Speaking of millions of dollars flowing into Bob Riley's campaign, have you noticed how unflattering stories about Teflon Bob's dealings often seem to have no legs?
I recently came across a June 2006 Huntsville Times story about a U.S. Senate inquiry into the Jack Abramoff scandal. A senate report said that Abramoff had told a tribal official that former Mississippi Choctaw Chief Phillip Martin spent $13 million to help elect Riley. The report said William Worfel, former vice chairman of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, said Abramoff told him in 2005 that Martin had spent the money on Riley's campaign "to get the govenor of Alabama elected to keep gaming out of Alabama so it wouldn't hurt. . . his market in Mississippi."
The report was made by a committee chaired by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, which investigated charges that Abramoff and his associate Michael Scanlon, Riley's former spokesman when he was in Congress, defrauded Indian tribes of millions of dollars they gave the two to lobby for them in Washington.
The Times story said Riley spokesman David Ford dismissed Worfel's statement. "The claim in this footnote is simply ludicrous and obviously untrue," Ford said Friday. "The whole campaign was $13.8 million approximately," he said. Ford declined to comment on the possibility that Martin could have spent money supporting Riley while not directly contributing to the campaign.
The report was not clear, the Times said, if Abramoff made the claim because it was true or if he was trying to defraud the Coushatta, who, the report says, looked to the Choctaw efforts as a model to emulate.
I like to think I keep up with the news pretty closely, but I had never seen this story until last week. And a lot of other people must have missed it, too. The story is so obscure that you can't even find a link to it on the Web.