By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY— Prior to becoming a State Senator, Bryan Taylor advised former Gov. Bob Riley in his fight against the State’s gaming industry. Taylor has continued his battle pursuing the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) with what could be described as a rabid dedication.
“He wants to be an indian fighter,” says Millbrook, Mayor Al Kelley, “…that seems to be a life’s ambition along with telling other people how to live their lives according to his rules.” This is the opinion of the highly popular Mayor in Taylor’s Senate District.
During Taylor’s years as policy adviser to the Riley administration, his former law firm, Bradley Arant, secured millions in State contracts to advise the administration on its prosecution of gaming interests.
Taylor has made thousands in legal fees as an attorney whose clients sought to squeeze money from the Tribe, or put them out of business altogether.
Taylor at some points simultaneously pushed legislation aimed at PCI casinos in Atmore and Wetumpka.
From April 2012 until January 2014 Taylor was paid around $36,000 by the Escambia County Commission, while serving as a State Senator.
During the 2013 Legislative session, Taylor lead an effort to enact laws that could have potentially damaged the PCI, while being paid to fight the Tribe in court.
In 2012, Taylor, who is an attorney, secured a contract with the Escambia County Commission to essentially extract tax revenues from the Tribe.
No fewer than two individuals with personal knowledge of Taylor’s hiring said that it was Taylor who approached the Commission and not the other way around.
It was also stated by a former lawmaker that Taylor approached the Elmore County Commission with a similar scheme. However, this cannot currently be confirmed for the record.
On Friday, April 13, 2012, at the urging of Taylor, the Escambia County Commission launched a legal campaign to disenfranchise the PCI of their Tribal standing before the Federal government. Taylor, argued that the 2009 Supreme Court ruling in Carcieri v. Salazar rendered the PCI’s Land Trust null and void.
Little did the Escambia County Commission know, that if PCI’s Land Trust was revoked, their right to operate bingo facilities in the County would have ceased to exist.
Some with the PCI expressed —at the time— that the commission was being duped by Taylor to believing his legal wrangling would force the PCI to pay taxes to the county.
At that time, Escambia County Commissioner Brandon Smith, who did not agree with the commissions plan, said, “The County Commission is shooting itself in the foot,” with this ill-fated plan.
Taylor’s suit on behalf of the commission led nowhere, as the Federal government has stood firmly with the Tribe’s rights. However, Taylor kept collecting attorney’s fees from the commission while working in the Legislature to do harm to his clients adversary.
State Ethic’s laws that forbid legislators from using his office for personal gain.
The following chronicles Taylor’s actions during the 2013 Regular Legislative Session:
SB 409 Introduced on April 11, 2013, by Senator Bryan Taylor.
If passed this bill would have prohibited all alcohol sells at PCI casinos.
This bill would prohibit the issuance of a license to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to a facility where gambling or the game of bingo is played using electronic machines. This bill would provide that as of the date of its approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law, each license to sell or serve alcoholic beverages currently issued to a facility where gambling or the game of bingo is played using electronic machines shall be considered null and void and of no effect as of the date that this act becomes law.
SB 432 Introduced on April 11, 2013, by Senator Bryan Taylor. Intent was to change conspiracy to promote gambling from a misdemeanor to a Class C felony. Under existing law, it is a crime to promote gambling, conspire to promote gambling, or possess a gambling device. This bill would provide enhanced penalties for these crimes if the defendant profits from gambling activity in an amount exceeding $10,000 an conspiracy to promote gambling would be a Class C felony.
SB 446 Introduced on April 16, 2013 by Senator Bryan Taylor.
This is the same bill as his SB 432. He reintroduced the bill to be placed in the Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committee where he is chairperson.
Intent was to change conspiracy to promote gambling from a misdemeanor to a Class C felony.
Under existing law, it is a crime to promote gambling, conspire to promote gambling, or possess a gambling device. This bill would provide enhanced penalties for these crimes if the defendant profits from gambling activity in an amount exceeding $10,000 an conspiracy to promote gambling would be a Class C felony.
HB 475 by Representative Barry Mask of Wetumpka.
Senator Bryan Taylor’s successful amendment to this bill would have prohibited Sunday alcohol sells at the Creek Casino in Wetumpka.
Relating to the City of Wetumpka in Elmore County; authorizing elections to determine whether alcoholic beverages may be sold or dispensed by restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs that are properly licensed retail licensees serving the general public within the city for on-premises consumption on Sunday.
May 20, 2013: On the last night of the 2013 Regular Session, Senator Bryan Taylor successfully amended this bill to exclude the Creek Casino-Wetumpka with the following language: “…excluding any Indian lands claimed to be immune or exempt from state and local taxation under 25 U.S.C. §465 or any other law or right. The bill was then carried over at the call of the chair and eventually died when the legislature adjourned sine die.
Taylor’s legislative war on the PCI at various times coincides with his payments from the Escambia County Commission.
On April 2, disgraced lawmaker Rep. Greg Wren, pled guilty to using his office for personal gain in connection with passing legislation favorable to one of his clients, while collecting consulting fees.