One reason is that Alabama's compliant, right-wing press has failed to seriously examine Riley's record on ethics. One reporter, Bob Lowry of The Huntsville Times, has been an exception, taking several critical looks at the Riley administration. With a former member of Riley's cabinet now calling for a criminal investigation, other reporters are forced to pay attention.
Bill Johnson, a GOP candidate for governor in 2010, has asked Alabama Attorney General Troy King to investigate possible ethics and criminal violations by the Riley administration. Reports The Montgomery Advertiser:
Chris Bence, chief of staff for King, confirmed that the office received a complaint from Johnson, and he said that it would follow its standard procedure. That means Johnson's complaint will be assigned to one of King's investigators and a prosecutor for review.
"A preliminary determination of whether there is reasonable cause to believe that a crime may have been committed will be made," he said. "If a review does result in the determination that a crime was committed, then it triggers the next step, which is a formal investigation."
Johnson also has asked Montgomery County District Attorney Ellen Brooks to investigate the Riley administration. Johnson's complaint focuses largely on three areas:
* Riley's alleged receipt of campaign contributions from Mississippi Indian casino owners;
* Riley's actions that have benefited the law firm that employs his son-in-law; and
* Riley's actions that have benefited his son's law firm.
The alleged funding from Mississippi gaming interests, which were represented by Jack Abramoff, might be the most serious matter. Reports The Montgomery newspaper:
Johnson who served as Riley's grassroots campaign coordinator said Riley received the money for his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, Riley has said he did not.
"The people of Alabama deserve to know whether or not their governor has violated the law," said Johnson, who formerly served as the head of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
The allegations apparently have upset at least one Riley supporter:
Johnson has received harassing mail since he resigned from Riley's Cabinet in late June, and he said he asked for the investigation because that mail has since turned threatening. Last month, Johnson received an envelope with a picture that depicted him with someone holding a gun to his head with the phrase "Say goodbye to Bill" underneath.