It seems that the impact of this trial will stay on the mind of Alabama state legislators for a long time, and that can be a good thing.
“I think it’s going to cause a lot of legislators to adopt my philosophy, which is that I have a right to raise campaign funds, but if a lobbyist thinks I’m going to vote the way he wants, he can keep his contribution,” said Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery.
This trial might very well change the way the Legislature does business, particularly with discussions of campaign contributions in the daily give and take of passing or defeating new legislation. And that is not a bad thing. Even if there is no bribery intended or requested, it doesn’t look good for state legislators to be discussing money at the same time they are getting ready to vote.
Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, says that can be “a good byproduct” of the trial. The trial, combined with tougher ethics laws, should cause lawmakers “to do what they should have done all along” Hubbard said. Let’s hope so.
Since much of the government’s case relied on taped conversations, there is no doubt legislators might feel a bit antsy when talking with colleagues in the future.
One other byproduct of this whole mess is that any question of expanded legalized gambling is probably dead in the water now. There will probably still be court challenges over bingo played on machines, but the big push for huge casinos offering hundreds or thousands of machines that at least resemble slot machines is probably over.
That, too, can be a good thing.
Alabama has lots of problems. We need jobs, more tax revenue for basic state responsibilities and better-funded schools for Alabama students.
Big-time gambling should take a back seat to those needs.