News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Critic of King on gambling speaks with forked tongue

Alabama Christian Coalition President John Giles should put his money where his mouth is.

Last week, Mr. Giles criticized state Attorney General Troy King as soft on gambling.

"I am very disappointed with the lack of tenacity and leadership that has been shown in bringing a halt to a cancerous plague of gambling expansion in our state," Mr. Giles wrote in a letter he said was intended for Mr. King only, but somehow got leaked to the media.

Rather than responding in like kind, Mr. King took the high road and, in his own letter invited Mr. Giles to "roll up your sleeves and join us in the fight ... in the trenches, in the Legislature ..."

Of course, Mr. Giles' organization is no stranger to the Legislature. In fact, it was primarily the Christian Coalition of Alabama's opposition to proposed legislation last year that led to a filibuster that eventually killed the bill — and killed most of the regular session. As a result, Gov. Bob Riley had to call a special session, costing the taxpayers about $1 million.

The bill CCA so vehemently opposed would have required nonprofit organizations lobbying in the Legislature to reveal their donors. Most already do voluntarily, but CCA is among those that refuse.

And why do Mr. Giles and the Christian Coalition so strongly oppose bringing sunshine into the lawmaking process?

It is likely because they fear the repercussions of divulging the source of their funding. After all, a federal investigation centered on lobbyists Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed, among others, seems to indicate that millions of dollars of American Indian gambling revenues found its way into CCA coffers, and eventually into the campaigns of Mr. Riley and the Alabama Republican Party.

Mr. Giles is justifiably afraid of what could happen to his organization if such revelations become public. His constituents would be outraged. His source of revenue from ordinary citizens concerned about moral and ethical issues could conceivably evaporate.

And then Mr. Giles would find himself in the unenviable position of fighting proposed lottery and gambling legislation solely with funds contributed by gambling interests from other states.

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