Alabama Casinos Lining Pockets of Anti-Gambling Republicans
Alabama Republicans running on an anti-gambling campaign aren’t afraid to turn to Indian casinos for campaign cash, as long the donations can be laundered through a third-party. In a story reported by the New York Times, an Alabama tribe hoping to quash the expansion non-Indian casinos have been funneling money to anti-gambling candidates in state elections to help get them elected.
In a deal orchestrated by Mike Hubbard, chair of Alabama GOP and Del Marsh, the Alabama GOP’s finance chair, money from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which operates several casinos in Alabama, was sent to a little known group in Washington, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).
The RSLC collects money from interested parties-including tobacco, pharmaceutical and telecommunications interests-and uses it to influence state elections and get Republicans elected by exploiting a loophole that permits unlimited transfer of funds between political action groups and parties.
In the case of the Alabama deal, it also served as a way for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to get $350,000 in funds to anti-gambling Republicans, without the their donations being publicly disclosed.
“The arrangement also offered donors a way to help Mr. Hubbard without their checks showing up on the Alabama party’s public filings,” the New York Times report explained, adding that the generous donation came with strings attached. Threatened by the “proliferation of small bingo parlors competing with their resort casinos,” the tribe “stood to benefit if anti-gambling Republicans took control of the Legislature.”
This is also not the first time anti-gambling Republicans have been caught with their hands in a casino’s cookie jar. In the late 1990’s Ralph Reed, then head of the Christian Coalition, was caught in a scandal with GOP lobbyist GOP Jack Abramoff that funneled $1.3 million in funding from the Choctaw Tribe to the Alabama Christian Coalition to stop video poker and a state-sponsored lobby in Alabama.
While the Christian Coalition by-laws in Alabama specifically disallowed receiving money from gambling, Reed and Abramoff worked up a deal to funnel money through the Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform while Reed tried to cover his tracks by denying that the money was indeed, from gambling sources.
“Reed was clearly aware that the funding for his anti-gambling work was coming from the Choctaw and that he was indirectly working to protect the tribe’s multi-million dollar gambling interests,” a report on the scandal published by the People for American Way concluded. Despite this fact Reed, now CEO of the Faith and Family Coalition and outspoken opponent of Barack Obama, continued to deny any knowledge of wrongdoing in the transaction.
Photo Credit: Triin Q via Creative Commons