Bob Riley, former governor and Rob Riley's father, denies that he sought a job for his son with VictoryLand casino owner Milton McGregor. Riley, who spent most of his final two years as governor crusading against non-Indian gaming facilities in the state, claims the allegation makes no sense.
But reporter Josh Moon, in perhaps the strongest piece of mainstream Alabama journalism during the 2000s, shows that the story absolutely makes sense--in part, because Rob Riley has worked with McGregor before, in a deal that turned out badly for the casino owner and other investors. Also, the younger Riley's interest in gaming apparently dates at least to connections he made while a student at the University of Alabama.
More recently, an October 2012 article shows Rob Riley still has a tendency to fondle gambling funds and then make dubious statements when questioned about it.
Rob Riley was involved in the funneling of $100,000 to an Alabama anti-gambling organization, through the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). The $100,000, it turns out, was Indian gambling money--from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Here is how we reported it at the time:
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.
Investigators in the Alabama State House criminal probe, which has snared Mike Hubbard in a 23-count indictment, reportedly are interested in the RSLC episode. It helped show the public that Rob Riley does business with the RSLC--and the RSLC does big business with the gaming industry. Here is more from our earlier report:
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.
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?
I interviewed Rob Riley in January 2013, not long after the RSLC story had broken. Here is a portion of that interview:
LS: You claimed in the newspaper the other day you don't know anything about gambling funds going to the RSLC and wound up in Alabama. Are you serious? They took gambling money from 2003, dating to the Mississippi Choctaws?
RR: No, no, I did not know that.
LS: Why do you not support gambling in Alabama? Is it on a moral basis?
So, there you have it--Rob Riley is morally opposed to gambling. How then, do we explain his habit of, time and again, being connected to the gaming industry.
Is Riley a hypocrite of Biblical proportions, a man who is incapable of examining his own contradictory actions and statements? Is Riley simply the sort of fabricator who would make Jim Carrey's character in Liar, Liar blush?
We will ponder those questions further as we take a closer look at Josh Moon's reporting on the Riley family's unmistakable footprints in a gambling world that they supposedly abhor.
(To be continued)