Leaderboard 728 X 90

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Federal Lawsuit Alleges Racism and GOP Politics Drove Bingo Raids in Historic Macon County, AL


Johnny Ford
Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford and five other residents of Macon County have filed a federal lawsuit alleging Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has caused "economic devastation" by unlawfully closing the VictoryLand casino.

Plaintiffs claim they and other Macon County voters have been the victims of a Republican Party plan that involves the use of Indian gaming funds to help take over all three branches of the Alabama government. The scheme, plaintiffs state, essentially nullifies their lawful votes to allow electronic bingo at VictoryLand.

Macon County is home to historic Tuskegee Institute, which was founded by Booker T. Washington and featured George Washington Carver as perhaps its most noted teacher.

The lawsuit, which names Strange and Governor Robert Bentley as defendants, alleges multiple violations of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, resulting in discrimination against residents of a county that is almost 82 percent black. Plaintiffs seek a declaration that Strange's actions constitute voting-rights violations, an injunction against future law-enforcement raids in Macon County, and a return of property seized at VictoryLand. (The full complaint can be viewed at the end of this post.)

Ford held a press conference on April 5 to announce filing of the lawsuit, but the mainstream Alabama press largely has ignored the story. We found reports at The Tuskegee News, the Opelika-Auburn News, and Courthouse News Service. But we found no coverage in newspapers serving Alabama's four largest cities--the Montgomery Advertiser, plus al.com newspapers in Birmingham, Mobile, and Huntsville.

How can so-called news organizations ignore a story that raises weighty, constitutional matters? It's hard to fathom an answer, but it certainly is not because the lawsuit deals only with bingo. At its heart, the lawsuit alleges a conspiracy between Indian tribes and white Republicans to deprive black Alabamians of constitutional protections.

Donald LaRoche, of Brockton, Massachusetts, and Christopher Ford, of Tuskegee, serve as co-counsel for plaintiffs. The lawsuit is supported by exhibits that are about 10 inches thick, sources tell Legal Schnauzer. From the complaint:

Beginning in 2003, white political leaders of the Alabama and National Republican Party . . . , including but not limited to Governor Bob Riley, initiated plans to elect white Republicans to the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government in the State of Alabama, allegedly referred to as "Operation 2010." 
In order to raise funds to accomplish their goal, Alabama Republican leaders and elected officials entered into a scheme with the Mississippi Choctaw Indians Casino Operators . . . and later the Alabama Poarch Band of Creek Indian Casino Operators. . . .  
This scheme included eliminating competition to Indian Gaming from non-Indian Gaming, including "VictoryLand" located in Macon County, Alabama. Eliminating VictoryLand served the dual goals of both by providing Indian Gaming a monopoly in Alabama and shutting off potential non-Indian Gaming . . . contributions that Republican political leaders feared could be used to thwart their political plans.

Plaintiffs go on to describe what amounts to a massive money-laundering operation at the national level:

The Choctaws, and later the Poarch Creeks, were able to disguise millions of dollars of contributions through Republican-based nonprofit organizations, including but not limited to, the National Christian Coalition, the Alabama Christian Coalition, the Alabama-based Republican Governors' Association and other Republican-based Political Action Committees ("PACs"). 
Indian Gaming funds were disguised in this manner to hide from the Alabama electorate that Republican candidates, whom they believed were opposed to all forms of gambling, were in fact taking millions of dollars from Indian Gaming.

Why has the mainstream Alabama press refused to cover this story? Perhaps the answer can be found in the complaint, which offers a brief recitation of our state's sad history with politics and racism. Such ugliness, the complaint suggests, continues today--based on evidence presented at the Alabama bingo prosecution of 2011. Once again, it seems, federal intervention is required to enforce basic constitutional rights in the Deep South:

The State of Alabama has a long history of utilizing the state constitution and the power of central state government to deny African Americans in Black Belt counties, such as Macon County, the ability to govern themselves and to make and to enforce laws of their choice. . . .  
This Court uncovered more recent attempts to deny African Americans in Black Belt counties the ability to govern themselves and to make and to enforce laws of their choice when it found "clear evidence of political manipulation motivated by racism." Two white Republican Senators and other white "influential Republican legislative allies" were recorded discussing their political strategy to keep a proposed constitutional amendment off the ballot because: "Every black, every illiterate would be bused on HUD financed buses." The recordings took place in the office of a white Republican state legislator in the Alabama Statehouse. This Court determined that: "The [white Republican Senators'] recordings present compelling evidence that political exclusion through racism remains a real and enduring problem in this State. Today, while racist sentiments may have been relegated to private discourse rather than on the floor of the state legislature . . . it is still clear that such sentiments remain regrettably entrenched in the high echelons of state government."

The Macon County lawsuit shines new light on racism in high places--and the Alabama mainstream press clearly wants no part of telling that story.





28 comments:

Edward said...

Great work!

Anonymous said...

Luther, Big Luther, Luther Strange....and oh what a Strange Trip it has been since this overgrown hillbilly reared his ugly head and the signs went up along Montevallo Road. Janie Shores asked me one day: "Who the Hell Is Luther Strange anyway?" To which I replied: "Beats Me" scratching my head. Now he has gotten on the fast track and we hear about how he is taking over the state government, one Indian dollar at a time..
Wonder how big he is going to look behind bars in one of those tiny cells in prison? They might have to get one of his corporate/Indian buddies/Bob to build him a new jail...one big enough for his ego. Luther Strange, I'm sad to say if asked that question now, would illicit a different description from me for Janie. I'm sure she knows exactly who he is now.

