Connect with us

Stealing the Statehouse

Armistead Hopes Hubbard is Not Convicted

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, October 21, the Alabama Political Reporter talked with Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead about the recent arrest of Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn).

Alabama has a general election every four years.  The state elects the bodies of both houses of the State legislature, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, seven members of Congress, the auditor, even one U.S. Senator and numerous other offices as well as five constitutional amendments in just two weeks.

Republicans have completely dominated State politics since 2010 when dissatisfaction with the policies of President Obama and with the Democratic majorities in Montgomery swept Republicans into power. To this point Republican candidates had appeared to be cruising to another crushing of their Democratic rivals in races across the State.  That GOP election domination was perhaps challenged on Monday when perhaps the most powerful Republican in the State, Speaker Mike Hubbard, was arrested on 23 indictment which were handed down by the Lee County Grand Jury on Friday, October 17.

Advertisement

Some of those indictments go all the way back to that 2010 election when then House Minority Leader Hubbard was the Alabama Republican Party Chairman.  Chairman Bill Armistead was elected Chairman following Mike Hubbard’s tenure.

The Alabama Political Reporter asked Armistead if we went ahead and assumed the absolute worst and that Mike did break laws, doesn’t that have nothing to do with any of the other GOP candidates running in two weeks and that people should still be voting GOP if they really believe in the ideas of small government, low taxes, constitutional government, and don’t trust the policies of Barack H. Obama?

Chairman Armistead agreed and said, “The people ought to be looking at the individual candidates that are on the ballot and not looking at one candidate who has been charged with possible wrongdoing,” when they go to the polls in two weeks.

APR asked: Some of the counts go back to when Mike Hubbard was Chairman of the Alabama GOP and you were a member of the steering committee.  You know and worked with Mike, do you believe that he intentionally used the party to make his companies money?

Chairman Armistead said that he was not going to get involved in that and will just let the legal process work.

APR asked: Some of those counts were first uncovered in a GOP audit which flagged them as irregularities.  Do you now regret doing the audit given that likely help lead to the investigative Grand Jury which indicted Mike (Hubbard)?

Chairman Armistead said that it has been his policy not to discuss the ALGOP audit with the press.

APR asked Armistead: What procedures has the party put in place to protect itself from repeating possible conflicts of interest like what is alleged to have occurred under Mike’s tenure as Chairman, in the future?

Chairman Armistead replied: “Two things: I have set up a financial oversight committee and set up a process of doing an audit every two years.  I pledged to perform an audit when I ran for Chairman.”

APR asked: Some Democrats jumped to Facebook and social media to proclaim that (Speaker) Hubbard is guilty and even some Democratic candidates released statements presupposing guilt.  On the other hand there were some Republicans who jumped out there to claim prosecutors had nothing, this is a political prosecution and that Mike is innocent.  Given that all any of us know is from a one page prosecution press release that says Mike has been arrested and lists 23 indictments with little detail, aren’t both sides getting ahead of the facts when even the defense hasn’t yet seen the evidence?

Chairman Armistead said, “Absolutely we have to wait until we see the evidence.”  Armistead said that it is very important in America that everyone be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.

The popular ALGOP Chairman told APR, “I am hopeful that there are no convictions.”

Armistead said however if wrong doing has occurred then the legal process should play itself out.

In an official statement released just hours after Hubbard’s arrest Chairman Armistead said, “No one needs to rush to judgment. Right now, all we have is a list of charges. We don’t have the Speaker’s position on these matters and to speculate about them would be unfair to him and an exercise in futility, since we do not know whether any of these charges are true. Again, everybody in our system of justice who is accused of a crime is presumed innocent and must be proven guilty ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ in order to be convicted.”

Chairman Armistead said, “It saddens me that this has happened. In addition to being Speaker of the Alabama House, Mike Hubbard is a human being and anytime something like this happens it is a human tragedy, regardless of the ultimate outcome. My family and I will be praying for Mike and his family. We hope for a swift and just outcome to these matters.”    

