By Jonathan Hardison
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The commander of Governor Riley's anti-gambling task force today said he has no intentions of stepping down.
In a defiant speech, Mobile District Attorney John Tyson told the Birmingham Kiwanis Club he and the governor are fighting more than just illegal gambling in this state.
Tyson mentioned former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford's alleged winnings at casinos and even alleged that the attorney general hired a gambling lobbyist to represent the state against the Porch Creek Indians during his speech today.
Tyson says those are just examples of the corruption he fears gambling has brought to the state, and the reason he isn't blinking in this fight with Attorney General Troy King.
"It is our enemy in Birmingham, it is our enemy in Mobile," Tyson said.
Tyson said he wouldn't follow King's order to step down. Instead he argued this fight is bigger than just gambling, it's about corruption he says casinos can bring.
"I fought corruption because it's the right thing to do and yeah, I've taken some heat for it," Tyson said. "Governor Riley and I talked about the price of fighting corruption. We both agree, it's worth the heat."
Tyson said he would not turn over the task force evidence to King.
Asked if that meant more raids even as some casinos plan to reopen within days, Tyson stopped short of any guarantees.
"The Governor of the state of Alabama as recently as this morning again says 'John, you're the commander of the task force on illegal gambling, go get 'em," Tyson said. "I will see to it to see that the laws of the state are enforced. I will not disclose how we might choose to do that."
As both Country Crossings and White Hall casinos prepare to reopen soon, the King released a statement Tuesday afternoon blaming those actions on Tyson.
"Mr. Tyson's refusal not only exceeds his authority but will delay our ability to act on behalf of the State," King said. "Such a position will again demonstrate that he is content to be an obstructionist, and will have no one but himself to blame for the reopenings."
"He has invited people who've been engaged in these vices to reopen again," Tyson said. "And for him to now bring me because they're opening? Gosh, they announced they were opening within minutes of his press conference yesterday before I had a chance to say anything. He needs to look in the mirror to find out who's responsible for it."