14 Apr 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" ~ Sir Walter Scott
Republican Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard has said that he is going on the offensive. Hubbard, a football promoter but never a player, seems to mean that he is going to score points. He most certainly will attempt to destroy his opponents as well.
So far, Hubbard’s public offense has been to weave a story of his innocence, while ignoring or changing all the facts that point to his guilt of using his office for personal gain. He whines that he is under “political attack,” while he himself uses political smears to divert attention away from his wrong doing.
He blames liberal special interests, biased media, teachers and somewhere in all the lies and subterfuge there is President Obama, presiding over the attacks on the beleaguered Speaker.
His white collar criminal attorney, J. Mark White should remind Hubbard that in his case speaker is a noun not a verb.
In reality, Hubbard is the victim of his own personal greed and lust for power. He thought that he was the master of Alabama politics but he is a two-bit hustler and a thug.
Now, the swift sword of justice hangs over his neck, and the pain of ruin is a daily reminder of his flawed strategies. Of course, the new fighting spirit that Hubbard is trying to exhibit is merely criminal euphoria; the elated sense that every narcissistic miscreant feels right before they are taken down.
His lawyers will try to keep him in this elated state because there is nothing better for a criminal defense attorney than a wealthy client who is as guilty as sin.
Hubbard’s PR campaign is designed to assure the Republican base that all is well. It may have some effect on a potential jury pool and it will certainly make Hubbard feel better.
But Hubbard is in real trouble. Hubbard became the de facto leader of the Republican Party and the Speaker of the House because of his ability to weave a compiling narrative and his fundraising prowess. Now, he is being seen by many republicans as a weaver of lies and a failure at raising campaign cash.
In the past, Hubbard was able to use campaign cash as a carrot or a stick over House members. Now, he has neither and is little more than a dream weaver, living in a fantasy world where a mysterious $10 million is sitting in the Bank of Neverland, designated for incumbent protection.
After a recent fundraiser in Huntsville, it was rumored that Hubbard and former Governor/Lobbyist-in-Chief Bob Riley met with members of the Republican House caucus. And at that meeting, it has been said that, the House members told Hubbard, indictments or not, they would not be supporting him for a second term as Speaker of the House.
Those with knowledge of the meeting said that Riley tried to intervene saying something like, “Boys, let’s not be hasty here, we have got this thing worked out. We all need to stick together behind Mike and see this through.”
Riley perhaps more than anyone, has more to gain and more to lose if Hubbard is taken down by law enforcement. If this defection is real, then Hubbard power is gone, and so is Riley’s.
As for offense, Hubbard’s wife has come out on facebook and in a campaign mailer extolling the virtues of her Hubbard. Again, according to Mrs. Hubbard, all his trouble can be traced to the liberal special interest, blah, blah, blah.
Mrs. Hubbard does say in the mailer that Hubbard is the same at home as he is in Montgomery.
Wow, now that is a statement: Does he bully his kids? Does he threaten his dog? Does he promise to bring Holy Hell down on Mrs. Hubbard if she burns Sunday dinner?
Surely, Hubbard’s family doesn't have to endure the tyrant that he is when he is in Montgomery.
Does he lie to his children? Does he abuse the dog? Does he cheat on his wife? He certainly has done that to House members and the people of Alabama while sitting on his high dais in Montgomery. Surely, this is not true.
Perhaps the most "award winning" of Hubbard’s new offensive ads is the one in which the narrator asked, “What happens when conservatives stand up to Barack Obama?” the answer is, “They get attacked.”
It then goes on to claim that the reason Hubbard is under attack is because he has dared to fight against Obamacare.”
(See, I told you he would get around to blaming Obama)
Sadly, most Republicans running for office in Alabama have boiled their campaign rhetoric down to a noun, a verb and Obama.
I hate to be the one to inform the Speaker, but Obama does not know who you are and could care less what you think or have been doing.
Hubbard, in his long tenure in state government, has stood for only one thing: feeding-off the taxpayers for personal gain.
Hubbard is not under attack because of political ideology, because he has none.
He is under attack because he is a crook.
And people need to know that.
12 Mar 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
In the last few minutes of the 1977 Frost/Nixon interview, a very human moment occurred when Richard Nixon said,
“I let down my friends, I let down the Country, I let down our system of Government….”
If you have ever viewed the tapes and/or watched the film, Frost/Nixon, it is a profound admission of guilt. Most of the country had waited years for Nixon to confess—at least in some measure—to the wrongs he had committed and the needless pain and shame he had brought to our Republic.
