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Hubbard/Riley Accuse US Senator of Running “Shakedown Routine, Racket”

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Emails recently released by the State at the request’s of Speaker Mike Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney J. Mark White show that former Gov. Riley and Hubbard believed Alabama’s Senior US Senator was involved in a “shakedown routine.”

In an email exchange between Riley and Hubbard in October 2011, the pair state that Republican US Senator Richard Shelby and Ray Cole have engaged in a “racket” and a “shakedown routine,” to make money off the Senator’s office.

In one exchange Riley writes to Hubbard, “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.”

According to his bio at Van Scoyoc Associates Inc., Cole, “specializes in Federal legislative policy issues.” It further states that he “worked for US Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama from 1993 until 1999.  In 2001, the Bush-Cheney Transition Team picked Mr. Cole as an adviser on the US Department of Commerce.  Mr. Cole also worked as a consultant to Bush for President 2000 and for Bush-Cheney 2004, Inc.”

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Cole is listed as serving on the “UA President’s Cabinet and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Blackburn Institute.”

Hubbard and Riley say that Cole has made millions through his association with Shelby. Later in the exchange Hubbard writes Riley saying, “Ray Cole has made millions off Shelby. Those two have a shakedown routine like you wouldn’t believe.”

The word “shakedown” according to the online dictionary is, “Another word for extortion/blackmail, or the obtaining of a good or service through means of force, threats/intimidation, or abuse of power.”

Riley tells Hubbard that he would like to mimic the operation saying, “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 replies that he has already “checked it out” with then director of the State’s ethics commission, Jim Sumner, and he will confirm that it is okay.

Hubbard to Riley:
“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.”

Ross is currently a lobbyist for Swatek, Azbell, Howe and Ross in which he, along with Swatek and Howe, are mentioned in the indictments and evidence in Hubbard felony public corruption case.

Riley asks Hubbard how Cole funnels the money back to Shelby? Hubbard answers by saying it is done through “campaign contributions.” He specifically says that Cole uses “FedEx PAC, every PAC that FexEx (sic) has influence over, every client that wants access to Shelby… [campaign contributions].”

Hubbard lays out for Riley how they could accomplish a similar scheme by hiring a middle man to contract work with Hubbard’s Auburn Network, “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.”

Riley was a registered lobbyist at the time, but Hubbard said that he felt Riley was a “‘strategic business consultant’ not a lobbyist.”

On the face of it, the Riley and Hubbard allegations against Shelby and Cole are quite serious. But, knowing these schemes exist and how these men make money off of their public offices is just as important. This is exactly what the State says Hubbard has repeatedly done in violation of the law.

Quotes From Hubbard and Riley Emails October, 2011

Riley to Hubbard:
“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 to Riley:
“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.n Ray Cole has made millions off Shelby. Those two have a shakedown routine like you wouldn’t believe.”

Riley to Hubbard:
“How does it get back to Shelby?”

Hubbard to Riley:
“Campaign contributions.”

Riley to Hubbard:
“From who though?”

Hubbard to Riley:
“FedEx PAC, every PAC that FexEx (sic) has influence over, every client that wants access to Shelby…[campaign contributions]

“If you will build polling/focus groups into your strategic consulting plans for BR&A clients, that is something that could benefit me.

“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.

“Less focus on you and your clients.”

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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Elections

Secretary of State’s Office begins voter fraud investigation in Wilcox and Perry Counties

Brandon Moseley

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Turnout in Tuesday’s primary runoff was just 12.7 percent across the state. That percentage, however, varied wildly across the state.

Many Democrats did not vote as there were not any statewide Democratic runoffs. Understandably then, the counties with the worst voter participation rates were Democratic dominated Black Belt Counties. Choctaw County was the worst in the state with an incredibly low .59 percent. It was followed by Hale with 1.53 percent. Third worst was Sumter with 1.6 percent followed by Bullock with 2.8 percent.

The Blackbelt had the worst voter turnout; but it also recorded by far the highest turnouts in Tuesday’s runoff election.

The Wilcox County probate judge’s race was apparently so exciting that 44.1 percent of voters turned out despite the heat and no statewide Democratic races.

Wilcox County has 11,058 people. 1,631 of those are under 18. There are only 9,423 voting age persons in the county, but an impressive 9,383 of them are registered voters. That is almost an impossible 99.59 percent voter registration rate. An incredible 4,167 of those voters made time in their day to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s runoff. 4,061 of those voted in the Wilcox County probate judge race, between Democrats Chris Stone and Britney Jones-Alexander. Alexander won the contest. The 44.41 percent voter turnout for the poor Black Belt county was three and a half times the state average.

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Perry County had a 36.35 percent turnout and they were followed by Dallas at 35.43 percent and Greene at 34.08 percent.

