Senate candidate takes ‘gaming’ funds

Published 11:09 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

Republican Senate candidate Ray Boles told a radio audience Friday morning that his campaign manager had resigned Thursday. This came less than nine days after Boles reported a contribution funded by gambling supporters.

Boles, seeking the Republican nomination in the June 1 primary to run against Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne in November, admitted Friday on a 107.9 Montgomery radio show, his campaign manager Tim Howe resigned after Boles accepted a $10,000 contribution he solicited from Paul Hubbert. Hubbert is the head of the Alabama Education Association Union and is a Democratic Party leader in the state.

The contribution, reported on the May 20 campaign finance reports as Boles’ largest campaign donation from an outsider, came from the Constitution Revision Committee, a Political Action Committee that receives funding from Mantra. Mantra is a PAC run by Country Crossing lobbyist Jarrod Massey, who is under federal investigation for allegedly offering financial contributions to state senators for a “yes” vote on a bill to let voters decide the legality of electronic bingo in the state.

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According to an April Press-Register article, Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, said Massey offered him $250,000 in contributions last year. Sanford said he declined the funds.

The article also said Massey runs nine other PACs that dropped $170,000 into PAC funds last year.

Boles said he didn’t know much about the Alabama Education Association prior to asking Hubbert for money.

“I was driving down the road one day, and say, ‘Hey, there’s the AEA building,” Boles said.

“So I walked up to the front desk and said, ‘I want to speak to Paul Hubbert.”

Boles said during the radio interview he was allowed to go into his office and told Hubbert he would “not do squat” for him or the Democratic Party, but he would “always fight for school teachers.”

Boles said Hubbert told him he would send a check for half of what he asked for, which totaled $10,000. Boles said it wasn’t until after his campaign finance reports were turned into the Secretary of State’s office that Howe resigned.

“The Republican Party, who is supposed to be my handler never said anything about it and (Howe) had access to everything until the day I turned my report in,” Boles said. “I think I got used by the Republican Party, and I’m not happy about it.”

Boles said Howe was referred to him by the state Republican Party and Howe had access to the records before he turned his reports in, which is why he said he believes he is “set up.”

Boles said he did not know the money was funded by gaming interests, saying on the radio show he asked Hubbert if it came from gambling money and was told “no.”

“I don’t know what these PACs are. I’m not a career politician. I don’t know how this PAC to PAC works,” Boles said.

Boles said he called around 100 PAC programs asking for contributions to his campaign. “I don’t see what’s wrong with asking everybody you can for money because it takes money to run a campaign.”

Boles said also he doesn’t make it a practice to look into where his campaign funding comes from.

“I have no clue where that comes from,” Boles said. “I didn’t know the AEA was the most evil people in the world.”

Boles said he might consider giving the donation back.

To date, Boles has reported nearly $40,000 in campaign contributions on the Alabama Secretary of State website.

Howe said he did not wish to comment about the situation.

“I’ll leave that up to Ray. I just want to stay out of it,” Howe said.

Boles is running against Bryan Taylor and Ken Barnett for the Republican nomination in the Tuesday primary.

Taylor whose campaign platform includes banning PAC-to-PAC transfers, called Boles’ contribution “indefensible.”

“A Republican candidate who claims to stand for conservative reform should not be asking for money from the vice-chair of the Democratic Party (Paul Hubbert),” Taylor said. “This is exactly what Republicans stand against. This money comes from sources that represent everything that’s wrong with state government.”

Taylor has received about $80,000 in contributions, according to campaign finance reports. The majority of those funds come from individual donations, but a few are from PACS funded by lawyers, insurance agents and the owner of a coal mine.

“As for my PAC contributions, I can tell you unequivocally nobody that I have accepted any money from has ever asked me for anything other than to go to Montgomery and stand for good government.”

Barnett said he wasn’t surprised by Boles’ contribution, but he does disagree with him accepting it.

“That’s a very bad thing I think for a conservative Republican to be taking money from the gambling interest,” Barnett said.

“It doesn’t surprise me with Ray. I don’t say that in a bad way…(but) I don’t think he thinks there’s much wrong with gambling. I think Ray is a Democrat running on a Republican ticket.”

Barnett has no campaign contributions reported.

“I haven’t taken money from anyone, and no one’s offered me any,” he said.