Some today would like to rewrite history and whitewash over the Nixon incident all together. But in those seconds, Nixon did not try to wash away his sins, rather, he owned them before hundreds of millions of people.
As the camera focused in on his swollen and tired face he continued,
“...and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into Government, but will think it is all too corrupt and the rest…”
Nixon was a man capable of seeing into the future and how actions shaped events, how certain events would affect attitudes and thusly change the country.
He saw that many good young men and women would turn from public service because of his corrupt acts.
Many politicians have done terrible things, but none have been so fully played out on the National stage.
Nixon is a tragic figure, a man of immense talent and intellect, yet, he had a fearsome dark side that would eventually be his undoing.
Sadly today, we see rampant corruption in the Alabama State House. Greed and a lust for power stinks like a rotting corpse and it permeates every corridor and every office.
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard along with his followers have infected the political process with a deadly disease; one that can only be cured by amputation.
Even under the shadow of a Grand Jury investigation Hubbard and his minions continue to pass legislation that will enrich themselves and their cronies.
Nixon was a brilliant man capable of great things. Hubbard is like a child with an exaggerated sense of self. He doesn’t have the capacity for greatness, so, he plays the politics of distraction and destruction.
There is a flat screen television in Hubbard’s office that plays a continuous photo loop of Hubbard standing with famous people. In one shot he is standing alone in front of Air Force One. It is really a sad picture because he is standing so far away from the airplane. One could feel sorry from him, if he had not destroyed so many lives in his rise to power.
All Hubbard has achieved is to become a small tyrant, in the small world of Alabama politics.
He could have done great things for our State, rather, he chose a different path.
What must the wee hours of the night be like for a man like Hubbard? Does he sleep in peace or do specters of the men and women he has wronged haunt him? Does he wake with a start and play out a scenario in which a courtroom and a jail cell looms for him in the near future? Does he think about the shame he will bring on his family, friends and the State? Does he think about those young people he has influenced who will either give up on politics--or worse--imitate him?
After Nixon was broken, he actually realized the nature of his crime. I doubt Hubbard has that capacity.
Most people when confronted with their wrongdoing are not sorry for what they did but sorry they they were caught.
In those minutes when Nixon confessed to Frost I believe he was truly sorry for what he had done.
I wonder if Hubbard will have such a moment?
He is a tiny vessel perhaps incapable of any depth of reflection. It took years for our Country to recover from the sins of Nixon. Some believe we never have, while others claim its affect on America was minimal.
It will take Alabama time to right the wrongs caused by Hubbard and his followers. But, we will heal sooner than later if good men and women are elected to public office who have not been tainted by Hubbard’s corruption.
As with Nixon, Hubbard’s life will be a cautionary tale, one that shows when you steal the State House, your theft will be uncovered and payment by a righteous system of justice will be exacted.
27 Feb 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) sponsored a two-percent Alabama Teachers pay raise for the 2015 Fiscal Year Budget. This was the same as Governor Robert Bentley had requested. However, the Senate Education Budget Committee instead approved a one percent/one-time bonus for teachers.
“So goes education, so goes Alabama,” Ward said. “We need to make sure our teachers are well compensated, and appreciated. Though they received a two-percent raise last year, we are still $9,000 below the National average, and rank 39th among states in terms of teacher compensation.”
Senator Trip Pitman (R-Daphne) said that the reason educators would not received the two-percent pay increase proposed by Ward and the Governor was because “the economy has remained stagnant and has not rebounded.”
But, Republican lawmakers, who would not speak on the record because of concerns of retaliation, tell a different story.
These lawmakers agree that the biggest barrier to giving teachers a pay increase is not the economy, but three men: former Gov. Bob Riley, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and Billy Canary, the head of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). Because he takes his marching orders from the three other men, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) should be included in this group.
Canary has said privately on several occasions that he wanted to destroy the Alabama Education Association (AEA). This has been a goal of many in the Republican Party for years. Bradley Byrne, who was Bob Riley’s handpicked successors, ran his gubernatorial campaign almost solely on dismantling the education organization. He was defeated by the AEA and the race was cleared for the rise of Robert Bentley.
There are basically three reasons why some in the ALGOP and the BCA want to ruin the AEA, and it has little to do with ideology. The reason is a simple political calculation. In the past, the AEA financed mostly Democrat candidates for public office. Because of the steady flow of contributions from it members, it was one of the largest power blocks for electing lawmakers.
Canary, an acolyte of Karl Rove, wanted to be the central power broker in the State and the AEA was his nemesis. For Hubbard, the same was true: defeat the AEA and control to State.
