By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
If you have dealt in politics for any length of time, you have come to expect hypocrisy.
It’s as natural as breathing.
You come to expect politicians to complain about certain groups out of one side of their mouths, then use the other side of their mouths to beg those same groups for money.
You expect righteous indignation from some politicians at the mere suggestion that they’re secretly in bed with certain groups, and you know full well that the louder the protest, the more likely it is that that politician is so deep in bed with that group, he’s underneath the fitted sheet.
And that’s why Tom Parker isn’t a surprise to me.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised to learn that recent righteous indignation from one of our State Supreme Court Justices – one of the most vocal and recognizable members of the highest court in the State – was as phony and pathetic as a two-bit con man in Times Square.
But maybe you still hold some dream of political purity. Maybe you still think that there’s a politician – especially one doing work as important as that of our Supreme Court – that is above the slime. Maybe you believe still, like a child trying to catch a glimpse of the Tooth Fairy, that there are still honest people in our court system.
Allow me to squash those dreams.
A few weeks ago, as I explained the curious and often criticized gambling decisions that have been offered by Parker and his fellow justices, I provided an example of why people believe some of the ALSC’s gambling decisions could be tainted.
That example was the financing of Parker’s campaign for his 2010 run that landed him his ALSC seat.
Parker’s campaign took in a very curious donation – a $100,000 donation that Parker took from a single PAC, Patriot PAC – back in 2010.
Patriot PAC had taken in money from Premium PAC, which had taken in money from two other PACs, named Strickler Consulting and STEP PAC, which had each taken in money from the Poarch Creek Indians. Strickler had also taken in money from an Oklahoma Indian tribe that operates electronic bingo casinos.
Both of those entities – the Poarch Creeks and the Oklahoma tribe – would have an interest in making sure that other Alabama electronic bingo casinos were closed and that the state’s highest court issued rulings that kept them closed.
Of course, I’m not suggesting a quid pro quo. Only that it looks bad – that people who went looking for a nefarious reason to explain the Alabama Supreme Court’s odd and legally challenged decisions might rely on such ties.
For those suggestions, Tom Parker was unhappy with me.
He called Bill and Susan Britt, who own APR, to swear up and down that he had never accepted Poarch Creek money. Parker had been assured of this, he said, by the lobbyist who transferred all of the money through all of those different PACs.
At the Governor’s State of the State address a few days later, another reporter stopped me and asked, “What’d you do Tom Parker?” Turns out Parker had called the reporter to plead his case.
He’d never take gambling money, Parker told the other reporter.
At this point, there’s just no way you don’t know how this ends.
A few days ago, new campaign finance reports dropped online. That included a report from SPEED PAC, a PAC setup by lobbyist John Teague, who has long represented the Poarch Creek Indians.
On Dec. 20, 2016, the Poarch Creek Indians gave $200,000 to SPEED PAC.
On Feb. 6, 2017, a couple of days after my story appeared in APR and Parker tried to convince anyone who would listen that it was all fake news, he received $5,000 from SPEED PAC.
This donation came well after the election.
But a conspiracy theorist might point out that the Poarch Creek deposit of $200,000 went into SPEED PAC on Dec. 20. Three days later, on Dec. 23, the ALSC ruled against GreeneTrack in another curious electronic bingo ruling.
But then, to believe in such a conspiracy, you’d have to believe there’s rampant hypocrisy and corruption in our State government.
And, well, just look around.