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Gambling Money Linked to 2010 GOP Takeover of Alabama Senate

Bill Britt

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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Health

Alabama’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients Sunday at highest number since Sept. 2.

It’s a trend that has public health officials and hospital staff concerned that the state may be headed for another surge.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama hospitals on Sunday were caring for 920 COVID-19 inpatients, the highest number of patients since Sept. 2 and a 23 percent increase from a month ago. 

It’s a trend that has public health officials and hospital staff concerned that the state may be headed for another  surge just as the regular flu season begins to fill up hospital beds. 

Alabama state health officer Dr. Scott Harris by phone Friday called the rising new cases and hospitalizations “worrisome.”

Alabama’s seven-day average of daily hospitalized COVID-19 patients was 864 on Sunday, the highest it’s been since Sept. 8. State hospitals saw a peak of COVID-19 inpatients on Aug. 6, when 1,613 patients were being cared for. 

The state added 1,079 new confirmed and probable cases on Sunday, and Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily cases hit 1,358 Sunday, the highest it’s been since Aug. 13. Two “data dumps” to the Alabama Department of Public Health of older confirmed cases Thursday and Friday elevated the daily counts on those days, but after weeks of daily cases hovering around 700 and 800, the state now regularly sees more than 1,000 cases a day. 

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The older test results skew the state’s percent positivity, but Alabama’s 14-day average of percent positivity on Sunday was 20 percent. Just prior to the addition of those older cases, the 14-day average was 15 percent. Public health officials say it should be at or below five percent or cases are going undetected.

As cases continue to rise, the number of tests being performed statewide continue to decline, which is increasing Alabama’s percent positivity rate. The 14-day average of daily tests was 6,619 on Sunday — a 5 percent decrease from two weeks ago. 

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There have been 2,866 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths statewide. The state’s 14-day average of daily confirmed deaths was 14 on Sunday, up from 12 two weeks ago. 

The United States on Saturday recorded its second highest day of new cases since the start of the pandemic, with 83,718 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Saturday’s peak was just 39 cases fewer than the country’s all-time daily high, set on Friday. As of Sunday, 225,061 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

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Elections

Trump Truck and boat parades this weekend

Brandon Moseley

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Trump boat parade

As Election Day draws near, Alabama Republicans are excited about promoting the re-election of Donald J. Trump as President and the election of Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate. This weekend two pro-President Trump events are happening in the state. There will be a truck parade from Ashland to Phenix City on Saturday sponsored by the Clay County Republican Party, while there will also be a boat parade on Wilson Lake in the Shoals sponsored by the Colbert County Republican Party on Sunday.

The pickup trucks will assemble at the Ashland Industrial Park in Clay County, 8240 Hwy 9, Ashland. There is a pre-departure rally at 10:00 a.m. central standard time. The trucks will depart at 11:00 a.m. and then proceed on a parade route that will take them into the bitterly contested swing state of Georgia. The Trump Pickup Parade will wind through east Alabama and West Georgia traveling through LaGrange and Columbus before concluding near the Alabama/Georgia line in Phenix City, 332 Woodland Drive, Phenix City at approximately 2:00 p.m. central time. Speakers will begin at 3:00. Trump flags will be on sale at the event.

The Phenix Motorsports Park will be hosting what sponsor hope could possibly the world’s largest Pickup Tuck parade in U.S. history that is routing over 50 mile through Georgia in effort to “pickup” President Trump’s numbers in GA.

A number dignitaries have been invited to address the Phenix City rally, including Coach Tuberville. Former State Sen. Shadrack McGill, Trump Victory Finance Committee member former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper Jr., and Paul Wellborn, the President and CEO of the largest Family owned Kitchen Cabinet manufacture in the USA are among the featured speakers who have committed to speak at the event.

Entertainment will be provided by: Charity Bowden, an up and coming country music singer who was the runner up on “The Voice”. Charity will sing ‘I am Proud to be an American’ as well as songs from her Voice performances. The McGill Girls will also perform. The three beautiful and talented sisters will be singing patriotic songs in three part harmony. Geoff Carlisle, a professional DJ will be keeping the crowd pumped with music and entertainment.

Following the speakers and the entertainment there will Trump truck-vs- Joe Bidden truck races down the drag strip for the finale.

The Northwest Alabama boat parade will be on Sunday. The boats will gather at 2:00 p.m. near Turtle Point and then the flotilla will parade around the open waters of Wilson Lake til 3_00 p.m.. There will be a contest for best decorated Trump boats.

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Trump supporters have held a number of large boat parades across the state to show their support for the re-election of Pres. Trump.

Boat parade sponsors say that this parade will be: pro-American, pro-law enforcement, pro-military.

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Health

COVID-19 hospitalizations, new cases continue to rise

Eddie Burkhalter

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COVID-19 Corona Influenza Virus Molecules Image Stock Photo

The number of rising hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alabama is a concerning sign of a possible coming surge of the disease, state health experts said Friday. Alabama hospitals were caring for 888 coronavirus patients Friday, the highest number since Sept 9. 

UAB Hospital was caring for around 80 COVID-19 inpatients Friday afternoon, said Dr. Rachael Lee, an infectious disease specialist at UAB, speaking to reporters Friday. UAB Hospital hasn’t had that many coronavirus inpatients since Aug. 18, when the disease was surging statewide.

“We have been dealing with this since March, and I think it’s easy for us to drop our guard,” Lee said. 

