Tape: Milton McGregor, Lowell Barron discussed ‘scheme’ to secure senator’s support

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Former State Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe

In a tape played by defense attorneys at the bingo trial this morning, Victoryland owner Milton McGregor and then-Senate Rules Committee chairman Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, discuss a “scheme” to secure the support of Sen. Jim Preuitt for a bill legalizing bingo.

In the recording, made on March 23, 2010, McGregor says he needs to secure a 21st vote to pass a bill that would allow voters to legalize bingo, and describes ongoing discussions with Preuitt to secure his vote.

McGregor says he told Preuitt “I need you to support me because this is a survival bill for me.”

Barron tells McGregor that he “ain’t backing off that son of a b—–,” then describes a reverse psychology strategy to gain the senator’s support, saying Preuitt would always take the side opposite Barron.

“We need to get into this pretty good strong scheme that I am against this damn bill,” Barron tells McGregor.  “That Lowell won’t do it.  That he’s acting like he’s for this bill but doing everything can to get you p—– off to kill the bill.”

Barron recommends that McGregor “cuss and give me hell” to make it convincing.   

“I’ll do whatever it takes to make my part look authentic,” Barron says.

McGregor says he will reach out to lobbyist Tom Coker to carry out the plan.

The bingo bill passed the Senate on March 30, 2010.  Preuitt, a Talladega Democrat who switched parties in April, 2010, initially voted against a resolution that would bring the legislation to a vote, but later voted for the bill. 

The state senator was indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges related to his role in the bingo vote, along with Sens. Larry Means, D-Attalla; Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery and Harri Anne Smith, I-Slocomb.  Ross and Smith are still serving in the Legislature.  Coker has also been indicted in relationship to the votes.

Coker’s attorney, Bill Baxley, had the tape played during a cross-examination of FBI agent John McEachern.  Prosecutors initially objected to the tape, saying it was irrelevant, but Judge Myron Thompson said the tape involved transactions relevant to the case.

– posted by Brian Lyman

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