Senator Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, said last week that he can’t comment about his alleged role in the investigation, which led to the indictment of four senators, including Talladega’s Jim Preuitt. Also indicted were casino operators Milton McGregor and Ronnie Gilley, lobbyists Jarod Massey, Thomas Coker, Bob Geddie Jr. and Jay Walker, and Ray Crosby, an analyst for the legislative reference service.
“I can’t really confirm or deny anything,” Beason said Friday. “I don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize an ongoing investigation.”
Multiple reports identify Beason as “Legislator 2” in the indictment, one of three who wore a wire as part of the federal investigation into whether bribes were offered during the debate over a casino gambling bill in the state. The indictment says the anonymous legislator is “a member of the Alabama Senate and a candidate for re-election in the 2010 election cycle.”
Other published reports have identified Beason as the target of threats from those indicted, including one story that pegged Beason as one of the legislators who should fear retaliation for opposing the bill.
“There’s a lot of stuff out there,” the senator said Friday. “I wish I could make comments right now, but I just can’t.”
Asked if he ever felt he was in danger, Beason said, “People should probably be precautionary at all times.”
In the spring of 2010, Beason told the Leadership St. Clair Class — visiting the Senate for “Legislative Day” — that he sponsored a bill that would allow the state’s voters to vote yes or no on all forms of gambling.
“If the people of the state voted for this constitutional amendment, it would make all forms of gambling in the state illegal,” Beason said in March. “That’d be it. The whole issue would be over. We wouldn’t have to debate this all the time.
“If that constitutional amendment failed, it would mean very clearly that the people of Alabama want some sort of gambling, and we would have to put on our big-boy clothes, and we would have to realize, that is the will of the people.”
On Friday he called the current scandal “a sad situation,” but said the Legislature now has a chance to turn it into a positive.
“It’s an opportunity to change the way business is done,” he said. “My hope is that, because of things like this, efforts will be made to change the system; hopefully we’ll have ethics reform. Some of us have pushed and tried for that in the past.
“I wish I could talk about it more, and maybe someday I will be able to.”
Contact Will Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.