Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Senator Harri Anne Smith Calls for GOP Caucus to Ask for Senator Beason's Resignation

Alabama state Senator Harri Anne Smith thinks Senator Beason should resign in the wake of troubling revelations in his recorded conversations where the ghost of Jim Crow drifted in on racially tinged comments.

We agree with Senator Smith. 

What was revealed in his testimony is unforgivable and it's a blight on the state of Alabama, a state that still struggles to escape her painful past.

Senator Beason managed in a weeks time to go from GOP star to radioactive nuke when it was revealed in court that he referred to the primarily minority customers of the Greentrack Casino as "aborigines." 

In some of his FBI wire recordings with fellow republicans, where they are meeting and complaining about the casino operators, it's feared the casino owners would put their black customers on "HUD financed buses" and bus them to polls if a statewide vote was allowed on gambling. Beason and the republicans worried a large black voter turnout would keep the republicans from taking over the Alabama legislature.

"Just keep in mind" that if there's a referendum on ballot "every black in the state will be bussed to the polls and that ain't gonna help."---unnamed Alabama senator quote from trial testimony 6/16/2011

These republicans had a keen interest in defeating a March 2010 senatorial committee passage that would allow gambling to be put to a vote by the people of Alabama. Clearly, they were willing to pull out all the stops to kill the initiative. Testimony from Senator Beason and the wire recordings makes that an obvious conclusion.

But they weren't finished. Yet.

Not wanting to deal with the issue again, they plotted the best way to ensure that no other legislation came up was to get the feds involved and shut down the gambling faction and their enablers for good. Through Beason's wire wearing, Representative Lewis' cooperation with the feds and some other elected 'helpers' not yet revealed, they accomplished their goal.

An unexpected consequence of plotting sometimes results in backfiring on the schemers. This plot, and the republicans involved in it, is turning out to be dirtier than the alleged charges that brought on the indictments and the trial.

How much does the complexion of the new legislature influence it?

The state house this year is not only almost exclusively republican, it's overwhelmingly male Caucasian. And deeply southern. There are ghosts of Alabama's troubling past still alive and well in Montgomery. Beason's recordings prove that beyond question and he's handed these 'new day' republicans a huge image problem that won't fade away anytime soon.

Senator Smith says she is "disgusted and disappointed" by Beason's comments and she has "always been for letting the people vote" on gambling. In her own words after Wednesday's testimony:

Video by WELDBirmingham

Senator Beason claims that Smith was involved in a $500K promised future contribution to Beason for a future run as Lt. Governor. All Beason had to do, according to him, was vote for a favorable bill on statewide gambling, but there's no proof that ever occurred. In fact, when Senator Beason first approached the FBI he made no mention of the money or the offer according to testimony, but he is now claiming that was one of the main reasons he went to the feds.

Senator Smith had hired Beason as a political consultant in a previous campaign paying him $10K for 30 days work and a percentage of the media markup fees, which Beason says amounted to "around $6K." Beason approached Smith about a $70K loan to pay off some debt saying she was the only "one I knew who owns a bank." The bank turned him down and he went to Smith for 'intervention.' Smith suggested to Beason that he use a local bank as another option.  Did he expect to get the money without an officially recorded loan? Why was he turned down by Smith's bank and what did he expect her to do if he could not be approved through the regular application process?

In 2008 Smith, a republican state senator at the time, supported a democrat, Bobby Bright over Montgomery businessman Jay Love-R in a runoff election. It cost her a place in the Alabama GOP who quickly disqualified her from running for office as a republican. She was forced to gather signatures to run as an independent to hold onto political office. 

Congressman Spencer Bachus along with many other big wig 'boys club' republicans (Shelby, Sessions among them) did something in 2010 very similar to what Smith was ostracized for and none of them suffered any measurable political blow-back for it. They supported Parker Griffith, a *controversial, long time north Alabama democrat, who switched to the GOP in 2009. Parker's voting record was intensely liberal, but as soon as he changed parties he received praise from some of Alabama's most powerful conservatives. He was as welcome as rain in August to the fold.
*By Alabama's standards and before he switched parties, AL GOP frequently criticized Griffith.

