Riley, Windom continue with political mudslinging

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 27, 2002

BNI Newswire

While Republican gubernatorial candidates Bob Riley and Steve Windom have been battling in campaign ads over the past week, GOP hopeful Tim James has stayed out of the party fray.

And his spokesman, Mike Shields, said that proves James ­ who has been trailing in polls ­ is more apt to attack corruption in Montgomery.

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"While these two candidates are battling each other, Tim has been battling a major corporation," Shields said.

Shields is referring to statements James has made about HealthSouth, which he said was given unfair advantage by the state Legislature, which granted Healthsouth permission to build a state-of-the-art medical facility in Birmingham, bypassing usual state approvals processes.

The bill was passed on Sept. 11, when, Shields said, few people were paying attention to the state Legislature.

But Healthsouth CEO Richard Scrushy threatened to sue over the allegations, Shields said, although the campaign has not seen any lawsuit filed yet.

Meanwhile, Windom and Riley have been accused by state party leaders of breaking Ronald Reagan’s "11th commandment" for Republicans: Thou shalt not harm another Republican.

The fight started when Windom, the lieutenant governor, began running a campaign ad accusing Riley of profiting from stock in companies his congressional committee oversees.

Riley, the U.S. representative from the third district, responded by offering proof that he had no control over which stocks were purchased for a mutual fund in which the stocks were listed.

On Monday, Windom began a "Plain Truth Tour," releasing a statement that attacks some of Riley’s statements about Riley’s fund-raising activities and his entrance into politics.

Riley responded by saying that the tour is "a Montgomery insider’s attempt to divert attention from the fact that newspapers have proven he deliberately lied to the people of Alabama."

All three GOP candidates skirmished earlier in the campaign season, when Riley received a campaign contribution from the GOP’s Congressional contingent. The move was unusual because Republican groups do not often favor a particular candidate before the primary, which will be June 4 this year.