- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Poarch Band of Creek Indians gave heavily to the Democratic challenger for attorney general who opposes incumbent Luther Strange’s efforts to close the tribe’s casinos.

Montgomery Rep. Joe Hubbard, D-Montgomery, filed campaign finance reports this week showing he received $250,000 from political action committees fueled by the Poarch Creeks.

Hubbard received a total of $250,000 from three PACs operated by lobbyist John Teague. The PACs received almost all of their money from the Poarch Creeks. The money represents the bulk of the $326,827 that Hubbard raised in the first month of his campaign for attorney general.

The Poarch Band operates electronic bingo casinos in Montgomery, Wetumpka and Atmore.

Strange has encouraged the National Indian Gaming Commission to take action against the Poarch Creek’s three casinos, arguing the tribe’s electronic bingo machines are more like slot machines and should not be allowed without state permission. He filed a lawsuit in 2013 seeking to shut down the three casinos, accusing the tribe of “operating, advancing, and profiting from unlawful gambling activity.”

Hubbard on Friday said Strange was wasting state resources. He said the Poarch Band is a federally recognized tribe and not under Alabama jurisdiction.

Luther Strange has no more business going in there and telling them how to run their business than he does going down to Mexico City and telling Mexicans how to run their domino games. Trying to run those little old ladies out of those bingo parlors is a waste of precious resources that we can’t afford to waste,” Hubbard said.

An email requesting comment from Strange’s campaign was not immediately returned.

Strange said in a statement last year that federal inaction regarding Indian bingo casinos left him no action but to file the lawsuit.

“As I have said many times, my office will use every tool at its disposal to stop illegal gambling in Alabama, wherever it is located. This lawsuit against the Poarch Band is one of those tools,” Strange said.

Hubbard announced his challenge to the Strange last month. Strange is still far outgunning Hubbard in the money raise. Strange this week reported a campaign balance of nearly $1.2 million.

The Poarch Creeks, now the state’s chief operator of electronic bingo games, have become a major player on the Alabama political stage. The tribe has made $837,500 in campaign contributions since June, according to campaign finance records.