Your morning jolt: In Alabama, Jay Walker’s ex-boss pleads guilty to bribery, conspiracy

If you are a public figure and want to reduce your exposure, Friday is the day you pick for handing out less than flattering news. From the Montgomery Advertiser:

Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley pleaded guilty to 11 counts in an alleged conspiracy to bribe lawmakers to legalize electronic gaming in the state.

Gilley, you may remember, was the employer of Jay Walker, former chief of staff to House Speaker Glenn Richardson in Georgia – and a lobbyist here as well. Walker, too, has been charged with conspiracy and bribery. To continue:

Gilley agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and implicated fellow casino owner Milton McGregor in the alleged vote-buying scheme.

Gilley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, six counts of bribery and four counts of money laundering.

Federal prosecutors agreed to drop 11 counts against the developer, but Gilley could still face between 22-27 years in prison for the others, although the prosecutors could ask the judge to reduce the sentence because of his cooperation….

Gilley owned controlling interest in Country Crossing near Dothan, and McGregor had controlling interest in VictoryLand in Shorter, according to Gilley’s deal with prosecutors. They sought to influence legislators to pass a Senate bill that would tax and regulate electronic gaming as the battle to shut down the casinos intensified.

This raw video, posted on YouTube, shows Walker’s attorney, Susan James, indicating that Walker’s case is headed for trial:

Said James:

”We had asked for a severance from Mr. Gilley, and this turn of events in our opinion gives us what we wanted, and that’s to have a trial where responsibility can be placed where it should…..”

James admitted that Walker’s old boss intends to “substantially assist the government’s effort to try to convict other people.”

Another late Friday surprise came from the office of Gov. Nathan Deal, in a press release announcing appointments to state boards. It included this:

Kacy Cronan, Board of Public Safety: Cronan serves as the vice president of operations and sales for Gainesville Salvage and Disposal. Cronan is also the founder and managing member of KC Transport Services, LLC, and founder of Cronan Contracting in Clermont. He lives in Clermont with his wife, Mandy, and two sons. He graduated from North Hall High School.

Deal’s announcement neglected to point out – and it was no doubt an oversight — that Kacy Cronan is the son of Ken Cronan, the governor’s business partner in Gainesville Salvage and Disposal.

A fellow at the state Capitol who usually knows what he’s talking sent a note via Facebook declaring that there’s more to this 3-cent state tax increase that’s about to hit every gallon of gasoline on May 1:

…[Y]ou missed the fact that the local option tax on motor fuel is also being adjusted which means that for most Georgians the tax (for 3 percent, counties) is actually going up closer to 5 cents per gallon. When the state adjusts the prepaid rate for the state sales tax they also adjust the prepaid rate for local option taxes on motor fuel. At 3% the locals will get 75 percent of the 2.8 state rate, which is added to the total increase.

Oh, the pain.

On Sunday, an open war broke out between anti-tax guru Grover Norquist and a GOP member of the Gang of Six – who was not U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. From

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), arguably the most prominent fiscal conservative in the Senate, is declaring his independence from one of the country’s leading anti-tax groups, Americans for Tax Reform – and its fiery founder, Grover Norquist.

Coburn, a member of the “Gang of Six” bipartisan group working on a deficit reduction plan, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he’d favor a “net” increase in tax revenue if it didn’t include hiking rates. He’d do so even if didn’t include a dollar-for-dollar match in spending cuts he agreed to when he signed a 2004 pledge to Norquist’s group.

“Which pledge is most important… the pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group who claims to speak for all American conservatives when, in fact, they really don’t?” Coburn asked. “The fact is we have enormous urgent problems in front of us that have to be addressed and have to be addressed in a way that will get 60 votes in the Senate… and something that the president will sign.”

“Where’s the compromise that will save our country?” he asked. “This isn’t about politics that is normal.”

U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Savannah, wants to raise as much as $33 billion by auctioning off parts of the broadcast spectrum. From Larry Peterson and the Savannah Morning News:

U.S. Rep. John Barrow wants to raise up to $33 billion by selling off unused parts of the broadcast spectrum.
The Savannah Democrat would devote the government’s share of the proceeds — broadcasters would get the rest — to shrinking the federal budget deficit.

