With that in mind, it's a special pleasure to report that a private investigation led to the recent resignation of David Barber, the head of Alabama Governor Bob Riley's Anti-Gambling Task Force.
Milton McGregor, owner of VictoryLand near Montgomery, said he hired a private investigator, who caught Barber playing a slot machine at a Mississippi casino. Barber won a $2,300 jackpot in late December at the Golden Moon casino in Philadelphia, Mississippi. When confronted about his activities, Barber resigned from the governor's task force.
Reports the Mobile Press-Register:
"I knew he was going there. I knew what took place in Mississippi," McGregor told the Press-Register. "I wasn't out to destroy David Barber. He destroyed himself."
McGregor and other Alabama casino owners are waging a high-stakes battle with the Riley administration over the legality of electronic bingo machines, which have been seized in raids led by Barber's task force.
When we first reported on the Barber story earlier this week, we had this to say:
The Barber story leaves several questions unanswered:
* How did Barber's winnings come to public attention? I don't know much about gambling, but I assume that it normally doesn't become news when someone wins a $2,300 jackpot. Is it possible that pro-gaming interests in Alabama conducted a private investigation and caught Barber in the act? Is that what caused Barber to turn in his resignation letter? If so, I have the utmost admiration for the pro-gaming interests. That's the kind of hardball you have to play against Republican hypocrites. When will the Democratic Party ever learn that lesson?
Turns out our speculation was on target. And we do admire McGregor's willingness to fight back against the hypocrites in the Riley administration.
We also had this question in our original report:
* At exactly which casino in Mississippi was Barber playing? That has not been reported, to my knowledge. Was it a Mississippi Choctaw casino? Was Barber, indeed, patronizing a casino run by the group that helped put Bob Riley in office?
McGregor answers that question for us, too. Barber was at a casino operated by the Mississippi Choctaws, the outfit that reportedly spent $13 million to help get Bob Riley elected governor over Democrat Don Siegelman in 2002. Golden Moon is part of the Choctaws' expansive Pearl River Resort.
And that raises other questions: Was David Barber doing more than just gambling when he visited the Mississippi Choctaw resort? Was anyone with Barber while he was at the facility?
Here's a curious section from the story about McGregor and the private detective:
McGregor claimed that he put that chain of events into motion by getting word to Riley through an intermediary that he had proof that Barber was gambling. He said he gave Riley a Jan. 15 deadline to disclose Barber's activity or else he would disclose it himself.
Riley announced Barber's resignation on Jan. 15. The news sent shock waves across the Alabama political landscape, and earned national headlines.
"I found it amusing but disgusting. I detest hypocrisy," McGregor said. "You'd be surprised what you can find out by monitoring somebody. It doesn't take long."
Riley's office vehemently denied McGregor's account.
"Milton McGregor is a liar," said Jeff Emerson, communications director for Riley.
Why is Riley's spokesman so sensitive about the notion that McGregor contacted the governor's office through an intermediary? Could it be that McGregor has obtained information about someone in the anti-gambling movement besides David Barber? Was the "outing" of Barber just the appetizer before the main course?
And McGregor tosses in this tantalizing cryptic message: "You'd be surprised what you can find out by monitoring somebody. It doesn't take long."
Hmmm, methinks the "rest of the story" could get mighty interesting.