25 Sep 2015
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The single, most relevant thing we can take away from the numerous email exchanges between Speaker Mike Hubbard and his cohorts, is that each one is about how to make money off of State government, but not even one is about how to better serve the people of Alabama, or his House District. Not one.
Hubbard whines, threatens, pleads, and grovels in a most unmanly way, and never once is it about anything other than him, personally.
He never puts his Alabama family first. He has continually betrayed them for his own prurient interests.
Hubbard knows how to package an idea, but he doesn’t know how to be a leader without breaking the rules. He knows how to sell a concept, but like the car salesman who has lost his drivers license due to a drunk driving charge, he can only sell vehicles, but he can’t drive one, legally.
Hubbard is an actor, and not a very good one at that. In the small world of Alabama politics he wanted to be Michael Corleone to former Gov. Bob Riley’s, Godfather, but instead, it turned out he was more suited for the role of Fredo. In The Godfather, Fredo is a most obedient, and dutiful son, but he is simple-minded, and the weakness of character has dire consequences for he and his family. When his father, Don Corleone is gunned-down in the street by would be assassins, Fredo panics, fumbles his gun, and fails to return fire. Next, we see him sitting on the curb sobbing, paralyzed by his own failure. This is the real Mike Hubbard, who, at heart, is a greedy, little, sniffling coward. That sexy beast, Riley, is learning that his creation can’t be trusted, but he is playing both Hubbard, and the prosecution, trying to come out on the winning side of the equation.
Ultimately, it will be Riley’s son Rob, his wartime consigliere, who will decide when to have Hubbard rowed to his unexpected demise. Rob, and his sister Minda Riley Campbell, are both pretty good lawyers, and by now they have realized that J. Mark White, the attorney Rob recommended Hubbard hire, is digging an expensive grave for his client, and perhaps the Riley mob as well.
White has fumbled Hubbard’s defense in unimaginable ways. His calling for a, "More Defined Statement of Facts" led to the first barrage of emails, which showed that Hubbard was a double-dealing cheat. And again, his motion to dismiss on the grounds that State ethics laws were unconstitutional, opened the floodgates for further emails which revealed the machinations of Hubbard's schemes to enrich himself, using his office for personal gain.
Interestingly, it was Augusta Dowd, not White, who issued a statement rebutting John Archibald’s rich denunciation of Hubbard. She thought the prosecution was “cherry picking” emails. Sorry Mrs. Dowd, they are his emails, and they are most likely the most damning.
“It's ironic that I was the 'architect' of putting a pro-business legislature in place, yet businesses seem to want to avoid any personal association with me like the plague!," wrote Hubbard to investment banker and BCA board member Will Brooke. Of course, this was right after asking Brooke, “Ya got a little something for me?”
Like Fredo, Hubbard begs from his betters, and threatens those he perceives as inferior. Hubbard packaged the Republican takeover of the legislature, but like Fredo, he was too corrupt and inept to hold on to it.
Fredo Corleone to Michael: “It ain't the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want respect!”
Hubbard is smart, but he can’t handle things, important things, like his greed, his appetite, and his lust. These are the soul killers.
Fredo Corleone: “Every time I put my line in the water I said a Hail Mary, and every time I said a Hail Mary, I caught a fish."
In a January 14, 2011 email Hubbard wrote to Riley, “I hope you know how much I love and respect you. I try every day to pattern myself after you as a husband, father, Christian and as a public servant. That's a pretty lofty goal, but I try. If I can even come close, I will be happy.”
I'm sure that Hubbard is familiar with "The Godfather." That being said, he may not want to accept an invitation from his Godfather to go fishing anytime soon. He most likely would metaphorically join Luca Brasi, who sleeps with the fishes.
RIP Fredo Hubbard.
21 Sep 2015
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Gov. Robert Bentley can rightly take credit for taking “the first step” toward “changed the course of how we are going to fund the General Fund.” But there is a sickness in Montgomery, a disease of the conscience that has not been addressed. Once again, during the second Special Session, Speaker Mike Hubbard sought to pass legislation that would gut the ethics laws and give him the ability to raise unlimited cash for his legal defense. But, he also met secretly with those who could finance his ongoing attempt to thwart justice.
After six months of political saber rattling, the battle over the State’s General Fund Budget (SGF) has ended, not with thunderous victory, but with the sigh of bitter compromise.
Gov. Bentley won.
Hubbard won as well, but in the shadows.
In each Special Session of 2015, Hubbard and his cronies employed trickery and deceit to pass legislation that would have made it easier for him avoid the justice that awaits him at the Lee County Court House.
