By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The slowly unfolding story of gaming money being solicited by GOP Leadership in 2010 has reached a new level with the revelation that GOP senate candidates appear to have received over $200,000 in laundered gambling money.
Just a few weeks ago it came to light that Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) requested and received at least two campaign contributions from the Poarch Creek Band of Indians (PCI) in Atmore, Alabama. In June, Marsh, who served as the Chairman of the Alabama GOP Finance Committee, solicited $100K from the tribe (although it wasn’t reported by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) until July 15, 2010) and on October 8, 2010 Marsh requested and received $250K from the PCI. These facts have been confirmed by Robert McGhee, who serves on the Tribal Council and Governmental Relations for the PCI. The Tribe was told that the funds they contributed would be used to finance state senate races.
These funds were then funneled through the RSLC then to the ALGOP before being handed out to candidates.
The GOP leadership used the PAC-to-PAC transfers to disguise the real contributors from the public and its party members.
By hiding the money’s source, the GOP could rail against Democrats for taking gaming money while doing the same thing behind the voter’s back.
Marsh, the PCI confirms, asked for the $350K to support state senate candidates in the 2010 takeover by the GOP.
By following the timeline of money flowing from the PCI to the RSLC then to a ALGOP-controlled PAC, the money can be traced to 11 senate races. The largest contribution of gaming money appears to have landed in the campaigns of Senator Phil Williams, Senator Shadrack McGill, Senator Bryan Taylor, Senator Gerald Allen, Danny Joyner and Ray Robbins.
Williams, McGill, Allen and Taylor all won their campaigns Robbins lost to Democrat Senator Jerry Fielding and Joyner was defeated by Democrat Senator Marc Keahey.
Follow the Money:
According to records filed with the Alabama Secretary of State:
Senator Gerald Allen $38,500
Senator Phil Williams $35,000
Ray Robbins $43,000
Danny Joyner $20,000
Senator Bryan Taylor $23,200
Senator Shadrack McGill $18,900
Other Senators $23,500 (Anyone that received less than $10,000 is not named in this article.)
On October 10, 2010 the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) reported receipt of $250,000 from the Poarch Creek Indians See Open Secrets
On October 14, 2010 the RSLC reported an expenditure of $200,000 to the Alabama Republican Party. See RSLC Contributions
On October 15, 2010 the Alabama Republican Party reported receipt of $200,000 from the RSLC. See ARP Contributions.
Expenditures reported by the Alabama Republican Party are as follows:
Friends of Gerald Allen 10/20/10 $2,500 See ARP 10-day Report, Page 7
Friends of Gerald Allen 10/20/10 $500 See ARP 10-day Report, Page 7
Friends of Williams for Alabama 10/14/10 $35,000 See ARP 10-day Report, Page 7
Shadrack Mcgill for Senate District 10/20/10 $9,900 See 10-day Report, Page 30
Shadrack Mcgill for Senate District 10/20/10 $5,000 See 10-day Report, Page 30
Shadrack Mcgill for Senate District 10/20/10 $2,500 See 10-day Report, Page 30
Shadrack Mcgill for Senate District 10/20/10 $500 See 10-day Report, Page 30
Ray Robbins for Alabama Senate 10/13/10 $2,000 See 10-day Report, Page 36
Ray Robbins for Alabama Senate 10/14/10 $30,000 See 10-day Report, Page 36
Ray Robbins for Alabama Senate 10/20/10 $5,000 See 10-day Report, Page 36
Ray Robbins for Alabama Senate 10/20/10 See 10-day Report, Page 37
Bryan Taylor For Senate 10/13/10 $2,000 See 10-day Report, Page 39
Bryan Taylor For Senate 10/20/10 $5,000 See 10-day Report, Page 39
Bryan Taylor For Senate 10/20/10 $2,500 See 10-day Report, Page 39
Bryan Taylor For Senate 10/20/10 $2,500 See 10-day Report, Page 39
Bryan Taylor For Senate 10/22/10 $8,700 See 10-day Report, Page 39
Danny Joyner Campaign 10/28/10 $20,000 End of Year Report, Page 3
Friends of Gerald Allen 10/26/10 $30,000 End of Year Report, Page 4
Friends of Gerald Allen 10/27/10 $1,000 End of Year Report, Page 4
Friends of Gerald Allen 10/28/10 $2,000 End of Year Report, Page 4
Friends of Gerald Allen 10/29/10 $2,500 End of Year Report, Page 4
Ray Robbins for Alabama SD11 10/27/10 $1,000 End of Year Report, Page 11
Ray Robbins for Alabama SD11 10/29/10 $2,500 End of Year Report, Page 11
Shadrack McGill for Senate Dist 8 10/29/10 End of Year Report, Page 13
Bryan Taylor For Senate 10/26/10 $2,500 End of Year Report, Page 14
Taylor, Williams, Allen and McGill were contacted concerning this report.
They were asked the following questions:
Did you knowingly received money that came from the Poarch Creek Band of Indians?
Would you knowingly take money from any gambling interested?
Have you at any point been informed that you have received campaign contributions from gambling interests?
Would you care to speculate on why the then GOP leadership would give you money that was solicited from the Poarch Creek Band of Indians?
Allen, Williams and Taylor responded by saying no to all the questions, McGill did not reply.
