Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Monday, October 11, 2010

Corruption Alabama Style

What happened in Phenix City, Alabama decades ago was not entirely due to gambling--it was largely the result of crooked politicians and law enforcement who became so entangled with the gamblers there was no discernment between the two. So, what was the real problem--the gamblers or the corruption of the local officials that created a favorable environment for these ne'er do wells to thrive in? Things aren't so different in Alabama today thanks to eight years of Governor Riley and the fight over gambling and its big money is still being waged in Alabama today..
In the 1940s, Phenix City increasingly came under the control of organized crime bosses who ran gambling, narcotics, and prostitution operations, rigged local and state elections and held important leadership positions in every aspect of the city and county life.

With thousands of young soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Benning, the illegal activities thrived as never before. The young soldiers would cross the river, partake of the drugs, gambling or prostitution, and if they couldn’t pay up, they might end up in the Chattahoochee instead of the army base. The search of the river for evidence in Albert Patterson murder turned up many bodies officials were unable to identify.

Bob Martin of the Montgomery Independent slams Governor Riley for using ex Governor John Patterson,  who was the son of the slain unopposed Democratic nominee for Attorney General (from the above video) that was killed by the mob and corrupt politicians just weeks before the general election, in his ongoing current campaign against bingo and gambling;
Riley has gone about the state attempting to make a comparison of the owners and operators of first-class gaming facilities in Alabama to the thugs and corrupt politicians who ran Phenix City. I am told he has bragged about bringing Governor Patterson, who at 88 is recovering from recent heart surgery at his Goldville farm, into the fray.

Riley then found an organization called “Citizens for a Better Alabama” to purchase ads in most state newspapers, which contained the former governor’s letter accompanied with a photo of his father’s murderer, Albert Fuller, pointing to his father’s blood on the sidewalk where Fuller had shot him.

The organization, Citizens for a Better Alabama, operates out of the same office as Birmingham lawyer Eric Johnston at Suite 107, 1200 Corporate Drive in Birmingham. Johnston is also listed as president and general counsel of the Southeast Law Institute.

I can only speak for myself, but I believe these are despicable acts on the part of Riley.
In modern day Alabama, the war on bingo (electronic gambling) has resulted in Alabama once again becoming national news for the wrong reasons. In-between these two stories is a long list of many others that are equally damning in the portrait of Alabama to the national audience as an illustration of ingrained and pervasive collusion and legislative smoke and mirror tricks that all go back to the same core issue--corruption and greed.

When we cover environmental issues what's usually at the core of those stories? Corruption and greed. Along with undue influence by lobbyists and their special interest clients with legislators and the legislative process in combination with their "takeover" in our elections from vast sums of PAC money.

One recent editorial called the influence of PAC to PAC transfers a catalyst for an "evil shadow government" system because of it's ability to hide money in layers of transfers creating in effect a "legal money laundering scheme." Unless you are able to spend an exorbitant amount of time tracing the convoluted rabbit trails it's almost impossible to trace exactly where the money originally came from.

Which is precisely the point--they don't want you to know where and who it comes from. It's "legal bribery." Candidates who take these large suns of money as campaign contributions know damn well that one day their donors will come calling for their "paybacks."

Dr. Robert Bentley, the Republican candidate for Governor, dismissed anything untoward about the huge campaign contributions he has taken from the same special interests who were against him in the Republican runoff election. When asked specifically about this during a radio interview he said, "Well, we had to get our message out there to the people of Alabama and that takes money. We know who all these people are and we have been very careful with our PACs. I'm not ashamed of any of them, they're fine organizations."

When asked specifically about the very large and frequent BARD contributions by local radio show host Richard Dixon recently Bentley's response was "Never heard of them."

Sure you haven't, Doc.Will that also be your answer when they come calling for favors? Probably not.
Grinning "Mule" Bentley
What do you think happens almost every morning at candidate's campaign headquarters? "How much came in yesterday? Good." That's what the candidate says. "And here's the list of names you need to send thank-you cards to." That's what the campaign assistant says. It  happens every day and these candidates know that is precisely how it works--they're just hoping the rest of us don't.

This elaborate scheme of PAC to PAC transfers, albeit legal in current Alabama law, was the crux of the latest black eye on Alabama in the federal indictments of eleven legislators, lobbyists and casino owners and there will be more coming. But this also has roots in a long and bitter vendetta between Governor Riley and certain interests who dared to defy King Riley. Our friends over at Legal Schnauzer have written about this extensively and we invite you to please visit the site for some compelling coverage on this issue.
*(2nd link repaired, sorry for the inconvenience)

The point we would like to make is that it's all about the corruption that has held this state for years and years and it will not lessen anytime soon it seems. A friend of ours once said that it seems "Alabama politicians have more balls than brains because they are so brazen and arrogant about everything" and he was right on point with that analogy.

Riley would be the lead mule in the barn on that because he says one thing about gambling and protects the Indian gambling interests of Alabama from any competition in the same breath and he honestly thinks no one notices the great hypocrisy that is Governor Riley. (Riley received large campaign contribution from Indian gaming interests in both of his gubernatorial campaigns.)