During the second Special Session, which had nothing to do with gambling legislation, Hubbard continued to hold meetings with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI), their lobbyists Phillip and Allison Kinney, and principals of the tribe.
The PCI had offered the State $250 million in exchange for a Tribal-State compact that would guarantee them a monopoly over all gaming in Alabama. They allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars for ad/buys leading up to the Regular Session to convince voters and the legislature that their $250 million loan to the State was the gesture of a friend. The Governor told them to cut it out, and they did.
But this did not stop the deal from going forward in private offices, especially the corner office on the fifth floor, where a flat screen TV plays a continuous loop of pictures as tribute to the glories of its inhabitant House Speaker.
There was a time when Hubbard would not even offer tribal members a chair in his office and was reluctantly to meet with them. In the past, Hubbard took their money and bid them good day. But now, like a debutante turned prostitute, he smiles invitingly at those he once avoided.
He needs their money and they want to control gambling. A business arrangement between friends with benefits you might say.
Hubbard had a sudden change of heart on taxes, and in Montgomery, when a politician does a 180, there is graft to be had and players to be paid.
Those close to the Bentley camp say he is considering a Special Session to discuss passing a constitutional amendment to allow citizens a vote on a lottery. This would exclude the Marsh plan, which would offer the voters a chance to cast their ballots for table games as well.
The plan is to allow a lottery and then sign a compact with the PCI, ending any opportunity for others to compete.
Be aware that, once a monopoly is granted the PCI, they will control not only gambling but the State as well.
In the 2014 general election, the PCI spent $1.5 million to try and defeat the State’s sitting AG Luther Strange, because he dared to challenge them. If they would spend millions on revenge, what will they spend for control?
Now, the fight over the budget was the visible conflict, not the underlying cause of the clash. The real war being waged in Montgomery is over the moral center of State government. Corruption is systemic within State politics. Immorality has infected the heart of the process, with greed as its engine, and power its driver.
No. This is not a reference to the rumors surrounding the governor. There is no creditable evidence to that scandalous chatter.
The moral failings in Montgomery centers on Hubbard, his followers, and those who make their living serving the very narrow interests of the powerful elite.
Like the money changers at the temple, they should be forced from the State House in ruinous shame.
The 23 felony indictments against Hubbard are a testament to his appetite for riches, as revealed in his emails to former Gov. Bob Riley. His latest motion to have the charges against him dismissed, claiming the ethics laws he championed are unconstitutional, is a clear example of his willingness to lie to free himself from taking responsibility for his actions. And, as his actions during the Special Session show, he will corrupt the very laws of this State for his own benefit. And his deal with the PCI shows he will sell not only his soul, but also the State, to the highest bidder.
20 Aug 2015
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Speaker Mike Hubbard is so worried that he will be convicted on the 23 felony counts of violating State ethics laws, that his legal team has filed a seal motion to have those laws ruled unconstitutional.
After reviewing thousands of documents and hearing hundreds of hours of testimony, 18 citizens in Lee County found probable cause to indict and arrest Mike Hubbard, the most powerful politician in their district, on 23 felonies.
There are some who do not believe that 12 other citizens called from that same district will find him guilty of those 23 felonies. But, there is one group that is worried he will be convicted:
Hubbard's criminal defense team.
Criminal defense attorney J. Mark White said, the reason they filed the motion to challenge the constitutionality of the laws under which Hubbard was indicted, and have them placed under seal, was because it contained grand jury testimony. Matt Hart, Chief of the AG’s Special Prosecution Division, said in court that the real reason was because the filing would embarrass Hubbard. Trail Judge Jacob Walker III agreed that the motion should be unsealed, and gave the defense until Friday August 21, to publicly file the motion.
For the moment, the public and the media can only speculate on what grounds Hubbard will challenge the laws he championed, voted for, and praised saying:
“Because of the laws passed in the  Special Session, and proudly signed into law by Governor Riley, Alabama ethics laws are now among the strongest in the nation.”
What outrageous argument will Hubbard trot out to make the court believe that the laws he passed are somehow illegal?
Hubbard also wrote one of those ethics laws:
“It is my hope that future historians will say that this was the legislature that brought the reforms Alabama had needed for so long and that fundamentally changed how state government operates… Most voters in Alabama had become used to hearing politicians say one thing on the campaign trail and do something else once elected. That kind of empty rhetoric and broken promises has given Alabamians a serious distrust of state government for decades. We vowed to change that.”
In his own words Hubbard proclaimed boldly that what he and the Republican supermajority “proudly” passed were historic ethics reforms, “that fundamentally changed how state government operates.”
Now, he wants the court to believe that it was all a mistake?