Double standard maybe? Mildly misogynistic sort of?

What's the real motive behind Senator Beason's ax grinding with Senator Smith?
Smith's lawyers probably have a bit more light to shed on that in future testimony.

One of McGregor's Espy's (he has three of them) hinted there is more inflammatory language to come as the trial progresses. We tend to believe he's right and not talking off the cuff. In a new development, the federal judge presiding over the trial ruled the racist remarks are relevant despite vigorous attempts by the prosecution to discredit their importance.

Will the republicans and their core voters persist in defending Beason and his tolerance challenged cohorts maintaining the ends justified the means? The means are showing themselves to be frighteningly ugly.

If McGregor and Co. are guilty then justice must be served, but what about the underlying problem that is overshadowing the charges against them? 

It might be too much to hope for, but maybe we'll get a double shot of justice out of this trial--those that have committed acts of corruption will be justly punished and the 'new day' channelers of Jim Crow will be ousted from the statehouse.

*Update--ADP joins the chorus calling for resignation.
ALGOP leader Bill Armistead defends Beason as "honorable."
Senator Ben Brooks-R tries to unring the bell after being exposed.
Photo credit: MSU

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  1. There's isn't any folksy amusement in using a word as a means to be disparaging in a poor attempt at humor. Beason is a buffoon. No one else has defined him, he's defined himself.

  2. Beason's demeanor and arrogance aren't making him look any better. Anyone who watched the proceedings on the statehouse floor knows what I mean.
    Speaking of mean, the UMC has called his anti brown folks law the meanest law in the land.
    Not a sympathetic character.

  3. I am just embarrassed to be an Alabamian today....sad, sad, sad.

  4. I don't think we'll ever get past Jim Crow attitudes. Alabama isn't getting better, not to the extent it should in the 21st century. Improvements have only come because of federal intervention and not from self improvement.
    Mike Hollis pens a good editorial in the Huntsville Times today:
    A Better Alabama, Perhaps...

  5. Senator Beason claims he only recorded conversations when gambling was the topic of conversation. The Bham News is reporting he's admitting that he recorded every day in spring 2010.


    After learning what a political mercenary he is, would it be naive of one to think that there are not recordings in the hands of political hitmen that may surface later, that have nothing to do with gambling?
    Probably not.

  6. Exactly BarT!!!!
    I bet he's got more ammunition than the armory packed away and so do some of his high up friends.

  7. I bet if you were to visit the churches of every "honorable" legislator you would find a huge race divide. Same for the neighborhoods. This is Alabama. It's racist and always has been. The people in the state that don't believe that way are overshadowed by those that do.

  8. How soon we forget.
    The senators defenders claim there wasn't anything wrong with what he said.
    Were these the same defenders who got theirs all in bunch when the Austrailian PM referred to Alabama citizens as rednecks?

    PM's 'redneck' remark draws Alabama fury
    Nine News ^ | April 2, 2010 | Peter Mitchell

    Posted on Thursday, April 01, 2010 8:29:19 PM by myknowledge

    Furious Alabama residents have hit out at Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and demanded he issue an apology for his "redneck" comment.

    US media organisations, including the New York Times and FOX News, picked up Rudd's remarks, which followed US comedian Robin Williams joking "Australians are basically English rednecks".

    Alabama newspaper, the Birmingham News, ran an "Australia vs Alabama" headline on the most prominent section of its website and asked readers to comment.

    They did not hold back, with one accusing Rudd of making a "racial epithet" while another wrote "if it weren't for some Alabamians fighting in the war, the Australians would be speaking Japanese".

    "I'm going to go to the zoo and punch a kangaroo in protest," another wrote on the Birmingham News site.

    "I spent a month in Australia.