Following the spectacular GOP success of the 2010 election, former Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn) stepped down from his Chairmanship to assume the responsibilities of Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives.

Bill Armistead was a former State Senator and a member of the ALGOP Steering Committee at the time.  He defeated State Representative Jay Love for the post in early 2011.  Armistead was re-elected by the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee in early 2013 defeating then Shelby County Republican Party Chairman Matt Fridy.  Both Fridy and Love were publicly backed by Mike Hubbard.

The General Election will be Tuesday, November 3.

Continue Reading

Featured Columnists

Opinion | Inside the Statehouse: Buck’s pocket

Steve Flowers

Published

on

You voted Tuesday on a crowded ballot.

Historically, in Alabama we have voted more heavily in our Governor’s race year than in a presidential year. That is probably because we were more interested in the local sheriff and probate judge’s races, which run in a gubernatorial year, than who is president. The old adage, “all politics is local,” definitely applies here in Alabama.

We not only have a governor’s race this year, we have all secondary statewide offices with a good many of them open including Lt. Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Auditor, and two seats on the Public Service Commission. We have five seats on the State Supreme Court, one being Chief Justice. All 140 seats in the Legislature are up for a four-year term. These 35 state Senate seats and 105 House contests are where most of the special interest PAC money will go. And, yes, we have 67 sheriffs and 68 probate judges as well as a lot of circuit judgeships on the ballot.

You may think the campaigning is over. However, some of the above races have resulted in a runoff which will be held on July 17. So get ready, we have six more weeks of campaigning before all the horses are settled on for the sprint in November.

We have a lot of folks headed to Buck’s Pocket. Last year after the open Senate seat contest, a young TV reporter for one of the stations I do commentary for asked me about Roy Moore and his loss. I told her ole Moore had gotten on his horse, Sassy, and ridden off into the sunset to Buck’s Pocket, which by the way wasn’t a long ride from his home in Gallant in Etowah County. She looked at me with a puzzled look. Probably a lot of you are also wondering what I’m talking about when I refer to Buck’s Pocket.

Advertisement

For decades, losing political candidates in Alabama have been exiled to Buck’s Pocket.  It is uncertain when or how the colloquialism began, but political insiders have used this terminology for at least 60 years.  Alabama author, Winston Groom, wrote a colorful allegorical novel about Alabama politics and he referred to a defeated gubernatorial candidate having to go to Buck’s Pocket.  Most observers credit Big Jim Folsom with creating the term.  He would refer to the pilgrimage and ultimate arrival of his opponents to the political purgatory reserved for losing gubernatorial candidates.

This brings me to another contention surrounding Buck’s Pocket. Many argue that Buck’s Pocket is reserved for losing candidates in the governor’s race. Others say Buck’s Pocket is the proverbial graveyard for all losing candidates in Alabama.

One thing that all insiders agree on is that once you are sent to Buck’s pocket you eat poke salad for every meal. Groom also suggested that you were relegated to this mythical rural resting place forever. However, history has proven that a good many defeated Alabama politicians have risen from the grave and left Buck’s Pocket to live another day. Roy Moore may be a good example. He has risen from the grave before. He is only 70, and he may grow weary of eating poke sallet.

Most folks don’t know that there really is a Buck’s Pocket. Big Jim would campaign extensively in rural North Alabama often one on one on county roads. One day while stumping in the remote Sand Mountain area of DeKalb County he wound up in an area referred to as Buck’s Pocket. It was a beautiful and pristine area, but it was sure enough back in the woods. Big Jim who loved the country and loved country folks was said to say that, “I love the country but I sure wouldn’t want to be sent to Buck’s Pocket to live.”

Buck’s pocket is now not a mythical place. If you are traveling up the interstate past Gadsden, on the way to Chattanooga, you will see it. There is a Buck’s Pocket State Park in DeKalb County, thanks to Big Jim.

So the next time you hear an old timer refer to a defeated candidate as going to Buck’s Pocket, you will know what they are talking about.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

 

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Hubbard’s Lee County Trial Finally Ends in Silence

Bill Britt

Published

on

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The post-trial appeal of convicted felon and former Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, finally expired on September 8, in silence, according to the Attorney General’s office calculations.

