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The Trouble with Mike

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

It's been a little over a week since the Speaker of the House was indicted by a Grand Jury of his peers on 23 counts of public corruption. While law enforcement has remained silent, due to legal restraints, Hubbard and company have been in full-throttled spin mode.

Hubbard’s denials, dodges and subterfuge have reached such a frenetic level, that over the weekend he released a campaign flier, featuring a Bible and a compass pointing North.

In other words, Hubbard, in just one week, has gone from denial to the “Full-Scrushy.”

So desperate is Hubbard to hang on to his power, that he is reportedly reaching out to Black lawmakers in the House, telling them he needs their support because his former boss and mentor Gov. Bob Riley has thrown him under the bus.

If Riley has cut a deal with the prosecution, it is almost certain that Hubbard’s life is ruined.

And what about wealthy businessmen like Jim Holbrook, Rob Burton, Will Brooke, Jimmy Rane and Bob Abrams, who are all named in the indictments? Does anyone think for a moment that any of these men would take a bullet for Hubbard? Well, maybe Rane, because he’s all about some fist-fights.

But the rest.....not a chance. Not one of these men will stand by Hubbard, now that his schemes have been revealed.

Does Hoar Construction, Harbert Management Corporation, Sterne Agee or CV Holdings really need the headache of explaining Hubbard to their customers? I doubt it.

Then there is BCA power player Billy Canary, who may just have too many problems with heavy weight association members not wanting to see their company names in headlines.

It is also interesting to note that Hubbard’s most trusted allies, Dax Swatek and Tim Howe, are named in the indictments, but not their partners, John Ross and David Azbell. Hmm....can you say, flipped? Perhaps.

But Hubbard keeps on spinning saying his felony arrest is part of a which-hunt, a political prosecution and that he has done nothing wrong.

What he has not done is sit with those named in his indictments, the press and the public, and refute each count in specific order. Of course, Hubbard hopes that the day he has to answer for his crimes will never come; but it will.

There are many people who believe that Hubbard will never be convicted. These are the same people who just days ago said he would never be indicted. Oh, ye of little faith.

Has our justice system become so politically tilted that we actually believe that there is separate justice for the rich and powerful? Are we to believe the political realities of our courts strip away the blindfold of justice? Heaven, please say it is not so.

The so-called mainstream media has suddenly awakened to the fact, that perhaps something nefarious has been afoot on the fifth floor of the State House. Some have even discovered that all of the facts the Alabama Political Reporter has been revealing for last two years are true.

The news business has always been occupied by two types of reporters: those who dig for the facts and those who try to cover them up. Add to that those who will report the facts once it becomes safe to do so, and a clearer picture of the State’s Press Corps comes into view.

What to make of Hubbard’s latest spin: that he is an honest citizen/legislator trying to make an honest living?

From the indictments, one could readily conclude that Hubbard is a failed businessman whose plan for solvency rested on his ability to bilk his party and wealthy men out of their money. Of course, Jim Holbrook, Bob Barton, Will Brooke, Jimmy Rane and Bob Abrams would have never given Hubbard a nickel, had he not been Speaker of the House.

It is expressly against State law to use ones office for personal gain...period.

Another of Hubbard’s misleading arguments is that the Ethics Commission approved all his business dealings. That is not exactly the truth. The Ethic Commission did review Hubbard’s contract with the Southeast Alabama Gas District, with this caveat: writing for the commission legal council Hugh Evans, III, said, “The only potential issue that we saw would be if something came before the legislature that uniquely affected the Southeast Alabama Gas District differently than it affected all other utilities around the State of Alabama. Should this happen we would expect that speaker Hubbard would have plenty of notice in which to remove himself from discussions, votes, etc.”

It is not yet certain if Hubbard worked to pass legislation or did other illegal things that “uniquely affected the Southeast Alabama Gas District differently than it affected all other utilities.” But we do know that he did just that for American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (See article here.)

We also know that Evans warned Hubbard: “The general prohibition continues to apply, in that the Speaker may not use his position or mantle of his office to assist him in obtaining consulting opportunities or providing benefits to his consulting business or his clients.”

