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Foundation seeks to expose Poarch Creek political, business dealings

Charlie Walker

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A non-profit led by former Republican state Sen. Gerald Dial, on Tuesday, launched a campaign to educate the public and lawmakers on the political and business dealings of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

Poarch Creek Accountability Now found the Poarch Creek have given more than $4 million to Alabama politicians and various PACs and have donated more than $2.6 million to federal officials.

Nearly 91 percent of Alabama politicians, mostly Republicans, have benefited from a growing financial and political relationship with the Atmore-based casino operators.

“We believe in good government,” said Dial, executive director of PCAN. “And this is not good for our people or good for our government. One special interest group should never wield the amount of influence like the Poarch Creek casino operation without accountability. And we are here to hold them accountable.”

Since 2010, when the tribe first secretly donated to Republican politicians through a covert arrangement with then-Republican Party Chair Mike Hubbard and Sen. Del Marsh, the Poarch Creek’s influence has steadily grown in size and scope with Republicans now openly embracing the gaming interest they once shunned.

The Poarch Creek casino operation currently does not pay any state taxes on millions of dollars in revenue. The casino operators use money that other businesses would usually pay in their fair share of taxes to invest in other states.

At least $1.6 billion of money earned in Alabama has been invested in other states and countries. The casino operation bought a Pennsylvania casino for $1.3 billion and added a further $250 million to upgrade the casino. They have also invested $40 million in Aruba, $15 million in Curacao and $8 million in Nevada.

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“They are sucking money out of the state of Alabama and investing in places like Nevada and Pennsylvania – even Aruba,” Dial said. “So the money that should be going to educate our children and build our roads is building other people’s roads and educating other people’s children.”

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PCAN, on its website, points out the casino operators have a pattern of refusing to be held accountable.

“They said they were not accountable when a Wind Creek employee crashed a Wind Creek truck into two people driving another vehicle.

They said they were not accountable when one of their employees brought an age discrimination suit against them.

They said they were not accountable after they took away a man’s jackpot at one of their casinos.

In every case, they claimed they were immune from our laws.”

“The Poarch Creek casino operation has said in court that it doesn’t think our laws apply to them. And they’re spending big bucks in Montgomery to make sure they don’t,” Dial said. “It is time to let them know that our laws apply to everyone. It is time they paid their fair share in taxes, just like you and me. It is time they invest in Alabama – in our schools, on our roads, in our children. It is time to break their stranglehold on the Alabama Legislature. It is time the Poarch Creek casino operation was accountable to the people of Alabama.”

 

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