Gov, AG now in power struggle to control Task Force

Governor Bob Riley says he will not turn over control of his task force to the attorney general.
Governor Bob Riley says he will not turn over control of his task force to the attorney general.

Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP/WSFA) - Governor Bob Riley says he was "completely blindsided" when Attorney General Troy King announced Monday he was taking over the governor's gambling task force.

Governor Riley called a press conference for 4:00pm Tuesday were he said he would not turn over control of the Task Force to King, nor would he give him the Task Force's evidence.

That evidence, Riley said, belongs to the Department of Public Safety and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which are controlled by the Executive branch.

Calling the AG's move a "power grab", Riley accused the attorney general of creating conflict in the state's battle to wipe out illegal gambling. He predicts the Ala. Supreme Court will ultimately decide the issue.

Riley said Tuesday he had no advance notice that King was going to make the announcement Monday, and he said he was "really disappointed" by King's decision.

"Over the last two weeks, I had conversations with the Attorney General seeking to work out an agreement on how those laws should be enforced," Riley said. "I suggested that we offer the casinos the opportunity to have the legality of their machines decided by a procedure where the casinos would close, they would allow the machines to be seized in place, and then we would have expedited forfeiture actions.  My attorneys told me that we could have had those cases to the Alabama Supreme Court in six weeks or less.  However, the Attorney General never bothered to call me and say that he would not agree to my approach. Instead, he called his press conference and that's how I found out his answer.

Riley appointed King to the attorney general's job in 2004, but the two men have had a falling out over the issue of electronic bingo. Riley says it's illegal slot machines. King believes bingo can be legally played on a machine in Alabama.

King said Tuesday he would seek court orders to prohibit the reopening of electronic bingo casinos in Dothan and Lowndes County if the governor's task force would share evidence it has gathered. King said that if task force Commander John Tyson refuses, Tyson will have no one but himself to blame for the reopenings.

Country Crossing and White Hall Entertainment Center planned to reopen Wednesday, but White Hall Tuesday announced it would hold off until sometime next week before it reopened.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.)