Hubbard’s indictments would seem to clearly suggest that he did, in fact, “use his position or mantle of his office to assist him in obtaining consulting opportunities.”

As for the Ethics Commission approving the APCI contract...that is nonsense. Former Director Jim Sumner told this publication in 2013, that he never even saw the contract. If he never saw it how could he legally approve it. But this notion of approving or disapproving contracts by the commission is suspect at best. (See article here.)

Lots of ink and a few megabytes have been employed to allow Hubbard to once again spin his web of deceit, but only the Kool-Aid crowd is buying it.

Once the  bootlickers see who and how many have turned on Hubbard, they too will disavow him.

And like many in the Press Corps, they will claim they knew there was trouble with Mike all along.

Moore Trial Day One: Defense Attorney In 1913 Or 1920?

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The first day of Republican Rep. Barry Moore’s trial was sad; even pathetic.

There was Moore, with his hound dog good looks, dressed in a beige, summer-weight sport coat, looking worn and thrift-store chic. His wife, dutifully sitting behind her man, visibly worried.

Defense attorney, Bill Baxley, gave a rambling and incoherent opening statement that seemed designed to paint Barry as just a good, old boy who had fallen victim to a merciless plot, hatched by Josh Pipkin and Jonathan Tullos, who were working in collusion with the Attorney General’s Office to frame his client.

Baxley defense of Moore, was off the chain, and clearly absurd, Imagine a murder case where the defendant is caught on taping shooting the victim at point blank range, with a pair of eyewitnesses confirming what the tape clearly showed.  Consider the bind the defense lawyer is in if the prosecutors refuse to offer any deal and insisted on the death penalty.  The lawyer has no choice but to try the case, as there is nothing to lose.  If the defendant pleads guilty, he gets the death penalty. 

In such a case, where the facts and the law are squarely against the defendant and the lawyer must try the case anyway, the only hope the lawyer has is to mislead and confuse the jury with wild conspiracy theories and subtle hints of cloak and dagger tactics.  

The classic defenses are worthless.  “You have the wrong guy!”  No they don’t.  “I didn’t shoot anyone!”  Yes you did.  “He didn’t die!”  Tell that to his grieving widow and children.  “Sure I may have told a few other people I planned to kill the guy, but they tape recorded the conversations and talked about it amongst themselves before I did it., so surely it isn’t a crime.”  Wait.  What?

As absurd as it is, that’s where Moore finds himself.  On the wrong side of the facts.  On the wrong side of the law.  Instead, he’s left with Baxley’s attempts to mislead and confuse the jurors, hoping somehow that they disregard the facts, the tapes, the eyewitnesses, the law, and their combined centuries of common sense. 

Moore is charged with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements during the Lee County Grand Jury's investigation into Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

The charges came from answers given regarding conversations between Moore and then-candidate for HD91, Josh Pipkin. The conversations were in relation to Hubbard’s threats to withhold 100 jobs from Enterprise, if Pipkin did not exit the race. In these statements, Moore alleged that Hubbard said he (Hubbard) would “rain holy hell” down on Pipkin if he did not withdraw.

Tullos is the Executive Director of the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp. and was the first witness called by the prosecution. He testified to the facts that Moore had made threats on behalf of Hubbard, in order to stop Pipkin from mounting a challenge against Moore in the Republican primary.

The prosecution, led by W. Van Davis, laid out a clear bullet-point presentation of exactly what Moore had done and the charges against him. It’s very simple: did Moore lie to the Grand Jury and did he make false statements to the State’s prosecutors?

However, Baxley argued before the jury that Moore supported the economic development project that Hubbard threatened to derail, he did not threaten the project and therefore had done nothing wrong. This we have to assume is the case Baxley wished he had been given.

Tullos, a West Point grad, was rudely cross-examined by Baxley, in a style more Tomás de Torquemada, than Matlock, which Tullos took in stride. At one point Baxley asked Tullos if he had sent a text message from his computer to Pipkin on June 20, 1913, at which point, the witness and the jury seemed to cross their eyes in disbelief. On an other occasion, Baxley was in 1920, so as the trial proceeded he did get a little closer to the current century.

