Thanks to the hard work of Eric Velasco of the Birmingham News, we are to solve at least one mystery of the recent campaign season and get a glimpse of how much gambling interests contributed.
In Alabama gambling money network dissolves, Velasco reports the Poarch donated $2.7M thru various PACS, Milton McGregor, $1.9M, Greenetrack $560K, Gilley (and related interests) $800K and $190K from other sources, all routed thru 143 separate PACs. (The article has a chart for easier reading, copyright concerns keep me from hotlinking). Previous reporting has shown most of these funds went to the Sparks campaign and other Democrats.
In a separate article, Velasco, has traced the funding for Republican Supreme Court candidate, Tracy Cary to a plaintiff’s law firm (Beasley Allen) while incumbent Justice Tom Parker received more than half of his funds from Beasley Allen and Marsh Rickard. Links to Cary and Parker’s FCPA reports. Cary is to be remembered for his clever use of the law to avoid disclosing his donors before the primary. The there’s the thought of Republican judicial candidates taking donations from the plaintiff’s bar but money always finds its own level.
In the Gadsden Times, Dana Beyerle reports on a decline in campaign expenses, with about $70M spent total. BTW, are we seeing the end of print media ads? Ads placed with newspapers were down 50%.
For those on either side of the gambling war in Alabama, the National Indian Gaming Commission is taking public comments on a revamp of its regulations. Of particular interest to Alabamians, would be Technical Standards for Class II gaming equipment. This is your chance to to influence the federal regulations on how gambling is conducted in the Poarch casinos. Email submissions in the proper format are being accepted for the next nine days. Some comments received have been posted on line. Once again, this is your chance to give those who make rules your thoughts.
Also, the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation is in process of crafting new rules to protect streams from contamination by coal mining. Appears the period for public input is over. What effect this will have on Alabama operations (and employment) remains to be seen.
Also, when you look at your pay stubs, keep in mind, this Prichard retiree and take what steps you think necessary. The more I ponder the situation in that town, I wonder if the fact a former mayor moved his law office across the Bay is perhaps symbolic of the whole problem.
In Baldwin County, the outgoing and incoming District Attorney have shown mainly how not to transfer the office. Maybe the Devil had something to do with it.
Jarrod Massey, the lobbyist for Ronnie Gilley’s Country Crossing entertainment complex, has indicated he will plead guilty to six counts in the bribery case that resulted in federal indictments against 11 individuals including four state Senators. In return for Massey’s plea on these charges, prosecutors are recommending that 11 other counts be dismissed “along with other considerations.” (The entire indictment is here in a .pdf file.)
Jennifer Pouncey, who worked with Massey at Mantra Governmental, has also pled guilty at the outset to one charge.
Does Massey’s plea begin a scramble to see who among the 11 can score the best deal with prosecutors?
This post has been edited.
Candidates put all their cards on the table
In this final post on the issues comparing Ron Sparks and Robert Bentley, let us discuss what both gubernatorial candidates consider
the most important issue to voters this election cycle: jobs
Both candidates know that 9% unemployment is unacceptable and that at least a quarter million Alabamians need jobs for our state to reach full employment (5.2%). However, they differ vastly in how the government can help Alabama’s unemployed get back to work.
Ron Sparks believes that the government has a role in helping Alabamians in a tough spot. He plans to provide nearly 100,000 jobs and create over $900 million in new revenue for the state. His primary focus is to invest $1.4 billion in a road and bridge program and to regulate and tax gambling at least 25%. His economic development plan breaks down his outlook for job and revenue creation in Alabama.
Robert Bentley believes that the best way for the government to create jobs is to create an environment that equips people and businesses with the tools to grow and create jobs. At the Athens State debate, he said, “We need to give tax breaks to businesses, especially local companies. We need to understand that jobs are created by free enterprise, not the government. We don’t need more government jobs.” Bentley details his entire plan in a 47 page PDF, “Putting Alabamians Back to Work“.
Image used with permission
Current and Pending Legislation
Both candidates are using current or pending legislation as active parts of their jobs platforms.
Robert Bentley was the primary sponsor of the Reemployment Act of 2010 which has passed both houses of the legislature and been signed into law by Governor Riley. The law gives tax credits to Alabama employers who hire persons currently collecting (or with expired) unemployment benefits. The credits vary depending on the employee’s wage and can be claimed after the employee works 12 consecutive months. The credit does not apply if the employee hired makes less than $10 per hour. Bentley promotes the legislation as a short term solution to create 5,000 new jobs.