The Secretary of State’s office has some suspicions about the success of some of these rural community organizers ability to turn out their votes. Secretary of State John Merrill has launched an investigation into Wilcox and Perry Counties because the number of absentee ballots appears to be unbelievably high.

Sec. Merrill told the Alabama Media Group’s John Sharp that his office is “looking into to prospects of absentee broker operations, in which campaign workers or people with an unknown organization, exchange gifts or cash for absentee ballots.”

Secretary Merrill has said that he wants to make it easy to vote; but hard to cheat.

Below are voter participation rates for all 67 counties:
Wilcox – 44.41%
Perry – 36.35%
Dallas – 35.43%
Greene – 34.08%
Covington – 31.32%
Marion – 27.85%
Fayette – 27.71%
Lamar – 26.19%
Lowndes – 25.47%
Walker – 25.01%
Clay – 24.12%
Coosa – 23.8%
Macon – 21.95%
Crenshaw – 21.09%
Blount – 20.77%
Elmore – 18.92%
Geneva – 18.73%
Marshall – 18.72%
Chilton – 18.08%
Coffee – 18.07%
Autauga – 17.39%
Montgomery – 17.34%
Bibb – 17.02%
Pike – 16.61%
Tallapoosa – 16.42%
Henry – 16.4%
Dale – 15.67%
Baldwin – 15.57%
Houston – 15.03%
Jackson – 14.33%
Limestone – 13.16%
Jefferson – 12.6%
Winston – 12.27%
De Kalb – 11.68%
Chambers – 11.23%
Pickens – 11.18%
Cullman – 11.03%
Shelby – 10.99%
Colbert – 10.79%
Etowah – 10.77%
Franklin – 10.73%
Talladega – 10.3%
Calhoun – 10.22%
St. Clair – 10.08%
Butler – 9.97%
Cleburne – 9.72%
Mobile – 9.49%
Randolph – 9.44%
Lee – 9.41%
Morgan – 9.07%
Barbour – 8.45%
Cherokee – 8.45%
Marengo – 8.01%
Clarke – 7.79%
Madison – 7.66%
Lawrence – 7.43%
Escambia – 7.24%
Lauderdale – 6.88%
Washington – 6.7%
Monroe – 6.46%
Tuscaloosa – 5.94%
Russell – 4.95%
Conecuh – 3.68%
Bullock – 2.8%
Sumter – 1.6%
Hale – 1.53%
Choctaw – 0.59%

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Elections

Walt Maddox, statewide candidates host forum in Gardendale

Brandon Moseley

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Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox will headline a forum for Democratic candidates at the Gardendale Civic Center on July 30 at 6 p.m. Maddox will be joined by a host of other statewide legislative and local candidates.

Maddox claims that he offers voters a path forward out of the state’s corruption and funding crisis.

“It’s the same crisis we’ve been facing for the last seven years,” says gubernatorial candidate Maddox. “If we don’t do something today, there will be no tomorrow; we need safe infrastructure, access to healthcare and good paying jobs.”

The organizers say they “put people before party” so they can bring about change in Alabama.

“As taxpayers, we have been shortchanged for too long,” says former Gardendale City Councilman Blake Guinn, who is working for the Maddox campaign and is one of the forum’s organizers. “I’m tired of being last in everything but football. I’m looking for candidates who have the energy, intelligence, and vision to move this state forward.”

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Most Alabama politicians are just “rubberstamp” what their national party says, says Jennifer L. Greer, a retired university assistant professor who lives in Gardendale and is also organizing the forum. “I don’t care about Washington. I care about Alabama and getting services for my tax dollars, like Alabama’s First-Class Pre-K in every community.”

Maddox will be joined at the Gardendale forum by:

  • Danner Kline, candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, 6th Congressional District.
  • Judge Robert “Bob” Vance, Democratic candidate for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
  • Dr. Will Boyd, Democratic candidate for Alabama Lieutenant Governor.
  • Joseph Siegelman, Democratic candidate for Alabama Attorney General.
  • Heather Milam, Democratic candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.
  • Donna Smalley, Democratic candidate for Alabama Supreme Court, Place 4.
  • Cara McClure, Democratic candidate for Public Service Commission, Place 1.
  • Kari Powell, Democratic candidate for Public Service Commission, Place 2.
  • Veronica R. Johnson, Democratic candidate Alabama House District 51.
  • Danny Carr, Democratic candidate for Jefferson County District Attorney.

The event is free and open to the public.

Democrats have renewed enthusiasm after Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore for U.S. Senate. Prior to that win, the last Democrat to win a statewide office in Alabama was Lucy Baxley, who was elected to president of the Alabama Public Service Commission in 2008. The last time a Democrat won a gubernatorial election was 1998, when Don Siegelman defeated incumbent Republican Fob James.

