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Stealing the Statehouse

Strange, the Rileys and Hubbard implicated in gambling story, who wins?

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Read the document the stories are based on

MONTGOMERY—The Montgomery Advertiser last Sunday, broke a story about the ties between the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) and certain groups and leaders within the Republican party.

On Wednesday evening, they released a story tying Attorney General Luther Strange to PCI money.

The Alabama Political Report has obtained most of the documents  that have been the basis for the reporting as well as Ford’s ethics complaint. The “documents obtained by the Montgomery Advertiser” come from an un-named source.

In the documents below, someone has worked hard to follow the flow of gambling money into some GOP campaign coffers.

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On Sunday the Montgomery Advertiser story said, “The same day that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians gave a $100,000 check to a national Republican organization, that organization made a $100,000 donation to a group working with former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley to fight gambling in the state, according to documents obtained by the Montgomery Advertiser.”

On Wednesday evening the Montgomery Advertiser wrote, “Johnny Ford files ethics complaint against AG Luther Strange.” In the article the Advertiser reports, “Ford accused Strange of threatening raids at VictoryLand, which like Tuskegee is located in Macon County, after taking $100,000 from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians during his campaign in 2010.”

Nothing appears to be illegal only hypocritical. The GOP in Alabama has made a solid stand against gaming yet, they take money from the Indian gaming interest. Most political observers know this already, only out in the real world are voters unaware of some republicans ties to gaming money.

After reviewing the documents given to the Montgomery Advertiser, several questions come to mind and many remain unanswered.

Who is supplying the Montgomery Advertiser with this information and why? Is it a concerned citizen, or is there a deeper agenda?

The stories so far seem to target the PCI, the Riley’s and Luther Strange and to a lesser degree, House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Omitted from the Advertiser’s reporting so far, has been former Lt. Governor Steve Windom, who is alleged in the documents as the man who started the process with the PCI.

Also left out of the reporting is who tipped off Johnny Ford?

The Advertiser has had this information for days, did Ford tell them and then file his complaint? Did someone at the newspaper tip off Ford? How did Ford know about the connection between, PCI money and Strange? The timing is certainly interesting and appears to point to a coordinated effort.

Someone has gone to a great deal of trouble, to show the PCI as a political influence, tarnish Luther Strange and throw certain elements of the GOP under the “gaming” bus.

In politics it is important to “follow the money” a line written by screen writer William Golden and never said to Woodward or Bernstein by Deep Throat.

Another important and less obvious one is to ask is “Who wins when others fall?”

 

DOCUMENT ONE

FLOW OF MONEY FROM POARCH CREEK INDIANS TO ALABAMA GOP/CITIZENS FOR A BETTER ALABAMA/LUTHER STRANGE/BOB RILEY

POARCH CREEK LOBBYIST STEVE WINDOM ESTABLISHES RELATIONSHIP (AND CREDIT) WITH REPUBLICAN STATE LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE PAC (RSLC) BY CONTRIBUTING $1000 PER MONTH FOR 3 YEARS (ALONG WITH A SMALL MEMBERSHIP FEE) TO THE PAC

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WINDOM ARRANGES FOR THE RSLC TO CONTRIBUTE $250,000 TO EFFORTS TO SHUT DOWN COMPETITORS TO THE POARCH CREEKS THROUGH ANTI-NONINDIAN BINGO EFFORTS OF THE CITIZENS FOR A BETTER ALABAMA (CBA)

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RSLC PASSES $150,000 TO CBA VIA THE ALABAMA STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND ROB RILEY AND MIKE HUBBARD’S PACS IN MARCH 2010

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THE RSLC ALABAMA PAC CONTRIBUTES $100,000 DIRECTLY TO CBA IN JUNE 2010 – MAKES TOTAL FROM RSLC EXACTLY $250,000 AT THIS POINT

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IN OCTOBER 2010 THE POARCH CREEKS CONTRIBUTE PRECISELY $250,000 TO RSLC TO PAY BACK THE TWO DONATIONS MADE ON THIER BEHALF

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IN JULY 2010 THE POARCH CREEKS DONATE $100,000 TO RSLC SPECIFICALLY FOPR LUTHER STRANGE; THE MONEY IS ROUTED THROUGH THE ALABAMA GOP DIRECTLY TO STRANGE

