|Robert Bentley cuts a ribbon at a North Alabama|
We've seen two examples in recent days. One involved a request for the state's stance on gambling issues from George Beck, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. The other involved an awkward encounter with the press, which insists on asking questions about the sex scandal that threatens to run the Bentley administration aground, while the governor is announcing new projects and engaging in ceremonial ribbon cuttings and such. The latest example came as Bentley was trying to tout the Alabama Robotics Technology Park near Tanner.
How did Bentley handle the situations? He told Beck that the state, based on multiple decisions by the Alabama Supreme Court, considers electronic-bingo machines to be illegal slot machines. But that conflicts with an executive order Bentley issued late last year, removing gambling oversight from the Attorney General's Office and placing it with local sheriffs and district attorneys.
Bentley went even farther than that, according to a report from the Montgomery Advertiser:
To Beck, Bentley wrote that he had charged local sheriffs with “interpreting and applying Alabama law as applicable to any form of gaming or gambling in their respective counties.”
In other words, Bentley borrowed language straight from the constitutional amendment that Macon County voters approved and made electronic bingo legal at VictoryLand--until former Governor Bob Riley and current Attorney General Luther Strange decided the success of Milton McGregor's facility was unwelcome among the Indian gaming interests who had supported them financially.
So we have Bentley telling George Beck that e-bingo machines are illegal in Alabama, but the governor also has said such determinations are in the hands of local sheriffs--just as the VictoryLand legislation states. Does Bentley realize his positions contradict each other, that his words make no sense?
It all leads to this question: What is George Beck up to, and why does he need people to interpret the law for him? There is no question that Amendment 744, approved by Macon County voters, gives the county sheriff power to regulate bingo, and he has determined that e-bingo machines at VictoryLand are legal. Gov. Bentley's own recent actions indicate he agrees with this.
Alabama law makes it clear that a constitutional amendment trumps a state statute, so Luther Strange's efforts to have the machines declared illegal gambling devices or slot machines under Alabama statutes never has had a legal leg to stand on. On top of that, Amendment 744 is not that hard to read, so why does George Beck need help interpreting it?
As for the robotics-park event, Bentley could not get away without pesky reporters asking him about the Mason sex scandal and the federal investigation it reportedly has sparked. Here's how Bentley responded to those queries:
Bentley also acknowledged that an investigation is ongoing, but that he is not the focus of it.
"There are things that are being investigated. Not me, but there are things that are being investigated as a part of this that will come out with time," he said. "We just can't talk about that right now because I know the things, but I just can't I can't talk about them because they're being investigated by the Attorney General on other subjects."
If the governor isn't the subject of the investigation, then who is--Al, the Crimson Tide's elephantine mascot? We've already shown that Bentley's capacity to lie regarding his relationship with Mason--and related sleaze--is gargantuan.
Is Bentley suggesting that AG Luther Strange is helping him try to scheme a way out of this mess? Does that suggest the state's top legal officer is part of the problem, not part of the solution? After all, Strange has his own history with extramarital relations, involving former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison. You can ask former Alabama Senate president Lowell Barron about that.
Perhaps Strange and Bentley have bonded over their shared history of extramarital shenanigans.
One expert has suggested Bentley needs psychological help. I tend to think the expert is right.