Lawmakers to testify next week over e-bingo bill investigation

By Alan Collins

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - Up to fifty state legislators and lobbyists are expected to appear before a federal grand jury meeting in Montgomery next week.

Federal investigators are looking into allegations of bribery involving passage of the bill to legalize electronic bingo. Alabama lawmakers were informed earlier that federal investigators had significant evidence of wrong doing.     

Larry Powell, UAB political analyst, says the probe could shake up the Alabama Statehouse. "The pro gambling interest leans to the Democrats side. Because of that, the Republicans will try to tie the investigation to the entire party," Powell said.
Phillip Bryan with the Alabama Republican Party says part of their campaign strategy will point to Democrats as the reason why ethics and campaign reform has failed. "The gambling scenario, corruption scenario is a byproduct of the ethics reform message Republicans have pushed with the governor and the Democratic majority has failed to act on it," Phillips said.

Republicans and Democrats have been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury. One is Prattville Rep. Mac Gibson. The Republican lawmaker knows little of the alleged bribes, but he is worried about the impact of the subpoena. "Disconcerting. I do have an opponent running for re-election. It certainly doesn't help to have a federal subpoena," Gibson said.

State Rep. John Rogers has not been subpoenaed but Rogers says testifying before the grand jury could be a problem for his fellow lawmakers. The Democratic legislator offers this bit of advice. "Saying, 'I didn't do anything wrong.' I'm cooperating with what's going on and get a lawyer. A good lawyer," Rogers said.

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