For almost four years, Hubbard, aided by his criminal lawyers, used the State House, the Governor’s Office and some within the Attorney General’s office to deny, deflect and delay justice. Hubbard stormed the State House presiding over an orgy of greed and corruption. Those days are over for Hubbard and so is any appeal before the circuit court of Lee County.

Under Rule 24.4 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, Hubbard’s motion for a new trial, dismissal and/or an investigation by the Lee County Sheriff were denied by operation of law because Judge Jacob Walker, III, did nothing.

Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, “no motion for a new trial or motion… shall remain pending in the trial court for more than sixty days after the pronouncement of sentence.” Hubbard’s sentencing July 8, on 12 felony counts of public corruption, means as of September 8, the calendar has run out for him, with Judge Walker deciding not to rule at all.

Advertisement

Under Rule 24.4: Denial by operation of law. “A failure by the trial court to rule on such a motion within the sixty (60) days allowed by this section shall constitute a denial of the motion as of the sixtieth day.”

At his post-trial hearing, Hubbard’s attorneys made their last stand in Lee County, with Bill Baxley arguing that his client was blindsided, bushwhacked and bamboozled, to no avail.

The Lee County case of the State of Alabama versus Michael G. Hubbard is over. He has a right to appeal his conviction to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals within 42 days, which expires on October 20.

Hubbard’s past efforts show he will seek every avenue available to delay his incarceration.

Every previous motion that Hubbard has set before the Court of Criminal Appeals, was denied without opinion. Many believe this same fate awaits Hubbard’s next appeal before the high court.

Hubbard’s days of freedom are rapidly coming to an end. His appeal was silently denied and most didn’t even notice. He is rapidly becoming yesterday’s news.

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Hubbard’s Post-Trial Snoozer

Bill Britt

Published

on

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

OPELIKA—While searching for any thread of an argument that might lead to a new trial for convicted felon Mike Hubbard—once the most powerful politico in the state—attorney Bill Baxley whined, fretted and accused state prosecutors of blindsiding, bushwhacking and bamboozling his client.

Having written about Hubbard’s misdeeds since late 2012, the courtroom drama ending with his conviction makes Baxley’s latest attempt at the September 2 hearing feel like Hubbard trial 2.0 ad nauseam. Only Baxley’s fantastical leaps of legal logic and strained linguistic gymnastics kept the proceedings remotely interesting. Baxley argued several points, only winning on one issue with Judge Walker’s ruling that Hubbard would not be required to pay $1.125 million in restitution, as the prosecution asked.

Before the hearing began, Hubbard’s criminal defense team filed a motion to unseal all court documents related to the case, except one document. Baxley indicated that Judge Jacob Walker knew “the one” he referred too. After some legal wrangling by the prosecution and with Judge Walker, the defense was directed to construct a list of documents to be unsealed. Judge Walker’s decision was followed by Baxley huffing and puffing. Finally, he made reference to testimony given by Professor Bennett L. Gershman a “so-called” expert in prosecutorial misconduct. Hubbard filed to have Gershman’s testimony unsealed in 2015, to no avail.

Testimony given by former State Ethics Directors James “Jim” Sumner is central to Hubbard’s motion to dismiss or grant a new trial, neither of which is likely to occur. But, Baxley and company need to earn the additional $50,000 plus Hubbard recently raised from “friends.” Baxley argued it was improper for the State to present “expert” testimony about what various portions of the ethics statute mean, and whether certain phrases or clauses within those statutes would or would not encompass certain situations or events. The court seemed unmoved by Baxley’s logic since Judge Walker certified Sumner as an expert.

Advertisement

During the two-hour hearing, Baxley’s delaying tactics appeared to try Judge Walker’s patience, especially when the defense claimed they were unprepared to hear testimony concerning jury misconduct. Judge Walker said he set aside other cases to hear Hubbard’s claims of jury misconduct, a surprising claim that surfaced quickly after Hubbard’s conviction.