Anonymous said...

Major props to Johnny Ford. Someone needs to stand up to the Riley Machine. Glad Johnny took up "The Ford Challenge."

Anonymous said...

I live in the heart of central Alabama, and I follow the news pretty closely, but this is the first word I've heard of the Johnny Ford lawsuit. Seems like there has been a news blackout on it. Extra special thanks for your reporting, LS.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 8:50--

Janie Shores . . . as in former AL Supreme Court justice Janie Shores?

Anonymous said...

Big Luther was actually only 4'11" tall until he started taking Viagra . . .

Anonymous said...

Johnny Ford kicks butt!

Redeye said...

Thank you for being the media I wish we had instead of the media we have.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love the smell of Alabama racism in the morning. We know it well.

Anonymous said...

Will Luther try to claim "state immunity " on this?

Dog Day said...

Love the way Johnny Ford worked Bob Riley's name into the lawsuit way up high. That's getting to the source of the problem.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:45--

Luther probably will claim immunity. Hopefully, the Ford lawyers will find a way around that.

Anonymous said...

Why not add Jack Abramoff and Karl Rove as defendants? They are the ones who really are behind this. Adding their names would make it a major national story.

Anonymous said...

If Luther wants to stop gambling machines in the State of Alabama, he needs to get the Republican controlled Legislature and Governor to pass legislation outlawing all forms of Bingo including paper. The Indians wouldn't have a teepee to hang their war bonnet on. Their current justification for gambling machines in the state is that any form of Bingo gives them the right to operate their machines. Its time for the Republican tribe to put their words to action. They can do it in about ten minutes with time out for a cup of coffee. After all, they are in charge.

Anonymous said...

Mainstream news sources now report ONLY what the capitalist cabal instructs them to.

Great reporting LS

Molli said...

ANON @ 10:31
Absolutely true. I don't think Casino Jack would have a problem testifying. Rove would try to ruin everyone in the path to his demise. He has a lengthy history of terror.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea: Add Bob Riley, Rob Riley, and Minda Riley Campbell as defendants. I hear they all were paid heap big wampum to help set this whole charade in motion. And Johnny Ford is right on target: This all was done in the name of white Republicans gaining control of Karl Rove's prime stomping ground.

TLR said...

LS, this might be the most important post you've ever written. This line, especially, struck me like a thunderbolt:

". . . shutting off potential non-Indian Gaming . . . contributions that Republican political leaders feared could be used to thwart their political plans."

It had never occurred to me, but I think Ford is absolutely right: This is about drying up sources of Democratic support.

legalschnauzer said...

TLR:

That part struck me, too. It reminded me of the Paul Minor case in Mississippi. Minor was one of the prime financial supporters of Democrat candidates in MS. On national level, he was a prime supporter of John Edwards, who Bushies thought would be the Dem nominee in 2004. What happened to Minor? He wound up in prison on bogus charges.

If this whole scheme ever is uncovered, it might be the most profound, wide-ranging crime in American history. Any conspiracies involving political assassinations (Lincoln, JFK, MLK) will be the only crimes to compare.

MyLittleDemon said...

I've got to join the fun. Let's add as defendants all of the partners and associates at Bradley Arant law firm. How much cash have they raked in from this unlawful enterprise to harm residents of Macon County?

Gerry with a G said...

I love the Voting Rights Act angle to this. I think Ford's lawyers were wise to follow that path.

Anonymous said...

This needs to be a national story. Someone needs to alert NYT, WaPo, AJC, etc. Let them embarrass the Alabama MSM in their own backyard.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for running the document on this, LS. You do a great job with that. I encourage your readers to check out this one. It provides some very interesting background on what led us to this place in tie.

David in S. Alabama said...

The success of this suit is directly to the Judge assined to hear this case. Anybody know which judge?

legalschnauzer said...

David:

You are so right about importance of the judge. I just checked Justia Dockets, and it shows the primary judge as Harold Allbritton, with Wallace Capel as magistrate.

Anonymous said...

Come on LS, where is the clone of you for the rest of USA!

Incredible reporting.

Go, Go Johnny Go! Johnny Be Good!

Here is for the Murphy Schnauzer Clan in Alabama, get ready:

http://futurefastforward.com/images/stories/financial/No_Bank_Deposits_Will_Be_Spared_from_Confiscation.pdf

July 2013, the date, to pay attention to.

Practice, the bad evildoers have been busy practicing: from Boston with the new Martial Law not challenged and then the very carefully staged one at a time, step by step, across America preparing us for ?

"Be Prepared"

Thank you Carol and Roger Shuler for being in the 10% heros in the United States of America.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/10-percent-what-makes-a-hero-a-documentary?website_name=10-Percent-Movie

David in S. Alabama said...

Harold Allbritton is and old friend nd is noww in his early 70s. He a Republican appointe but is a by the book sort of guy. On the other hand, I would not trust Wallace Capel.

Anonymous said...

http://therealnews.com/t2/component/content/article/185-more-blog-posts-from-norman-solomon/1574-time-to-renounce-the-war-on-terror#.UXo2Xcptc-c

Time To Renounce The War On Terror, By Norman Solomon

AND, what do we know

After more than 11 years the Authorization for Use of Military Force -- the congressional resolution that launched the "war on terror" -- has not been repealed.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee has introduced a bill to repeal it

http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=7348