Of course, Hubbard's criminal defense attorney J. Mark White was on hand, along with his law partner, Augusta Dowd. Both scribbled furiously on legal pads, perhaps hoping to find away to dig Baxley out of the hole he dug himself into all afternoon.

Davis was clam and relaxed as he queried Tullos, who seemed well prepared to tell his side of the incident surrounding Moore and the Hubbard threats.

Baxley asked Tullos why he called Moore only twice, while he had phoned Pipkin some 70 times—as if this was proof of a sister plot. Tullos responded by saying, "we were trying to decide if we should call law enforcement and tell them that we believed Moore and Hubbard were engaged in an extortion scheme."

So much for an attorney knowing the answer to the question they are going it’s ask.

At this point, it would be difficult to say how the trial was going, other than to really hope that Mrs. Moore can get some of her money back from Baxley if her husband goes to jail.

Special Commentary: Thoughts on a Scandal

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, has been indicted on 23 Felony counts of criminal acts.

Anyone who has read this publication over the last two years should not be surprised at Hubbard’s fall.

For the better part of those years, we here at the Alabama Political Reporter have chronicled the various activities that led to Hubbard’s arrest on Monday. In many cases our reporting has laid the groundwork for this investigation, so meticulously carried out by W. Van Davis, Matt Hard and the team from the Attorney General’s white collar crimes unit.

Hubbard’s failings as a legislator, leader and man are due to a conscience seared with the belief that power grants a moral autonomy that supersedes the law. This failure to understand the basic tenets of human nature and moral law were his undoing.

Hubbard never understood that a “radio” voice, slick suits and arrogance do not equate to power. He has been an actor in a play in which his meager talents were dwarfed by the size of the role.

A country boy from a small town in Georgia, Hubbard rose to the heights of political power in Alabama, due to, in part, to his shrewd cultivation of personal relationships with powerful men, his ability to manage public relations campaigns and a growing dissatisfaction with the state of our union, especially after the election of President Obama.

What Hubbard failed to understand in his ascent to power, was that no individual is above the law, that political power does not equal immunity, and that in America, few bullies retain dominion for very long.

His vanity publication, Storming the State House, is filled with self-aggrandizement, solicited praise and the revelation that Hubbard is an imitator, not an innovator and not a leader in the enduring sense of the word.

He is organized, ruthless and deceptive, but his need and lust for money is greater than all of his skills.

If there is one thing that comes as a revelation about Hubbard in these indictments, it is the fact that he is a failed businessman who needed wealthy, connected men to prop him up. It also shows that Hubbard’s entire business model is built around him using his office as Speaker of the House to remain solvent. At his core, Hubbard is a weak man, whose every action is based on how he might best benefit from any given situation.

Hubbard is a PR man through and though, even at the hour of his arrest he stage-managed a campaign—with the assistance of the State’s media elite —to portray himself as a victim and a man being unfairly targeted in a political prosecution.

He will continue to scream political prosecution without ever naming who is working against him. Is it Luther Strange, the AEA or just me? This is the behavior of a deviant mind who seeks to deceive the public and manipulate justice. Aided and abetted by an unscrupulous attorney who will say anything for a dollar. 

The only thing political about the process is that Hubbard used his political power to enrich himself personally.

Hubbard will go down in Alabama history as a carpetbagger, who came to our State and mercilessly pillaged the system.

Perhaps the only solace in this whole nasty affair, is that, so far, our system of justice is working.

 

Hubbard Presser: A Theater of the Absurd

Staff Report
Alabama Political Reporter

AUBURN—On Tuesday, with friends, family and colleagues behind him, Speaker Mike Hubbard and members of his legal team held a press conference at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center to address the 23 indictments issued against him.

The press conference, seemingly, can be broken down into three different segments:

1. Five introductions

2. Brief comments by Hubbard

3. Q & A with Mr. Hubbard’s attorney, Mark White.

White first took the podium and laid the ground rules for how the press conference would follow.

