AG talks bingo, health care

Published 8:53 pm Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Troy Rotary Club tried to find a “low profile, non-controversial” speaker for its meeting Tuesday.

Since they couldn’t do that, they decided to settle on Attorney General Troy King, said Ken Cox, jokingly, as he introduced his guest to members.

King told club members where he stood on some of those “controversial” issues like bingo and health care at the meeting.

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“I hear people say they don’t understand the bingo debate. How can we have bingo in Houston County and not in Pike County?” King said.

The answer, he said, wasn’t so simple. In 1901 the state Constitution clearly says on a one page document that bingo isn’t legal. In 2010, the law is much more complex, King said holding up a large binder containing gambling laws.

“Another thing people say is, ‘You can’t have laws that vary from county to county,’” the attorney general said. “Tell that to people who live in dry counties.”

Others, he said, have said they’ve seen the electronic bingo machines, and they look like slot machines.

“I told my friend the governor that antifreeze looks like Gatorade, but I’m not going to take my chances,” he said.

The same holds true for the bingo investigation, the AG said.

“Imagine if we came into this meeting and there was a dead body lying up here,” he said. “We can’t arrest someone for committing murder unless we investigate it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a murder case or a bingo case, we’ve got to follow the laws.”

So in taking over the Gov. Bob Riley’s Task Force, something King said he had no choice but to do, his goal was to conduct the investigation the right way.

“Now there is a court fight over whether the attorney general is the attorney general,” he said. “We’ve got a, to use the Latin term, mess. I can’t imagine how things could get worse than they are.”

King said he and the governor do agree on two things in the bingo issue — that illegal gambling should be stopped and that they need an answer on the issue.

Also in the meeting, King discussed a current lawsuit filed by attorneys general of 14 states against the U.S. Congress over the health care bill.

“We’re asking the questions Congress ought to be asking,” he said. “There are still rules. We find them in the Constitution, and someone’s got to stand up and make sure someone’s following them. In the six years I’ve been attorney general, I’ve represented a lot of victims, but these victims I’m standing up for now, the founding fathers, are the oldest victims I’ve represented.”