Alabama state Senator Scott Beason currently sits in some very hot water.
The FBI recruited Beason to help uncover evidence of political corruption in Alabama’s gaming community. Powerful owners and operators were bribing the politically well-connected to protect and further gambling interests.
As part of his evidence gathering, Beason wore a wire to record his conversations with gambling executives. Why he forgot he was being recorded, maybe we’ll never know. Perhaps he didn’t care. But the recordings, made public in the gaming executives’ trial, have cast Alabama Republicans in an unflattering light.
It’s apparent that Beason and his conservative pals did not hold a very high opinion of the black gamblers they were seeing in their casinos.
In one transcript, Beason and two other Republican legislators were talking about economic development in predominantly black Greene County and the customers at one of the county’s largest employers, the Greenetrack casino in Eutaw.
“That’s y’all’s Indians,” one Republican said.
“They’re aborigines, but they’re not Indians,” Beason replied.
To be clear: Beason is not an ethnologist. And African Americans trace their ancestry to Africa. The comments have been used by defense attorneys to shift focus from their defendants to Beason.
“Isn’t it true you call black men ‘boy,’?” [Defense attorney] Segall asked
Beason replied that he calls everyone he meets boy.
Segall also asked Beason about his use of the term “aborigines” when discussing Greenetrack, a casino in predominantly black Greene County.
“I want you to acknowledge you intended that as a derogatory characterization of African-Americans in Greene County,” Segall asked.
“I cannot figure out why that term would have been used,” Beason replied.
‘Racist? Me?’ Umm . . maybe? Or: ‘Racist? A whole bunch of us?’
Beason was present when another Republican lawmaker complained that “every black, every illiterate” would show up at the polls in 2010 if the legislature offered a constitutional amendment to legalize electronic bingo machines at certain locations.
And . .
Beason can be heard on one of the recordings agreeing that “HUD-financed” buses would take black voters to the polls. Another lawmaker said those voters would be given free food and certificates to gamble.
This isn’t the first time Beason’s gotten into some trouble for making racially insensitive remarks. During the long debate on Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, Beason drew attention for his tough talk and his inappropriate use of metaphor.
“The reality is that if you allow illegal immigration to continue in your area you will destroy yourself eventually,” said Beason. “If you don’t believe illegal immigration will destroy a community go and check out parts of Alabama around Arab and Albertville . .”
“The illegals are always praised for sending money back home, ‘they are so great’, ‘such family people’,” he said. “But why is it right for them to send billions of dollars home, before they even try to buy some health insurance here that you and I pay for— it doesn’t make them sound so wonderful does it? They’re basically saying, no we’re going to keep the money and you’re going to pay for what I need.”
Beason ended his speech by advising Republicans to “empty the clip, and do what has to be done”.
His final comment caused a commotion, and Beason had to make clear he wasn’t advocating the shooting of people.
“Look, I’ll take my beatings when I mess up. But no way was I urging anyone to do harm to Hispanics or illegal immigrants. I would never do that.”
He’ll be taking his beatings for a while, now.
Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy has called for Beason to resign, but Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead says Beason is an honorable man who doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.