The general election will be November 6.

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Shelby announces $25.5 million for statewide airport infrastructure

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., reported that 25 local airports throughout Alabama will benefit from more than $25.5 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants. The funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation for various airport improvements to support infrastructure construction, safety advances and equipment acquisition.

“These FAA grants support critical projects that aim to improve safety, security, and efficiency of airports across the state,” said Sen. Shelby. “Airport infrastructure plays a vital role in economic growth and development in Alabama, and I look forward to the progress that will stem from these grants.”

Economic Developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Airports affect employment directly and indirectly and serve as a catalyst for economic growth due to their capacity to move people and cargo. The economic benefits can only be reaped, however, when airports are maintained (and funded) properly and utilized by consumers, which is why the FAA grants will be such a blessing for our state.”

“When operated efficiently, smaller, local airports (most of the recipients of the FAA grants), facilitate regional economic development,” said Nicole Jones. “The grants are aimed to do just that – provide maintenance funds so the airports can maximize efficiency and productivity. Thank you to Senator Shelby and to all of the policymakers who worked on behalf of Alabamians to improve aviation in both urban and rural areas.”

The grants range from $7.08 million for the Mobile Downtown Airport to $94,500 for the Thomas C. Russell Field Airport in Alexander City. They are funded through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and federal appropriations.

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The 25 FAA grants, totaling $25,517,940, will support the following airport projects in Alabama:

  • Mobile Downtown Airport, Mobile Airport Authority – $7,080,027 for taxiway reconstruction, runway rehabilitation and installation of a new taxiway lighting system.
  • MacCrenshaw Memorial Airport, City of Greenville – $3,114,820 for runway reconstruction.
  • H.L. Callahan Airport, City of Fairhope – $3,033,757 for construction of an additional taxiway and access taxiways.
  • Tuscaloosa Regional Airport, City of Tuscaloosa – $2,652,600 for apron rehabilitation and a master plan study.
  • Lanett Municipal Airport, City of Lanett – $1,717,830 for construction of a runway and installation of a new runway lighting system.
  • Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Birmingham Airport Authority – $1,417,500 for erosion repair, safety equipment acquisition, sign installation and taxiway rehabilitation.
  • Headland Municipal Airport, City of Headland – $990,000 for construction of an additional taxiway.
  • Auburn University Regional Airport, Auburn University – $832,500 for taxiway rehabilitation.
  • Enterprise Municipal Airport, City of Enterprise – $653,140 for taxiway rehabilitation.
  • Pryor Field Regional Airport, Counties of Morgan and Limestone – $495,900 for taxiway lighting reconstruction.
  • Cullman Regional-Folsom Field Airport, City and County of Cullman – $450,000 for taxiway reconstruction.
  • Carl Folsom Airport, Elba Airport Authority – $446,998 for construction a 7,200-square-foot hangar building.
  • Anniston Regional Airport, City of Anniston – $446,400 for apron and taxiway rehabilitation.
  • Marion County-Rankin Fite Airport, County of Marion – $261,000 for construction of an additional taxiway to provide access to aircraft hangars.
  • Albertville Regional-Thomas J Brumlik Field Airport, City of Albertville – $253,168 for taxiway reconstruction.
  • Shelby County Airport, County of Shelby – $249,970 for construction of a 14,830-square-foot hangar building.
  • Bibb County Airport, County of Bibb – $242,640 for land acquisition to extend protection zone.
  • Moton Field Municipal Airport, City of Tuskegee – $195,480 for runway and taxiway rehabilitation.
  • Talladega Municipal Airport, City of Talladega – $190,410 for taxiway rehabilitation.
  • Bessemer Airport, City of Bessemer – $150,000 for runway rehabilitation.
  • Prattville-Grouby Field Airport, Prattville Airport Authority – $150,000 for installation of airport drainage improvements.
  • Wetumpka Municipal Airport, City of Wetumpka, – $150,000 for installation of a new navigational aid and a new runway vertical/visual guidance system.
  • Walker County-Bevill Field Airport, Walker County – $135,000 for updates to the airport master plan narrative report and airport layout plan.
  • Ozark-Blackwell Field Airport, City of Ozark – $114,300 for runway rehabilitation and installation of new navigational aids.
  • Thomas C. Russell Field Airport, City of Alexander City – $94,500 for installation of a new navigational aid and a new runway vertical/visual guidance system.

Senator Richard Shelby is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which unanimously approved the FY2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill last month.

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Hubbard/Riley Accuse US Senator of Running “Shakedown Routine, Racket”

by Bill Britt Read Time: 4 min
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