Gov. Riley attacks bingo ruling

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Gov. Bob Riley criticized a Jefferson County judge Monday after the judge ruled Alabama's Attorney General has the authority to take over the governor's anti-gambling task force.

Gov. Bob Riley released a statement Monday afternoon, criticizing a ruling earlier in the day from Jefferson Co. Circuit Judge Robert Vance who ruled Attorney General Troy King has the authority to takeover the task force and court cases involving electronic bingo in Alabama courts.

"Judge Vance's ruling represents judicial activism at it's worst," Riley said. "Judge Vance has clearly exceeded his authority in legislating from the bench."

Judge Vance ruled the attorney general has not followed his constitutional duties to defend the state's interests in these cases.

"The Attorney General has, for whatever reason, assumed a curious stance," Judge Vance wrote. "While complaining of the Governor's actions in the Supreme Court, and in the media, the Attorney General has made no effort to defend the State's interest in these cases. He under a duty to do so."

Mark White, the attorney for Victoryland owner Milton McGregor, welcomed the judge's order.

"It is unprecedented in this state for the governor to be able create a political police force."White said.

Attorney General Troy King was in Birmingham Monday morning to receive the endorsement of the Birmingham Fraternal Order of  Police. During the meeting, King questioned the authority of the Governor's Task Force to shut down bingo halls in counties where district attorneys have refused to do so.

"The recklessness of the task force have gone about it's work, has lead us to the point we have some bingo halls closing closing, some bingo halls open. Some bingo halls staying open and other bingo halls being closed," King said.

King said the ultimate decision needs to come from Alabama voters.

"I have a hard time understanding why the opinion of a politician in Montgomery should matter more than the opinion of four million regular citizens who pay taxes and want to see the issue resolved," King said.

King's office said there will be a meeting between the Governor and the Attorney General Wednesday afternoon.

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