Federal prosecutors had not planned on calling Alabama state Sen. Scott Beason in the Alabama gambling corruption retrial, but that doesn’t mean the mostly-black jury won’t get to hear Beason’s ‘aborigines’ line.
The line came from a recording Beason made while wearing a wire for the FBI. Beason (R-Gardendale) recorded a conversation between himself and several Republican colleagues, including former Rep. Ben Lewis (R-Dothan). Lewis refers to Greenetrack, the gambling hall located in predominately-black Greene County, and suggests the bingo hall is run by Native Americans.
“That’s y’alls Indians,” Lewis said.
“They’re aborigines, but they’re not Indians,” Beason replied on the transcript.
In a similar conversation, Beason and other Republicans discuss the effect a gambling referendum might have on black turnout at the polls, and suggest that bingo halls would bait black voters with free food and bingo coupons and bus them to the polls in HUD buses.
Birmingham News reporter Kim Chandler reported today that U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson has ruled that defense attorneys can play tapes of those conversations if Beason-related evidence is being presented in court.
Find out Judge Thompson’s reasoning at the Birmingham News.
The prosecution objected, but Thompson ruled in favor of the jury getting a complete look at Beason’s motives.
In a ruling after the first bingo corruption trial — which ended in August after more than two months of trial with no convictions, acquittals on most charges — Judge Thompson said that Beason and Lewis were not credible witnesses because of blatant political bias and racism.
“As a preliminary matter, the court finds that Beason and Lewis lack the credibility that the government sought to establish,” Thompson wrote. “The evidence introduced at trial contradicts the self-serving portrait of Beason and Lewis as untouchable opponents of corruption. In reality, Beason and Lewis had ulterior motives rooted in naked political ambition and pure racial bias.”
“Beason’s and Lewis’s statements demonstrate a deep-seated racial animus and a desire to suppress black voters by manipulating what issues appeared on the 2010 ballot,” Thompson wrote. “Lawmakers who harbor such sentiments lack the integrity expected from elected officials.”
The trial continues Wednesday. Prosecutors are considering whether or not to call former Country Crossing CEO Ronnie Gilley next.