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Dial admits ‘Poarch Creek Accountability Now’ funded by out-of-state special interests

MONTGOMERY — Former longtime State Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) says he cannot tell you who is funding the dark-money, so-called “Poarch Creek Accountability Now” group that he is running. However, he did admit on Tuesday that the shadow backing behind the effort is at least partially coming from out-of-state.

Dial, who lost his 2018 bid to become Alabama’s Secretary of Agriculture and Industries, spoke to reporters Tuesday at a press conference unveiling legislation by State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) that claims to try and ban all contributions from gambling entities to legislators and select statewide elected officials. This came on the opening day of the Alabama legislature’s 2020 regular session.

“Let there be no doubt about my intent in advocating for the passage of this bill,” McClendon stressed before Dial spoke. “I am emphatically state the purpose of the bill is to limit the gambling industry’s influence in the political process in Alabama.”

McClendon subsequently decried an “invasion of gambling dollars with such a high propensity of corruption.”

However in reality, it appears he is only trying to curb the influence of one particular gaming group — the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who opposed his lottery legislation last session because it also included the expansion of pseudo slot-machine games across the state. The tribe did not oppose a “clean” lottery bill sponsored by State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) last session. McClendon voted against Albritton’s bill, which eventually died in the House.

After McClendon’s lengthy Tuesday monologue lamenting about money in politics, Dial took to the podium to bash the “untold” influence gambling money has on Alabama politicians and elected officials.

Dial was then asked, “Will you tell us who’s funding the Poarch Creek Accountability Now group that you’re leading?”

“I am not going to — we’re a nondisclosure,” Dial responded. “Because here’s the thing — if the people who have helped me, and it’s been somewhat limited, some if it has come from out-of-state. If the people who have helped me would become public then there’d be too much repercussion… they are not willing to do that. Until they tell me [to do] that, I can’t tell you that.”

“How does it not undermine what you’re saying if that could be [the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’] competitors?” a reporter followed up.

Dial did not rebut the possibility that certain competitors are indeed behind the effort.

“They decided that they would not tell [who they are], once they tell me I can, I’d be more than happy to,” Dial answered. “But we’re following the law. We’re a nonprofit. And you don’t have to disclose it.”

Poarch Creek Accountability Now is fighting against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ proposal that would put over one billion dollars in the state coffers and additionally pave the way for a state-run lottery to be established.

McClendon’s legislation as written does not ban lobbyists of gambling interests donating to legislators or legislative candidates. The bill also would not prevent gambling interests from using chain PACs as a loophole around the ban or stop silent investors in gambling entities from donating as individuals rather than under their respective entity’s name. McClendon’s bill would, however, prevent the only in-state, non pari-mutuel gambling interest currently allowed to donate directly to candidates and officials — the Poarch Band of Creek Indians — from doing so.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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