The question that should hang over every republican legislator’s head like a guillotine is, will those same legislators that passed the “strongest in the nation,” ethics laws now abandon them because one of their own was caught in the net they wove?
How can a single Republican lawmaker look voters in the eye and say, “Well, it was a good law until a one of our guys broke it.”
Has the body politic of Alabama become so riddled with cancerous corruption that laws have no value, if they are broken by a member of your party? Is partisan politics mired so deeply in a dung heap of cronyism, as to grant a pass for a fellow republican who has run afoul of the laws they passed?
Hubbard’s willingness to sacrifice the good accomplished by the Republican supermajority to save his own neck, is a very telling demonstration of his deviant, and narcissistic character.
In 2010, Hubbard said, “When you look someone in the eye, give them your word, and shake their hand, you make a bond. This Handshake Agenda is our bond with the voters of Alabama, and if Republicans are successful in taking over the Legislature, these are the items we will immediately work to pass.”
The Republicans were successful in taking over the Legislature, and every other State office.
“Ending Corruption in Montgomery,” was a promise of the Handshake with Alabama Hubbard promoted. It reads in part:
“Democrats have held the majority in Montgomery for 136 years, and during that time, they created an atmosphere that breeds corruption and encourages graft…Republicans understand that we must limit the influence of special interests and other lobbyists who control much of what happens in Montgomery…Too many legislators and other public officials have been caught double-dipping or holding questionable contracts with government agencies and those wishing to do business with the state. Republicans will work to ban double-dipping and require public officials and their spouses to disclose any contracts they hold with government entities.”
Note: the "Handshake" said the republicans would put an end to those, “holding questionable contracts with government agencies and those wishing to do business with the state.” That is exactly what Hubbard is accused of doing, but now that he has been caught doing what he promised to stop, he wants the law tossed out.
Consider this: was Hubbard lying when he praised the ethics laws, or is he lying now?
Adrienne Rich, author of “Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying.” wrote:
“Lying is done with words, and also with silence.”
If State republicans remain silent on this matter, they too are lying, lying not only to the court, and the people of our State, but to themselves as well.
Leviticus 19:11 says, “You shall not steal, neither deal falsely…,” this is what Hubbard is accused of doing. It ends by stating, “ neither lie one to another.” If lawmakers and republican voices are mute on this issue, then they can no longer be trusted by the people of Alabama.
So far, Hubbard has intimidated State lawmakers, the republican establishment, and even the Governor.
American author, Bryant H. McGill, wrote “The world is not fair, and often fools, cowards, liars, and the selfish hide in high places.”
It is time to come out of hiding, and speak out against Hubbard’s lies.
07 Sep 2015
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Since it was revealed that Alabama's First Lady, Dianne Bentley was divorcing her husband of 50 years, there has been a growing feeding frenzy over speculation about an illicit affair.
Jumping head-first into the fray are the bloggers, radio talking-heads, commercial media, and of course, more than a few scandalmonger wags across the internet.
The question hinted at, and in some cases, answered as fact, is “Was Gov. Robert Bentley having an affair with a staffer?” Any honest reporter, while digging for the facts would have to admit, they don’t know.
Bentley could put an end to speculation by holding a press conference and denying the affair. The Governor has said his divorce is private matter, and to some degree that is true. But, he asked to be the leader of our State, and the people granted him his wish. With his office comes a responsibility to be honest with the people, whether it is about taxes, marriage, or divorce.
We at the Alabama Political Reporter have a policy of not printing rumors concerning sexual relationships, peccadilloes, or other indiscretions, that are common with those in, and surrounding our government. If we reported on every claim of debauchery, there would be little room for anything else.
Bentley has championed family values. He has worn his Christianity on his sleeve, and has called on others to follow the Gospel’s teachings. But, now, because of his impending divorce, the people want to know, and rightly deserve to know, if the Governor is a liar and a cheat.
In his book Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage, Paul Ekman states, “There are two primary ways to lie: to conceal and to falsify. In concealing, the liar withholds some information without actually saying anything untrue.
The people of Alabama want to know if their Governor is concealing information.
In the absence of answers, speculation rushes in to fill the void, and in politics, most often widespread speculation leads to the most vile assumptions.
Gov. Bentley has said his political enemies are shooting at him. Of course they are, and his silence gives them more time to reload and keep firing. How his campaign funds were handled as well as his, secretive 501(c)(4), is providing his enemies plenty of ammunition. Silence is not the Governor’s friend.
None of these things, and for that matter, an affair, constitutes in, and of itself, a crime. Speaker Mike Hubbard has been charged with 23 felonies and still leads the House, so, the bar on character and moral failing has been set extremely low in Alabama.
