The Poarch Band of Creek Indians appears to want a new attorney general.
Campaign finance records show three political action committees heavily financed by the tribe, which runs gaming facilities in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka, gave Democrat Joe Hubbard $250,000 last month for his campaign against Republican incumbent Luther Strange. The donations represented more than 76 percent of Hubbard’s contributions in February.
Hubbard, currently representing Montgomery in the Alabama House, said Thursday the Poarch Band support “was significant, no doubt,” but said he understood other groups had contributed to the political action committees.
“Our support has come from businesses and individuals all over the state,” he said. “We welcome that support because people recognize we have an attorney general absent from issues like crime and victims’ rights.”
Messages left with Strange’s campaign and the Poarch Band were not immediately returned Thursday. The tribe and the attorney general have clashed in recent years over the presence of electronic bingo machines at the tribe’s gaming facilities. Strange has filed a lawsuit against the tribe, claiming the machines violate state and federal gaming laws and that the casinos contribute a public nuisance. The tribe says the lawsuit is without merit.
Wherever his support comes from, Hubbard has great deal of work ahead to build a war chest that can match Strange’s. According to campaign finance records, Hubbard raised about $324,000 in February and finished with $313,000 on hand. Strange raised $55,000 last month, but had over $1.1 million on hand.
The Poarch Band money came from three PACs: AL Political Action Committee, also known as A PAC; Speed PAC and T PAC. All three are run by Montgomery-based lobbying firm Teague, Gray & Moore, whose clients include the Poarch Band. All three PACs got the vast majority of their funding from the tribe.
According to campaign finance reports, AL Political Action Committee received $60,000 from the Poarch Band on Feb. 26; the PAC gave Hubbard’s campaign $115,000 on Feb. 28. On Feb. 26, T PAC received $84,000 from the Poarch Band; the PAC gave Hubbard’s campaign $60,000 the following day. On Feb. 27, Speed PAC received $83,000 from the tribe; it gave Hubbard’s campaign $75,000 the same day.
Hubbard said he would “welcome (the tribe’s) contributions, if they want to contribute directly.” At his campaign announcement on Feb. 6, Hubbard suggested Strange’s battles with the Poarch Band were a poor use of resources.
As to gambling issues, Hubbard said he was “committed to enforcing the laws as written.”
“At the end of the day, if it means the Poarch Band of Indians are a sovereign nation within our territorial borders and they can operate their business as they see fit within the federal regulations in place, then yes, those laws need to be enforced,” he said. “The law is what it is.”
– posted by Brian Lyman