Ethics complaint filed against Riley

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2010

MONTGOMERY(AP) — A former state Republican Party leader has filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission accusing Gov. Bob Riley of using his office to steer millions in contracts to a law firm where his son-in-law is a partner.

In response, the governor’s office released a 2003 letter from the director of Ethics Commission.

It said a lawyer who is a son-in-law of a state official could continue to work for a law firm regardless of whether the law firm gets state contracts.

Commission Director Jim Sumner said his letter was only an advisory opinion and not a formal decision by the commission.

Bradley Unruh of Warrior, a former member of the state Republican Party’s steering committee, filed the complaint Wednesday involving Birmingham attorney Rob Campbell, who is a partner in the Bradley Arant law firm.

Riley’s communications director, Jeff Emerson, said Campbell is on a salary and does not profit from the law firm’s state business. “The law firm has taken extraordinary steps to separate Rob Campbell from any work being performed by the law firm involving the state,” Emerson said Thursday.

The governor’s office also pointed out that Unruh has worked for dog track operator Milton McGregor, who is opposing Riley’s efforts to shut down electronic bingo games, including McGregor’s Victoryland.

Unruh told The Huntsville Times that he used to be a consultant to McGregor, but has not worked for him in more than a year.

The Bradley Arant firm’s state legal work includes helping the governor’s task force that is trying to close electronic bingo casinos.

The chairman of the Legislature’s Contract Review Committee, Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, said Bradley Arant has received about $8 million worth of state contracts since Riley became governor in 2003.

Emerson said that through 2009, the law firm had been paid $5.4 million.