By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The Poarch Band of Creek Indians want to give the State an advance of $250 million to “help fix this deficit mess,” but Gov. Robert Bentley says, they are being dishonest about their offer.
After speaking to economic development recruiters at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Bentley said to the gathered reporters, “I really wish they [PCI] would be honest with the State of Alabama,” according to a report on AL.com by Chuck Dean.
Since March, the Tribe, which operates three casinos in Alabama, has made headlines promising hundreds of millions to bailout the ailing General Fund Budget. Recently, they launched a reported multi-million dollar advertising campaign to convince Alabama’s citizens to support their offer.
But, there is a caveat to their generosity.
They want the State to grant them an exclusive compact, giving them a monopoly over all gaming in Alabama. And with a monopoly, the Tribe would be free to expand and create a huge, gambling empire.
In other words, if the Governor signs a State/Tribal Compact, the PCI will give the State $250 million dollars advance, so they can control and then further spread gambling across the State
Section 36-25-5.1 of the Alabama Ethic law states:
“(a) No lobbyist, subordinate of a lobbyist, or principal shall offer or provide a thing of value to a public employee or public official…”
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a bribe is money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust.
The State needs approximately $250 million to level and fund its government responsibilities, and it just so happens that the Tribe has an extra $250 million just hanging around.
However, Bentley told al.com, “We can’t take money from them because it’s advance money that will be paid on things down the road.” This, the Governor says, is unconstitutional; therefore illegal.
But, this would not be the first time an Alabama governor received money that was supposed to be for the good of the State.
In 2006, former Gov. Don Siegelman was found guilty on one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, four counts of honest services mail fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice, all stemming from $500,000 received from HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.
Scrushy was not asking for a monopoly over all health care provided in the State, just a a seat on the State Hospital Regulatory Board.
A jury found that the quid pro quo arrangement between Siegelman and Scrushy constituted a Federal crime.
Bentley says the Tribe is being “disingenuous” with their offer, because this is not a gift given to help the State, but a thing of value to influence an act by the Governor.
In the al.com article Dean writes, “Bentley said he suspects that the tribe is more interested in staving off efforts by some powerful state lawmakers and business leaders to convince the Legislature to approve Las Vegas-style gambling in four sites across the state.”
Senate President Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow casino-style gaming in the four locations already licensed as well as allowing the PCI to offer enhanced games of chance. The idea under Mash’s plan is to limit, control and tax gaming so it benefits the citizens of Alabama.
However, the Tribe has so far rejected this plan, hoping to gain a complete monopoly.
At Point Clear the Governor said, “What they are saying now is just totally dishonest,” a firm indictment of the Poarch Creek’s offer, one that some might even suggests was close to a bribe.