28 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The first day of Republican Rep. Barry Moore’s trial was sad; even pathetic.
There was Moore, with his hound dog good looks, dressed in a beige, summer-weight sport coat, looking worn and thrift-store chic. His wife, dutifully sitting behind her man, visibly worried.
Defense attorney, Bill Baxley, gave a rambling and incoherent opening statement that seemed designed to paint Barry as just a good, old boy who had fallen victim to a merciless plot, hatched by Josh Pipkin and Jonathan Tullos, who were working in collusion with the Attorney General’s Office to frame his client.
Baxley defense of Moore, was off the chain, and clearly absurd, Imagine a murder case where the defendant is caught on taping shooting the victim at point blank range, with a pair of eyewitnesses confirming what the tape clearly showed. Consider the bind the defense lawyer is in if the prosecutors refuse to offer any deal and insisted on the death penalty. The lawyer has no choice but to try the case, as there is nothing to lose. If the defendant pleads guilty, he gets the death penalty.
In such a case, where the facts and the law are squarely against the defendant and the lawyer must try the case anyway, the only hope the lawyer has is to mislead and confuse the jury with wild conspiracy theories and subtle hints of cloak and dagger tactics.
The classic defenses are worthless. “You have the wrong guy!” No they don’t. “I didn’t shoot anyone!” Yes you did. “He didn’t die!” Tell that to his grieving widow and children. “Sure I may have told a few other people I planned to kill the guy, but they tape recorded the conversations and talked about it amongst themselves before I did it., so surely it isn’t a crime.” Wait. What?
As absurd as it is, that’s where Moore finds himself. On the wrong side of the facts. On the wrong side of the law. Instead, he’s left with Baxley’s attempts to mislead and confuse the jurors, hoping somehow that they disregard the facts, the tapes, the eyewitnesses, the law, and their combined centuries of common sense.
Moore is charged with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements during the Lee County Grand Jury's investigation into Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.
The charges came from answers given regarding conversations between Moore and then-candidate for HD91, Josh Pipkin. The conversations were in relation to Hubbard’s threats to withhold 100 jobs from Enterprise, if Pipkin did not exit the race. In these statements, Moore alleged that Hubbard said he (Hubbard) would “rain holy hell” down on Pipkin if he did not withdraw.
Tullos is the Executive Director of the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp. and was the first witness called by the prosecution. He testified to the facts that Moore had made threats on behalf of Hubbard, in order to stop Pipkin from mounting a challenge against Moore in the Republican primary.
The prosecution, led by W. Van Davis, laid out a clear bullet-point presentation of exactly what Moore had done and the charges against him. It’s very simple: did Moore lie to the Grand Jury and did he make false statements to the State’s prosecutors?
However, Baxley argued before the jury that Moore supported the economic development project that Hubbard threatened to derail, he did not threaten the project and therefore had done nothing wrong. This we have to assume is the case Baxley wished he had been given.
Tullos, a West Point grad, was rudely cross-examined by Baxley, in a style more Tomás de Torquemada, than Matlock, which Tullos took in stride. At one point Baxley asked Tullos if he had sent a text message from his computer to Pipkin on June 20, 1913, at which point, the witness and the jury seemed to cross their eyes in disbelief. On an other occasion, Baxley was in 1920, so as the trial proceeded he did get a little closer to the current century.
Of course, Hubbard's criminal defense attorney J. Mark White was on hand, along with his law partner, Augusta Dowd. Both scribbled furiously on legal pads, perhaps hoping to find away to dig Baxley out of the hole he dug himself into all afternoon.
Davis was clam and relaxed as he queried Tullos, who seemed well prepared to tell his side of the incident surrounding Moore and the Hubbard threats.
Baxley asked Tullos why he called Moore only twice, while he had phoned Pipkin some 70 times—as if this was proof of a sister plot. Tullos responded by saying, "we were trying to decide if we should call law enforcement and tell them that we believed Moore and Hubbard were engaged in an extortion scheme."