    "Ninety-five per cent of it is a desert wasteland and looks like a Mad Max dump. There is a good reason Britain sent its criminals there."

    The furore began earlier in the week when Williams, who just returned from a two week trip to Australia, appeared on Dave Letterman's US TV talkshow and joked that Australians are basically English rednecks.

    Rudd, during an interview on Eddie Maguire's Triple M radio show, responded by saying: "First of all, I think Robin Williams should go and spend a bit of time in Alabama before he frames comments about anyone being particularly redneck".

    Alabama Governor Bob Riley waded in on Wednesday by defending the people of his state as "decent, hard working, creative people".

    Rudd should expect plenty of irate emails and comments on his Facebook page with links to both pasted on the Birmingham News site.

    "Calling someone a redneck is the equivalent of a racial epithet," a reader wrote.

    "Australian prime minister and Robin Williams should apologise."

    Another wrote on the site: "The prime minister should call with an apology".

    The war of the words is not the only Australia vs Alabama battle, with the Alabama government furious about last year's 18 month jail sentence handed down by the Queensland judicial system to Alabama resident Gabe Watson for the manslaughter of his wife during a honeymoon scuba diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef in 2003.

    An "extremely upset" Alabama Attorney-General Troy King is investigating whether he can prosecute Watson in Alabama in what could be a death penalty case.

    Some Alabamians agreed with Rudd's redneck comment and defended Australia.

    "I have been to Australia several times and it is a modern progressive society with strict environmental laws and good schools," a reader wrote.

    "Basically the polar opposite of nasty Alabama. The PM nailed Alabama perfectly."

    Another wrote: "I also have been to Australia and was amazed at the beauty and friendliness of the country and the people.

    "Most nations remember how Alabama at one time treated the blacks in Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham - they have a perfect right to view us as a bunch of rednecks, and unfortunately, they are largely correct!"

  9. IBTB--

    Excellent catch! Thanks for contributing that.


  10. Facebooking that right now.
    The hypocrisy is just delicious! Defend the racist senator and when the tables are turned on a more benign word the whole state, including the governor gets in an uproar. Maybe because redneck almost exclusively applies to whites.
    You just can't make this stuff up!

  11. Couldn't all of this crap been avoided if the Beason crowd would have allowed Alabama to vote on the bill?
    Come on now people, can't you see how ridiculous this is?! He didn't want a vote to interfere with his political aspirations!
    Big business pulls this kind of corrupt crap everyday on bills they want passed and politicians they want in office.
    That's not illegal?
    Guess not since the high and mighty morality politicians get loads of cash from them!

  12. Suppression of the vote.
    The black vote, not just the democratic vote.
    Crow would be so proud.

  13. Beason said it himself, context is important (and sometimes very ironic):

    Thompson: Gov't introduced Beason as a "white hat guy," a neutral person who recorded/testifying solely in the interest of justice.

    I can think of some other guys who roamed Alabama in huge numbers that wore "white hats."
    Big, tall pointy ones.

  14. If Alabama wants the rest of the country to know they are willing to come ionto the 21st century they have to stop voting these political rogues into office.
    None of these guys would stand a chance at being elected if the electorate would rebuff them.
    Why isn't that happening?
    What does it say about the citizens of this state?
    We whine and complain when another state or country takes a swipe at us, but we keep voting for racist, intolerant bible thumpers!
    Get a clue people!

  15. Who's surprised the state GOP is defending him?

  16. Looks like, Scott 'I Wear A Wire' Beason has self destructed. One might even say he did it for the party, or perhaps thinking it would gain him political favor with the party - who cares? The reason is not that big a deal. The fact the authenic senator has been revealed, for all the world to see is front row and center.

  17. What's upsetting to me is the flagrant act of suppressing the minority vote.
    As far as I am concerned the last election was rigged.
    There is no true majority voice that handed these republicans an honest victory.
    All that really happened is an election to make certain Alabama's representation in Montgomery stayed as white as a sheet.


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