AG candidates asked to pledge no gambling money

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A Democratic candidate for Alabama attorney general asked Tuesday for all candidates in the race to pledge not to accept campaign donations from gambling interests.

Most of the three Democrats and two Republicans seeking the office in the June 1 primaries said they wouldn’t take money from those sources. Some questioned the request made by Birmingham attorney Giles Perkins, who also asked that they promise not to do legal work for gambling interests.

One Democratic candidate, Montgomery lawyer James Anderson, said political action committees make it impossible to know if PAC money came from gambling interests. Another Democrat, Mobile attorney Michel Nicrosi, said Perkins first needs to let the public see his tax returns, as she and Anderson have done.

Republican Luther Strange, a Birmingham lawyer, said he had made the pledge against gambling money before Perkins picked up on it. A spokesman for Attorney General Troy King said he stands by a similar pledge he made earlier.

Perkins said in his letter to the candidates that the pledge is necessary because the next attorney general will likely deal with electronic bingo gambling issues, which have dominated the political scene for months.

“The discharging of this duty is very important and it needs to be done with complete objectivity, which means that we cannot let gambling money put the next attorney general in a conflicted position,” Perkins said in the letter.

Anderson said it would be difficult for candidates to promise not to take gambling money when Alabama law allows the transfer of political contributions from one PAC to another. He said the transfers make it impossible in some cases to determine the sources of donations.

“There’s no way to tell who you are getting money from,” Anderson said.

He said he has represented Macon County Sheriff David Warren in lawsuits concerning raids on the Victoryland casino by Riley’s task force, but does not represent Victoryland or any other gambling interest.

Perkins’ proposed pledge comes after Anderson challenged candidates to release their tax returns. Anderson and Nicrosi released their returns and Perkins did not.

A spokeswoman for Nicrosi said she had not taken gambling money.

“She’s happy to answer any of Mr. Perkins’ questions when he releases his tax returns, which she and James Anderson have both done,” said Rachel Dickinson, Nicrosi’s political director.

In the Republican primary race, Strange has promised not to take money from gambling interests and has accused King of using PAC-to-PAC transfers to take gambling money. King has denied taking gambling money.

“We made that pledge months ago,” Strange said Tuesday.

A spokesman for King, Jonathan Gray, said the pledge seems almost identical to one King made when he was running for election four years ago.

“We welcome all of General King’s challengers to adopt the pledge he made four years ago, promising not to solicit or accept any gambling contributions for his campaign for Attorney General,” Gray said.