Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Riley's Ties to Criminals Hit the National Spotlight

With all of Bob Riley's recent buffoonery on gambling issues, it's easy to forget that the story really begins with the Alabama governor's ties to criminal figures.

Rebecca Abrahams helps remind us of that with a piece at Huffington Post titled "Governor Bob Riley Gambling With Alabama Politics."

Our recent focus has been on Riley's efforts to shut down the electronic-bingo pavilion at the new Country Crossing development near Dothan. But Abrahams notes that Riley's obsession with gambling in Alabama stems from his associations with convicted felons--specifically disgraced GOP lobbyists Michael Scanlon and Jack Abramoff.

Can you imagine the stink that would be made if former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman had ties to unsavory characters such as Scanlon and Abramoff? But the somnolent, right-wing Alabama press tends to ignore the fact that Scanlon used to be Riley's press secretary when the governor was a U.S. Congressman. And the Alabama press ignores all together Riley's well-documented ties to Abramoff.

Perhaps it takes a reporter with a national perspective to provide clarity on the criminals who helped put Riley in the governor's mansion in the first place. Abrahams is that kind of reporter, and she writes:

During his 2002 campaign, Riley viciously attacked former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman's state lottery proposal to fund schools and create jobs. But why wouldn't Riley want the stream of revenue from legalized gambling coming into Alabama?

Country Crossing Casino developer Ronnie Gilley has gone to battle with Riley's Task Force and told the Montgomery Advertiser, he believes the Governor's crackdown on gambling suggests ulterior motives to eliminate competition for the Mississippi Choctaw Indian casinos.

Is Gilley on target? Abrahams writes that the answer probably is yes:

Gilley may not be too far off. According to a 2002 US Senate Indian Affairs Committee report, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff boasted the Choctaw tribe spent $13 million to elect Riley in 2002. The report states Abramoff told William Worfel, the former Vice Chairman of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, that Mississippi Choctaw Chief Phillip Martin spent the money to protect the Choctaw's gaming enterprise.

"to get the governor of Alabama elected to keep gaming out of Alabama so it wouldn't hurt . . . his market in Mississippi."

Just how sleazy was Michael Scanlon? And how closely tied to Scanlon was Riley? Writes Abrahams:

The report further notes, convicted lobbyist Michael Scanlon, Bob Riley's former congressional press secretary, received $4.5 million over two years to protect the Choctaw's gaming interests through the scheme known as "Operation Orange."

Records show in October 2002, Scanlon sent $500,000 to Riley during his gubernatorial campaign. The funds were filtered through the Republican Governors Association and the Republican National State Elections Committee. Documents indicate the funds were increased to $600,000 when Riley received payment.

Clearly Scanlon benefited from the Mississippi Choctaw casino revenues and since millions were spent to elect Riley, there's no way the Governor could ever allow gambling in Alabama, which is only an hour away from the Mississippi Choctaw casinos.

It's hard to imagine the picture getting much uglier. But it does, thanks to former Riley cabinet member Bill Johnson:

Riley continues to deny such allegations despite recent charges by his former cabinet member Bill Johnson that hid did accept money from the Choctaws during his gubernatorial election.

Johnson, a Republican candidate for Governor, says in 2002, Riley's Chief of Staff Dan Gans, told him that he was coordinating the Mississippi Indian contributions for Riley's campaign. Johnson says it wasn't until the Governor formed his anti-gambling task force and began raiding bingo halls across the state that he began to realize that outside money could be influencing public policy in Alabama.

"I knew about the Abramoff stuff and knew about Mike Scanlon when the Congressman (Riley) was wrapped up in all of that but it never seemed like it was getting close to the Governor until it started to become quid pro quo."

Hmmm, quid pro quo. That's a term we've heard associated with the Siegelman prosecution. It means a "something for something" agreement that helps constitute a criminal charge of bribery.

The public record shows such an agreement clearly was not in place in the Siegelman matter. But a former member of Riley's cabinet has voiced concerns that such an agreement was in place between Riley and the Mississippi Choctaws--that he would accept campaign support in exchange for protecting the tribe's market share by keeping legalized gambling out of Alabama.

Rebecca Abrahams paints a disturbing picture of "politics as usual" among Republicans in Alabama. Bob Riley took office with the help of convicted felons, and seven years into his governorship, he still is taking official actions that appear to be based on an unlawful relationship with Mississippi Choctaws.

Pathetic Alabama newspapers aren't likely to cover the story. But Rebecca Abrahams has shown that Huffington Post will.


Unknown said...

Finally out in the national light! This corrupt Governor has ties to the Indians and criminal politicians Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon. Hopefully the national government will take notice and investigate this crook!

Anonymous said...


HOWEVER, HOPE doth spring eternal:

International Criminal Court Complaint Filed Against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Rice, Gonzales

by Prof. Francis A. Boyle and Luis Moreno-Ocampo



Professor Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, U.S.A. has filed a Complaint with the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) in The Hague against U.S. citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales (the “Accused”) for their criminal policy and practice of “extraordinary rendition” perpetrated upon about 100 human beings. This term is really their euphemism for the enforced disappearance of persons and their consequent torture. This criminal policy and practice by the Accused constitute Crimes against Humanity in violation of the Rome Statute establishing the I.C.C.

The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute. Nevertheless the Accused have ordered and been responsible for the commission of I.C.C. statutory crimes within the respective territories of many I.C.C. member states, including several in Europe. Consequently, the I.C.C. has jurisdiction to prosecute the Accused for their I.C.C. statutory crimes under Rome Statute article 12(2)(a) that affords the I.C.C. jurisdiction to prosecute for I.C.C. statutory crimes committed in I.C.C. member states.

The Complaint requests (1) that the I.C.C. Prosecutor open an investigation of the Accused on his own accord under Rome Statute article 15(1); and (2) that the I.C.C. Prosecutor also formally “submit to the [I.C.C.] Pre-Trial Chamber a request for authorization of an investigation” of the Accused under Rome Statute article 15(3).

For similar reasons, the Highest Level Officials of the Obama administration risk the filing of a follow-up Complaint with the I.C.C. if they do not immediately terminate the Accused’s criminal policy and practice of “extraordinary rendition,” which the Obama administration has continued to implement.

The Complaint concludes with a request that the I.C.C. Prosecutor obtain International Arrest Warrants for the Accused from the I.C.C. in accordance with Rome Statute articles 58(1)(a), 58(1)(b)(i), 58(1)(b)(ii), and 58(1)(b)(iii).


TR said...

One thing I don't understand: why would Riley support the Mississippi casinos now? What's in it for him? That's why the MS connection doesn't make sense to me - because he's heading out of office, campaign funds don't mean anything to him. What am I missing?

legalschnauzer said...


Here is my best guess at an answer to your question from an earlier post:

So what's the real reason that Bob Riley is almost pathologically determined to protect the Choctaws' market share? Our guess is that the governor is doing it only because the Choctaws have some serious dirt on him--and if the governor doesn't come through, that dirt becomes public. And if that dirt were to become public, Bob Riley and some of his associates might want to start pondering how they would look in orange jumpsuits--or whatever color they wear in federal prisons these days.

The full post is here: