Bob Riley, Bribery, and a Bad Choice
Reveling in his legal victory, Riley appointed Juan Chastang to the Mobile County Commission. But it didn't take long for questions to arise about Chastang's qualifications. The most serious charges relate to allegations of attempting to bribe a fellow police officer. Chastang was subsequently suspended and left the police department soon thereafter.
And oh yeah, Chastang might not even live in District 1, which would render him unable to serve.
The governor's office says that Riley was not aware of these allegations prior to the appointment. But it sure didn't take the Mobile Register long to dig up the dirt.
Local Democrats haven't given up on forcing a special election and are now pressing the issue in federal court.
Though this has surely given the governor a headache, Chastang (who will serve until the 2008 elections and earn over $200,000) has already been sworn in and cannot be removed by the governor. Chastang has apologized to the governor for not disclosing the bribery related suspension, but shows no sign of resigning.
Finding a conservative Republican in a heavily Democratic district is probably a tall order, but you'd think the governor could find one without a track record of bribery.
And although this story is specific to Mobile, if more dirt surfaces or if Chastang has further problems as a commissioner this appointment could come back to haunt Bob Riley. One of Riley's strongest arguments for re-election is his relatively scandal-free administration after the tumultuous Siegelman years. However, appointing individuals with serious ethical baggage could quickly tarnish the reputation Riley has worked so hard to earn.