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UPDATE 2010: ALGOP Finance Chairman Pays Visit to Poarch Creek Indians

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Update: This story was pulled down for a few hours to double check facts. We are determined our facts are accurate.

Senator Marsh office’s has said that we did not give Mr. Marsh a chance to respond before printing to story. However, his office was contacted on Tuesday morning and given the details of the story. Derek Trotter responded on Tuesday at 11:16 Trotter sent this text message:

“Del is tied up in meetings until shortly after lunch but as soon as he calls me back I’ll have him call you.”

We never received a call from Marsh’s office until after the story was published even then we received no offer to speak with Senator Marsh.

The Alabama Political Reporter stands by its story.

MONTGOMERY—Over the last few weeks information about Republicans receiving campaign money from gambling interests during the 2010 elections cycle has begun to trickle out.

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Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) who was chairman of the ALGOP at the time, through which some of the money flowed has denied any knowledge of the funds being from gambling organizations.

Likewise Rob Riley, who has ties to one of the organization who received gambling money has said he had no knowledge of such contributions.

The money in question was campaign contributions made by the Poarch Creek Band of Indians (PCI) who legally operate gaming casinos in Alabama.

The stories have been reported in such a way to make it appear that the PCI was trying to buy political influence. It implies that the PCI was funding those who opposed gambling outside of Tribal lands, so as to keep the lucrative gambling trade all to themselves.

But was this the case or is it possible that the PCI believed the funds were for a different purpose? Could it be that high ranking GOP leadership asked the PCI for the money and then distributed it as they willed?

In fact the money given to the Republicans by the PCI was solicited from the PCI in 2010 by the head of finance for the Alabama Republican Party.

According to Robert McGhee, who serves on the Tribal Council and Governmental Relations for the PCI, Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) who was then head of finance for ALGOP under then Chairman Mike Hubbard, came to the PCI headquarters in Atmore, Alabama, and requested the contribution. When McGhee was asked if the request for the money came from Del Marsh, he said “Yes,” when asked again MaGhee said, “it wasn’t at our request, it was at his [Marsh’s] request.”

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According to McGhee, Marsh made such request on two occasions, asking for $100K on one visit and $250K on the next, “We gave the money in the spirit of bi-partisan support for Alabama government,” said McGhee.

Campaign finance laws do not allow for a donor to specify where money is spent once it is given, the PCI says that they were told the funds would be used to finance state GOP senate races.

This means that the state GOP leadership was coordinating the flow of gambling money after carefully laundering it, not the PCI.

It is important to follow the $350K that was given by the PCI from in the 2010 election cycle. It entering into the system and how and to whom it was distributed.

Over the 2010 election cycle the PCI gave $350K to the Republican State Leadership Committee, (RSLC).

According to the IRS records on July 15, 2010, the RSLC record the contribution of $100K from the PCI.

However, according to McGhee the PCI wrote the check on June 8.

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‘The Montgomery Advertiser’ has reported that there is an error in the RSLC reporting, they reported, “A check log from the Republican State Leadership Committee shows the group received a $100,000 check from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians on June 10, 2010. That same day, the RSLC made a $100,000 contribution to Citizens for a Better Alabama,” according to state campaign finance documents filed by the RSLC.

The donation was not reported on the RSLC’s filings with the Internal Revenue Service until August 2010, when it was reported as a donation made July 15, 2010, over a month after RSLC records show the check arrived. This is supposedly based on private information given the Advertiser, by the RSLC.

The Advertiser also reports that,”The Republican State Leadership Committee shared the news of the contribution to Citizens for a Better Alabama with a letter addressed to Riley’s son, Rob, an adviser to his father who helped manage Gov. Riley’s two runs for that office. The Advertiser obtained a copy of the letter, which is dated the same day as the contribution from the Poarch Creek Indians to the RSLC.”

Some have speculated that the first $100 the PCI gave was funneled to the campaign of Luther Strange for Attorney General, in July.

According to McGhee the first check Marsh requested was written on June 9, 2010. This time line would seem to point to the money flowing in to the Citizens for a Better Alabama as reported by the Advertiser and not to Strange.

The Citizens for a Better Alabama (CBA) is headed by Birmingham lawyer A. Eric Johnston. Johnson has been a champion of the anti-gambling movement in Alabama. The CBA website says, “We engage the legal and political culture on a range of issues, including gambling, traditional marriage, and the sanctity of life.”

This is all a preponderance of the evidence and there is no evidence that the PCI, Marsh or the ALGOP did anything illegal.

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However, the GOP has publicly stood firm against gambling in Alabama and yet they have asked for money from the Poarch Creek Band of Indians.

Mike Hubbard has said he did not know of any money from the PCI going to fund campaigns in Alabama during the 2010. This seems harder to believe since Hubbard’s second-in-command, Marsh, personally asked and receive PCI funds according to the tribe.

There seems to be a lot more going on during the 2010 takeover by the GOP than just wanting to clean up Montgomery from gaming money.

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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