Bill Johnson, a 2010 Republican candiate for governor, delivered a letter last week to U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, who apparently is spearheading a grand-jury investigation in Montgomery. The inquiry, Johnson says, should include national Republican figures, such as convicted felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon.
News reports indicate that the investigation has focused on Democratic legislators and lobbyists who favor electronic bingo in Alabama. But Johnson says he has evidence that Riley, a staunch opponent of gambling in his own state, has been improperly influenced by outside gaming interests. And Johnson says Abramoff, who was at the center of a nationwide GOP scandal, should be a focus of the Alabama probe.
Canary, a George W. Bush appointee who so far has remained in office under President Barack Obama, has long been considered a Riley ally--and there has been no sign that her investigation will focus on anti-gambling forces. Johnson, however, intends to change that.
In the letter--which can be viewed in its entirety below--Johnson says he wants to testify about matters surrounding Riley's election over Democrat Don Siegelman in 2002. Johnson was employed by Riley's political organization for a Congressional campaign in 1996 and governor's races in 2002 and 2006. Johnson served in Riley's cabinet from 2005 to 2009:
During the governor’s 2002 campaign, I was personally told by the governor’s former chief of staff and then campaign staffer that he was in charge of managing million of dollars in campaign contributions from Mississippi Choctaw Indian casino operators. I voluntarily took and passed a polygraph examination on this information.
Paul Camp, an Alabama media consultant working for Mississippi Indian casino interests (and who has since filed an affidavit) told me that, with the election of Governor Riley in 2003, the Mississippi Choctaws said they “now own Alabama.”
Johnson also focuses on more recent events:
In February and March 2010, $342,000 of funds raised by Gov. Riley and the Alabama Republican Party for “Campaign 2010,” raised for the stated purpose of electing candidates, went instead to fund anti-gambling initiatives in the 2010 legislative session.
Additionally, you should investigate “Campaign 2010” and the possible use of these unreported campaign contributions to threaten or entice legislators relative to opposing gaming legislation in the 2010 legislative session; be especially vigilant of any “loan repayments” post the June 1 primary.
Johnson provides the names of more than a dozen Riley associates who should be called to testify and provide documents related to the gambling probe. These individuals include some regular characters here at Legal Schnauzer--Rob Riley, a Homewood attorney and the governor's son; Dax Swatek, Riley's 2006 campaign manager and a lobbyist who represents gaming interests; Robert Sigler, a promoter of gaming ventures around the country; and convicted felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon.
The letter, Johnson states, is a formal request to appear before the grand jury:
I feel strongly that the investigation at hand regarding the fight for or against gambling legislation in Alabama and the influence thereof is a serious matter. Gov. Riley has used millions of dollars in Alabama taxpayer funds to finance his Anti-gambling Task Force. If in any way, his concerted efforts to stop gambling in Alabama is pay back for Mississippi Casino money funneled to his campaign and the hiring of his close political allies, this is indeed a serious issue.
Here is the complete letter:
Bill Johnson Canary Letter