Individuals named in a gambling-related lawsuit have denied in press reports that bribery, or discussions of bribery, took place to give the Poarch Creek Indians monopolistic control over gaming in Alabama. But an amended complaint, filed by Montgomery attorney Tommy Gallion, alleges that bribery, in fact, was a part of negotiations on the recently defeated SB 214.
The amended complaint alleges that substitute bills (SB 319 and 320) also would protect certain entities -- at the behest of corrupt Alabama lawmakers, particularly State Sens. Del Marsh and Bobby Singleton -- while harming others, such as plaintiffs Age with Dignity Inc., OIC Dream Greene County, and Dream County Inc.
Finally, the amended complaint alleges at least one news outlet, Alabama Political Reporter (APR) has been paid to reverse its position on recent gaming bills -- from opposing them to favoring them. (The amended complaint is embedded at the end of this post.)
Gallion points to an APR article, under the headline "Marsh holds meeting with gaming interest day after Ivey calls for the Legislature to stand down on gaming," to allege that improper meetings did take place regarding SB 14. Writes APR Publisher Bill Britt in the article, dated Feb. 10, 2020:
Despite Gov. Kay Ivey’s call for the Legislature to give her “time to get the facts,” on a lottery and gaming bill before proceeding with legislation, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh summoned representatives of the Poarch Creek Band of Indians and two of the state’s dog tracks to sit down and discuss moving ahead on a proposed lottery and gaming bill.
A day after Ivey’s State of the State, Marsh, along with Senators Bobby Singleton and Steve Livingston, held a conference with Robbie McGhee, PCI’s Vice-chair, Lewis Benefield, who operates VictoryLand and the Birmingham Race Course, and Nat Winn from Greenetrack to try and reach an agreement among the three gaming entities.
Marsh, at the Wednesday meeting, informed those gathered that they needed to come up with a compromise on the gaming issue so that legislation could proceed with a constitutional amendment on a lottery and gaming package this session.
Participants in the closed-door meeting declined to speak with APR about the content of their discussions. However, those who have knowledge of the conversation did relay some of the details to APR.
According to those sources, the group discussed what a compromise might look like, what tax revenue the facilities would be allotted to the state and locations sought by PCI.
Reportedly, the discussions were generally cordial and productive while lawmakers were present, but that the tone changed dramatically once the lawmakers left the room.
Two sources with an understanding of events said that McGhee turned arrogantly defiant after the legislators left, telling the track owners that PCI didn’t need to compromise because they already have the votes necessary to pass their desired legislation.
APR reporter Josh Moon wrote a highly critical article about the initial complaint, and Gallion hints in his amended complaint that was not by chance:
Moon has intentionally with malice interfered with the plaintiffs' lawsuit by publishing a false and libelous story in its state-wide publication titled "A lawsuit has been filed over gambling bill. It is ridiculous and there are no facts to back up the lawsuit." Moon is known as an inept and sloppy reporter, who hides behind his scurrilous and yellow-journalist publications by prefacing his articles as "Opinion." Moon obviously rushed to help the . . . promoters of SB 214 and failed to adhere to . . . checking the facts.
. . . If Mr. Moon had gone to the trouble to review the articles written by Bill Britt, his boss . . ., he would have found the truth. Moon, in essence, has called his boss Britt and APR liars.
Perhaps Moon . . . should go to the past publication of his employer, APR and he will discover the following. On Oct. 31, 2012, Britt published an article in APR titled "ALGOP finance chairman pays visit to Poarch Creek Indians." On Nov. 16, 2012, Britt wrote an article titled "Gambling money linked to 2001 GOP takeover of Alabama Senate." On April 9, 2013, Britt wrote an article titled "Marsh launches coverup of gambling money."
As stated above, the plaintiffs' allegations are factually based on Moon's own employer publications. Britt denied these facts in his own article, which makes Britt, Moon, and APR either liars or, at best, the most hypocritical reporters in the history of Alabama journalism. . . .
The question that the plaintiffs believe they will discover during the stages of this litigation, is how much money, if any, did Britt, Moon, and/or APR receive to . . . deny their own quoted articles in this litigation and totally reverse their previous publications backed up by interviews. Now, APR and Moon are continuing to write articles to support the Poarch Creeks' so-called "educational lottery.