So much for an attorney knowing the answer to the question they are going it’s ask.
At this point, it would be difficult to say how the trial was going, other than to really hope that Mrs. Moore can get some of her money back from Baxley if her husband goes to jail.
22 Oct 2014
Alabama Political Reporter
AUBURN—On Tuesday, with friends, family and colleagues behind him, Speaker Mike Hubbard and members of his legal team held a press conference at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center to address the 23 indictments issued against him.
The press conference, seemingly, can be broken down into three different segments:
1. Five introductions
2. Brief comments by Hubbard
3. Q & A with Mr. Hubbard’s attorney, Mark White.
White first took the podium and laid the ground rules for how the press conference would follow.
All legal questions were to be answered by White, not Mr. Hubbard. Secondly, White took a few moments to lay out what Hubbard’s legal team would like to immediately accomplish moving forward:
1. Filing papers calling into question the creation of the grand jury investigating Hubbard
2. Looking into the accusations from a letter written by former employee of the attorney general’s office, Sonny Reagan.
White made clear his disgust with the indictments and said his team of lawyers would be fully prepared to defend Hubbard against the 23 indictments. The lead attorney even got a round of laughter from those behind him as he compared the legal defense team’s eagerness to Auburn’s hurry-up/no-huddle offense.
After the well-timed joke, White quickly changed tone and informed those in attendance that Hubbard would not be resigning as Speaker of the House and would not be stepping aside.
Following White’s last statement and light applause from the crowd, five attendees were individually asked to introduce Hubbard to the already familiar crowd.
First was Congressman Mike Rogers (AL- 3), who spoke of his closest friend with admiration and sincerity. Rogers briefly told a few stories about their 12-year relationship and how everyone in Hubbard’s district can be certain Hubbard works hard.
After Rogers was Joe Donaldson, Chairman of Auburn’s Chamber of Commerce, who took the podium to commend Hubbard for his vision and leadership for Auburn and Lee County.
Bill Ham, Jr., the Mayor of Auburn, was the next with a few accolades for Hubbard and the members of the legislature who were there in support. Those verified include: Rep. Ed Henry, Rep. Jack Williams, Rep. Alan Harper, Rep. Matt Fridy, Rep. Alan Baker, Rep. Paul Beckman, Rep. Mike Ball, Rep. David Sessions, Rep. April Weaver, Rep. Jim Patterson, Rep. Kerry Rich, Rep. Mac McCutcheon, Sen. Tom Whatley and Sen. Del Marsh.
Tammy Jones, a 25-year retired educator, spoke following Ham and highlighted Hubbard’s dedication to education in Lee County and across the State.
Rep. McCutcheon closed by not only offering his support, but his fellow members’ support who were in attendance as well.
After the final introduction was completed, Hubbard approached the podium and he seemed to be in a lighthearted mood while doing so. Then almost on cue, he joked by welcoming everyone to the kickoff to the final two weeks of the campaign. And after having friends gush over him, Hubbard took the proper time to thank those who had helped him along the way. In particular, he thanked Sen. Del Marsh. Hubbard said that he and Marsh were partners in the GOP takeover in 2010 and so close that they talk every day.
Hubbard cited the changes he and his friends created in being the primary motivational force about why these indictments are happening. Hubbard said those against him are upset because they want to maintain the status quo and there is a larger agenda at play. Further, Hubbard said they are going to spend the next couple of weeks exposing that agenda.
In the closing moments of his comments, Hubbard appeared to make the accusation that someone was not following the Grand Jury Secrecy Act and it was not him.
Following that lead, White stepped in and began taking questions.
The first question fielded asked White who was leading the prosecution against Hubbard. White responded by stating the special prosecutors and who were appointed by the State Attorney General were leading the investigation, but he believes the investigation is politically motivated and alleged that Strange is behind the case due to Hubbard being a political threat. White even went as far as to say he believes Strange is receiving information on the case even after recusing himself.