While this is a preponderance of the evidence it seems clear that the PCI gaming money was used to finance Senate campaigns as Marsh had informed the Tribe.
The lynchpin behind all distributed funds was then-Chairman of the Alabama GOP Mike Hubbard. Hubbard and Marsh respectively went on to be elected Speaker of the Alabama House and President Pro Tempore of the Alabama Senate. Their rise to power was mainly based on their collective ability to raise money for GOP candidates.
The use of PAC-to-PAC transfers by then-Alabama GOP Party Chairman Mike Hubbard, may lead some to believe that there is room for plausible deniability. However, in responding to the recent revelations about $350,000 going from the Poarch Creek casino operators to the RSLC and $1,273,000 going from the RSLC to various Republican PACs in Alabama Hubbard said, “We were assured that none of our contributions came from gambling sources.”
How does that statement remain believable when Hubbard’s closest ally, then finance chairman Marsh, took money from the PCI, that was then transferred from the RSLC to PACs controlled by Hubbard? Is it credible to believe that the author of “Storming the Statehouse” did not know that gambling money was coming into the campaigns of GOP senators?
Marsh, according to those who spoke on conditions of anonymity—because of fear of retribution—have said that Marsh went to see the Tribe in Atmore on the behalf of someone else. Who else would Marsh take marching orders from except then ALGOP Chairman Mike Hubbard?
In 2010, GOP offered the voters a “Handshake with Alabama” the introduction to the document reads, “In Alabama, a handshake means something,” said then-State Republican Party Chairman and then-House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn). “When you look someone in the eye, give them your word and shake their hand, you make a bond. This Handshake Agenda is our bond with the voters of Alabama, and if Republicans are successful in taking over the Legislature, these are the items we will immediately work to pass.”
One of the items that the GOP promised was, “Ending Corruption in Montgomery.” “Democrats have held the majority in Montgomery for 136 years, and during that time, they created an atmosphere that breeds corruption and encourages graft. …Republicans understand that we must limit the influence of special interests and other lobbyists who control much of what happens in Montgomery.”
The GOP said repeatedly that they would clean up the influence of gambling money in state politics while using it to win elections. While nothing that has proven illegal so far it certainly cast a long shadow over the promises made.
Phil Williams was given $35,000 from the ALGOP. He ran a successful race to defeat incumbent Democrat Senator Larry Means for his seat representing Senate District 10. In October 2010, Means was arrested on corruption charges in a vote-buying scheme commonly referred to as the Alabama Bingo Trial. He was accused of voting for pro-gambling legislation in return for campaign contributions. He was cleared of all charges in two trials in 2011 and 2012.
Now, it is revealed that Williams was receiving money from the GOP leadership that was tied to gaming interest to unseat Means.
Republican Shadrack McGill was given $18,900 and won his race against long-serving State Senator Lowell Barron who had represented the 8th District since 1982. Barron was defeated by 500 votes in 2010 general election.
Ray Robbins was provided the most money at $43,000 for his unsuccessful campaign against Democrat Jerry Fielding for Senate District 11. Fielding became the democrat candidate after long-serving State Senate Jim Pruett decided not to run because of he was accused in the Bingo Trial. Pruitt was later found not guilty on one count of bribery and 11 other honest-services counts.
Fielding has since discarded the mantle of democrat and has been welcomed into the Republican Party by House Speaker Mike Hubbard, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Governor Robert Bentley.
Danny Joyner received $20,000 in his unsuccessful bid against Democrat Marc Keahey for the 22nd Senate District which the home of the PCI gaming operations.
Bryan Taylor who appears to have received $23,200 in gaming money in his race to defeat Democrat Senator Wendell Mitchell. Taylor has been a fierce nemesis of the Poarch Creek Indian’s gaming establishments. Taylor has tried to prove that the tribe is operating outside of the law with their casinos in Alabama.
Taylor recently represented the Escambia County Commission in trying to extract tax revenue from the PCI. The Commission no longer employs the Senator to represent the county with regards to the PCI.
Senator Wendell Mitch passed away in February of this year. He was remembered by his senate colleagues as a Statesman.
Gerald Allen who received $38,500 went on to defeat Democrat Senator Phil Poole. Poole had served in the Legislature for 28 years—16 of them in the Senate. Poole testified before the grand jury in the Bingo Trial.
Questions remain as to why Hubbard and Marsh would give large sums of gaming funds to freshmen GOP who had strong personal beliefs against gambling.
Could there be a nefarious motive to later reveal to these naive senators that they have the taint of gambling money within their campaigns? Could this have been used to keep them in line should they cross party hierarchy?
Speaker Mike Hubbard dedicated a great amount of his book “Storming the State” to his fundraising efforts. However, there is no mention of campaign contributions from the PCI or any other gaming interest. This oversight in Hubbard’s biography again suggest the type of cover up that has plagued the Alabama GOP for years.
While there is no apparent illegal activity the deceptive practice of hiding gaming money from voters does seem to discredit the premiss that brought the GOP to power in Alabama.
Is this a case of winning the Statehouse with gambling money rather that “Storming” it as Hubbard’s book contends? There are more question to be answered about the finances that allow for the 2010 GOP takeover of the Alabama Legislature. The facts are only now becoming clear but more evidence is mounting.