Prominent Alabama Republicans this week said they did not know that funds used to fight non-Indian gaming in the state came from Indian gambling sources. A check of public records shows the Republicans almost certainly were lying.
A $100,000 check that went to an Alabama anti-gambling organization in 2010 originated with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and was funneled through the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), according to a report in the Montgomery Advertiser. The same article showed that Indian gambling money, via the RSLC, played a prominent role in the Republican takeover of the Alabama Legislature in 2010.
Three key Republicans connected to the story--Homewood attorney Rob Riley, conservative lawyer and activist A. Eric Johnston, and House Speaker Mike Hubbard--said they had no idea the RSLC took money from gambling sources. But a simple check of public documents on the Web shows the GOP trio either was lying or was stunningly out of touch.
The Alabama denials are even more hard to swallow in light of recent reports that two Las Vegas casino moguls--Steve Wynn, of Wynn Resorts, and Sherman Adelson, of the Las Vegas Sands, gave more than $625,000 to the RSLC in recent months. Another report shows that Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, of Las Vegas, has given $165,299 to the RSLC.
We are supposed to believe that Riley, Johnston, and Hubbard were utterly in the dark about RSLC's ties to gaming? It's not a new development, by the way.
Records at campaignmoney.com show that RSLC received $15,000 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in 2003, followed by a $25,000 donation in 2005. Jack Abramoff, a former GOP lobbyist and now confessed felon, represented the Choctaws at the time. In 2006, the RSLC received $100,000 from Harrah's Casino Hotels.
We learned about this after a Web search lasting about five minutes. But Riley, Johnston, and Hubbard are not capable of learning about RSLC's ties to gaming that go back roughly 10 years? These guys can't afford Internet service?
The RSLC was founded in 2002, and we know it took gaming money in 2003. That means RSLC's roots have been fertilized with gambling cash pretty much from the outset. But GOP insiders in Alabama don't know that?
The obvious connections do not stop there. Ed Gillespie took over as RSLC chairman in 2010, and he has ties to . . . well, we will let Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne explain it, from a 2006 column:
When journalists would raise questions about Abramoff's role as a lobbyist-fundraiser just a couple of years ago, Bush's lieutenants played down his influence peddling and proudly claimed Abramoff as one of their own.
On an Oct. 15, 2003, CNBC broadcast, journalist Alan Murray asked Ed Gillespie, then chairman of the Republican National Committee, about fundraising by "people like Jack Abramoff, who represents Indian tribes here," and another lobbyist whose name I'll leave out because he has not been implicated in any scandals. "Are you going to sit here and tell us that their contributions to your party have nothing to do with their lobbying efforts in Washington?"
"I know Jack Abramoff," Gillespie replied. He mentioned the other lobbyist and insisted: "They are Republicans; they were Republicans before they were lobbyists. . . . I think they want to see a Republican reelected in the White House in 2004 more than anything."
What do we know for sure?
* Ed Gillespie, now the chair of the RSLC, was mighty happy to identify himself with Jack Abramoff in 2003;
* Abramoff's client, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, gave money to the RSLC in 2003 and 2005;
* The RSLC now is awash in gambling money from Las Vegas casino magnates.
We know all of this, but Rob Riley, Eric Johnston, and Mike Hubbard were clueless? Excuse me while I attempt to suppress a guffaw.