Alabama added 3,852 new coronavirus cases on Friday, but 1,287 of them were older positive antigen tests, conducted in June through October and submitted to ADPH by a facility in Mobile, according to the department. Still, Alabama’s daily case count has been increasing, concerning health officials already worried that as the weather turns colder and the flu season ramps up, Alabama could see a surge like the state had in July.

Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily cases was 1,247 on Friday, the highest it’s been since Sept 4. Over the last 14 days, Alabama has added 17,451 new COVID-19 cases.

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Friday’s inclusion of those older positive test results throws off the day’s percent positivity, by Thursday the state’s percent of tests that were positive was nearly 16 percent. Public health officials say it should be at or below five percent or cases are going undetected.

The state added 16 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, bringing to total confirmed deaths statewide to 2,859. Over the last two weeks, 206 deaths were reported in the state. Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily deaths on Friday was 15.

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Alabama state health officer Dr. Scott Harris told APR by phone Friday called the rising new cases and hospitalizations “worrisome.”

Harris noted the data dump of older confirmed cases in Friday’s data, but said “but nevertheless, I think it’s clear our numbers are going up.”

Harris said it’s not yet clear what’s causing the continued spread, but said it may be due at least in part to larger private gatherings. ADPH staff has mentioned a few outbreaks association with such gatherings, but Harris said it’s hard to know for certain if that’s the major driver in the state’s rising numbers.

“It’s football season and the holidays are coming up and school is back in session,” Harris said. “I think people are just not being as safe as they were.”

Harris noted that on ADPH’s color-coded, risk indicator dashboard, red counties, which denotes counties with rising cases and percent positivity, the 17 red counties on Friday were distributed across the state.

“So there’s not one event, or even a handful of events. It seems like there’s just a lot of things happening in a lot of places,” Harris said.

Alabama’s rising numbers are mirrored in many states. The U.S. reported more than 71,600 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, nearing the country’s record highs, set in July.

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News

Birmingham approves $1.3 million contract for real-time crime center technology

Woodfin repeated that facial recognition capabilities will not be used in accordance with the contract.

John H. Glenn

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The Birmingham City Council approved a five-year, $1.3 million contract with Motorola this week to provide new technology for the police department’s real-time crime center amid unease and public concern over the potential use of facial recognition software within the new systems.

Mayor Randall Woodfin insisted in his remarks made before the council that the new technology is meant to integrate existing hardware and technology inside the real-time crime center. “You’re not buying any additional new equipment,” he said, “You’re buying something to integrate all those systems.”

The software suite includes Motorola Solutions’s CommandCentral Aware, a system that aggregates video, image and other data information into one interface, and BriefCam, a “video synopsis” system that will further integrate and analyze information from Birmingham’s ShotSpotter systems, public cameras and police body cameras.

Briefcam offers facial recognition capabilities, which was the main concern of community members speaking before the council, and the risk that use of the technology could disproportionately affect Black people. Facial recognition technology has a record of racial bias and misidentifies Black people at rates five to 10 times higher than white people.

“Despite assurances that there will not be facial recognition implemented at this phase that does not prevent it from being implemented in the future,” said Joseph Baker, Founder of I Believe in Birmingham and one of the Birmingham residents voicing concern on the proposal. “I believe that this software, if fully implemented, can easily lead to violations of unreasonable searches.”

Another resident who spoke against the resolution was Byron Lagrone, director of engineering at medical software solutions company Abel Healthcare Enterprises. Lagrone pointed to IBM and Amazon as examples of companies that have halted or abandoned facial recognition and object tracking software altogether over racial bias concerns.

“The prevailing attitude, among technical people is this technology is not effective, and it causes high amounts of harm for next to no gain,” Lagrone said.

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Woodfin repeated that facial recognition capabilities will not be used in accordance with the contract.

“It’s explicit in this contract that facial recognition will not be used,” Woodfin said, “[If] facial recognition wants to be used in the future of this city. It would have to be approved by this body. … The mayor’s office or the police department doesn’t have unilateral power to use facial recognition. That is not part of what our contractual relationship is with Motorola.”

Woodfin also clarified that the total $1.3 million price of the contract will not be paid as a lump sum but spread out over the five-year commitment.

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The city council voted 8 to 1 to approve the contract, with District 8 Councilman Steven Hoyt speaking in favor of the use of facial recognition capabilities.

“You can’t say, ‘I’m going to build a house but I’m not going to use the restroom,’” Hoyt said. “If it’s in the house, you’re going to use the restroom. … If it has the capability of facial recognition, guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to use it. I’m going to vote for it because I know we’ve got to have every tool we can garner to fight crime, because it’s out of hand.”

Hoyt also suggested a review of the information collected by the new system apparatus.

“I do think, for the public’s sake, we need to have some way we review that and see how it’s being used,” Hoyt said. “We need that to go along with this.”

District 3 Councilwoman Valerie A. Abbott — who said she was the victim of a burglary the day before the vote — echoed the mayor’s insistence that the facial recognition capabilities would not be deployed unless authorized by the city council, reading a letter from Motorola stating “in order to enable facial recognition, Motorola will require an addendum or change order to the contract,” which would have to come before a public meeting of the city council.

“I too would not want facial recognition,” Abbot said, “I’m voting in favor of this because the majority of my constituents are telling me they want more and better policing, capture of criminals, prevention of crime.”

District 5 Councilman Darrell O’Quinn was the lone no vote among the near-unanimous city council, stating that he had “some reservations about how we’re doing this and will vote my conscience.” 
Later, O’Quinn was quoted in BirminghamWatch, saying his vote reflected his concerns about “taking on a new debt obligation in the midst of a projected $63 million shortfall in revenue.”

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