He’s wading into a high-stakes tug of war involving major industries — including some with influential Washington, D.C., lobbyists — and complicated technical issues.

University of Georgia telecommunications expert Michael Castengera says there’s potential revenue from a sell-off, but probably not $33 billion.

And before it raises a penny, Castengera said, “there is going to be a political fight over it.”

Among the likely combatants: The burgeoning cell phone industry, broadcasters, and manufacturers of multi-use electronic gadgetry.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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12 comments Add your comment


April 25th, 2011
9:36 am

Using Good Friday as cover for your embarrassing press release—how very Christian. And how very Republican. Why did they even bother? It’s not like Republican voters care.

And even though Easter has passed, let’s not forget Beth Merkleson’s poor sickly mother in our prayers. Her daughter must still be at her mom’s bedside 24/7. That’s the only reason I can think of Beth hasn’t sent so much as a text message to anyone.


April 25th, 2011
9:38 am

Nice bit of dishonest guilt by association there Jim.

We are pretty used to it by now.

It does show us how pervasive the gaming issues really are. In Alabama, the feds have multiple lawmakers on tape selling their votes. the level of corruption is just unbelievable. The real money here is from Los Vegas, not Dothan.


April 25th, 2011
10:42 am

Kudos to the Gang of Six! Don’t get discouraged and continue to show your peers i Washington what real leadership is about!

What Would Judge Bell Do?

April 25th, 2011
11:58 am

Hey Jim, surely you’ve heard by now that King & Spalding has dropped its representation of the bigots in the Defense of Marriage Act matter? Paul Clement has resigned from the firm and taken the gay-bashing case with him. Big loss for K&S, losing a former Solicitor General and the head of their appellate practice.


April 25th, 2011
2:13 pm

Kacy Cronan, what a joke, he is only 20 something, a complete idiot, uneducated. He went to North Hall High school and has only “worked” for daddy. He has never even had a real job. Why did you idiots not figure out before voting for Deal that this is how it would turn out, appointing “jokes” to Boards to payback his buddies. The joke is on us voters and tax payers. How much does Kacy get paid to sit on that board?

[...] Brown at the Association County Commissions of Georgia has confirmed what we were told this morning: That 3-cent sales tax that kicks in on May 1 will actually be more like 5 cents, or more, once [...]


April 25th, 2011
5:47 pm

Goodness gracious. How could you criticize the fine upstanding businessmen who are heart of the Republican Party in the South? They are simply entrepeneurs trying to hedge their risks, like our Gov. Deal did when he intervened with Guv Sonny Do to have his salvage company keep their no-bid contract. And the help of his mgr. there is certainly bonafide credentials for a political appt. since he has 1st hand knowledge of how the system works.

Dirty Dawg

April 25th, 2011
5:53 pm

Now let me see…this Gilley guy has agreed to testify against ‘Uncle Milty’ McGregor in the Alabama political bribery trial. That the trial where there’s supposed to be FBI wire-taps that also implicate ‘Uncle Milty’ in the Auburn ‘pay-for-play’ mess that may or may not involve Cam Newton. My question is does this mean that the wire-tap evidence that involves Auburn, if it exists at all, would more likely or less likely be available to the NCAA in its continuing investigation of that whole mess?


April 25th, 2011
9:37 pm

Good thing the legislature rolled back millions in fuel taxes for Delta Airlines just in time to raise it on the people.


April 26th, 2011
9:36 pm

Kacy Cronan works for his father and Nathan Deal at Gainesville Salvage. I guess he has now resolved all his legal problems regarding the stolen diesel fuel that was illegally being sold at the Gainesville Salvage business to truckers, wrecker companies, and everyone else willing to buy.

Will someone explain to me exactly what are his credentials to qualitfy him to serve on the Board of Public Safety ???


April 27th, 2011
9:25 am

The Cronan’s paid one of their workers to take a fall for the stolen diesel fuel. Judge Jason Deal probably worked out the particulars. A 20 something boy cannot qualify to get a seat on that board, unless Nathan Deal is paying back favors. You know how it works in Clermont, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. To hell with the honest tax paying citizens of this State.

He is as qualified as a Q-tip!