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Federal Judge Calls Out Alabama State Senator Scott Beason, Author of HB 56, for Racist Motives

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scott beasonYou know what’s a pretty good sign that you’re a racist?

When a federal judge goes out of his way to explicitly call you out for being racist.

Such was the experience of Alabama State Senator Scott Beason last week when U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson decided to allow Beason’s testimony to be heard in a gambling corruption case.

Here’s the back story, as explained by Alabama Live:

Beason and [former Rep. Benjamin] Lewis were key prosecution witnesses in the case, in which VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and others were charged with offering and taking bribes to try to get a gambling bill approved in the Alabama Legislature. The two Republicans said they approached FBI agents after they felt gambling interests made improper offers to try to secure their votes on the bill.

An honorable attempt by Beason and Lewis to try and fight corruption?  Not quite.  “In reality,” Judge Thompson wrote, “Beason and Lewis had ulterior motives rooted in naked political ambition and pure racial bias.”

He continued scathingly:

Their motive for cooperating with F.B.I. investigators was not to clean up corruption but to increase Republican political fortunes by reducing African-American voter turnout. Second, they lack credibility because the record establishes their purposeful, racist intent.

Beason, Lewis, and their political allies sought to defeat SB380 partly because they believed the absence of the referendum on the ballot would lower African-American voter turnout during the 2010 elections. One of the government’s recordings captured Beason and Lewis discussing political strategy with other influential Republican legislative allies. A confederate warned: “Just keep in mind if [a pro-gambling] bill passes and we have a referendum in November, every black in this state will be bused to the polls. And that ain’t gonna help.”

The court finds that Beason and Lewis cooperated with the F.B.I. in order to secure political advantage. The evidence at trial showed that black communities in Alabama tend to support electronic bingo. The evidence further demonstrated that black voters tend to be Democrats.  Indeed, Beason’s and Lewis’s scheme was predicated on their belief that blacks supported electronic bingo and Democratic candidates.

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that politicians have political motives to disrupt and defeat legislation advanced by opponents. But Beason, Lewis, and other influential Republican politicians did not target Democrats generally in their opposition to SB380; they plainly singled out African-Americans for mockery and racist abuse.

Beason’s and Lewis’s statements demonstrate a deep-seated racial animus and a desire to suppress black votes by manipulating what issues appeared on the 2010 ballot.  Lawmakers who harbor such sentiments lack the integrity expected from elected officials.

Gee, thanks, Senator Beason, for doing your part to keep vote-buying out of the state legislature—even though you did it to discourage black people from voting.

As further evidence of Beason’s racism, Judge Thompson brought up the time the Senator referred to African-Americans as “aborigines” (while wearing an FBI wire!), but sadly neglected to mention other Beason comments that we at America’s Voice have found particularly endearing. 

In February of this year the Senator suggested that we should “empty the clip” on illegal immigration, and “do what has to be done.”

“If you don’t believe illegal immigration will destroy a community, go and check out parts of Alabama around Arab and Albertville,” he said, referring to a town that is 95% white.

More recently, he sponsored a bill that would have barred undocumented immigrant students from attending prom.  And of course, Beason has his name stamped all over HB 56, the new Alabama immigration law, which has for the last month been causing a civil rights and humanitarian crisis in the state.

The law so far has been responsible for making immigrant children too afraid to come to school, cutting off basic needs—such as water—to immigrant families, and devastating Alabama’s agricultural industry.   But hey, minorities are suffering, so—no surprise—Beason’s reaction to the consequences of the bill “is to stay with the law as it is.”

At the Birmingham News, Joey Kennedy tied Beason’s designation as a racist to the controversy swirling in the state over HB 56, which Beason sponsored in a column titled, “A racist heart leads to bad legislation”:

Which brings us, again, to the state’s immigration law. Beason is a co-sponsor of the law, and don’t think for a second what is on his heart didn’t make it into that bill. While no particular group is mentioned, other than those immigrants who are undocumented, the reality is that Hispanics are subject to more harassment than any other group. And not just Hispanics who may be here illegally.

Hispanic U.S. citizens, as we’ve already seen, are being singled out because of the law. That’s wrong, but it sure makes one question what was really on Beason’s mind when he was pushing the law so hard — and in defending it, despite the ugly consequences.

The Republican leadership should remove Beason from the Rules Committee chairmanship, else risk being tainted by Beason’s mouth and ugly heart.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos and Jack and Jill Politics.