Hubbard’s criminal defense team citing an affidavit from a panel member filed a motion just days after Hubbard’s conviction calling for an investigation into jury misconduct by an impartial third party. In searching for a neutral investigator, Baxley determined Hubbard’s friend Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones was the best choice.

From the bench, Judge Walker informed Baxley that there is no legal basis for an outside investigation, and that testimony would be taken before his court to settle the matter. Baxley claimed the defense was once again unprepared for such at the hearing, and the juror who reported the alleged misconduct was unavailable.

Judge Walker questioned the two bailiffs and the court administrators who oversaw Hubbard’s trial. Bailiff Bobby Bond testified that he was instructed by court administrator Patricia Campbell, to caution a juror who reportedly was talking under her breath at the beginning of Hubbard’s trial. Bond said he issued the warning, but the juror denied the allegations and no further complaints were noted. Both Bailiffs who rotated sitting next to the jury box during the proceedings testified they never heard chatter from any jurors.

Under oath, Campbell confirmed she had received the complaint and reported it to Judge Walker, who ordered her to address the situation through the bailiffs. Baxley asked Campbell what was said. She remembered the accusing juror of claiming a fellow juror said, “Yes, now the truth comes out.”

Defense co-council Lance Bell rose to claim that Hubbard had not received a fair trial an assertion soon rebutted by the prosecution.
He, along with Baxley said the jury was not impartial, and Hubbard should receive, at least, a new trial. Arguing for the prosecution, Assistant Attorney General Katie Langer cited case law and explained the split verdict showed they were, in fact, impartial because otherwise, the trial would have ended with a hung jury.

As Judge Walker pointed out several times, the clock is ticking with very few days remaining before the 60 day deadline brings all proceeding before his court to a close. The trial judge may rule on these motion or simply wait out the clock.

 

Photo Credit: Albert Cesare/Montgomery Advertiser/Pool

 

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Attorney General Reacts to Hubbard Loyalist’s Plans for Ethics Reform

Bill Britt

Published

on

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Alabama House Ethics Committee Chairman, Mike Ball (R-Madison), announced his plans (yesterday) to form a commission to review the state’s ethics laws. Ball, a staunch defender of convicted felon and former House Speaker, Mike Hubbard, told WHNT-TV in Huntsville that his committee would “review the State’s Ethics laws and recommend improvements in time for the opening of the Alabama Legislature next year.”

However, just hours after APR published its story on Ball’s plan, Attorney General Luther Strange, sent his comments.  “I am strongly opposed to Rep. Mike Ball’s idea of a commission to review Alabama’s ethics law. The whole point of such a commission would be to undermine the law,” said Strange.  “Alabamians want our ethics laws enforced, not gutted.”

Ball also said he wanted an “open and honest” process, stating, “Our best chance for success is for it to be carefully looked at, out in the open.” Ball claims he is determined to stop three ethics bills from coming to the House because he didn’t want them “lost in the mix, however, there is a reason to believe other forces are at work, especially given Speaker McCutcheon’s promise of principled leadership.”

It would be difficult to fathom a Hubbard loyalist overseeing a commission to amend laws that landed his former boss in prison.

Advertisement

The day after Hubbard’s indictment, Ball stood by his side at a pep rally proclaiming his boss’s innocence while sporting an “I Like Mike” sticker on his lapel.

Ball regularly appeared on talk radio accusing State prosecutors of conducting a political witch hunt to ensnare Hubbard.

In April 2015, Ball testified in a pre-trial hearing that Hubbard’s arrest was politically motivated. Under oath, Ball said the ethics laws needed amending to avoid prosecutions like Hubbard’s in the future.

Presiding Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker, III allowed Ball to testify, even though he said Ball’s testimony was not relevant to Hubbard’s indictments. Judge Walker ruled that accusations against Special Division’s Chief Matt Hart were not only irrelevant, but unfounded.

Ball is one of the remaining Hubbard loyalists at the State House.

Continue Reading

Authors

Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending

Armistead Hopes Hubbard is Not Convicted

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 5 min
0