In a March 2010 wiretapped phone call played Monday in court, lobbyist and prosecution witness Jarrod Massey tells defendant Jay Walker that they don’t need to “blacken” up the bingo issue anymore by getting Greenetrack to represent the bingo issue in public.
According to Massey, Country Crossing bingo hall in Houston County (owned by his client, Ronnie Gilley) had been representing the pro-bingo interests in the public too much—especially when it came to standing up to Indian gambling interests.
Massey told Walker, a political consultant who was working for Gilley, that they need to “diversify” the pro-bingo representation by getting other bingo halls with an iron in the fire to speak out about the bingo bill—as long as that bingo hall wasn’t Greenetrack.
“It probably doesn’t need to be Greene[track],” Massey tells Walker. “We don’t need to blacken this thing up any more.”
Massey said in court that he tends to speak directly, and that this was “probably a poor choice of words.”
Massey said he was concerned about the “diversity” of the bingo issue—that pro-bingo interests had often been represented by African-Americans.
Greenetrack and the predominantly black citizens Greene County have been the subject of other off-color comments in this case. Sen. Scott Beason, another government witness, described Greene Countians as “aborigines.”
Read more about Beason’s comments here: Beason referred to Greene County blacks as ‘aborigines’
“We needed a number of white Senators, we needed a number of Republican Senators,” Massey said in court. “We needed to show some diversity.”
On the same phone call, Walker says he offered former state Sen. Jim Preuitt (R-Talladega) his political consulting services – specifically, he offered to perform a campaign poll for Preuitt – in exchange for his vote on Senate bill 380, a bill that would allow a referendum on electronic bingo.
“Of course, I said, ‘All I need is your vote,’” Walker told Massey.
Preuitt, Walker and seven others are charged with conspiring to buy and sell votes on bingo legislation. Massey and Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley plead guilty to charges in this case.
Direct examination of Massey is expected to continue all day Monday. Jennifer Pouncy, a lobbyist and an employee of Massey who also plead guilty, is expected to be the prosecution’s next witness.