a look at all the questions Jill Simpson posed regarding Crimsonica and gambling: