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If Just One Person Will Stand (Editorial)

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

A defiant Mike Hubbard sits high in the House Chambers, wielding the Speaker’s gavel with more power than any law-abiding citizen could possibly imagine.

The Rev. Billy Graham once said, “Self-centered indulgence, pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.” Hubbard represents this lifestyle in full-measure.

Charged with 23 felony counts of public corruption, Hubbard still holds the most constitutionally powerful office in the State. Even now he controls the legislative agenda with an iron fist and none dare challenge him.

Even if Hubbard were found not guilty of the 23 felony indictments against him, few, who have actually looked at his own words, will ever doubt that he has roughly used the mantle of his office with greedy intentions. Hubbard has brought shame upon himself, our government and our State.

Now, his shameless pride is a further embarrassment to his adopted State. Alabama has given him all of her blessings of wealth, power and privilege, and he, in return, has consumed its goodness with reckless regard. Like a rapist, he has ripped and torn her. He has stolen her virtue. And, what is almost as equally disturbing, is that those who have the power to stop him continue to stand silently watching while he continues his assault, just in another form.

How can those who have been elected to represent the good people of our State turn their heads and do nothing.

Is moral character in such short supply that we do not have one man or one woman, Democrat or Republican, brave enough to stand in the well of the House Chamber and demand he step aside?

How is it that those who claim to dare defend our State’s rights lack the courage to defend its honor.

Just one member of the House could remove Hubbard. Yes, only one is needed to begin the process that would spur others into action. It would take time and it could be extremely uncomfortable, but those who prefer comfort over doing what is right are lost already. 

One representative of the people can began the process and here is how it is accomplished:

Any member can rise during a legislative session and call for a reorganization of the House.

The chair must ask for a second, if no second comes forward the motion fails.

But what would happen if everyday, that same representative stood up and called for a reorganization of the House?

Perhaps soon, another member would stand and second the motion, and if that happened the chair would be compelled to either ask for a vote or end that day's session.

Imagine, for a moment, the daily visual of one or two representatives standing bravely to call for a vote on a new Speaker. Soon, their courage would shame other House members into action.

And, if it did not, imagine the campaign ads that could be used in the next election against those, who time and again in their silence endorsed Hubbard.

Moral courage may rise slowly, but once set in motion, it is an unstoppable force.

As a child, my mother was fond of quoting this poem by an unknown writer:

One man awake awakens another.
The second awakens his next door neighbor.
And three awake can rouse the town,
and turn the whole place upside down.
And many awake can raise such a fuss,
that it finally awakens the rest of us.
One man up with dawn in his eyes - multiplies.

Many members of the House profess deeply held Christian beliefs, Ephesians 5, exhorts us saying, “Awake, thou that sleepeth, and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light.”

In the Book of Acts, Paul and Silas were wrongly imprisoned for standing for the truth, but God set them free.

If two like-minded legislators acting like Paul and Silas would stand up, the State House would be rocked as if by an “earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.”

Prolific early Christian author Tertullian wrote, “Nature soaks every evil with either fear or shame.”

Hubbard grips the Speaker’s gavel out of fear. Far too many of those who sit in the House Chambers live in fear of him.

It is time to end this fear, and restore confidence that our State government is not a cesspool of corruption.

Not one bill that passes from the House is without suspicion as long as Hubbard remains in charge.

The defiant coward that now holds the Speaker’s gavel will leave in shame...

if just one person will stand.


Email Sheds Light on Clerk's Removal and New Sheriffs Methods

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Among the many things to be learned from a recently released email between Speaker Mike Hubbard and former Gov. Bob Riley, is that Hubbard wants to protect Riley’s State contracts, and demonstrate his personal toughness to State House staff.

The joint Legislative Contract Review Committee has oversight to examine all request for state contracts. According to statute, “The committee shall have the power to issue subpoenas for any witnesses and to require the production of any documents or contracts it feels it needs to examine in the conduct of its duties.”

In the email exchange, Hubbard also references a Huntsville Times article by Bob Lowry. “I'm sure you read the Lowry article in the Huntsville Times today. I took Contract Review away from the person who had been feeding all of your contract information to Holmes and others, and she has been told that she is on very, very thin ice right now.”

In the article, Lowry espouses to oust long serving-committee clerk Dianne Harper. Lowry’s report outlines the controversy surrounding the removal. In his article, Lowry states that Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh sent a letter to Hubbard requesting Harper be replaced. However, the email exchange between Hubbard and Riley—released at the request of Hubbard criminal defense attorney, J. Mark White—sheds some additional light on Hubbard’s role but his motivation.

The subject line of the email reads, “Happy Birthday, Mr. Speaker!!” referring to Hubbard ’s celebration of turning 49 years old.

Hubbard thanks Riley, then remarks, “I wish I was working with you on BR&A. I KNEW it would work!”

Working for Riley’s lobbying firm, Bob Riley & Associates, is a recurring theme Hubbard’s emails to Riley. 

Hubbard also tells Riley of his plan to to fire a few people to establish control and send a message. “We are shaking things up at the State House, that's for sure. I need to fire about 4 or 5 people pretty soon to really set the tone that new sheriffs are in town and in control.”

Alabama is an “at will” state, according the “...what this means is that you can fire these employees at any time and for any reason, so long as the reason is not discriminatory, retaliatory or otherwise illegal.”

In his email, Hubbard indicates he wants to terminate State workers for no other reason than to set a new tone and show who’s in control.

Many studies have been conducted on the thesis; “Bosses from hell.” 

One such article in Psychology Today lists the characteristics of a narcissism in leaders in the contemporary workplace:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

3. Believes that he or she is "special" and unique

4. Requires excessive admiration

5. Has a sense of entitlement

6. Is inter-personally exploitative

7. Lacks empathy

8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Lastly, Hubbard appears dismissive of a request by Gov. Robert Bentley writing, “Bentley had his new legislative person to ask me to give him a list of all of our proposed 'Anti-AEA legislation.' I told her to tell him that we don't have any 'Anti-AEA' legislation planned, but that we do have plenty of pro-teacher and pro-school legislation. Unbelievable.”

Emails produced in connection with Hubbard's prosecution on 23 felony counts of public corruption pull back the curtain on his many dealings while in leadership at  ALGOP and as Speaker.

This is just one more example of Hubbard’s leadership “style."


Real Solutions: The Heart Of The Bentley Revolution

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Perhaps the seminal moment in Gov. Robert Bentley’s State of the State address was when he dared say what other Republicans are loathe to admit, “There is nothing more conservative than paying your debts and getting your financial house in order.”

For decades, Alabama State Government has failed to pay its debts without handouts from the federal government or borrowing from its future.

Although the Republican super majority has trimmed government, it has also played the same shell game with reducing future spending, just like the Democrats before them.

These same legislators damn tax and spend Democrats while they are little more than borrow and spend Republicans. No intelligent human believes that they can actually borrow their way out of debt. Once again our politicos point a finger at Washington, DC and commit the same atrocities here at home.

In 2012, our cash strapped legislature asked the voters to allow for them to borrow almost $500 million from the State’s Oil and Gas Trust Fund.  The voters voiced their approval at the ballot box, because Republicans told them it was the only way to go.

At the time, Senate President Pro Tem, Del Marsh told AP, "the people trust us to be good stewards of taxpayer resources" and they wanted "us to avoid a crash landing while we continue to work to implement cost-cutting measures.”

Marsh has shown himself in most cases a good steward of the people’s money, but his “right-sizing government” has not produced enough savings to avoid another crash landing.

Once again, with a constitutional mandate to balance the State’s budget, there are too few revenues to keep the wolves at bay.

Katherine Green Robertson writing to the conservative Alabama think tank API, said, “Simply put, it has become more and more difficult to maintain level funding, much less increased funding, for all of the obligations of state government.”

Robertson and API are certainly not advocating raising taxes, but she does point out the realities facing our State when she notes, “Since 1980, the State has declared proration 11 times for the Education Trust Fund and eight times for the General Fund. In the last decade alone, the ETF went into proration six times and the GF three times. Notably, since the Republicans took power, the ETF has not gone into proration, because the 2011 adoption of the Education Rolling Reserve Act (ERRA) caps the appropriation limit. Proration was declared for the General Fund in 2012. Poor stock market conditions and tornado recovery funds were cited as contributing factors.”

Our State’s finical history demonstrates that lawmakers have run from real solutions, offering only empty words and temporary fixes to systemic problems.

In his State of the State speech, Bentley said, “The night I was Re-elected as your Governor I promised the people that we will face our challenges head on.” Now that he has articulated the way forward he is being denigrated on every side."

From a sitting State Senator attacking the Governor's plan publicly without even having read it, to bloggers comparing him to Obama and radio talking heads re-tweeting ridiculous astro-turf comments, Bentley stands undeterred.

This is not time for silly partisan talking points or political grandstanding. Serious men and woman must come together to honestly face our State’s problems. They must be willing to do what they and their predecessors have refused to do and that is to tell the truth. Alabama is broke, and far too many of our people are under-employed, under-educated and unhealthy. The Governor, in his State of the State said as much and offered the beginning of a solution. For Alabama, Bentley's stand is the equivalent of a revolution.

But perhaps the optics on the  dais right behind Bentley point to some of the roots of the State’s problems.

Bentley said in closing, "It is time we lead our great State and the great men and women who sent us here. It’s time for a bold move."


Stealing the State House: His Own Words Condemn Him

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In his vanity tome, Storming the State House, Speaker Mike Hubbard wrote in 2012:

“In my comments to the membership afterward [after being elected the first time], I set as our goal maintaining the tradition of two words that are so important they appear in the seal of the Alabama House of Representatives. Vox Populi - Voice of the People. The phrase does not say voice of the special interests, voice of the powerful, or voice of the campaign contributors, I said.  It means voice of all the people. Whether you are Republican or Democrat, black or white, rich or poor, I will work to ensure that your voice is heard in the Alabama House chamber."

Hubbard’s actions as revealed in the State’s answer to his request for a more defined statement, could not paint a clearer picture of how he used his office to be the voice of special interests, the powerful and the campaign contributors. Under Hubbard’s region the seal should be changed to Vox Potens—Voice of the Powerful.

Hubbard also wrote in his ode to himself, “Unfortunately, Alabama had gained a reputation of being a corrupt state, or at least having a corrupt government. That hurt economic development, created cynicism in the minds of the public and, quite simply, was not fair to the citizens and taxpayers of the state.”

This was written at the same time Hubbard was enjoying the benefits of hundreds of thousand in so-called consulting contracts that the State says were illegal.

In his book he also wrote, “Ethics was a subject that set Republicans apart from the Democrats. The Siegelman indictment and subsequent conviction, the two-year school scandal, and legislators being sent to prison was evidence that ethics reform in Alabama was way past due.”

However, in a September 2011 email to former Gov. Bob Riley expressed his true feelings about the State’s ethics laws: “I need to be a salesman for GB&R [sic]. Except for those ethics laws. Who proposed those things?! What were we thinking?”

Ethics reform was passed by the Republican Supermajority, but Hubbard, according to his own emails, sought to dodge privately the same laws he championed publicly.

In an email, Hubbard sets out a scheme whereby he can hide the income he is receiving from the rich and powerful. He requests that the contract be written to his business interest instead of him personally, so he “would not have to list IMG on my Alabama Ethics Financial Disclosure Form as a source of income.”

Here, Hubbard freely admits his scheme to avoid compliance with State law using the veil of corporate privilege. He did not want the citizens, or the ethics commission or law enforcement to know about his business arrangements. Even Hubbard, as deluded as he is, understood on some level, that his actions were suspect and possibly illegal.

On the pages of his book, there are a great many platitudes. Here, Hubbard extols the virtues of the Alabama voter: “Alabamians are, after all, not a corrupt people. They are honest, hard-working, God-fearing folks who deserved to have a government that reflected their values.”

Since becoming Speaker, he leveraged his position to bring in an income of around $40,000/month.  This is the average yearly wage of the God-fearing folks he describes in his book.

Hubbard wants people to believe he is an honest, God-fearing Republican, who just happened to start hauling in almost a half a million dollars a year after becoming Speaker.

He wants the honest, hard-working people of our State to believe that making this kind of money is the product of his hard work, rather than cronyism and double-dealing.

In another email, Riley and Hubbard show their raw hunger to use political position to generate person wealth. In a October 5, 2011, Riley and Hubbard discuss how they can put in place a “racket” like the one they say exists between Sen. Richard Shelby and Ray Cole. In the email Riley writes:

“Ray Cole has a racket...someone said he makes over 2 million a year and doesn't do anything but get people in to see Shelby. I may need to just hire a few lobbyist [sic] and become a principle [sic]...if I can do that; doesn't seem like I could do that but who knows maybe I can.”

