In short: An FBI investigation into the Alabama Legislature is not a scare tactic. It’s a service to the state.
The FBI is launching an investigation into possible corruption surrounding a recent vote in the state Senate to allow voters to decide on whether to allow bingo in Alabama.
Democrats, who mostly supported the bill, are calling the investigation a scare tactic by Gov. Bob Riley, who has spent much effort trying to suppress bingo in Alabama. The problem is, Riley did not call this investigation. The federal government did.
Knowing Alabama’s politics, federal investigations into the legislature are seldom a bad thing. The state typically refuses to investigate issues of corruption in Montgomery unless the FBI pushes them, and any opportunity to track down possible corruption is a good one.
Alabama’s repeated issues with corrupt government officials create an interesting scenario for lawmakers. An investigation into corruption can be seen as a political tool, but it can work both ways. Investigations like these can hurt the trust that Alabamians have in their government, but they are necessary for anyone to have any trust in the first place. If our lawmakers have nothing to hide, they should not have to worry about something like this.
A federal investigation that demonstrates no wrongdoing will lend legitimacy to the position of lawmakers who support a public vote for bingo. It’s much more difficult to get voters to see lawmakers as corrupt if they have been demonstrated innocent by the top investigative department in the country.
On the other hand, the investigation could find that corruption played a role in the passage of bingo legislation, and that is something that voters need to know. There is a common perception that state leaders are working for someone other than their constituents, and only an investigation will demonstrate the truth of that either way.
The bingo issue has been a drain on Alabama for too long. Between political fights, government raids and public outcries, we have been held hostage by this issue for far too long. The state of Alabama can only hope that this investigation will be quick and decisive, so we can vote on this issue, get it over with, and move on to more important issues.
Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.