For Riley, who took hundreds of thousands from the AEA, the choice was much simpler. Riley wants money and privatizing education is a quick and easy way to make millions of dollars.
Over the last three years, Republican representatives and Senators have complained that they have become pawns of the BCA. Some have come to the point of saying privately that the BCA is even worse than the AEA.
From the “Gun Rights Bill” to the fight against “Common Core,” it has been the BCA who has stood in the way of a Conservative agenda. And it is not just the millions in corporate giveaways, or the recent so-called Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights that has troubled conservatives. It is the steady building of a Big Government Republican apparatus controlled by Big Business.
Riley, Hubbard, Canary and Marsh are not small government Republicans, they are big government corporatists. They believe in government control and the privatization of the arms of government that can make them and their cronies wealthy. The resistance to give educators a raise is because they want to eliminate public education and privatize it for profit. The only road block to their dreams of total business control of government are the teachers and support personal who have united under the AEA.
Canary has been the prime mover behind insuring the implementation of Common Core Standards. Hubbard and Marsh do his bidding.
Riley, with the support of the other three, has pushed for privatizing education so he and his business partners can make big money. Is it surprising that both of Riley’s chiefs of staff are lobbyists for the big corporate education brokers? Or that Hubbard and Marsh have become chummy with the biggest names in education privatization?
Of course, this scheme may soon unravel, as the Special Grand Jury in Lee County is heavily invested in finding all the criminal machinations of Hubbard and his fellow travelers.
Carney, Riley and Marsh are names that have surely become familiar to those gathered at the Lee County Courthouse.
What their future holds is uncertain, but, what is sure is that these men are the biggest problem facing the State, not teachers and until they are vanquished from power, Alabama will rank near the bottom in everything except public corruption.
So, when you hear that teachers are getting a one-percent bonus instead of a two-percent raise, remember: it is not about lack of funds...it is about power and who gets the spoils.
05 Mar 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
In the 1948 classic film Key Largo, there is a poignant scene between James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. Cagney plays the mobster Johnny Rocco and Bogie plays a weary war veteran named Frank McCloud. They are joined in the scene by Lionel Barrymore who plays Key Largo Hotel owner James Temple. The exchange is as follows:
Johnny Rocco: There's only one Johnny Rocco.
James Temple: How do you account for it?
Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don't you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Sure.
James Temple: What's that?
Frank McCloud: Tell him, Rocco.
Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh ...
Frank McCloud: He wants more, don't you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That's it. More. That's right! I want more!
James Temple: Will you ever get enough?
Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won’t.
The Johnny Roccos are still around. In Alabama, a few of them sit at the highest seats in government and they want more.
So is the case with a new bill sponsored by Republican Representatives Chad Fincher and Mary Sue McClurkin. Both Fincher and McClurkin are not seeking reelection so it seems fitting that their last act should be to carry water for the State’s Roccos.
HB558 in designed to expand the contributions an individual can make under the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013.
The goal is to allow individuals to make unlimited contributions to the Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) that raise money to fund the AAA program.
The bill also changes the definition of an individual to mean any LLC or Sub Chapter S Corporation.
This expanded definition is meant to widen the pool of donors for the SGOs.
The total yearly cap for the program is still set at a maximum of $25,000,000.
Out of the original eight 501(c)(3) non-profits operating as SGOs under the Accountability Act, the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, LLC, has raised the most money.
In just a few short months, Opportunity Scholarship Fund, LLC, has raised around $18,000,000 of the $25, 000,000 the entire program is allowed to raise.
This SGO is under the control of former Gov. Bob Riley, a man who knows how to make government pay.
The Riley organization's take of the money donated by corporations and individual donors is 5 percent which means that in the last few months Riley’s group has made around $900,000. A nice windfall for a company that consists of a few employees and a website.
The actual processing of scholarship funds for Opportunity Scholarship Fund, LLC, is handled by the Florida company owned by Riley’s partner, multimillionaire, John F. Kirtley.
All of the donors to the fund controlled by Riley are secret and not even the State can look behind the veil of these secret funds.
Last December, Gov. Bentley told alreporter.com that he never intended for anyone to use the Accountability Act to make money off the SGOs. He said that he and his staff would monitor the SGOs and would seek legislation if the SGOs were not operating properly. Bentley also said that he did not support creating anymore programs that would be funded by tax credits funneled through SGOs.
Of course this has all been part of a carefully crafted plan by Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh to make sure their patrons like Riley are rewarded with a steady supply of cash.
Riley says he is not taking a salary from his SGO. But, there are many more ways to make a profit than by taking a monthly wage.
