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Where is the Ethical Government Promised in the Republicans’ Handshake with Alabama?

By House Democratic Caucus Chairman Thomas Jackson

I was deeply disappointed last week when I read about the Republican leaderships’ hypocrisy on gambling in Alabama and the subsequent threats they made to the papers that printed the story.

Disappointed, but not surprised.

For years, there have been accusations that the Alabama Republican Party and its leadership have actively sought out contributions from gaming interests in Alabama and Mississippi while at the same time publicly denouncing gaming and actively prosecuting legal gaming interests.

But these accusations could never be more than just accusations because the money was channeled through a process called PAC-to-PAC transfers, where the money would be given to a political action committee that would then make a contribution to another political action committee and so on until the money finally ended up in the PACs controlled by the Republican leadership.

When this most recent story broke, the Republicans at first made the same arguments they have always made when it is revealed that a PAC they received money from also took money from gaming interests: that claim they had been assured that the money had not come from any gaming interests. But this argument doesn’t hold up.

When an organization creates a PAC, that PAC opens a single checking account where all contributions get deposited. Once that money gets deposited there is no way to separate it from money that gets deposited from any other source. So a PAC is no more capable of distinguishing where the money came from than you or I would be if we deposited multiple checks into our bank accounts and were then asked to write a check but not to use any money from a particular source.

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A couple of days after the initial story came out, a follow-up story revealed that not only did the Republicans receive the money from these gaming interests; they had actively solicited the contributions.

Now there is nothing illegal about the Republicans soliciting and receiving contributions from gaming interests. But to seek out support from gaming interests at the same time they were denouncing gaming and shutting down facilities in Alabama is hypocritical.

When the truth was revealed, the Republicans did not deny that they accepted the money or offer to return it. Instead, they attempted to intimidate the reporters who broke the story into silence by threatening retaliation that would come in the form of denying them access and withholding advertising dollars.

The sin the Republicans committed is not that they took money from gaming interests. Their sin is that they took gaming money while actively denouncing gaming, lied and tried to cover up that they had taken gaming money, and then used threats and bullying to try to intimidate the reporters who broke the story into silence.

So much for the ethical government the Republicans promised in their Handshake with Alabama.

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