Ala. vote-buying probe nets ex-aide to Ga. House speaker
Jarrell “Jay” Walker Jr., a former aide and political consultant to ex-House Speaker Glenn Richardson, was among 11 people charged today in an alleged scheme by gambling interests to buy Alabama lawmakers’ votes.
A federal indictment unsealed today charges that Walker and others offered a variety of inducements to win legislators’ votes for pro-gambling legislation:
- campaign contributions, including illicit donations funneled through political action committees to disguise the source,
- campaign appearances by country music celebrities,
- polling and media buys, and
- payments to encourage opposition candidates to withdraw from the election.
Four Alabama state senators — James E. Preuitt, Larry P. Means, Quinton T. Ross Jr. and Harri Anne H. Smith — accepted money or other illegal inducements in exchange for their votes, the indictment alleges. The four voted for unsuccessful legislation to legalize electronic bingo machines in Alabama.
Walker and lobbyist Jarrod Massey worked at the time for businessman Ronald E. Gilley and his entertainment development, Gilley’s Country Crossing. As the AJC’s Jim Galloway notes, Walker also served until today as chief political strategist for Georgia state Rep. Mike Keown’s bid for Congress.
The 65-page indictment lays out an alleged conspiracy to get gambling legislation, in the form of a constitutional amendment, through the Alabama Senate. In March, for example, the indictment charges,
Gilley told Walker to promise that we’ll have our celebrities come in and support you and we’ll blow the competition away. We will, we’ll wax their ass, but you [Preuitt] got to vote for us on this.” Gilley also told Walker, “[Y]ou can buy a damn fleet [of vehicles] for him [Preuitt] if you have to while you’re there.”
In a telephone conversation later that month, according to the indictment,
Gilley, referring to Preuitt and his campaign personnel, instructed Walker to “give ’em whatever they want right now, we’ve gotta have that damn vote come Tuesday.”
And in April, it charges,
Walker told Massey that Smith “needs to step up to the damn plate” and support additional general legislation beneficial to Country Crossing to reciprocate for all the support Smith had received from them.
Prosecutors say December 2009 and March, about 90 percent of all campaign contributions to Smith came from Gilley, his business associates and their political action committees.
In Georgia, Walker served as chief of staff to Richardson after he became House speaker in 2005. He resigned in 2005 but continued to serve as an officer of Richardson’s political action committee, the MMV Alliance Fund, until late last year.