We've been reporting for some time now that former Alabama Governor Bob Riley is likely to run for president in 2012. The Birmingham News, official house organ of the Alabama Republican Party, picked up on the story yesterday with a piece titled "Riley Eyeing White House?"
Who is leading the pro-Riley charge on the national stage? Why, none other than Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's Morning Joe. Scarborough apparently is so anxious to tout Riley that he has become detached from reality.
"Morning Joe" starts off talking sense, noting accurately that the GOP field, as it appears now, is so jumbled that most anyone has a chance:
One important opinion leader and player on the national political stage encouraging Riley to run is Joe Scarborough. The former Florida congressman and popular host of the MSNBC program "Morning Joe" said he has talked with and encouraged Riley to get into the race.
"I believe there is a great void in the Republican Party still to be filled," Scarborough said. "I still believe that the eventual Republican nominee and just maybe the next president has not yet declared an interest in running."
On the subject of Riley's qualifications, Scarborough is reduced to spouting pure bilge:
Asked why he thinks Riley could stand out in a crowd of candidates vying for the GOP nomination, Scarborough said because he has a record of accomplishments in Alabama.
"Look at what Bob has done in Alabama. He's been able to attract thousands of manufacturing jobs into the state when other states are losing them," Scarborough said. "Automobile, ship building, aviation jobs. Right now across much of this country the issue is job creation, lowering the unemployment rate, putting people to work. Bob has done that and he's done it while keeping taxes low and running a state for eight years without a hint of scandal."
What has "Bob" really done in Alabama? Well, he's presided over the worst economy since the Great Depression. We spelled it out in a recent post:
When Riley took office in January 2003, Alabama's unemployment rate was 5.3 percent; by January 2010, after seven years of Bob-O-Nomics, the unemployment rate was 11.1 percent--the highest Alabama had seen in 25 years. In other words, Alabama's unemployment rate almost doubled with Riley at the wheel. And he was our "economic development" governor?
That's the kind of economic "leadership" we need on the national level? As for Scarborough's contention that Riley served "without a hint of scandal," well . . . "Morning Joe" seems to have a strange definition of the word "hint."
How bad is Riley on the scandal meter? Just last week, we wrote a post titled "BobRiley: Still Crooked After All These Years." And roughly a month ago, we outlined the voluminous Riley-related sleaze that has gone largely unreported in the mainstream press:
Throughout Riley's tenure, he has been protected by Leura Canary, a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney in Montgomery. But if historians ever uncover the truth about the Riley years, he probably will go down as the most corrupt governor in Alabama history. Powerful evidence suggests that Riley:
* Benefited from election-night vote theft in Baldwin County, Alabama, giving him a razor-thin edge over Democrat incumbent Don Siegelman in the 2002 election;
* Benefited from $13-million of Mississippi gaming money that was laundered through GOP felon Jack Abramoff;
* Benefited from millions of Mississippi Choctaw gaming money that was distributed directly to the Riley campaign, according to public statements from former aide Bill Johnson.
* Misspent more than $340,000, which was intended to help elect candidates and instead went to anti-gambling initiatives.
* Saw his term winding down in 2010 as a string of mysterious deaths cropped up on Alabama's political landscape.
Speaking of mysterious deaths, that's a subject Joe Scarborough knows something about. The body of Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old staff member, was found in Scarborough's office in summer 2001, when he was a Republican Congressman from Florida. Klausutis' death was classified as accidental, the result of an undiagnosed heart defect that caused her to fall and hit her head on a desk. The story largely was ignored by the national press, but we have researched a number of articles that have been written, and evidence strongly suggests that Lori Klausutis' death was not an accident.
It's ironic to hear Joe Scarborough state, incorrectly, that there is "not a hint of scandal" around Bob Riley. That certainly cannot be said of Scarborough himself. We soon will be taking a closer look at the Lori Klausutis story.
Americans should learn more about this ugly chapter in Joe Scarborough's history before they give much weight to anything he says about presidential politics.