AL.com tries to follow Troy King’s money; finds dead-ends, leaves many questions

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Former Alabama Attorney General and current Republican Attorney General candidate, Troy King has found himself in the headlines this week for his campaign donations. His opponent Steve Marshall‘s campaign has been working overtime pushing details from his campaign finance report to discredit his assertion that he won’t take gaming money.

AL.com took an in-depth look at King’s donations and found that while he says he will not accept donations from gambling interests, he has “has taken about $90,000 from five South Carolina companies and individuals with links to gaming, records show.”

According to the report, one of the major South Carolina donors, Keith Gray, is involved in the gambling business, with one of his businesses being prosecuted in 2017 b the state of Alabama.

King does not deny taking money from Gray’s company, but did not comment to AL.com on Gray’s ties to gambling groups.

When Alabama Today reached out to King’s campaign to ask about taking money from gaming, they denied it; “Troy King has not accepted donations from gaming,” a representative from his campaign said.

They went on to point a finger a Marshall, saying he’s accepted gaming money from various organizations.

“Steve Marshall has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from organizations like BCA which is largely comprised of Indian gaming money, from RAGA which is full of Las Vegas gambling money and has accepted a trip to Africa from CWAG which is sponsored by corporations including Caesars Entertainment which is one of the largest operators of Las Vegas casinos,” added the King campaign.

Muddled contributions from potential straw donors

Perhaps the most alarming news from AL.com’s report (and wholly overlooked by their own reporter who noted it almost as an aside) is that of the donation from Gray’s wife, Phyllis.

King’s campaign received $15,000 from her, but when AL.com asked about the donation, “she said she had never heard of Troy King and did not care about the Alabama election.”

While easy to gloss over, straw donations — making a political contribution in another person’s name or agreeing to be the named donor with someone else’s money to evade campaign finance limits— is against state and federal laws. In fact, it’s what conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty to in 2014. Ultimately the court sentenced him to five years probation, eight months in a halfway house (referred to as a “community confinement center”) and a $30,000 fine. President Donald Trump recently pardoned D’Souza saying he had been unfairly treated by the justice system under the Obama Administration.

That said, Alabama Today spoke to the King campaign about said donation and got a very different response.

“The check from Phyllis Gray was received via mail to the Troy King campaign mailbox,” said a representative from King’s campaign to Alabama Today. “Phyllis and her husband, Keith, are longtime friends of Troy King. We are unsure of who the Phyllis Gray is that the reporter at AL.com claims to have spoken with but we have been in touch with the Gray’s that donated to the campaign this afternoon and they have assured Troy that they have and continue to support him.”

King’s history with gambling

King says he’s a strong opponent to gambling. During his time as Attorney General, not only did he introduce anti-gambling legislation every year of his time in public office, he also prosecuted several electronic gambling sites, opposed a gambling expansion for the Native American tribes in Alabama, and even requested that the United States Department of the Interior deny the Poarch Band of Creek Indian’s application to broaden their gambling operations in the state.

Back in 2013, he filed a series of gambling-related patents with the U.S. Patent office. When questioned about them by AL.com’s John Archibald, “King said he filed the patents simply on behalf of a client. He said he has no financial interest in any of them, and reiterated that “I don’t have anything to do with it.”

This practice is common for lawyers, but the appearance hasn’t stopped his opponent from attempting to use it against him in what has turned into a runoff focused on attacks.

This story was updated at 2:40 p.m. CT with additional comments from Troy King’s campaign.

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