Ron Sparks is promoting a $1.4 billion investment into road and bridge infrastructure. The $1 billion portion of his plan is in fact Amendment 3, to be voted on Tuesday, which you can read more about here. The additional $400 million in his plan is an initial surge of money to go into infrastructure immediately. Sparks claims that his plan will create 39,200 jobs and have a total economic impact of $2.7 billion.
Gambling in Alabama
Continue reading “Sparks and Bentley on Jobs (and Gambling too)”
Did you see the results from the poll from the University of South Alabama Polling Group that was jointly commissioned by the Press-Register, Birmingham News, and Huntsville Times? The poll was taken Oct. 17 – 21 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 points.
- Republican Robert Bentley has apparently taken some hits over the AEA connection as his lead in the Governor’s race is down to 45% -36% over Democrat Ron Sparks. That cuts the lead in half from the previous poll cited that shows Bentley leading 53% – 33%.
- Jim Folsom (D) leads Kay Ivey (R), 43% – 36%, in the race for Lt. Governor. Ivey says her polling shows the race “competitive” and that the “the tide has turned in our direction.” But wasn’t she supposed to be ahead already?
- The poll shows Luther Strange (R) with a 47% – 33% lead over James Anderson (D) in the race for Attorney General.
- 59% of respondents say they favor a state lottery if the proceeds go to education. 48% are in favor of allowing casino gambling in resort areas.
Check out the whole story here.
Yesterday, Governor Riley announced his plan to apparently have the National Indian Gaming Commission shut down the Poarch gambling operations. While consistent with his earlier actions to shut down gambling, Don Quixote, comes to mind.
Though opponents of Indian gambling might find it more fruitful to bring up the issue in this year’s Congressional races or wait until next year’s public comment period on the NIGC’s proposed Technical Standards for Class II gaming (which seems to keep getting pushed back). It should be remembered the Poarch have been unscathed in the current round of indictments and are quite willing to play the political game by Alabama rules.
FWIW, here a list of what games the NIGC considers Class II and Class III or faux vs real one armed bandits electronic gaming devices.
Rumors were flying around Montgomery and across the state Friday that the Department of Justice will announce more indictments this next week, perhaps Monday.
One repeated rumor is that there are 27 indictments expected which presumably includes the 11 indicted last Monday.
Why wouldn’t these new indictments be announced at the same times as the ones announced already? One mentioned possibility is that there may be more than one grand jury and that they simply didn’t finish up at the same time.
Rumors like these come and go – rarely fulfilling their promise. However, the Friday rumors from a week ago brought forth extraordinary news last Monday. Perhaps these will be valid as well.
Monday is a federal holiday, Columbus Day, so if there are announcements coming we may have to wait until at least Tuesday.
If you haven’t read the indictment released yesterday [.pdf], let me suggest that you do. I think most readers of the site will find it very interesting reading.
The general consensus in my email box and elsewhere is that Legislator 1 referred to in the DoJ indictment is former state Rep. Benjamin Lewis (R – Dothan), Legislator 2 is state Sen. Scott Beason (R – Gardendale), and Legislator 3 is Rep. Barry Mask (R – Wetumpka). If you have reason to say otherwise, let me know.
“Lobbyist A” in the indictment is Jennifer Pouncy who worked at Mantra Governmental with defendant Jarrod Massey. She has made a plea deal.
From a release from the Harri Anne Smith campaign:
“This is an outrage. This is a nakedly political move, coordinated by prosecutors in cahoots with the Governor’s office to deny the people of the Wiregrass their right to vote and their lawful representation,” Smith said. “We are not going to allow this to happen! I am committed to fighting these charges, and winning this election.”
Read the entire release here [.doc].
