By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—If campaign contributions are the mother’s milk of political campaigns, then hypocrisy is its baby daddy. Witness the press release issued by the Luther Strange campaign just moments after it was reported that his rival Joe Hubbard had received $750,000 from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, (PCI).
In the press statement Strange said, “I don’t think the people of Alabama want their top prosecutor bought and paid for by Indian casino interests.”
That would seem like a sensible statement by the State’s sitting Attorney General, but perhaps there is more to the story.
Many sitting Republicans in the State have taken money from gaming interests including General Strange. But it is political season and the spinmeister will have good candidates say crazy things to make sure they win the election.
Strange has received $150,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee, (RSLC) a section 527 group that regularly receives money from gaming interest, including the Las Vegas Sands and Indian tribal casinos.
When Bill Armistead became Chairman of the ALGOP he decided to stop taking money from the RSLC because of the taint of gambling money. Strange has not enforced the same rules on his campaign for Attorney General.
The fourth largest contributor to the RSLC is The Sands, owned by Republican donor Sheldon Adelson. Adelson spent millions trying to elect Newt Gingrich president, and not a word was heard from the Alabama Republican Party or General Strange.
But, this is not the first time gaming money from the RSLC has flowed into the ALGOP without so much as an eyebrow being raised.
In 2010, under the direction of then Chairman of the ALGOP, Mike Hubbard along with Del Marsh, solicited at least $350,000 from the PCI and distributed it to Republican candidates through the RSLC.
It would appear the outrage now voiced by some Republicans rings hollow, given the fact that the PCI have been giving abundantly to Republicans since 2010; without a murmur from Strange or the ALGOP.
In 2012, Gary Palmer who is currently seeking to represent the AL 6 congressional district wrote, “While there were a number of issues and reasons why Alabama voters threw out the Democrat majority and replaced them with a Republican majority in 2010, the key reasons were that voters wanted to put a stop to gambling kingpins tying up the Legislature and they were tired of them making a mockery of our state laws.”
In Palmer’s article he also says, “But according to Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, the days of the legislative session being held hostage by gambling interests are over.”
But it was not over, only hidden by the Republican leadership until exposed by this news organization.
State Rep. Joe Hubbard, who is running to unseat Strange as Attorney General said, “After taking hundreds of thousands from out-out-state gambling interests funneled through shadow groups, Luther is now worried about gaming money. My record in the Legislature proves I’m beholden to no one and answer only to the people of Alabama.”
Strange, has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in an unsuccessful attempt to close the casinos operated on tribal lands in the State.
It is not surprising, that in the interest of self-preservation, the tribe would contribute to Strange’s opponent.
This is all legal under the unlimited corporate contributions law established by the Republican Legislative Supermajority.
However, when any opposition group uses the laws enacted by the supermajority, they cry foul.
Strange currently has just under, $1,500,000 in his war chest.
Joe Hubbard has a little over $1,000,000, but is gaining ground.
In April, Strange received $50,000 from the Republican Attorney Generals Association, PAC, however, the PAC fails to list where the contributions originated.