Georgia Republican's campaign strategist arrested in Alabama vote buying scheme

The chief strategist for Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop's (D) Republican challenger was among close to a dozen lobbyists, state lawmakers and bingo casino operators arrested by the FBI in Alabama on Monday.

The 11 men were indicted in a scheme to buy and sell votes, which prosecutors called "astonishing in scope," according to the Birmingham News. At least three Alabama lawmakers wore wires as part of the investigation.

Lobbyist Jay Walker, who is the chief strategist for Georgia Republican Mike Keown, Bishop's challenger, was among those arrested. Walker also works on gambling legislation in Alabama. He was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery and 11 counts of honest services fraud, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

The men are accused of buying the votes of state lawmakers in an effort to make electronic bingo legal in the state.


Walker resigned from Keown's campaign on Monday, according to the AJC.
 
"He's given his verbal resignation," Keown campaign manager Andrew O'Shea told the paper. "We’re very troubled to say the least, and very sad."

Keown has an uphill climb to unseat Bishop but he'd been gaining ground as of late in the wake of the congressman's handling of scholarship money.

Georgia Democrats said Walker's involvement in Keown's campaign has "backfired."

"Mike Keown is a sitting state legislator, and instead of getting rid of lobbyists, he hires them," Matt Weyandt, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a statement. "What does Keown know about this vote-buying scheme and Jay Walker's work?"

--Updated at 11:35 a.m.