Sadly, men like Hubbard, Marsh and Riley have used the government as a way to enrich themselves and their cronies.
They are the Roccos and they want more.
Toward the ending of the exchange in Key Largo between Cagney and Bogie, Cagney’s character asks:
Johnny Rocco: You, do you know what you want?
Frank McCloud: Yes, I had hopes once, but I gave them up.
Johnny Rocco: Hopes for what?
Frank McCloud: A world in which there's no place for Johnny Rocco.
Many in Alabama hope for a day in which there is no place for the likes of Riley, Hubbard or Marsh in government.
10 Feb 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Over the last eighteen months or so, the Special White Collar Crimes Division of the State’s Attorney General’s Office has been conducting an investigation into the possible wrongdoings of Alabama’s Speaker of the House, and those surrounding him.
This investigation is being led by Special White Collar Crimes Prosecutor Matt Hart.
Hart a career prosecutor is widely known as a dogged agent of law-enforcement whose integrity is unimpeachable.
He is also appreciated for his intense investigative skills, fact gathering efforts and willingness to follow the long-winding trail of with systematic examination.
This all means that justice is not necessarily swift but it is thorough.
Generally, we don’t think of a year and a half as a long time, but we have become so accustomed to television crime dramas being neatly wrapped in a bow in under an hour that we forget that real white collar crimes take painstaking research and scrutiny.
It is said that the wheels of justice grind slowly but grind exceedingly fine; this is what we should understand and hope. We should desire the millstone of justice to move in such a way, that it ensures that all crimes and guilt are verified and that all parties concerned stand before the high court. We should wish above all else that justice is served. In a case as complex as the one surrounding Speaker Hubbard, time is required, and patient, slow investigation is a necessity. Hubbard’s career is a long and shadowy one, with layers of activities under multiple schemes, involving many people.
In such investigations, generally, documents are the the first vital pieces assembled. Then people must be challenged in a grand jury to corroborate or deny the information. Again, all of this takes precious time to verify. Grand Jury testimony almost always leads to an expansion of the investigation, because more evidence usually comes forward and some people have a tendency to lie...even to a Grand Jury. It is important to remember in public corruption cases it is often the cover-up that puts so many people behind bars.
It has been said that Hubbard told his soldiers to stand firmly together, and that they will all survive through solidarity. Of course, human nature demands self-preservation and that means that people are talking. Hubbard is a bully, a thug and an evil man, but he is also a cunning politician. He knows how to win a campaign.
First he attacked the messenger, that being alreporter.com.
Then he quieted other media that might follow on with threats from his clever criminal defense attorney, J. Mark White.
Hubbard has even tried to smear the lead investigator, Matt Hart, by saying he was fired from the US Attorney’s office (which he was not) and by saying he was “unstable.”
This style of aggression has not served to help Hubbard, so recently, the rumor has been floating that there was something amiss about Hart’s military service.
It is certain that Hubbard has called in every political favor he is owed to save his skin.
The political pressure being placed on Hart and his team must be beyond what any citizen could imagine.
It is also been rumored that pressure is being brought to bare of Attorney General Luther Strange to put a swift and favorable finding for Hubbard and his minions.
Rumor is that Hubbard and his boys have a “Second Act” for Strange. Indicating that they have a plan to damage the popular Attorney General. It is worthy to note that Luther Strange has recused himself from this case and to reinsert himself in anyway could be considered a crime.
But, the most persistent rumor is that law-enforcement would never dare arrest Hubbard, because he is too powerful. There are many who believe that the Alabama Justice system is so corrupt that it will whitewash this investigation and that Hubbard will be exonerated. It is enough to worry about what devious men like Hubbard might do but it is perhaps more frightening to think that perhaps “the good guys” are cooperating to protect the guilty.
People say that Hubbard is the most powerful man in Alabama politics. I disagree. I believe he is the weakest man. Thuggery, dishonesty and using your office for personal gain is not power, it's extreme cowardice.
Hubbard’s dealings are at once complex and yet simple. His book, Storming the State House, serves as a roadmap to many of his corrupt activities because, like so many with narcissistic personality disorder, Hubbard can’t help but brag about his accomplishments. (Not being a specialist in personality disorders I cannot say with absolute certain what might be Hubbard’s exact pathology but NPD is one that fits in my opinion.) But, there is no doubt that the wheels are turning and Hubbard and his allies are under the heavy millstone of justice.
One day soon, Mike Hubbard will have to stand before the court and bear witness of himself.
And anyone who aids Hubbard by hindering prosecutions will be found out and exposed for the their treasonous behavior.