The more I read about Bob Riley the more I think there is something truly dark about Alabama's governor. Two recent items from the blogosphere have reinforced that feeling.
First was a post by Alabama blogger Robby Scott Hill at Novationeering. Hill is a former state employee, and his experience under Riley is both frightening and somewhat comical.
Hill used to work at the State Lands Division and was considered a solid employee in managing the execution of public contracts. But the assessment of his work began to change in 2004 after Riley asked all state employees to submit suggestions on how to raise money for the state and the Alabama economy without further burdening the taxpayer.
Thinking Riley was serious--and ethical--Hill suggested that the state help the Cherokee People in North Alabama get casinos like those Hill had seen in New York run by the Iroquois Nation. "I had no idea that Jack Abramoff and the Mississippi Choctaws had paid Governor Riley to block any such efforts by Alabama's native tribes," Hill writes.
After Riley acknowledged Hill's suggestion, life became very difficult at the State Lands Division. "I was verbally harassed by my supervisor, attorney James Hillman Griggs, on a daily basis after Governor Riley had met with him and Conservation Department Commissioner Barnett Lawley, and I was excluded from most departmental activities."
Essentially, Hill was stripped of his responsibilities. Why? Apparently because Riley assumed that Hill's innocent suggestion meant he had insider information and intended to blackmail the governor into supporting the Cherokees. "I would have thought the same thing if I were in his shoes," Hill writes, "but honestly I knew nothing of Jack Abramoff or the Mississippi Choctaw casino campaign contributions at that time."
More recently, we have a report from the Wayne Madsen Report showing the dark side of Alabama's governor. Madsen reports that there is a very good reason for U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey's refusal to appoint a special counsel to investigate the activities of Riley and U.S. Judge Mark Fuller in the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.
It all has to do with one of Riley's pet projects, a $1-billion toll road around Huntsville, Alabama, called the Patriot Highway. Madsen says the project could generate huge revenues for one of Rudy Giuliani's companies, where Mukasey's son Marc is a partner.
The Patriot Highway is the reason Mukasey tried so hard to worm his way out of questioning recently by U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL). "It is apparent why Mukasey has not and will not investigate the Siegelman case," Madsen writes. "Anything that could result in a major investigation of Riley and his colleagues could sink the Patriot Highway deal, and that would cost his friend Giuliani and his son Marc dearly."
Here's where the story gets really dark. Madsen turns his attention to Bill Johnson, one of Riley's closest friends who was appointed in 2006 to head up the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). Johnson has a most peculiar history, which includes a move to Missouri, where he made a run for the U.S. Senate (as a Libertarian) against John Ashcroft.
During the course of that campaign, Madsen reports, Johnson unearthed considerable dirt about Ashcroft. Since then, Johnson has become close to Riley, Fuller, and GOP political guru Karl Rove. (Madsen reports that Fuller, the judge in the Don Siegelman case, is a principal in a number of CIA front operations and military contractors, including Doss Aviation and Oceaneering International.)
Ashcroft was U.S. attorney general when the political prosecution of Siegelman was being devised. Rove, Riley, and Fuller reportedly used their dirt to blackmail Ashcroft into remaining silent while the political hit on Siegelman was crafted in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery, Alabama.
"WMR's sources in Alabama report that the jailing of Siegelman was a warning to others not to take on the criminal syndicate that surrounds Riley and his close pals, including Rove," Madsen writes.