Riley Tours State with Good News; Democrats Criticize Tactics

Governor Bob Riley hoped a tour around the state Wednesday would bring attention to Alabama's recent economic successes. Instead, it put democrats on the offensive. They claim Riley is using taxpayer money to promote his own campaign.

The Alabama Democratic Party calls tours like Riley's blatant uses of taxpayer money for personal gain.

"I feel let down," said party executive director Jim Spearman. "It's disgusting that he would take advantage of the taxpayers like that."

Governor Riley used a government-funded jet to tour the state, announcing that a magazine had named Alabama #1 in the south for job creation and economic growth.

In Mobile, the governor said, "we had a press conference up in Birmingham and the publisher was there and he said, 'when you look at what Alabama has accomplished in the past few years, it truly is remarkable.'"

Riley made the same announcement in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville.

Democrats say the governor should find a better way to spend taxpayer dollars.

"The governor, unfortunately, keeps confusing state business with politics," said Spearman. "He could have saved the taxpayers a lot of money by not having a fly-around and just doing a press conference in Montgomery. It would have been just as effective."

Riley's staff responded with a written statement. Communications Director Jeff Emerson wrote:

Governor Riley went across the state today to thank local leaders and economic developers for helping to make Alabama the number one state for new jobs. If the head of the Democratic party wants to engage in a partisan attack criticizing Alabama's strong economy and the 115,000 new jobs that have been created under Governor Riley's leadership, that's his prerogative. This is something the Governor did when we won the award before and he'll do it again if we win again next year.

This is the fourth time Alabama has been recognized by 'Southern Business and Development' magazine, which covers 17 southern states.

Riley faces Democrat Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley in the November general election.