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Riley Revelations Part One: Former Gov. Felt “Stabbed in the Back” by Senator Marsh

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY – An audio tape recently obtained by the Alabama Political Reporter of Senator Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, reveals some of the inner workings of former Governor Bob Riley’s administration, particularly highlighting the strife that sometimes existed between Riley, his appointees, and other elected officials.

Senator Taylor, who is purportedly making a behind-the-scenes bid for Director of the Ethics Commission, a position recently left open by retiring Jim Sumner, expounds in the recording on his inside position in the Governor’s circle. He says, for example, that he had “bounced around the State” in the gubernatorial jet during campaign season, though in many instances—as APR has reported—there are no records that taxpayers were reimbursed by the Riley camp for these flights.

Among the most telling comments in the tape, however, were those Taylor made about the then Governor’s relationship with staff and state legislators.

Referring to Senator Del Marsh, R-Anniston, Taylor—who at that time was Governor Riley’s Policy Director—said that while “one day the Governor likes Del, the next day the Governor thinks Del is stabbing him in the back on gambling.”

Taylor’s comments on Marsh can be heard here.

Marsh, who was finance director for the ALGOP’s 2010 “storming” of the Statehouse, may have gotten under Governor Riley’s skin “on gambling” in any of several ways. In early 2010, Marsh asked for $350,000 from the Poarch Creek Indians, a move that the Senator has since tried to obfuscate, both denying the action and then later admitting it.  McGhee had earlier confirmed to APR the specifics of the conversation including the amounts of campaign cash Marsh had requested.

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In addition, in the 2010 regular legislative session, during the era of Bob Riley’s infamous gambling task force, Senator Marsh, though opposed to a Democratically proposed gaming bill, had his own legislation benefiting the industry, which would have, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, “created a gaming commission to oversee casino operations at ten points of destination in the state and tax the revenue.” Though many in the state suspected GOP intraparty dissent against the Anniston Republican, not until Taylor’s recorded comments has the public gained a full view of leadership dissatisfaction with Marsh, specifically the wrath of Riley.

This article is part one of Riley Revelations, a series of articles focusing on post-administration, inside looks at the Bob Riley governorship. Stay tuned. Next up, Senator Gerald Dial.

Lee Hedgepeth
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