Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Milton McGregor, Alabama's King of Gambling, is gone, but his battle against deep-seated political corruption will continue through the example he set

Milton McGregor
Milton McGregor, a titan of Alabama business and politics for 35 years, died on Sunday -- and online tributes have been pouring in from people who knew him as a shrewd businessman and a good-hearted soul, with influence that crossed racial and economic boundaries.

I got to know McGregor through my reporting on Deep South corruption, and I found him to be sharp, insightful, tough, and charming. He also was an almost limitless source of information about the sometimes dysfunctional gears of Alabama politics.

As the owner of VictoryLand casino, McGregor was the target of corrupt state and federal efforts to shutter his business -- most famously from former Gov. Bob Riley and his oily son, Rob, often with back-stabbing assistance from current U.S. Sen. and phony Democrat Doug Jones. In one of the most shameful episodes of the Obama years, beat federal charges in a criminal case that produced zero convictions.

Legal Schnauzer reported on McGregor's battles in a way that could be found at no other news outlet. Over and over, via in-depth analysis (supported by court documents and case law), we showed McGregor and his business were wrongly targeted by Riley and former Attorney General Luther Strange. Years from now, our blog will serve as a repository of investigative journalism that shows Milton McGregor was on the right side of the law against some of the worst political thugs this state ever has produced.

With its history of divisive white "leaders," favoring the land-owning and moneyed elites, McGregor was cut from a different cloth. He helped bring a sense of prosperity and hope to Macon County, with its population that is almost 83 percent black.

The finest journalistic tribute we've seen comes from Josh Moon, of Alabama Political Reporter. It's title is "Milton McGregor lied to me," and that hints at a surprise ending, which likely will bring a tear to those who ever crossed paths with McGregor.

Another fine tribute comes opp researcher and whistle blower Jill Simpson, who uses a post at her Facebook page to provide considerable insight on the slimy tactics Bob and Rob Riley used against McGregor. She also shows how McGregor helped educate the public about Alabama corruption, especially in the political prosecution of Don Siegelman. From the Simpson post:

I will miss Milton. I will never forget the day my story in the Siegelman case broke in The New York Times and Time magazine, I spent the day with Milton McGregor and Tommy Gallion, trying to figure out what was next. And by late afternoon, we had agreed 60 Minutes was next. Milton's only goal was to let folks know what crooks the Rileys really were to him, and Siegelman and Scrushy -- both of whom Milton considered friends. Milton had heard I told the Siegelman and Scrushy bunch about how Rob Riley and his old college roommate had beat Milton and his friends out of around $40 million all total -- and Milton wanted me to tell him about where it had gone in Russia, and I shared with him what I knew at the time.

McGregor helped Simpson find her way through the brier patch of the Siegelman case, and he took an active role in trying to unmask organized criminals in the Heart of Dixie:

It was Milton who hired Tommy Gallion to protect me back then from the Riley crooks,  and Milton who got the national press to cover the story, as he knew the Rileys were crooks who had stolen a large sum of money from him and others. I want to share it was Milton's lawyer, Tommy Gallion, who got [Karl] Rove fired for pulling the stunts he did with the Riley-Canary bunch at the time, as Tommy had known George W Bush since 1972 when he came to Montgomery to help with the Blount campaign. Everyone should know that for years Milton tried to put the crooked Alabama Gang of Crooks, which was led by the Riley folks and Billy Canary, in prison. Milton was always there to help folks who were trying to do the same thing, as he had never seen in all his time in politics a more corrupt bunch than Rob Riley and his Russian thugs.

McGregor knew his way around a business deal, but also could be a maestro with the press:

I will miss Milton; he was a good man who did not believe in political prosecutions. I might add it was Milton who helped see the story was told in the Siegelman case on film -- and without his help, I doubt we would have ever seen a day like now. An entire state knows pretty much what crooks we had when the Riley bunch were in office, and also when Robert Bentley. 
So y'all all know, like Josh Moon, I learned a lot from Milton, as he was like a walking Encyclopedia of Alabama Political History; he had been right in the middle of it for most his adult life. Of all the folks I dealt with in the Siegelman case, Milton was by far the most honest of the bunch and always the brightest guy in the room. Never once did he lie to me; he delivered what he promised. In fact, he told me, "Jill tell me your story, and I will see it is told -- and he did so." 
But for Milton, I probably never would have gotten in the position I am in today, seeing stories told. Which has led to seeing the story told that will bring down the whole Trump/ Bannon/Cambridge Analytica deal. It was Milton and Tommy who helped me see I met the right press folks over the years to see our whole Alabama Corrupt Gang was outed to start with. And that same bunch of press folks has seen the Cambridge Analytica stories are told recently.

McGregor touched Simpson's heart, as he touched the hearts of many Alabamians:

I just want to say one last time I am forever grateful for Milton showing up to help me. I told him several times over the years I don't know what I would have done had he not showed up to help. He always would say, "Well, Jill, I just want to see those Riley crooks go to jail for what they did to me with that money in the the Russian lottery deal and what they did to my friends" -- and then he would encourage me to continue on seeing the story was told. That said, I want to wish my friend, Milton, goodbye. Plus, say the March toward Justice for the Riley Alabama Gang continues.

I should also share the Russians that helped the Riley Gang steal Milton and his friends' money years ago, with Rob Riley's big fraudulent Russian lottery deal, are the same folks that are all tangled into this Trump mess now in San Antonio and London. Their deal with the Russians all started when Milton's Casino competition in Mississippi went after him with Haley Barbour and Bob Riley, both of whom (along with Jeff Sessions) got tangled up with a Russian named Oleg Deripaska, plus the [Paul] and Manafort bunch that Haley was representing -- at same time Barbour was tied to the Mississippi Indian tribes that had Casinos and did not want Milton McGregor competing with them. It is the Alabama Gang, along with Haley and his Russian clients, who came up with with AmCham Russia in Atlanta -- with ties to Felix Sater. And that is the bunch who came up with the Russian lottery deal that stole $40 million from Milton and his friends.
I am sad Milton did not live long enough to see it all come out in the press, but I know someday it will all come out. I am so thankful Milton taught me a thing or two about the national press, which he had dealt with for years as the Gaming King of Alabama. We in the Alabama Resistance will continue, along with others nationally, to make sure the whole ugly Russian story is told .

A visitation for McGregor is set for noon today at Frazer Memorial Church in Montgomery, with a Celebration of Life service to follow at 2 p.m. If you want a seat, our advice is to get there early.

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