Apparently, some members of the group playing at Persimmon Ridge did not want to be found. Alabama State Rep. Artis McCampbell, a Demopolis Democrat, responded to questions from an ABC News crew by brandishing his golf club. "Look, if you don't want me to take this to you, then leave!" he said.
The Persimmon Ridge golf group was listed under Jones' name, but Jones did not return calls from ABC News asking him to confirm that he paid the greens fees. Asked who had paid for the outing, one golfer, Republican State Rep. Harry Shiver, told ABC News, "They paid for some of it, I paid for the rest of it."
Though none of the lawmakers with Jones would turn out to be among those arrested, all were supporters of the gambling bill at the heart of the Alabama corruption scandal. Three of the four had also received tens of thousands in campaign donations from Greenetrack, a gaming client of Jones'.
Two of the golfers at Persimmon Ridge, Democratic state Reps. Bobby Singleton and Oliver Robinson, counted gaming companies and lobbies as their first and second largest campaign contributors from 2006 through 2010, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Greenetrack gave Singleton $97,500 and Robinson $25,000 in that time period. The gaming lobbyist Bob Geddie, whose Fine Geddie & Associates gave $52,500 to Singleton and $26,500 to Robinson, was among the lobbyists arrested earlier this month in connection with alleged vote buying involving other lawmakers.
Shiver and the other three legislators did not respond to subsequent requests from ABC for more information about who had footed the bill. But even if Jones did pay, the Persimmon Ridge outing was perfectly legal under current state law. Eighteen holes of golf at Persimmon Ridge costs from $70 to $80 per person, far below the existing $250 cap.
The legislators' choice of a round of golf over an ethics seminar is emblematic of the challenges facing would-be reformers. Often poorly paid or part time, lawmakers are outnumbered in state capitals by lobbyists -- six or seven to one.
Gov. Riley, a gambling foe, told ABC News it was very difficult to protect the anti-gambling votes in the legislature from the influence of the gaming lobby's money.
"You have to remember," said Riley, "our legislators here do not have a paid staff. Most of these people are pharmacists or doctors or insurance agents that come here."
"A lobbyist really can perform a useful function [and] if you're going to be in politics you're going to have to raise money. ... It's when you get to the point that you offer a cash reward for any particular vote, then there's no one who can defend that."