Did lost e-mail enhance Riley’s endorsement?
Bob Martin, The Alabama Scene
Unless Arizona Sen. John McCain is caught hiding more e-mails about the Jack Abramoff scam to rip off American Indians, has one of his temper tantrums at the Presidential television debates, is caught in another Keating-Five scandal, or in one of those two unmentionable moments destined to derail any candidate, I make him the odds-on favorite to win Alabama in November.
Last week, after over a year, several news organizations obtained an e-mail under a Freedom of Information Act request further linking Gov. Bob Riley to Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, the masterminds of the shakedown of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and other tribes in Louisiana.
It was an e-mail that surfaced in the investigation by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee when McCain was its chairman. A footnote in the released report about Abramoff and former Riley congressional aide Scanlon’s scam they called “GimmeFive,” publicly connected Riley to the receipt of Indian gambling campaign contributions in 2002. The footnote noted that testimony had alleged that Mississippi gambling interests had spent $13 million to get Riley elected. It has been speculated that most of that money was funneled through Abramoff, Scanlon and former Christian Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed. And records show that Scanlon shifted nearly three-quarters-of-a-million through political organizations and PACS to the Riley Campaign.
But some language in the report pointed to an e-mail that was not an attachment to the report. It has taken over a year to get it, after McCain suppressed it from the public eye, but here it is:
From: abramoff j
Sent: Monday December 09, 2002 11:58 AM
To: Mike Scanlon
“Just had a great chat with her (Nell, a high official in the Mississippi Band of Choctaws). I told her that Ehrlich (the governor of Maryland) is going to be in touch with the Delewares and will give them a compact. That with a Haley (Barbour) governorship could mean a Jena casino in Mississippi. I told her we need to find the resources to get you going in a huge way. I reminded her that if you had not done what you did in Alabama, she would have to spend millions over the next four years…and that if we don’t get Mississippi squared away, as in beating Haley, we can expect to spend triple that. Call me for the rest of the discussion, but she definitely wants Riley to shut down the Poarch Creek operation, including his announcing that anyone caught gambling there can’t qualify for a state contract or something like that…”
Abramoff and Scanlon are both serving time for the scam against the Indian people. And Gov. Riley has steadfastly denied ever receiving any gambling money, but when he was in Congress Riley signed a fundraising letter for a nonprofit group closely tied to Abramoff’s clients. The letter, written on behalf of the U.S. Family Network, announced a petition drive to block the Atmore-based Poarch Band of Creek Indians from building a casino in Alabama. That was potentially significant to Abramoff’s tribal clients in Mississippi and Louisiana that already had casinos and did not want more competition.
And Riley has frequently talked tough on gambling, talk particularly aimed at the Poarch Creek Tribe that operates Class II gaming facilities in Wetumpka, Montgomery and Atmore. The governor has also refused to sign a compact with the Alabama tribes that would allow them to add Class III gaming, which would include real slots and table games, for which, in return they would pay the state millions of dollars in lieu of taxes. They currently pay no state or local taxes.
It’s little wonder that Sen. McCain’s lost e-mail favor before the 2006 election merited a rousing quid pro quo from our governor a few weeks back.
A legal giant in Alabama dies
U. S. District Judge Sam C. Pointer Jr., a legal giant in Alabama’s judicial circles, died last Saturday. He was 73.
Appointed by President Nixon, Judge Pointer retired from the court on March 31, 2000, after nearly 30 years, He served as chief judge of the Northern District of Alabama from January 1982 until November 1999. He joined the Birmingham law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin &White soon after retiring from the bench.
Last year, Judge Pointer led a probe into allegations of academic impropriety at Hoover High School involving athletes.
Services were held Wednesday in Birmingham.
“The legal community revered Judge Pointer for both his brilliance and his wonderful temperament,” according to a statement by the current Chief Judge of the district, Sharon Lovelace Blackburn.