When campaigning for your 2022 vote, did you see any advertisements from conservative candidates promoting the idea “if you elect me, I will vote for raising taxes on gasoline, unlimited expansion of casino gambling, legalizing marijuana, and keeping Alabama’s K-12 education system 50th in the nation?”
The answer is a resounding NO! Yet given the direction of these issues in our state, you’re likely perplexed as to who is really running Montgomery. Indeed, it seems Gov. Kay Ivey is the only honest one in the group of conservative politicians, for during a 2022 campaign interview, she noted that her greatest regret in her first four years as governor was not passing casino gambling.
So let’s look at this issue that’s now quite prominent in our state. When Ivey assembled the Gaming Commission in 2020, it was not for the purpose of looking at the positives and negatives of gambling, but rather what legislation would pass. There are two competing gambling forces at war: the Poach Creek Indians (PCI) and the late Milton McGregor coalition. If the lottery prohibition is removed from the Alabama Constitution, casino gambling will be unleashed into every community.
Sure, legislators may try to package and limit the locations, but good luck fighting that constitutional battle. The PCI is on sovereign land, but their gambling operations are illegal unless a compact is signed by the governor and the Department of Interior or the lottery prohibition is lifted from the Alabama Constitution.
But let me remind you of this: Gambling is poor public policy! It preys on the poor, elderly, and young looking for the “Big Win,” while also fostering corruption in every state that legalizes it. I urge you to watch the movie “Casino” to get a flavor of this seedy life-destroying business. Please explain to me again, why is legalizing gambling so important that many are suggesting calling a special legislative session to isolate this issue?
Then there’s the marijuana lobby, which is substantially better funded than the gambling folks. Here again the “Wizard of Oz” backstage is the Mexican and Columbian drug cartels. They want to legalize marijuana across the railroad tracks in order to sell weed on the black market. These are the same cartels bootlegging illegals across our southern border, filling our streets with Chinese fentanyl and human trafficking.
You may say that we just want medical marijuana, not drug cartels. Well, every state that looked at marijuana always took it in incremental steps until full-blown legalization was accomplished. They can put lipstick on this pig, but at the end of the day, it is rancidity sponsored by the cartels.
Next we have the education mafia, a coalition of educators who always need more money, teachers’ unions that want never-ending salary and benefit increases with no accountability, and contract lobbyists seeking to secure funds for their clients.
Do you ever recall a time there wasn’t an outcry for additional education funding? We also just added $500 million worth of new money to bring your annual education bill up to $9.3 billion.
Our education rankings continue to plunge to the lowest in the nation, but our funding excels expectations. Just one example is the fact that our Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature continues to spend over $90 million annually for Common Core, a program that is a cuss word among teachers, students, parents, and conservative groups like Eagle Forum. Do I still hear someone mention we need a lottery to fund education?
How have these agendas crept up on us? Very simple: Republicans are greatly compromised taking dark money! Although once supported by the business, agriculture, and faith-based communities, the black hat guys took money from the teachers’ unions, gambling cohorts, and personal injury trial lawyers. Now marijuana is pouring out money under the capitol dome like milk and honey.
Since Republicans have been winning elections on the state and nation level, two things have happened. First, Democrat office-holders with name identification converted to the Republican Party, checked off the conservative issue boxes to win seats, and then govern like Democrats. Their dark money followed them into the Republican family, infiltrating like a poisonous gas seeping under the door.
I had one Republican representative in the State House recently tell another office holder in my presence that they hoped to be appointed to the Rules Committee because “you can raise a lot of cash on that committee.” WHAT? Friends, that is bribery, that is Pay-to-Play!
Friends, we have liberals masquerading as conservatives and letting gambling, marijuana, and the education mafia set the priorities and govern this state, while you and I go about our daily lives thinking they represent us. You and I own this situation. It’s our fault because we elected them.
My guess is that this is unsettling to you, but here is what we need to do. Get to know your elected representatives personally. Go see them, attend town hall meetings and public venues. Ask them point blank if they take gambling, marijuana, teachers’ union, or education lobbyist money. Let them know where you stand on legislation and be specific on how you request them to vote.
When they cross the Alabama River and coast up Dexter Avenue, our Republican-led government is saluting the wrong bosses and getting away with it. It may be time for another conservative group to put out a scorecard on how the legislature is voting, or voter guides during elections educating voters on a politician’s positions on issues. The guilty ones playing games in the dark of the night will squall the loudest at the notion of you making their record public.
Now you know who is driving the Alabama’s legislative and public policy priorities.
Let’s you and I get back in the driver’s seat in our state. Take action, ask tough questions, and follow up and take back control.
John W. Giles spent almost 15 years as Executive Vice President in the family business, Giles Enterprises, and has served in many leadership and advisory roles in the State of Alabama. Today, John and his wife Deborah live at Agnus Dei Farm, spending time with their children and 12 grandchildren.