Alabama governor accused of violating campaign finance laws
Alabama's Republican Governor Bob Riley may have attempted to conceal illegal corporate donations to his 2002 and 2006 campaigns by representing them in campaign finance reports as having come from individuals, according to an an investigation carried out by the Montgomery Independent.
Riley's campaigns have been under close scrutiny during the past several weeks, with questions being raised about his narrow victory over incumbent Don Siegelman in 2002, followed by Siegelman's prosecution on what many consider to be trumped-up charges when he proposed to run again in 2006.
An ongoing RAW STORY investigative series has explored the 2002 Alabama governor's election, in which Riley pulled ahead only when a last minute change in the tally switched several thousand votes in one county from Siegelman's column to Riley's and the state's Republican attorney general refused to allow a recount. Karl Rove is alleged to have been directly involved in that election, working together with longtime Alabama GOP operative William Canary.
The Montgonery Independent has now found that in 2006, the Riley campaign reported the use of airplanes owned by two corporations as if they were personal "in-kind" donations from the presidents of those corporations. It also listed the provision of an advertising billboard as a personal donation from the president of the ad agency. Together, these in-kind donations had a value of over $25,000, far beyond the $500 limit allowed for any one corporation in a single election cycle
Montgomery Independent publisher Bob Martin has called for further investigation of the matter, stating in an editorial, "The question which stands out front-and-center is whether or not the listing of individuals instead of the true corporate donors was intentional, as in to bypass the legal limits on corporate donations or was just a mistake in reporting."
Although still expressing willingness to give Riley a chance to clear himself, Martin is prepared to call for legal action if he does not. "This is a serious violation of the law on the part of the governorís campaign if what we have uncovered cannot be refuted -- just as serious as the matters for which former Gov. Don Siegelman was convicted. The governor must come clean on this and correct his campaign reports. If he doesnít either the state attorney general or the Montgomery district attorney should take action."
The full Montgomery Independent article can be read here.
Publisher Bob Martin's editorial can be read here.