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.
17 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—A flurry of charges and counter-charges were set-off due to an email from Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead, saying that Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard is providing campaign cash and other campaign resources to Chris Sells, who is the Republican candidate for House District 90.
Armistead’s allegation was quickly denied by Sells, who insisted that Hubbard was only supplying fundraising opportunities.
Armistead’s revelation and the subsequent denial by Sells has led his opponent, Walton Hickman, to suspect that Hubbard is providing campaign cash and other campaign resources to Sells. This may help explain what motivated Sells, who qualified to run as a Democrat on February 7, to switch party affiliation and run as a Republican in June.
Walton Hickman, Sells’ opponent, says that Sells’ public statements and his official campaign filings raise serious questions about who is paying for Sells’ campaign and whether Sells has violated campaign reporting laws.
In an interview with Brandon Mosley published on Wednesday, Sells identifies his campaign manager by name, but then states, unequivocally, that he “is not paying her.”
“All voters, Republican, Democrat or Independent, should be concerned with a man being able to change his party affiliation so quickly. What would make him do such a thing?” Hickman asked. “Clearly, the offer of financing and campaign resources is a very probable answer to that question....If Mike Hubbard is making all the decisions now, as the Republican Chairman indicates, then Hubbard will make the decisions for Sells if we send him to the legislature. We don’t need that,” Hickman said.
Sells’ campaign disclosures do not show any payment to his campaign manager nor do they show any in-kind contributions to pay for these professional services. Failure to show such contributions could be a violation of the State campaign disclosure laws.
“So, who is paying for Chris Sells’ campaign manager and why didn’t Sells report the contributions on his disclosure?”
“Chris Sells seems to think he can say or do anything to get elected and that no one will care, or that we’re not smart enough to see through what he is doing. Our district needs a strong independent representative in the legislature and that’s why I’m running.”
Hickman raises serious questions about Sells’ trust worthiness, as a party switch and a possible pawn of Hubbard, who is under criminal investigation by the State’s Attorney General’s Office.
13 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Criminally indicted State Representative Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, stood before Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob A. Walker III on Friday for his pretrial conference.
According to Rule 16 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure:
A pretrial conference is designed to improve the quality and speed of the trial and to discourage pretrial activities that are wasteful and unnecessary.
Once again, Moore’s attorneys sought additional Grand Jury transcripts, and their request was denied by Judge Walker.
According to a report filed by Drew Taylor of the Opelika-Auburn News, Moore's attorney Joel Evan Dillard asked for additional Grand Jury transcripts to present “context of Moore’s testimony” before the Grand Jury.
Moore is charged with two felony counts of perjury and two felony counts of making false statements before the Lee county Grand Jury. The Grand Jury was impaneled a little over a year ago to investigate potential criminal activities by Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, and others.
These charges come from allegations that Moore made threatening statements to Josh Pipkin, leading up to the Republican primary in Enterprise. Pipkin recorded his conversations with Moore, and on those tapes, Moore can be heard communicating threats that he says were on behalf of Speaker Hubbard.
When Moore was asked before the Grand Jury if he had ever communicated such threats to Pipkin, he denied that he had. However, the tape recordings made of conversations between Moore and Pipkin paint a completely different picture.
At Friday’s pretrial conference, Moore’s famed attorney, Bill Baxley, was noticeably missing from the proceedings. Moore was represented by Baxley’s partner, Joel Evan Dillard and Dothan attorney, Derek Evan Yarbrough.
It was recently revealed that Baxley also represents Henry T. “Sonny” Reagan, the Deputy Attorney General who has been accused by Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis, of leaking Grand Jury information to individuals affiliated with those who are under indictment or under investigation in Lee County. Many "top flight" attorneys have pointed to a serious conflict of interest by Baxley for representing both men.
