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Friday, April 2, 2010

Attorneys file complaint, claim FBI bingo investigation is political

Attorneys for a political consultant and lobbyist who represents Country Crossing will talk to the media today about a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice over a federal investigation into the bingo debate in Alabama.
Several lawmakers confirmed Thursday that they met with officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. attorneys office on Thursday. They said they were told there was substantial evidence that there was public corruption tied to the debate over electronic bingo.
Attorneys Brett Bloomston and Joseph Basgier III represent consultant Jarrod Massey, who represents Country Crossing and its owner at the State House.
Bloomston and Basgier, according to a release, are "asking that the Justice Department in Washington D.C. take control of an investigation into this week's passage of Senate Bill 380 (a bingo bill) by the Alabama Senate."
According to the release from Massey's attorneys, they believe there is political motivation behind the investigation and ask "the Justice Department to remove control of any investigations from the office of U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama Leura Canary in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety ahead of a vote on the bill in the Alabama House of Representatives."
Democratic lawmakers also expressed concern Thursday that the investigation was political, with them being brought in and told about the inquiry just two days after the vote and before the House of Representatives has voted. They accused Gov. Bob Riley of being involved.
A Riley spokesman said Thursday that Riley had nothing to do with the investigation, and found out information from those who attended the meeting.
Canary, the U.S. attorney for the middle district of Alabama, is the wife of Bill Canary, a close ally of Riley.
Riley opposes the bill passed by the Senate and wants to stop electronic bingo in the state, which he believes is played on slot machines that are illegal in Alabama.
The Senate passed the bingo bill 21-13 on Tuesday, just two days before federal investigators met with the leadership for both parties in the House and Senate including Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., House Speaker Seth Hammett, Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little, Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, House Majority Leader Ken Guin, and House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard.
Several of those legislators confirmed attending the meeting and said the investigators were vague about the investigation.
Little and Hubbard said they were not aware of any corruption.
Massey is president and founder of Mantra Governmental, which represents County Crossing and owner Ronnie Gilley at the State House, but also works for a number of other entities.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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