By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
One of the most awful things about politics is that it pushes people to do incredibly petty and self-serving things.
Which is how, I guess, a group of reporters, myself included, wound up standing on the steps of the Alabama State House on Wednesday morning, listening to Rep. Mike Ball ramble on about an alleged crime he uncovered.
Ball has been pushing this particular story since some time in 2015, and at some point in 2016 everyone stopped caring.
To be fair, no one cared much about it at any point. Because, and I’m being kind here, it’s dumb.
Here it is in a nutshell: In 2014, shortly after former House Speaker and future Big House resident Mike Hubbard was indicted on 23 felony counts for misusing his office for personal gain, Ball began “damage control.” Those were his words.
Damage control apparently included standing on stage with Hubbard in a rally-like gathering and going on some radio show to say that Matt Hart, the Attorney General’s Office investigator leading the investigation into Hubbard, was politically motivated, in Ball’s opinion.
From what I can tell, Ball had no real evidence that it was politically motivated. It just sounded good.
Well, shortly after going on the radio, Ball says Hart called him up and said some mean things to him. And to Ball, that equated to Hart attempting to use his public office to influence political activity – the political activity in this instance being the self-defined “damage control” that Ball was doing.
(I should probably point out that while Ball calls it “damage control,” quite a few others call it shilling for a guy who was convicted of felonies.)
Now, if a person actually did use his or her public office to influence political activity, it would be a crime. Surprisingly, however, the AG at the time, Luther Strange, did not consider his lead investigator calling a lawmaker about dumb things said on a radio show to rise to the level of influencing political activity.
I will now say an odd thing: I agree with Luther Strange.
Because who in their right mind wouldn’t agree?
Ball has shopped this story all over the place, and he claims that some other lawmakers have agreed with him.
But a judge didn’t. All of this played out during the Hubbard trial, with Hubbard’s defense team pushing allegations of misconduct against Hart. Ball and his story were part of that, and it went exactly nowhere.
Yet, here he is again, standing in the 90-degree heat, appearing to melt into his suit, spinning it again.
Because there’s an election going on.
And because there’s an election going on – the special called election for U.S. Senate – Mike Ball can make a headline or two, maybe pocket a few donations.
Unfortunately, Ball’s not alone.
Perry Hooper did the same thing a few weeks back when he tossed his support to Strange. That came a few days after Hooper had written a letter in which he was openly critical of Strange.
But the truth doesn’t matter. All that matters is the money, the power and the glory. Mostly the money.
It’s what makes men critical of a bill on Monday and its biggest supporter on Tuesday. It’s what makes them shed years of party affiliation or even ideology.
Just ask current AG Steve Marshall.
Marshall was a Democrat for more than a decade while serving as the district attorney in Marshall County. He was appointed by former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman and stayed with the party through the election of President Obama and the GOP-revival in the 2010 midterms.
But with money in the state Democratic Party drying up, Marshall made the jump the Rs in late 2011. And there he was at the podium in February telling everyone of his conservative values and how he voted for Donald Trump. (The latter being an example of decision making so poor that he shouldn’t be allowed to get a driver’s license, much less be the state’s top cop.)
Marshall isn’t alone, of course. Many people have switched parties to chase the money – Artur Davis comes to mind immediately.
But that doesn’t mean we have to like it, or buy it. Or buy any of the other self-serving drivel that continues to pour from our elected leaders’ mouths.
Maybe if everyone stops rewarding this nonsense, it’ll stop.