A later question from the group of reporters asked if he believed the allegations are false or if the defense believed the allegations were not a crime at all. White responded by saying yes. It was not too clear to which way he was answering yes.
White quickly got out the point that there are other forces at play as well and we should all stay tuned before he closed down the questions and ended the press conference.
Get your popcorn ready.
22 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, wasted no time in contacting the Republican House Caucus, to assure them of his innocence, and to beat the drum of political prosecution.
The question remains: who will believe a man who is indicted of 23 felony counts of wrong doing while holding the Speaker’s gavel?
Hubbard proclaims to the caucus that the charges against him are false, and that he has never misused his office or broken trust with the caucus members.
Hubbard seems to want to assure the people that hold his political future in their hands that he is not guilty of the things which a Grand Jury of his peers have accused him. Much like a cheating spouse, Hubbard wants them to believe his words and not their own lying eyes.
Although Hubbard says he will “vigorously fight these false charges through the justice system,” it is that same system that has seen fit to indict him on multiple counts of wrong doing.
Hubbard continuing on said, “It doesn’t come as any surprise to you that I have been the target of a political witch hunt. I have suspected so from the beginning, and the timing of these charges – coming two weeks before the election – leaves no doubt.”
He continues to say that he is the victim of a political prosecution, but fails to name those who are orchestrating the attack. This is standard fair for any indicted politico. They whine incessantly into the abyss hoping that someone will hear and believe.
Hubbard, who is accused of using his office for personal gain and for receiving money and other things of value from his “clients” American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc, (APCI) and Southeast Alabama Gas District, (SEAGD), wants his fellow house members to believe that all his actions were sanctioned by the Alabama Ethics Commission. Jim Sumner, who was the State’s ethic director, did see Hubbard’s contract with SEAGD, and pointedly the commission's, legal council Hugh Evans, III, wrote, “The only potential issue that we saw would be if something came before the legislature that uniquely affected the Southeast Alabama Gas District differently than it affected all other utilities around the State of Alabama. Should this happen we would expect that speaker Hubbard would have plenty of notice in which to remove himself from discussions, votes, etc.”
It would seem that the Grand Jury saw something amiss with how Hubbard executed his work for SEAGD.
As for his contract work for APCI, the indictments show that Hubbard tried to pass legislation favorable to his client, which is a felony offense according to State ethics law.
Even more revealing is that Sumner could not have approved Hubbard contract in any real sense, because he admitted to this publican that he never even saw it.
In his email Hubbard states, “I have not violated the public’s trust, and I never will. I wish I could say the same thing about the rogue prosecutor who is leading this assault on me.”
Does he mean that the chief of the Attorney General’s white collar crimes unit, is a rogue actor? Trial Judge Jacob Walker, III, the state Criminal Court of Appeals and the State’s Supreme Court have concluded that the there is no rogue prosecution or prosecutor. Yet, once again, Hubbard expects the Republican Caucus to believe him in the face of all evidence to the contrary.
Lastly, Hubbard wants the caucus to know he is going to fight, and fight, and fight some more, and with a note of warning he tells the group, “this could have been done to any one of us.”
From: Mike Hubbard
Date: October 21, 2014 at 8:35:47 AM CDT
Subject: Message To Members
Fellow Members of the House of Representatives:
By now, many of you have read or heard about the accusations against me. I will vigorously fight these false charges through the justice system, and I am confident that I will prevail. My first obligation as always, is to answer to the people of my district who elected me. Secondly, I am obligated to you, the Members of the Alabama House of Representatives, who honored me with your trust as Speaker.
I want you to know that I have not misused my office or abused your trust. I have considered it a privilege and sacred duty to serve with you in the Legislature and to make significant changes – not for our benefit, but for the benefit of our constituents and our state.
It doesn’t come as any surprise to you that I have been the target of a political witch hunt. I have suspected so from the beginning, and the timing of these charges – coming two weeks before the election – leaves no doubt.
While this is something no one wants, and it has been painful for me and my family, there is a silver lining. I could not defend myself against innuendo and leaks. But I can and will defend myself against these charges.
