Restorejusticeatjustice.com says allegations of former Riley cabinet member Bill Johnson need to be fully investigated. Johnson, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010, says the Riley administration has been plagued by conflicts of interests and possible criminal activity.
Johnson's allegations have connections to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the prosecution of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. Since bringing his concerns to light, Johnson has received death threats--and the Alabama Republican Party is pushing for a resolution that would ban him from speaking as a GOP candidate.
What prompted Johnson to speak out? A Restore Justice press release states:
Last year, Johnson became aware of possible conflicts of interest on the part of the Governor involving the giving of favorable contracts to close relatives and accepting money from Indian tribes involved with gambling while opposing gambling efforts by other parties. As a cabinet member, Johnson was required under Alabama law to report any perceived or actual conflicts of interest. Having both a legal and moral obligation, he made the difficult decision to put aside all party affiliations and friendships and report these conflicts to the U.S. Attorney's office of the Northern District, Alabama, as well as the FBI. He also left the Governor's office.
Johnson's allegations tie Riley to Abramoff and Mississippi Choctaw gambling funds:
Among the conflicts raised by Johnson are concerns that the millions of dollars received by the 2002 Riley Campaign for Governor from Mississippi Indian casino owners are shaping the Governor's position on gaming in Alabama and are the catalyst for Riley's 2008 launch of an anti-gambling task force. These types of "contributions" precipitated the Jack Abramoff scandal and are still under investigation by the Department of Justice and United States Congress.
Johnson's whistleblowing actions drew a hostile response from his own party:
In addition to the threatening letters to Johnson's home, a new threat against Johnson has emerged from the Alabama GOP itself in the form of a formal resolution banning him from speaking as a GOP gubernatorial candidate. The GOP resolution, which can be found at http://billjohnson.org/gop_resolution.asp, states that because Johnson raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest by a "hard-working and popular" Governor, Johnson should be banned from speaking as a GOP candidate. The resolution, sent to executive committees in all 67 Alabama counties, originated in Johnson's home county which is led by a hand-picked Riley supporter.
Restore Justice says a full investigation of GOP activities in Alabama is a critical step toward restoring the reputation of the U.S. justice system.
"This is not the first time that Bob Riley has been tied to corruption," said Restore Justice spokesperson and attorney Kevin Zeese. "His name keeps popping up for his involvement with Jack Abramoff, bags of cash payoffs from Indian casino interests, unethical political patronage, manipulation of his 2002 election, and the targeting of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Now he is trying to silence Bill Johnson, a close insider who witnessed first hand Bob Riley's corrupt activities. Johnson's allegations appear to indicate blatant criminal conduct and obstruction of justice in violation of federal statutes. Clearly, because of Alabama's sad history of corruption and political protection, we demand a high level criminal investigation authorized by the Attorney General."