Ex Rep. Bill Miles says his, and Billy McCoy’s, nay vote on casinos a hypocrisy

Miles writes about what he calls his most hypocritical vote, which occurred after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

On previous pages he had described the growing influence of religious leaders on politics, sometimes using tactics akin to “McCarthyism” — that is vilifying people with whom they disagree.

At the time they mostly trended Republican, and, for the most part, still do.

“During a special session called by Gov. Barbour, the darling of the New Republican influence, he included allowing casinos to move 800 feet inland to get off the water and reduce the likelihood of horrendous damage during hurricanes,” Miles wrote. “More than 46,000 jobs directly and indirectly had been lost when Katrina ravished the Coast. Almost one-quarter billion dollars in state tax dollars were jeopardized.

“My contention,” Miles continued, “was that the issue of having gaming or not having gaming had been decided in 1992 before I went to the Legislature. Now, it was simply a business proposition. I could not see any difference in requiring a casino to build on water or allowing a move 800 feet on shore which provided more structural security.

“Not so with the New McCarthyites,” Miles wrote, recounting the hundreds of communications he got opposing “land-based casinos.”

He went on to describe how he participated in behind-the-scenes maneuvering with Speaker Billy McCoy and others to allow the bill to come to a vote. Both Miles and McCoy, representing Northeast Mississippi districts, voted against the bill after they were pretty sure it was going to pass anyway.

“I felt like a hypocrite, nay, a Pharisee,” Miles wrote.

“I received a phone call from the wife of a Baptist preacher praising my hypocritical vote and saying, ‘I’m a dues-paying, card-carrying Republican, but I could kill our governor.

“There’s nothing so unholy as a war among Christians,” Miles concluded.

Greenwood-Commonwealth
8/4/9