Hubbard responds saying:

“You can do it. I have already checked it out. Sumner can confirm. You could hire John Ross (or any one of our friends) for $1 per year and they would do it. Ray Cole has made millions off Shelby. Those two have a shakedown routine like you wouldn’t believe.”

So, here Hubbard says that one of the State’s most respected Senators has a “shakedown routine.” Beyond the cynicism this places on full display the ravenous greed they see as just part of political business as usual.

Next Riley asks Hubbard to explain the mechanics of the “shakedown,” How does it get [the money] back to Shelby[?]. Hubbard answers:

“Campaign contributions.”

After a few more words Hubbard explains how Riley can avoid State ethics laws:

“I still believe that you are a ‘strategic business consultant’, not a lobbyist. You could hire a lobbyist for BR&A—a Riley Team person who will do it for virtually nothing—which will allow BR&A to hire Auburn Network, Inc. to handle your marketing needs. We could do media buying, polling, focus groups, design work, printing, anything you need.”

In, Storming the State House, Hubbard writes that the new ethics laws he and Riley championed would send a “loud and clear message to the people of Alabama, and to the special interest groups that had run Montgomery for decades, that things would be different from here on out.”

Hubbard has been exposed as the lying charlatan he is, yet, he continues to sit under the seal of the Alabama House of Representatives, not as a voice of the people, but as an errand boy for the rich and powerful.


The Trouble With Hubbard And The Path Ahead

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

“Hubbard Enters Session Under Cloud…”

That was part of an article this news organization published at the beginning of the 2013 legislative session. Few believed us at the time, and those who did were terrified of the consequences, including Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Since 2012, we have written hundreds of reports on Hubbard, many of which illuminated what we believed were his wrong-doings. We did not do this for money, recognition or out of hatred, as many of our detractors have barked.

Our mission statement which was written long before we never knew Hubbard, states, “The purpose of is to produce honest and accurate reporting that informs, educates, alerts and calls citizens, lawmakers and business leaders to action to insure the people of Alabama are represented by the best government possible.”

Bentley says he wants to leave office having made Alabama even better, but while Hubbard retains even a tread of power, the Governor will never achieve his goal.

Hubbard does not want to make our State better he wants to make himself richer—as the documents released in response to Hubbard’s request for a more defined statement of his indictments on 23 felony counts of public corruption reveal.

Hubbard represents what is evil in politics and in the world at large. He will do and say whatever it takes to enrich himself. And for Hubbard, it is not good enough that he win...someone else must lose.

His mind is seared with a hot iron of greed, petty revenge and lust.

The Scriptures teach us that the love of money is the root of all evil. It does not say that money in and of itself is evil. Money is like any other tool, it can be used for good or evil, and money doesn't have an opinion on the matter. But, when a person truly loves something they can never get enough of it. As for money, loving it is a very unhealthy thing.

When someone loves money their mind becomes twisted because all the money in the world would never be enough. Someone once asked John D. Rockefeller, “How much money is enough money?" He replied, "Just a little bit more.” Rockefeller was one of the richest men in the world at that time, but he always wanted more. Hubbard, like old John D., has always wanted more.

Rockefeller knew something that Hubbard has failed to grasp: wealthy men buy politicos like him, but they don’t want them in their club.

Hubbard, like many of us, is a man of humble beginnings and that is not anything to be ashamed of at all.  As a matter of fact, few people are born with trust funds.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with wanting to strike-it-rich and become an American success story; that is a dream that many people have. Hubbard had talent, drive and an ability to persuade others to follow him. These are all good characteristics, but Hubbard has treated his gifts and abilities like weapons, and has used them to beat people before climbing over them.

News outlets are beginning to call for his removal as Speaker, but Hubbard will never let go of the Speaker’s gavel. It is all he has left.

Most of us live with varying degrees of self delusion, but Hubbard’s is off-the-dial. If he could see himself for what most people now know he is, he would be reduced to a human rubble.

Sad, really, but, he chose his path.

And now that road appears to be leading straight to a State prison.



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