From the very beginning, I took great pains to separate my personal business life from my public service. On multiple occasions, I consulted with the Ethics Commission’s director, Mr. Jim Sumner, to ensure that I adhered to all ethics laws, and I trusted his expertise and followed his advice. I went above and beyond what was legally necessary to make sure I followed the law. I have not violated the public’s trust, and I never will. I wish I could say the same thing about the rogue prosecutor who is leading this assault on me.
I intend to fight these charges with everything I have, because I believe there is much more at stake than my political future. Remember, this could have been done to any one of us! I am fighting to prove that using the legal system for political purposes is wrong and will not be tolerated.
Rep. Mike Hubbard
Speaker of the House
Alabama House of Representatives
22 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, has been indicted on 23 Felony counts of criminal acts.
Anyone who has read this publication over the last two years should not be surprised at Hubbard’s fall.
For the better part of those years, we here at the Alabama Political Reporter have chronicled the various activities that led to Hubbard’s arrest on Monday. In many cases our reporting has laid the groundwork for this investigation, so meticulously carried out by W. Van Davis, Matt Hard and the team from the Attorney General’s white collar crimes unit.
Hubbard’s failings as a legislator, leader and man are due to a conscience seared with the belief that power grants a moral autonomy that supersedes the law. This failure to understand the basic tenets of human nature and moral law were his undoing.
Hubbard never understood that a “radio” voice, slick suits and arrogance do not equate to power. He has been an actor in a play in which his meager talents were dwarfed by the size of the role.
A country boy from a small town in Georgia, Hubbard rose to the heights of political power in Alabama, due to, in part, to his shrewd cultivation of personal relationships with powerful men, his ability to manage public relations campaigns and a growing dissatisfaction with the state of our union, especially after the election of President Obama.
What Hubbard failed to understand in his ascent to power, was that no individual is above the law, that political power does not equal immunity, and that in America, few bullies retain dominion for very long.
His vanity publication, Storming the State House, is filled with self-aggrandizement, solicited praise and the revelation that Hubbard is an imitator, not an innovator and not a leader in the enduring sense of the word.
He is organized, ruthless and deceptive, but his need and lust for money is greater than all of his skills.
If there is one thing that comes as a revelation about Hubbard in these indictments, it is the fact that he is a failed businessman who needed wealthy, connected men to prop him up. It also shows that Hubbard’s entire business model is built around him using his office as Speaker of the House to remain solvent. At his core, Hubbard is a weak man, whose every action is based on how he might best benefit from any given situation.
Hubbard is a PR man through and though, even at the hour of his arrest he stage-managed a campaign—with the assistance of the State’s media elite —to portray himself as a victim and a man being unfairly targeted in a political prosecution.
He will continue to scream political prosecution without ever naming who is working against him. Is it Luther Strange, the AEA or just me? This is the behavior of a deviant mind who seeks to deceive the public and manipulate justice. Aided and abetted by an unscrupulous attorney who will say anything for a dollar.
The only thing political about the process is that Hubbard used his political power to enrich himself personally.
Hubbard will go down in Alabama history as a carpetbagger, who came to our State and mercilessly pillaged the system.
Perhaps the only solace in this whole nasty affair, is that, so far, our system of justice is working.
18 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
What began on Thursday as a post on Facebook by a bloviating, third tier, AM Radio entertainer—that there were to be indictments in the Lee County Special Grand Jury investigation into Speaker Mike Hubbard—ended with a veteran al.com reporter serving as apologist-in-chief for the beleaguered lawmaker.
The events that followed on Friday may best be described a digital lynching, fueled by so-called political insiders, faux media and rumormongers.
Certainly, people are eager to see justice served, but justice is never rendered with righteous exactness, in the circus of the bizarre or a stampede of judgment.