According to the Opelika-Auburn News, Judge Walker denied Moore’s request for more Grand Jury transcripts. Moore’s attorneys also requested copies of text messages that they believe to exist between Pipkin and Moore and between Pipkin and Wiregrass Economic Development Executive Director Jonathan Tullos.
State’s prosecutor Michael Brian Duffey said that he was unaware of any text messages. Lead investigator and white collar crimes chief, Matt Hart, called Moore’s request “Fishing.”
Judge Walker ruled that Pipkin should hand over any text messages, if they still existed.
Jury selection will begin the week of the twentieth, with the trial set to began in Judge Walker’s court on October 27.
The trial is expected to last two days.
15 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The investigation and conviction of former Director of Federal Programs for the State Department of Education, Dr. Deann K. Stone and her husband David Stone, bears a striking similarity to the Lee County Special Grand Jury investigation into Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.
Stone and her husband were both charged and convicted of five felonies. Most of the charges stem from a violation of State ethics law; the intentional use of her office for their personal gain.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, “Dr. Deann Stone took actions to manipulate the grant process to ensure that school districts that have agreements with Dave Stone’s business employer received millions in federal grant money.” A Montgomery County jury took only two hours to convicted the Stones, after the two week trial.
The investigation that led to the Stone convictions began under the authority of the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division. This is the same unit that is investigating Hubbard.
The Division was established by Attorney General Luther Strange almost immediately upon taking office nearly four years ago. The investigation unit is led by Special Prosecutions Chief Miles M. Hart, the same lawman investigating Speaker Hubbard. Also involved in the investigation and conviction of the Stones were Deputy Attorney General Mike Duffy, and Pete Smyczek who are also on the team investigating the Speaker.
An Attorney General’s Special Grand Jury was impaneled to investigate the actions of Mrs. and Mr. Stone in the same manner as the Lee County investigation. Because of the complexity of the case and the thousands of pages of documents and many witnesses that were needed, the resources of a Special Grand Jury was necessary; just as it has been in Lee County.
Top education leaders, like State Superintendent Tommy Bice, were called before the Grand Jury, just as leading lawmakers, like Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, have been called before the Special Grand Jury in Lee County.
Law enforcement agents say that without the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division, the case against the Stones could never have been made. As a matter of fact, the case against the couple was brought to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and they refused to take jurisdiction over the investigation. This should give pause to those who continue to call for federal intervention in the Lee County investigations, even though the funds that Deann Stone was convicted of using were federal grant monies.
Special Agents and Auditors of the United States Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, did assist in the case, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office passed altogether.
Circuit Court Judge Johnny Hardwick presided over the case, even after Luther Strange had asked for a recusal, because the Attorney General believes the judge was, “biased against the Attorney General's office.”
However, even with a Judge believed to be hostile toward the prosecution, the grand jury proceedings, the conduct of the investigators and allegations of political prosecution were never mentioned in the case. This is quite contrary to what the defense has attempted in the Lee County cases.
The Stones were charged with five felony counts stemming from Mrs. Stone using her office for personal gain, the couple were convicted on all counts.
This publication has written over 100 investigative pieces into the actions of Speaker Hubbard and others, that might lead a reasonable person to conclude that Hubbard has used his office in like manner.
There is a great impenitence for definitive action out of the Lee County Special Grand jury.
If there is one parallel between the two investigations that should give concerned citizens hope, it is that the same unit and men are on the case in Lee County.
06 Oct 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Four years ago, then soon to be Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and a band of newly-minted republicans promised that they would clean up corruption in Alabama State politics.
Four years ago on October 4, 2010, Federal agents fanned-out across the State arresting lawmakers and lobbyists as part of a federal probe into efforts to pass gambling legislation. That was supposed to mark the beginning of the end of Montgomery’s culture of crookedness.
Four years on, we now know that the Hubbard, along with former Gov. Bob Riley and others, did not end the culture of corruption in Montgomery, it appears they expanded it beyond the wildest dreams of their democratic counterparts.
