Christian Coalition Responds to Allegations About Indian Gambling Money - Montgomery Alabama news.

September 27, 6:30pm

Christian Coalition Responds to Allegations About Indian Gambling Money

Alabama's Christian Coalition, one of the most prominent lobbying groups in town, could be involved in a congressional investigation this Wednesday. The U.S. Senate's Indian Affairs committee wants to know how Indian casino money is being used and spent.

Federal officials have assembled a task force to investigate alleged misuse of Indian Tribal funds, possible illegal campaign contributions, possible tax evasion as well as, millions of dollars the Indian casinos allegedly paid to a lobbyist and a public reactions executive to stop any gambling interests that might be competition to the Indian casinos. This is where the Christian Coalition comes in.

For years, the head of Alabama's Christian Coalition John Giles has been putting money where his mouth is. He has been a major player in defeating most gambling proposals in the state legislature, and for years he's been saying none of the money for that fight came from Mississippi casinos. Dog track owner Milton McGregor didn't believe him. "He's caught. He's been being dishonest for four years to the media, to the public of Alabama and to state officials."

Several newspapers have reported that money from the Mississippi casinos may have made its way to Alabama and into the hands of John Giles. The allegations are the Indian casinos across the county paid two people at least $45,000,000 to stop all their gambling competition. Most of that money $31,000,000 allegedly went to a public relations executive Michael Scanlon to lead the fight. He then reportedly paid a man who has fought gambling for years - the former head of the national Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed, almost $4,000,000 for his help. It is believed some of that money went to John Giles to defeat gambling in Alabama so that wouldn't be competition to gambling in Mississippi.

Rep. John Knight (D) Montgomery says he's not surprised. "We had suspicion that this was taking place and of course it was denied by John Giles and the Christian Coalition." State Representative John Knight sponsored video poker bills in legislature that were defeated just like the gambling measure Bingo for Books and Beds sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial didn't make it either. Sen. Dial (D) Lineville is not happy about this news. "I feel like the guy who goes out and plays a football game tonight and you get beat and you go home and you feel bad about it, but tomorrow you find out they paid off the referee."

But, Giles says everyone has gotten this story all wrong. "There is one character trait that I have that I will always have, and that is I will always tell the truth." Unlike the news reports, Giles says Ralph Reed told him no money came from Mississippi or any other Indian casinos and he believes him. "All I have here is a ten year friendship with a Christian friend that gave me his word."

Giles' supporters still believe in him and say this controversy hasn't changed their minds or their votes. Sen. Jabo Waggoner(R) Birmingham says "I would have voted against the gambling issue no matter where the money came from." Sen. Hank Erwin(R) Alabaster agrees. "I'm against gambling period whether you get a dollar or not. I will dig my feet in and die on that spot to say no to gambling whether it be Indians or whether it be dog tracks - no gambling."

Giles critics say all suspicion and confusion would end if he would make his contributor's list public. Several attempts to force Giles to do that have failed in the legislature. He says he doesn't want his donors intimidated and harassed by gambling supporters.

Poarch Creek Tribal Chairman Eddie Tullis has asked to testify before the Senate's Indian Affairs committee. He says he hasn't heard from the committee yet about that request.

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