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THE POARCH CREEKS CONTRIBUTE PRECISELY $350,000 TO RSLC DURING 2010

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ANTI-BINGO ORGANIZATIONS AND CANIDIDATES IN ALABAMA RECEIVE EXACTLY $350,000 FROM RSLC DURING 2010

 

DOCUMENT TWO

WAR ON BINGO FUNDED BY POARCH INDIAN CASINOS

STRANGE GOT BIGGEST DONATION OF CAMPAIGN FROM INDIAN CASINOS;

SPEAKER MIKE HUBBARD MANAGED INDIAN MONEY

During the 2010 election cycle, the Poarch Creek Indians – operators of Wind Creek Casino near Atmore, Tallapoosa Casino in Montgomery, and Riverside Casino in Wetumpka – funneled $550,000 to PACS controlled by then-State GOP Chairman Mike Hubbard (now Speaker of the Alabama House), a PAC controlled by former Governor Bob Riley and his son Rob, and a new PAC chaired by the now former Governor Riley.  This money – precisely $550,000 contributed by the Poarch Creek Indians to the Washington-based Republican State Leadership Committee (see attachment 1) – was then directed by Hubbard and Rob Riley to Citizens for a Better Alabama (the anti-gambling operation used to buy advertising by Bob Riley), and by Hubbard to the campaign of current Attorney General Luther Strange.  Every dime contributed in Alabama by the Poarch Creek Indians conduit – the Republican State Leadership Committee – was contributed to PACs controlled by Mike Hubbard and Bob and Rob Riley.

Strange received $100,000 from the Poarch Creeks – his largest donation of the campaign (see attachment 2) – immediately after the defeat of Bradley Byrne in the GOP gubernatorial runoff.  The Poarch Creek Indians contributed $100,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) on July 15, 2010 (see attachment 3).  (NOTE: This check was sent 48 hours after Byrne’s defeat – Byrne had pledged to continue the bingo raids on the Poarch casinos’ competitors.)  The RSLC PAC in turn contributed the $100,000 to the state GOP PAC on July 22, 2010 (see attachment 4).  The FIRST CHECK written by the state GOP PAC after the receipt of the $100,000 from the RSLC was to the Luther Strange campaign (see attachment 5).

The commitment by the Poarch Creeks to Strange followed hot on the heels of Byrne’s defeat for a reason.  The Poarch Creeks had begun an intense effort to influence the political process in

Alabama following the introduction of legislation in early 2010 that would have allowed expanded gaming at rival non-Indian casinos.

The newly minted Republican nominee – Robert Bentley – had pledged to end the gambling raids on non-Indian casinos that had begun in late January of 2010.  In early March 2010 a judge issued an injunction preventing further raids.  Immediately after this injunction – and while a highly-charged debate over legalized electronic bingo raged in the state legislature – the favored national money conduit for the Poarch Indians (the 527 group Republican State Leadership Committee) made its first donation to the Alabama Republican Party.

Between March 2010 and March 2011, the Poarch Creek Indians contributed $550,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee (see attachment 1).  Two of these contributions – one made in mid-July 2010 for $100,000 and another in early October for $250,000 – appear to have been passed through directly to Republican Attorney General candidate Luther Strange (the July contribution for $100,000) and to Citizens for A Better Alabama ($150,000 through the state GOP via Rob Riley’s GOV PAC and Hubbard’s own NETPAC and $100,000 more directly to Citizens for A Better Alabama by the RSLC)) by then-party Chair Mike Hubbard.  A third contribution by the Poarch Creeks to the Republican State Leadership Committee – made on January 14, 2011, Bob Riley’s last full business day in office (see attachment 6) as Alabama governor and the day he transferred several million dollars of his discretionary money to the office of incoming Attorney General Luther Strange to conduct raids on non-Indian casinos – provided the remaining $50,000 used to start a new PAC for Governor Riley and his son (Alabama 2014) in March 2011; the first and only check written by the RSLC in Alabama this year went to this PAC (see attachment 7).

The check from the Poarch Creek Indians to the RSLC on January 14 2011 – the exact same day Bob Riley transferred millions to incoming Attorney General Luther Strange’s office to conduct raids on non-Indian casinos – followed immediately by the first and only check from the RSLC Alabama PAC this year to Bob Riley strongly implies a quid-pro-quo deal to support Poarch Creek gaming interests in return for political funding.