In just four short years, Hubbard and his cronies have presided over a reign of unscrupulous, double-dealing, fraud and profiteering, unparalleled in Alabama State history. Their false promises were little more than a tribute of lies for an unwitting public. Hubbard, Riley and their pimps hid their true intentions so as to prostitute the people of Alabama to gain wealth and power. Their promises four years ago were nothing more than a polished sale-pitch, given by two-bit hustlers.
Now, comes the hour of reckoning, the sword that hangs over their heads has been forged in justice, soon to be executed by lawmen, unbent and unbowed by the political corruption that has made Hubbard, Riley and their associates the State’s power elite.
Even now, Hubbard, Riley and a team of attorneys plot to undermine justice, by any means possible. Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis has stated publicly that Deputy Attorney General Henry T. “Sonny” Reagan had “undisclosed communications with individuals affiliated with people indicted or under investigation by the Lee County Special Grand Jury. Davis also says that Reagan took other action to impede or obstruct the investigation.”
We also know from sources inside and outside of the Attorney General’s Office, that Luther Strange’s Chief Deputy Kevin Turner, tried to orchestrate a plot to remove chief prosecutor Matt Hart from the Lee Country Grand Jury investigation.
It is stunning, if not shamefully, that Attorney General Luther Strange allows Turner to remain his second-in-command, while it would appear to any rational person that his action cast a sinister shadow over the State’s highest institution of law-enforcement.
But these are just two of the actors who are believed to be trying to aid Hubbard, Riley and their conies, in a desperate attempt to evade justice, there are more.
In four years, these so-called republicans have built an empire of greed and corruption, laid on a foundation of deceit, established by little Caesars, aided by boot-licking sycophants.
They didn’t "storm" the State House, to bring conservative values, they led an assault on an unknowing public, for their own profit. They marched not with honor, but looted and pillaged like wonton savages, then celebrated at an orgy of lust, feeding off the taxpayers blood and sweat like a pack of rabid jackals.
And what of their blind followers, the children of the damned, can they be trusted to lead State government? Can those who followed these false prophets be reborn into honest lawmakers? Can those who obeyed without question out of complicity, ignorance or fear be suddenly transformed into honest brokers of the people business?
For certain, the scales have fallen from many a legislator's eye, and there were actually a few who never drank from the poison well that Hubbard and Riley so skillfully dug.
But those who now hold office in the republican caucus hierarchy must be replaced by the few honest brokers left standing.
There is a restlessness, even a weariness that stirs among those who desperately desire to see justice severed in Montgomery. The daily refrain, “when will the indictments come, will they come before the election, or at all?”
The wheel of justice is meant to grind slowly, so that it grinds finely.
Davis and Hart do have a responsibility to proceed with haste, so that the voters know if they are about to elect crooks; knowing no matter the timing, the felons will always cry “political prosecution.”
But Davis and Hart also know they only have one chance to get it right.
There are those who will be inclined to have sympathy toward Hubbard once he is indicted, these people will have been ignorant of or complicit with his unbridled wrath and lurid cruelty towards those who disagree or stood in his way. Hubbard, is a man who at his core has a sadistic temperament toward those who do not kowtow to his smallest whim.
Such is the way of men when evil is chosen as a way to fulfill their ambition for power.
Republicans like Hubbard celebrated at the October, 2010 arrest of democratic lawmakers. None of those legislators were found guilty of crimes, but it gave Hubbard and others an election slogan that worked.
What great irony it would be if the indictments of Hubbard and others were to come closely to that October date.
Hubbard’s time as Speaker will have been brief, remembered by some for its sound and fury, remembered by most as dark and rotten as the grave.
Once Hubbard, Riley and their cohorts no longer hold sway over our State, there will be a brief moment when true ethics reform can be enacted.
This must not be done in a knee-jerk fashion, but with intense resolution and rational thought, led by the invisible hand of moral conscience.