Their excuses ring similar to those given by a supporter of a small-town politician who was indicted for crimes that drove him out of office — “he wouldn’t a done what he did if he ‘knowed’ what he was doing.”
It’s a sentiment worth printing on a T-shirt and passing around Goat Hill.
However, let’s not take after the Christian Coalition so harshly over this issue. In recent years, it has shown itself to be more pragmatic on the matter of gambling in the state. Rather than a blanket prohibition that would be quickly violated, the coalition wants the state Legislature to clearly define it, regulate it and tax it.
That hasn’t happened yet. Today, there’s only a flawed proposal for a constitutional amendment that would allow electronic bingo in 10 Alabama locations.
Given the legal mess gambling interests face today, it is not surprising that those interests would give the coalition money to advance their agenda. That’s one way for other groups that are interested in logical laws and reasonable enforcement to play the political game in Alabama.
Nevertheless, the Christian Coalition, like others who’ve been caught with their hand in gambling’s cookie jar, claimed it did not solicit gambling money or know of the contribution because it was hidden in a PAC-to-PAC transfer.
In Alabama, that is a solid-gold excuse.
At least the Christian Coalition is doing something about it. It has announced that it will take no more PAC money. That’s a good solution — but a lonely and perhaps implausible one, for PAC funding is the meat on which Alabama’s Caesars feed.
That lands this topic right back in the lap of the state Legislature, which seems to have neither the will nor the desire to adequately address these issues. The aforementioned constitutional amendment proposal — which doesn’t address the overall issue of gambling in Alabama — isn’t near the governor’s desk.
Meanwhile, Riley is forcing bingo halls to close rather than run the risk of having leased machines confiscated for inspection. This is putting people out of work and driving rural counties and small towns to the brink of bankruptcy. It’s also offering nothing in return but the satisfaction of obeying a law that is so poorly written that he and state Attorney General Troy King cannot agree on what it prohibits.
If Riley’s anti-gambling crusade has done nothing else, it has highlighted the problems and told Alabama’s legislators to resolve them.
Now there’s no choice but to wait and see what they will do.