John Kennard, a pastor and long-time tax assessor in Greene County, Alabama, says Strange's actions represent a clear conflict of interest.
Kennard seems to have a strong point. And prompted by Kennard's complaint to the Alabama Ethics Commission, we can think of numerous disturbing questions about Strange and the office he runs. But first, let's look at key background.
A Greene County grand jury brought perjury charges against three men who testified on behalf of the AG's office in order to obtain a search warrant for a 2011 raid at the Greenetrack casino. A judge determined after the raid that the men--two ABC agents and a gambling expert hired by Strange's office--had made false statements under oath.
Strange now is seeking to intervene in the perjury case and drop the prosecution. From the Montgomery Advertiser:
“I find it to be a clear conflict of interest, an obvious conflict of interest,” said Kennard, who also filed the complaint with the Alabama Bar Association. “No one who looks at this objectively could miss the problem. If it’s not illegal, it’s certainly unethical.”
The Montgomery Advertiser asked Strange’s office for a comment on Kennard’s ethics complaint or an explanation for why it’s attempting to intervene in the Greene County perjury case. A spokesperson in the AG’s office confirmed receipt of the request but did not provide a comment.
ABC agents William Stanley Carson and Gary Michael Reese and gambling expert Desmond Ladner face indictments for perjury. Greene County district attorney Greg Griggers seeks to bring the three men to court, but Strange's office has filed papers to intervene.
Here are more details from the Greene County Democrat:
The ethics complaint questions whether Attorney General Luther Strange acted properly when he took over the cases of three defendants charged by a Greene County Grand Jury with illegal acts when they were under his command and authority. The complaint states, “ the three defendants were hired by the Attorney General’s Office, directly or were provided to his office, to be a part of his illegal gaming task force.”
The complaint further states that Attorney General Luther Strange took over the cases not to prosecute them but to quash or nol prose the indictments of the legitimately convened Greene County Grand Jury.
The Greene County newspaper describes the impact electronic-bingo raids have had on its area and similar counties in Alabama. Citizens of Greene County in 2003 approved a constitutional amendment that allowed e-bingo in the county:
At its height, before the raids, electronic bingo establishments employed over a thousand people in Greene County and generated $200,000 per month to support the Greene County Board of Education, Greene County Commission, municipalities in Greene County, the Greene County Sheriff’s office and other charities. AG Strange has also closed electronic bingo facilities in Macon, Lowndes and Houston counties.
Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee in Macon County has filed a suit in Federal Court against AG Luther Strange for restricting the voting rights of Macon County residents because of his actions in closing down bingo at Victoryland in Shorter, Macon County, Alabama. This lawsuit is pending at the Federal (11th) Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
What about those disturbing questions regarding Luther Strange? Here are a few that come to mind:
* Is Strange trying to quash the perjury prosecution in Greene County because he and/or his staff instructed the three "experts" to lie under oath? Could that information become public if the case is tried?
* If Strange and his office resorted to such tactics in Greene County, did they do the same thing in Macon, Houston, and Lowndes counties?
* Aren't the Poarch Creek Indians the major beneficiary of Strange's actions to close non-Indian e-bingo facilities? Don't the raids wipe out the tribe's competition? Didn't Strange receive major campaign contributions from the Poarch Creeks? Was an illegal quid pro quo involved in said contributions? Did Strange agree to close non-Indian casinos in exchange for the tribe's support. If so, isn't that the kind of unlawful act that can lead to a federal prison sentence?
* If the answer to the above questions is yes, doesn't that mean Luther Strange is a criminal, running a criminal enterprise out of the Alabama Attorney General's Office?
* Will the U.S. Department of Justice ever scrutinize the curious actions of Luther Strange and his like-minded conservatives regarding the closing of non-Indian casinos--after taking, or arranging for the transfer of, large sums of money from Indian gaming interests? These associates include former Governor Bob Riley and his son Rob Riley, conservative activist Eric Johnston, House Speaker Mike Hubbard, and every member of the Alabama Supreme Court?
* Speaking of the Alabama Supreme Court, it has made a long string of dubious rulings that allowed Bob Riley and Strange to pursue e-bingo raids against non-Indian facilities. In some instances, the high court appeared to contradict its own previous rulings. Has there been unlawful communication between certain conservative forces and the all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court? If so, doesn't that make a mockery of "justice" in the state--and shouldn't it be the subject of a federal criminal investigation?