By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) have begun what is reportedly a $4 million dollar advertising campaign to win the right to hold a monopoly over gambling in Alabama.
Full page ads began appearing in State newspapers. Even the small market of Lee County, home district of Speaker Mike Hubbard, was treated with a full broadsheet advertisement. Hubbard, who stands accused by the State of 23 felony counts of public corruption in receiving over $2 million dollars for himself, and his business interests, is backing a plan that would give PCI complete control over gaming in the State.
In the advertisement, Tribal Chair Stephanie Bryan encourages readers to call Gov. Bentley and State legislators to show their support for the PCI plan.
Bryan says, in exchange for the sole rights to gambling the tribe will “advance” the State $250 million which she suggests would, “prevent painful cuts in healthcare and mental healthcare services, and… keep law enforcement on the job so our families can stay safe.”
Earlier this year, Tribal Vice -Chair Robbie McGhee, began touting the idea of a State bailout in exchange for a gambling monopoly. His offer received a cool respite until Hubbard embraced the plan, after a individual meetings with Bryan and McGhee. The Conditions of Hubbard’s support are not fully known, other than him telling former State Representative Jim Barton, during several meeting that the tribe must stop advertising with this publication, the Alabama Political Reporter.
Others have suggested that PCI made a deal that would cover Hubbard’s mounting legal defense payments. But some Tribal associates have denied this assertion. Certain tribal associates were informed about Barton’s meeting with Hubbard, as well as arrangements made through Allison and Phillip Kinney. Barton and the Kinney are lobbyist for PCI and have angered several legislators with their aggressive tactics, according to Statehouse insiders.
In the full page ad, Bryan says, the Tribe’s casinos are operated for “the collective good and not individual gains.” PCI has prospered and few would argue that they have not done well by all the members of their tribe. They have also been welcomed in Elmore County as good corporate citizens and a philanthropic organization.
They have also donated millions to political campaigns for Republicans and Democrats. PCI, along with Hubbard, funneled hundreds of thousands into ALGOP coffers using the Republican State Leadership Conference (RSLC), as a pass through entity.
An RSLC internal investigation found the scheme to be a way to disguise “toxic money.”
PCI recently give over a million dollars to Rep. Joe Hubbard in his run for Attorney General. The Tribe backed Joe Hubbard in an effort to defeat seating Attorney General Luther Strange. Strange has sued to close the PCI’s casinos stating they are operating in violation of State law. The case is still pending in Federal Court.
A poll conducted for this publication finds that Alabamians overwhelming disapprove of giving the Tribe exclusive rights to gambling in the State.
Bryan ends her open letter by stating, “Working together, our Tribe and our State can fix this problem.”
Just this past week, the Tribe held a swanky event for Montgomery lobbyists and special interests. They are expected to expand their advertising over the weeks and months, before the Legislative Special Session.