Bootleggers and Baptists in Alabama Politics
By Art Carden
I think Bruce Yandle’s “Bootleggers and Baptists” theory of regulation has an enormous amount of explanatory power. My review of his new book on the subject will appear in the Independent Review at some point.
Yesterday, we got to see an example–or at least allegations of an example–in action. Religious conservatives in Alabama’s Republican base opposed legalize gambling for moral reasons. Not surprisingly, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians also opposes further legalization of gambling in Alabama that might cut into their business.
Reporting for Politico, Alexander Burns points out that the Republican State Leadership Committee effectively received donations from the Poarch Creek Indian Tribe and then passed the money to Alabama Republicans and Republican groups. The article is about a document describing these transactions as possible kindling for a potential political disaster. In a particularly interesting bit of Bootleggers and Baptists logic, Burns points out that one group that got $100,000 was called Citizens for a Better Alabama, formerly called “Citizens Against a Legalized Lottery.”
Whether it was illegal is for courts to decide. Whether it is forgivable is for voters to decide. What’s clear, though, is that this we absolutely should not be surprised, in light of Yandle’s insights, that incumbent casino owners will try to restrict competition through the political system and also by helping foot the bill–perhaps indirectly–for “Baptist” groups that share their cause.