By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford wants a day in court and he wants to bring a lot of current and former public officials with him.
Wednesday morning at a press conference held outside the Alabama Ethics Commission, Ford called for a full investigation of Attorney General and his relationship with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, (PCI). In his statements before the press, the Mayor accused Strange of excepting campaign donations from the PCI in violation of Alabama Ethics Code 625-1.
“Luther Strange received $100,000 from PCI for the purpose of using his office to close down gaming in Macon County,” Ford said. “By doing so he violates the voting rights act of the people of Macon County.”
In his right hand, Ford carried a large legal binder with what he says is proof of a quid pro quo relationship with the PCI. In his left hand he carried a copy of the Alabama Ethics Code with his complaint tucked inside.
“He has violated our voting rights because the people of Macon County voted overwhelmingly to allow gaming [namely bingo] to be played in any form in Macon County.” According to Ford, the PCI and Strange are in collusion to stop gaming in Macon County.
Ford told the members of the press present that, “2000 jobs have been created in Macon County with hundreds of thousand of dollars going to school and universities, cities and the County.”
The Tuskegee Mayor filed a similar complaint in October of this year only to have it rejected by the Ethics Commission.
“They responded by saying your complaint has no grounds because we do not investigate anyone on the basis of news reports or hearsay,” Ford said. “They asked for evidence and this time we have the evidence,” holding up the large binder.
He also accused the Attorney General of intimidating bingo machine manufacturers and said he has proof to back up his allegations.
“We have evidence where Luther Strange, before he became AG, used the power to try to persuade the gaming manufacturers to take their games from VictoryLand,” he then added, “Those same machines that were taken from VictoryLand are now in Indian casinos right across the line, [from Macon County in Montgomery County].
Ford said that, “If the machines are legal for the Indians, then they are legal at VictoryLand.”
He makes his argument on the fact that Macon County passed a constitutional amendment in 2003 that allowed Macon County to have bingo gaming in any form.
The mayor also said that Greene Track in Greene County has a similar amendment and uses electronic bingo machines and the AG’s office has not made any overtures to close those gaming locations down.
“Green Track is not using slot machines there are using electronic bingo machines,” Ford said. “The same machines that the Indians are using and the same thing is true for VictoryLand what’s true for Green Track should also be true for VictoryLand.”
Ford said that he is not fighting for Milton McGregor, but for the citizens of Macon County.
“Today I fight, I fight in the spirit of the Tuskegee Airmen and Booker T. Washington,” said Ford. “We are fighting for our voting rights, our civil rights and our economic rights.
He closed by saying that if he does not receive satisfaction and due process from the Ethics Commission that other lawsuits will follow.