Specific charges from the DoJ:
The defendants named in the indictment unsealed today were charged with the following crimes:
- Milton E. McGregor, 71, of Montgomery, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, six counts of federal program bribery, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud;
- Ronald E. Gilley, 45, of Enterprise, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, six counts of federal program bribery, 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud, and four counts of money laundering;
- Jarrod D. Massey, 39, of Montgomery, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, five counts of federal program bribery, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud;
- Thomas E. Coker, 70, of Lowndesboro, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of federal program bribery, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud;
- Robert B. Geddie Jr., 60, of Montgomery, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of federal program bribery, 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice;
- Jarrell W. Walker Jr., 36, of Lanett, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of federal program bribery, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud;
- Harri Anne H. Smith, 48, of Slocomb, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of federal program bribery, one count of extortion, 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud, and four counts of money laundering;
- Larry P. Means, 63, of Attalla, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of federal program bribery, two counts of attempted extortion, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud;
- James E. Preuitt, 75, of Talladega, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of federal program bribery, one count of attempted extortion, 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud, and one count of making a false statement;
- Quinton T. Ross Jr., 41, of Montgomery, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of federal program bribery, two counts of attempted extortion, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud; and
- Joseph R. Crosby, 61, of Montgomery, Ala., was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of federal program bribery, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The federal program bribery charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of extortion, honest services mail and wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The false statement charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The indictment also contains a notice of forfeiture as to defendants Smith and Gilley.
An indictment is merely an allegation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Indictment details. (Thanks to Kyle Whitmire of Second Front.)
Milton McGregor, gambling interest
Ronnie Gilley, gambling interest
Thomas Coker, lobbyist
Bob Geddie, lobbyist
Jarrod Massey, lobbyist
Larry Means, state Senator (D – Attalla)
Jim Preuitt, state Senator (R – Talladega)
Quinton Ross, state Senator (D – Montgomery)
Harri Anne Smith, state Senator (I – Slocomb)
Jarrell Walker, Jr., Gilley employee
Ray Crosby, Legislative Reference Service employee
Also, unnamed but described as “relevant individuals” in the indictment are two state Representatives and one state Senator, all up for re-election. Presumably they are cooperating with the investigation.
One lobbyist unnamed as a “relevant individual” worked for Jarrod Massey. According to the DoJ press conference, Jennifer Pouncy who works for Massey has pleaded guilty on one count. Mary Orndorff of the Birmingham News has more, saying that Pouncy “offered $2 million to state Sen. Jim Preuitt for his vote on pro-gambling legislation.”
al.com mentions Harri Anne Smith, Milton McGregor and also this:
Also arrested today have been state senators Jim Preuitt, R-Talladega, Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, Larry Means, D-Attalla, Harri Anne Smith, I — Slocomb and Montgomery lobbyist Jerrod Massey.
I defer to their reporting,
though I had been trying to confirm word heard here that Massey had not been arrested. I was also trying to confirm that Quinton Ross was not arrested because he was out of town and that he was making arrangements to turn himself in.
Details are sketchy but the Parlor has confirmed that state Sen. Harri Anne Smith was picked up this morning by federal agents. Other details, including specific charges and who else may be arrested are unknown or unconfirmed.
Update: Milton McGregor arrested also.
According to WAKA Channel 8, Gov. Bob Riley gave VictoryLand a Certificate of Appreciation when he “didn’t know it was illegal” and at a time he says Attorney General Troy King was withholding information from him about the machines there.
The certificate says, “You have greatly contributed to the tremendous growth and success of the Tourism Industry in Alabama.” VictoryLand’s casino is closed now to avoid a raid from the Governor’s Task Force on Gambling.
You can find the story (and the certificate) at the WAKA website.
Update: Riley’s office says the certificate is fake.
A reader sent in this recording, taken from an answering machine, of a robocall apparently going out in the Wiregrass that says GOP gubernatorial candidate Robert Bentley accepted a campaign contribution intended to make sure that Country Crossing closes. Country Crossing is a gambling and entertainment facility in southeast Alabama that has closed because of “threats from the Governor’s task force,” as the site’s web page now proclaims.
So the call comes from… the Ron Sparks campaign? Country Crossing proponents? FWIW, one rumor is that the call was put together by Rickey Stokes, whose site has the only online mention of the meeting referenced in the call that I have been able to find.
Hit the play button below to hear the recording. A transcript is below that. The first part of the call is not recorded during the answering machine’s outgoing announcement.
[Beginning is cut off] … $100,000 in campaign money. The journalist snapped[?] pictures of Bentley leaving the meeting and his campaign doesn’t deny it.
Bentley won’t say what the $100,000 is for.
The people who gave Bentley the money want to stop you from voting to determine the future of Country Crossing.
They gave Bentley the money to make sure he closes Country Crossing for good and does everything in his power if elected governor to abolish all gaming in Alabama.
These people want Country Crossing dead and this money will make sure of it.
It’s time to stop the corruption in Alabama politics.
Secret backroom deals and $100,000 payoffs are not the kind of leadership Alabama needs.
Thanks to reader C.