In a current Mobile Press-Register story Riley condemns gambling as a "cancer that has metastasized all over the state" and he goes on to to say that "The potential for corruption is just enhanced, it's enhanced by just the sheer amount of money that was being used all over the state." The very same could be said of the PAC to PAC transfers that fill campaign coffers every election cycle, but he will only apply the potential for corruption from big money to gambling because that is what he is at "war" with.

He opens the door for some very pointed questioning from the reporters who pin him down and create a very uncomfortable situation for him towards the end of the video that appears at the end of this post.

Riley   "...and when you get to the point that you have that amount of money, that can be used to influence the legislative process, that needs to be frightening to anyone."

Reporter   "Governor does it surprise you that two such high profile contract lobbyists would engage in apparent explicit quid pro quo?" (he's referring to Robert "Bob" Geddie and Jarrod Massey who the Guv knows very well.)

Riley   "I'm not going to comment on any one thing, I know that--"  (reporter cuts him off after he has done a lot of commenting on "any one things.")

Reporter  "I mean do you think that's how the legislative process works in most issues in Montgomery?"

Zing. Bang. Pop. Slap. He had the Governor cornered on those points and Riley knew it because he hangs his head, says nothing and looks like he's beginning to get really teed off with this upstart reporter who dares to question him, Mr. Omnipotent.

Great job by the reporters and the Press-Register newspaper who goes after Riley more so than most. Maybe we need to hand them the reins in a long overdue investigation of the governor and Goat Hill on a whole slew of issues.

Alabama was once considered the "King of Cotton" because everywhere you looked in most of the state there were cotton fields and Alabama was one of the largest producers in the south, hence the name "Land of Cotton." Today, we are the largest producers of something else--what you spread on your fields before you plant and it "ain't lily white" by any stretch of the imagination.

We still have "thugs and corrupt politicians" running Alabama and sometimes "questionable" deaths occur under "mysterious circumstances" just like they did in Phenix City years ago, but in a much more subtle fashion. This is what Alabama is at its core, the former cotton capital of the South and the land of home-grown skulduggery and corruption that refuses to die.

Bob Riley responds to bingo-related arrests
*Editor's note--Some of the gamblers and Dixie Mafia crowd from Phenix City made their way to McNairy County, Tennessee once they were run out of Alabama and their criminal enterprise became the basis of the story of Sheriff  Buford Pusser in the popular film "Walking Tall."
*Ricky Thomason Editorial (Huntsville Times) on what Montgomery (Goat Hill) really needs. 
One of the best editorials we have ever read! Bravo Mr. Thomason!
This is a case of lie to everyone. Montgomery doesn't need ethics reform; it needs ethics - period. If it weren't for Huey Long and the boil of corruption that is Louisiana, Alabama would be number one in something besides football and bigotry with flag-wrapped crosses, yet unlit, thinly disguised as political movements.
Were the truth to somehow make a break for it, jump the fence and miraculously escape Goat Hill, Ryder doesn't have enough trucks or Greyhound enough buses to deliver the needed indictments and haul away the guilty.
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  1. Drain the swamp, fire them all and put most of in jail where they BELONG!!!!! Riley is a veritable Teflon Bob but one day his luck will run out...that last video is priceless.

  2. We have much to be ashamed of in Dixie because we the people are the ones who refuse to honestly educate ourselves about whom we elect to office.
    Public service has become a get rich quick any corrupt manner you can, it's downright shameful and seems to be the "Alabama way."
    These politicians falsely labor under the delusion that public service is defined as the public serves them.
    They're wrong of course, but this is the monster we citizens have helped to create in our ignorance and blindness to the truth.

  3. Not to change the immediate subject, but why has no newspaper asked Riley how much he received in lease payments from BP for his private property he leased to them for a staging area? Why haven't we heard more questioning about the 13 mil from the Mississippi gaming interests with all this bingo battle going on either?

  4. You stole my thunder NoRiley.
    But since we're on the subject count me in the why pile right along with you. This goober escapes all scrutiny like he's Gotti of Alabama or something.

  5. We need a new southern tradition--give up frog gigging for frog marching. That's what Goat hill needs a real good, strong dose of starting with the Governor-in-thief!

  6. Agreed on the last editorial link by Mr. Thomason, one of the best I have read too. He has a real gift with the pen.
    Great piece Max!

  7. Excellent post, as usual.

    The interview of Gov. Patterson about made me cry. And the one with Gov. Gomer Pyle made me laugh. He is such an idiot. I hope they get him after he leaves office. I would say now, but I think he is well buffered (somehow).

    The other day I called someone with the state about an issue. The lady said, "Have you called the Governor's office?"

    And I said, "You want me to tell you what I call him? I call him Gov. Gomer Plye."

    She was cracking up. She said something about the things going on in his office.

    Everyone knows he is a crook. He is a disgrace.

  8. The Press-Register reporters and Thomason deserve huge kudos for their fortitude. Something that is severely lacking in Alabama media. Ditto for Max and Legal Schnauzer.

  9. If Alabama wants to gain an ounce of its credibility and truely rid the state of corruption they will indict the head chief, top dog...Bob Riley. He has ruined the state of Alabama! The DOJ is a joke if they did all of this investigating and can't see Riley's corruption.
    Free Don Seigleman...this poor man was put in prison because Riley is a con artist.


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