There are many who believe Gov. Bentley lied to them about taxes, and others felt betrayed when he removed all of the Confederate flags from the Capital grounds. These things have harmed the Governor’s credibility exponentially. However, these rumors, masquerading as facts, may do irreparable harm if not addressed properly, and promptly.
Bentley can recover from this public debacle. He can survive even if there were personal failings. President Bill Clinton endured impeachment, and public shame, but he survived.
The only thing that will bring the Governor down is if a crime has been committed. All the rest is just so much grist for the scandal mill.
Over the last serval months, the Governor has proven himself politically tone deaf, and floundering.
Our State is at a crossroad; fiscally and morally, and it is time for strong leaders to rise up, whose moral compass' are true.
For the moment, the public waits to see if Gov. Bentley will fill that role.
The first step is to speak openly and honestly with the people, and to answer their questions. They deserve to know, and they need to know...now.
14 Aug 2015
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
After failing to find a consensus between the Governor, the House, and the Senate, the State remains without a State General Fund Budget (SGF). After all of the acrimony, name calling, and hubris, Governor Robert Bentley still wants to raises taxes, Mike Hubbard wants to remain Speaker, and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh wants more time to create a long-term solution.
The new rallying call coming from the Governor, is the need for leaders to rise up and stand with him to do what’s right for “The People.”
Doing what's right, according to the Governor, is raising taxes.
Politicians don’t like to stand up for things unless they're popular, and raising taxes is very unpopular. Politicos like the people, they may even love the people, but only in a metaphorical sense.
Most of the men and women who sit in the chambers of the House and Senate want to do what is right for the people, in the abstract. But, governing is not a metaphysical exercise, it's about making difficult choices without losing the next election. Those are the unassailable, political facts.
It is easy to believe that Gov. Bentley’s heart is in the right place. He has always said, “I love the people of Alabama, and the people of Alabama love me." But, the people, whom the Governor says he loves, do not love the Governor like they used to. And they have a very different view on taxes.
Bentley's advisors are not leveling with him. This tax campaign has been a terrible disaster. Every politico from Washington D.C. to Washington County knows this has been the Hindenburg of political roll-outs. Apparently, the Governor’s advisors are willing to let him go down with the ship, rather than risk their own necks by holding a mirror up to this folly.
From the beginning, the Governor has infuriated lawmakers by spouting threats and rancorous invectives. And, sure-to-form, the Governor has ignored those who would help him in favor of those who would use him. Bentley has an inconceivable habit of forgetting his friends and rewarding his enemies.
Just this week he announced that Speaker Mike Hubbard was on his side. Now, that’s encouraging. There is nothing like having a man who is indicted on 23 felony counts of public corruption in your corner.
At the same meeting where he revealed that Hubbard was on the team, he also unleashed more harsh words, saying that those who didn’t help him do what is right for the people by raising taxes should be beaten in the next election.
This venomous, public discourse is not helpful, and it is especially destructive to him, because, it is Bentley's goodness, not his smallness, that makes him powerful.
From day one, this publication has wished Gov. Bentley success. As citizens, and individuals, we have prayed for him to be blessed in his leadership and life. But, the path he is on, is becoming more surreal, and damaging to his credibility.
Gov. Bentley doesn’t have to run for reelection in three years. But, most, if not all, of the current crop of legislators want to continue in government, and they know, or at least should know, that anyone who votes to raise taxes will almost surely face a primary challenge. Most politicians want to help the people, but not so much that they want to be tarred and feathered by an opponent.
By and large, politicians listen to people who faithfully attend party meetings, make regular campaign contributions, and always vote. Most of these people do not want to raise taxes on iced tea, Marlboros, or wages. They want cuts, or a third way.
The people who are going to decide the next election are the ones who have the politicians' ears.
Now, this doesn’t mean the State House is occupied by callous, uncaring dilettantes, au contraire, mon ami. They care deeply. Just look into their eyes as they feel your pain.
Politics is, survival first, caring second.
Most do care, but they also know that ignoring, and thumbing your nose at the people who have the power to reelect you is political suicide.
Does this mean that Medicaid shouldn’t be fully funded, or that prison reform should be abandoned? No.
Does this mean that Bentley is wrong in his aim? Of course not.
The Governor wants a long-term solution to the State’s systemic budget woes. In this he should be supported.
As for now we have a house divided, and the chasm is not closing...it's widening.
When the Governor says that Hubbard is going to help, it is time for a gut-check Governor. If Hubbard is your ally, then your cause is tainted, and lost.
It is time to call in wise men and women who will speak honestly before it is too late to be reasonable. That time is drawing very near.