All legal questions were to be answered by White, not Mr. Hubbard.  Secondly, White took a few moments to lay out what Hubbard’s legal team would like to immediately accomplish moving forward:

1. Filing papers calling into question the creation of the grand jury investigating Hubbard

2. Looking into the accusations from a letter written by former employee of the attorney general’s office, Sonny Reagan.

White made clear his disgust with the indictments and said his team of lawyers would be fully prepared to defend Hubbard against the 23 indictments. The lead attorney even got a round of laughter from those behind him as he compared the legal defense team’s eagerness to Auburn’s hurry-up/no-huddle offense.

After the well-timed joke, White quickly changed tone and informed those in attendance that Hubbard would not be resigning as Speaker of the House and would not be stepping aside.

Following White’s last statement and light applause from the crowd, five attendees were individually asked to introduce Hubbard to the already familiar crowd.

First was Congressman Mike Rogers (AL- 3), who spoke of his closest friend with admiration and sincerity. Rogers briefly told a few stories about their 12-year relationship and how everyone in Hubbard’s district can be certain Hubbard works hard.

After Rogers was Joe Donaldson, Chairman of Auburn’s Chamber of Commerce, who took the podium to commend Hubbard for his vision and leadership for Auburn and Lee County.

Bill Ham, Jr., the Mayor of Auburn, was the next with a few accolades for Hubbard and the members of the legislature who were there in support. Those verified include: Rep. Ed Henry, Rep. Jack Williams, Rep. Alan Harper, Rep. Matt Fridy, Rep. Alan Baker, Rep. Paul Beckman, Rep. Mike Ball, Rep. David Sessions, Rep. April Weaver, Rep. Jim Patterson, Rep. Kerry Rich, Rep. Mac McCutcheon, Sen. Tom Whatley and Sen. Del Marsh.

Tammy Jones, a 25-year retired educator, spoke following Ham and highlighted Hubbard’s dedication to education in Lee County and across the State.

Rep. McCutcheon closed by not only offering his support, but his fellow members’ support who were in attendance as well.

After the final introduction was completed, Hubbard approached the podium and he seemed to be in a lighthearted mood while doing so. Then almost on cue, he joked by welcoming everyone to the kickoff to the final two weeks of the campaign. And after having friends gush over him, Hubbard took the proper time to thank those who had helped him along the way. In particular, he thanked Sen. Del Marsh. Hubbard said that he and Marsh were partners in the GOP takeover in 2010 and so close that they talk every day.

Hubbard cited the changes he and his friends created in being the primary motivational force about why these indictments are happening. Hubbard said those against him are upset because they want to maintain the status quo and there is a larger agenda at play.  Further, Hubbard said they are going to spend the next couple of weeks exposing that agenda.

In the closing moments of his comments, Hubbard appeared to make the accusation that someone was not following the Grand Jury Secrecy Act and it was not him.

Following that lead, White stepped in and began taking questions.

The first question fielded asked White who was leading the prosecution against Hubbard. White responded by stating the special prosecutors and who were appointed by the State Attorney General were leading the investigation, but he believes the investigation is politically motivated and alleged that Strange is behind the case due to Hubbard being a political threat. White even went as far as to say he believes Strange is receiving information on the case even after recusing himself.

A later question from the group of reporters asked if he believed the allegations are false or if the defense believed the allegations were not a crime at all. White responded by saying yes. It was not too clear to which way he was answering yes.

White quickly got out the point that there are other forces at play as well and we should all stay tuned before he closed down the questions and ended the press conference.

Get your popcorn ready.

 

Hubbard Sends Email of Woe To Caucus

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, wasted no time in contacting the Republican House Caucus, to assure them of his innocence, and to beat the drum of political prosecution.

The question remains: who will believe a man who is indicted of 23 felony counts of wrong doing while holding the Speaker’s gavel?

Hubbard proclaims to the caucus that the charges against him are false, and that he has never misused his office or broken trust with the caucus members.