Many questions come to the forefront of thought on this rumor-filled firestorm: “Who leaked information to the AM bloviator, Matt Murphy? Why was semi-pastured reporter Chuck Dean in Hubbard’s office? Who, if anyone, orchestrated the events of Thursday and Friday? And lastly, who profited?
When Murphy took to the air waves on Friday to discuss the “indictments” they turned out not to be the subject of the conversation. Instead, Murphy pounded on the idea that there were “leaks” coming from the Attorney General’s Special Grand Jury. When Dean held his private interview with Hubbard— attorney J. Mark White on hand—one of the ideas put forward by Hubbard was that there were legal leaks coming out of the Grand Jury.
Hubbard is reported as saying, ”It is supposed to be a secret process, but obviously there are leaks everywhere….”
“Leaks everywhere”? This is an idea that Hubbard’s attorney has put forward on a number of occasions. White would like for the public, especially certain judges, to believe his nonsense, so that perhaps the entire proceeding could be proclaimed as broken and illegal.
His original theory, as proffered by attorney Bill Baxley, was that the Grand Jury was illegally impaneled because W. Van Davis and Matt Hart had no authority to act. This argument was rejected by the trial judge, the criminal court of appeals and the State Supreme Court.
Hubbard’s attorney, White, is best known as a media manipulator and fixer, not a trial lawyer (Just ask Milton McGregor who lost millions due to White’s courtroom acumen).
So, it is no wonder that he stoops to cheap tricks like a rent-a-clown at a kids’ birthday party.
White, who once had a reputation as a respected attorney, may find that representing Hubbard will be his undoing.
White has lied so often to the media that it would be impossible to know when he is telling the truth, other than to expect that when his lips are moving, he is spouting nonsense. Over a year ago he told the media that he was representing Hubbard and his family, against those who were defaming and spreading false rumors. This was reported as fact by al.com reporters, who appear to have a cozy relationship with Hubbard and White.
Could it be that White planted the leak with Murphy directly, or through surrogates, to further the notion that “leaks are everywhere?” That is certainly a plausible theory.
Perhaps Hubbard and his attorney actually thought that the indictments were coming Friday and wanted to be in front of the news.
But anyone with a modicum of understanding of how the justice system in the State works, knows any indictments issued on a Friday would not result in an actionable arrest warrant until Monday. Simply put, State law says that if you are indicted on a Friday you can’t be arrested until Monday.
Hubbard’s attorney surely knows this, so why the theatrics?
Perhaps White wanted to foster the idea of a sympathetic Hubbard as portrait in Dean’s apologia, (cue the violins). “He waited Friday, from the wee hours of the morning and throughout the day and into the night as rumors swirled that he had been indicted by a Lee County Grand Jury on public corruption charges.”
Are we to feel sorry for a man who has repeatedly used his office for personal gain, who has destroyed careers because he could, who has used his power like a battering ram to enrich himself while ruining all who stood in his way?
Do we have sympathy for a man who behaved like the sons of Baal? I think not. For far too long our State’s leaders have shown apathy for the devil politic, giving lip service to the idea of ethics reform. It is high time to wake up and realize that the ship of State is not moored in the safe haven of conservative ideology, but is sinking in a sea of lust, greed and corruption, with Hubbard at the helm.
On Friday morning, talk radio entertainers across the State were parroting Murphy’s false report. Later Inside Alabama Politics, climbed on the story, even reporting in the afternoon that arrests were in progress throughout the State.
It does’t take a genius to know that massive arrests happen in the early hours of the morning not in the late afternoon. The reason they occur in the morning is because law enforcement knows where to find the perp.
Of course, a quick call to Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones would have been enough to confirm that no one was being booked at the Lee County Jail in connection with the Grand Jury and that no arrests were in progress.
As for who profited from the event? It would be hard to say, as to who looked like fools, stooges and idiots, that easy.
So, it was that the faux media around the who State got it wrong. That is no surprise. They have either been co-opted by the likes of Hubbard, or just too lazy to check the facts.
It is amazing that these people are even allowed to work in the news trade.
But, what is more alarming, is that people actually believed them.