Circuit judge candidates receive, return gambling funds

Published 11:04 pm Thursday, May 6, 2010

Both Republican candidates for the Place 2 circuit judge seat have received and returned campaign contributions largely funded by gambling interests.

Shannon Clark, Coffee County attorney, received a $250 check after the start of the year from Montgomery’s CGR PAC (Political Action Committee). According to the group’s records on the Secretary of State’s Website, contributions made to this PAC come from solely the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Atmore and Racing Parks in Macon and Jefferson Counties.

Clif Hastings, Troy attorney, this week received a $5,000 check from 21STCEN PAC, funded by solely by several state PAC programs, including CGR.

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Both candidates said Thursday they don’t know why they were sent these donations.

Clark said she received her contribution in the mail and it was reported in April on her campaign finance report.

“I had a supporter call and say, ‘You might want to check about this group,’” Clark said. “I did, and I sent (the donation) back. End of story.”

CGR Treasurer Angela Ming said she couldn’t say who recommended Clark be sent a campaign donation but confirmed it had been returned.

Hastings said his funding was sent to his wife’s post office box Wednesday.

Hastings said he returned his money because he does not believe a judicial candidate can “ethically” accept money from anyone affiliated with an ongoing court issue, referring to the statewide debate over the legality of gaming and electronic bingo.

“Each candidate must exercise due diligence in knowing where contributions come from,” Hastings said.

Hastings said after looking into the group could not find anyone he knew affiliated with it.

21st Century PAC President Johnny Crawford said Hastings was recommended to the PAC Board for the donation.

He said he could not remember who made the recommendation and did not return phone calls with that information.

So far this year, the 21st Century PAC has given money to several other PAC programs and only Democrat candidates.

That includes Senators Rodger Smitherman and Roger Beford Jr. in the amount of $5,000 each. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks also was given a $1,000 check.

CGR PAC has so far given to candidates across both party lines, including State Senate candidates Johnny Ford, Democrat, and Tom Whatley, Republican.

Clark’s other campaign contributions come largely from individual donations and money she funds she has personally donated to her campaign.

Her campaign finance reports to date show donations of more than $22,000.

Hastings also has all his other campaign support from individual donations and his own contributions. His last reported campaign finance reports showed donations of more than $40,000.