Hubbard seems to want to assure the people that hold his political future in their hands that he is not guilty of the things which a Grand Jury of his peers have accused him. Much like a cheating spouse, Hubbard wants them to believe his words and not their own lying eyes.

Although Hubbard says he will “vigorously fight these false charges through the justice system,” it is that same system that has seen fit to indict him on multiple counts of wrong doing.

Hubbard continuing on said, “It doesn’t come as any surprise to you that I have been the target of a political witch hunt. I have suspected so from the beginning, and the timing of these charges – coming two weeks before the election – leaves no doubt.”

He continues to say that he is the victim of a political prosecution, but fails to name those who are orchestrating the attack. This is standard fair for any indicted politico. They whine incessantly into the abyss hoping that someone will hear and believe.

Hubbard, who is accused of using his office for personal gain and for receiving money and other things of value from his “clients” American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc, (APCI) and Southeast Alabama Gas District, (SEAGD), wants his fellow house members to believe that all his actions were sanctioned by the Alabama Ethics Commission. Jim Sumner, who was the State’s ethic director, did see Hubbard’s contract with SEAGD, and pointedly the commission's, legal council Hugh Evans, III, wrote, “The only potential issue that we saw would be if something came before the legislature that uniquely affected the Southeast Alabama Gas District differently than it affected all other utilities around the State of Alabama. Should this happen we would expect that speaker Hubbard would have plenty of notice in which to remove himself from discussions, votes, etc.”

It would seem that the Grand Jury saw something amiss with how Hubbard executed his work for SEAGD.

As for his contract work for APCI, the indictments show that Hubbard tried to pass legislation favorable to his client, which is a felony offense according to State ethics law.

Even more revealing is that Sumner could not have approved Hubbard contract in any real sense, because he admitted to this publican that he never even saw it.

In his email Hubbard states, “I have not violated the public’s trust, and I never will. I wish I could say the same thing about the rogue prosecutor who is leading this assault on me.”

Does he mean that the chief of the Attorney General’s white collar crimes unit, is a rogue actor? Trial Judge Jacob Walker, III, the state Criminal Court of Appeals and the State’s Supreme Court have concluded that the there is no rogue prosecution or prosecutor. Yet, once again, Hubbard expects the Republican Caucus to believe him in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

Lastly, Hubbard wants the caucus to know he is going to fight, and fight, and fight some more, and with a note of warning he tells the group, “this could have been done to any one of us.”

 

From: Mike Hubbard 

Date: October 21, 2014 at 8:35:47 AM CDT

Subject: Message To Members

Fellow Members of the House of Representatives:

By now, many of you have read or heard about the accusations against me. I will vigorously fight these false charges through the justice system, and I am confident that I will prevail. My first obligation as always, is to answer to the people of my district who elected me. Secondly, I am obligated to you, the Members of the Alabama House of Representatives, who honored me with your trust as Speaker.

I want you to know that I have not misused my office or abused your trust. I have considered it a privilege and sacred duty to serve with you in the Legislature and to make significant changes – not for our benefit, but for the benefit of our constituents and our state.

It doesn’t come as any surprise to you that I have been the target of a political witch hunt. I have suspected so from the beginning, and the timing of these charges – coming two weeks before the election – leaves no doubt.

While this is something no one wants, and it has been painful for me and my family, there is a silver lining. I could not defend myself against innuendo and leaks. But I can and will defend myself against these charges.

From the very beginning, I took great pains to separate my personal business life from my public service. On multiple occasions, I consulted with the Ethics Commission’s director, Mr. Jim Sumner, to ensure that I adhered to all ethics laws, and I trusted his expertise and followed his advice.  I went above and beyond what was legally necessary to make sure I followed the law. I have not violated the public’s trust, and I never will. I wish I could say the same thing about the rogue prosecutor who is leading this assault on me.

I intend to fight these charges with everything I have, because I believe there is much more at stake than my political future. Remember, this could have been done to any one of us! I am fighting to prove that using the legal system for political purposes is wrong and will not be tolerated.

 

Mike

Rep. Mike Hubbard
Speaker of the House
Alabama House of Representatives

 

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