In a highly interesting side note, AG Strange’s chief counsel and former campaign manager (and someone intimately aware of the source of Strange’s campaign contributions) Jessica Medeiros Garrison took a job with – who else? – the Republican State Leadership Committee just as news stories broke about the transfer of money from the RSLC to Riley’s PAC in July 2011.

Federal records indicate that the Poarch Creek Indians were the 15th biggest donor to the Republican State Leadership Committee during the 2010 cycle, and that no other Alabama group made sizable contributions to the Republican State Leadership Committee (see attachment 8).

 

BREAKDOWN OF TRANSFERS BETWEEN THE POARCH CREEK INDIANS, THE REPUBLICAN STATE LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE AND RILEY/HUBBARD PACS:

On March 18, 2010, the Alabama State Republican Party PAC noted the receipt of a $150,000 check from the Republican State Leadership Committee PAC (see attachment 9).  The two expenditures by the state GOP PAC closest the receipt of this check are a contribution of $93,000 to GOV PAC – the PAC controlled by Rob Riley, son of Governor Bob Riley – on March 12 (see attachment 10) and a contribution of $57,000 to Network PAC (see attachment 11) – the personal PAC of then-GOP State Chair Mike Hubbard (who also controlled the state GOP PAC that made these contributions).  The two contributions (to the Riley and Hubbard PACs) total precisely $150,000.  The first contributions made by Riley and Hubbard after receiving the donations directed to them from the Republican State Leadership Committee PAC were to Citizens for a Better Alabama – Riley’s PAC contributed $95,000 to CBA on March 18 (see attachment 12) while Hubbard’s PAC passed on its $57,000 on March 17 (see attachment 13).

The next direct transfer of monies between the Republican State Leadership Committee and the Alabama GOP came in July 2010.  Two days after the defeat of hand-picked Riley successor Bradley Byrne (and with GOP nominee Robert Bentley unsupportive of raids on non-Indian casinos) the Poarch Creek Indians wrote a $100,000 check to the Republican State Leadership Committee (see attachment 1).  Two weeks later to the day, the Alabama Republican Party PAC received a check for exactly $100,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee (see attachment 14).  The first check written by the Alabama Republican Party after receiving this check was a contribution of exactly $100,000 to Republican Attorney General nominee Luther Strange on August 4, 2010 (see attachment 5).

Since taking office, Luther Strange has taken the leading role in raiding non-Indian casinos in Alabama.

The RSLC also contributed $100,000 of the Poarch Creek commitment directly to Citizens for a Better Alabama on June 10, 2010(see attachment 15).

The final $200,000 of the $550,000 contributed by the Poarch Creeks to the Republican State Leadership Committee arrived on January 14, 2011 – Bob Riley’s last full day as Governor of Alabama (see attachment 1).  Just over two months later, $50,000 of this money appears to have been contributed by the Republican State Leadership Committee to Bob Riley’s new PAC designed to maintain control of the state GOP (according to a fundraising letter sent out by Riley’s daughter Minda) – the Alabama 2014 PAC (see attachment 16). The check from RSLC to Riley is the first and only check by RSLC in Alabama after the receipt of the $200,000 from the Poarch Creek Indians.

In short, the Alabama Poarch Creek Indians gave $550,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee during the 2010 election cycle.  This money then ended up going to prominent figures involved in shutting down non-Indian casinos in Alabama:  $100,000 to new Attorney General Luther Strange, $250,000 to Citizens for a Better Alabama, and $50,000 (with $150,000 still to be spent) to Bob Riley’s new PAC that will help him maintain control of the state GOP.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS FOLLOW

Alabama Political Reporter did not receive the supporting documentation.

Montgomery Advertiser Articles

Wednesday’s Article–Johnny Ford files ethics complaint against AG Luther Strange

http://madvertiserblogs.com/southunionstreet/2012/10/24/johnny-ford-files-ethics-complaint-against-ag-luther-strange/

Sunday’s Article–Exclusive: Tracking gambling money – Were Poarch Creek funds used to battle electronic bingo bill?

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20121021/NEWS01/310210020/Exclusive-Tracking-gambling-money-Were-Poarch-Creek-funds-used-battle-electronic-bingo-bill-?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage

 

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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