MONTGOMERY, AL -- Gov. Bob Riley is listed as the chair of a political action committee that is raising money for a Birmingham-based anti-bingo group.
But Riley's chief spokesman, Jeff Emerson, said Wednesday none of the checks for GOV PAC go to the mansion at 1142 South Perry Street in Montgomery.
Instead, he said, they are mailed to the PAC treasurer, Kay Craig Nimm of Chelsea. The PAC's official address is listed as a post office box in Birmingham.
The stated purpose of GOV PAC on the secretary of state's Web site is "To elect qualified candidates dedicated to moving Alabama forward."
So far, however, all of the $138,000 the PAC has raised since Jan. 1 has gone to the Birmingham-based Citizens for a Better Alabama, an anti-bingo group.
The Alabama Senate Tuesday night approved a bill would authorize bingo throughout the state if approved in a constitutional amendment by voters in November. The bill must be approved by the House.
Some of the larger donors to GOV PAC include the Drummond Company of Birmingham, $20,000; Dothan businessman John Watson, $20,000; Scott Bridge Company of Opelika, $12,500; Scott Investments of Opelika, $12,500; Wellborn Cabinet of Ashland, $10,000; lobbyist Steve Windom of Montgomery, $10,000; and Opelika businessman Charles Lawler, $7,100. [View the campaign finance reports]
Emerson said the purpose of the PAC is to help candidates and causes Riley supports.
"There's absolutely nothing wrong with it," he said. "That's just his address, that's where he lives."
Jim Sumner, executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, said he doesn't see a problem, viewing it from the state's ethics law.
He declined to comment, however, on the public perception of Riley's name being linked to a PAC.
But Dr. Jess Brown, professor of political science and justice studies at Athens State University, said Riley made a mistake in allowing himself to be named the chair of a PAC.
"When you start converting the resources of your office, even in a symbolic way toward fund-raising, you should avoid that and get that done through a third party," he said.
He suggested the governor should use his office as a bully pulpit to deliver his anti-bingo message and sway public opinion.
"I would think that as a matter of prudence that the governor would not want himself as the chairman of a PAC," Brown added.