A curious case of Canarys

July 19, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

It has become common to hear lawmakers say “BCA is the new AEA.” This statement refers to the fact that, under the leadership of convicted felon, former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, the Business Council of Alabama has risen to control the State’s Legislative agenda, much like the Alabama Education Association did in years past.

So egregious is BCA’s CEO Billy Canary’s latest behavior that he is receiving widespread criticism not only in Montgomery but in Washington DC, as well. High-level operatives and agents say Canary is no longer welcome in some Senate and Congressional offices. Lawmaker’s in the Nation’s Capital, as well as Montgomery, are set on isolating him until the BCA Board sees the light.
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Bentley, Newton Expensive Day in Court

September 22, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Alabama taxpayers forked over $325,000 defending Gov. Robert Bentley, and Acting Finance Director Bill Newton, in a lawsuit brought by State Auditor Jim Zeigler and State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay).

The pair sued Bentley, Newton, Attorney General Luther Strange and Conservation Chief Gunter Guy over the controversial plan to build an extravagant Hotel and Conference Center at Gulf State Park, using BP settlement funds.
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Big PAC Money Flows to One Candidate in Race to Replace Hubbard

September 9, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Four candidates are vying for the seat once held by convicted felon, Mike Hubbard in the Republican primary on September 13. The voters of District 79 have yet to pick a candidate, but the well-heeled of Auburn and influential Montgomery PACs have already chosen theirs.

Jay Conner, Joe Lovvorn, Sandy Toomer and Brett Smith are all in the running, but only Lovvorn is winning the “dash for cash” contest.
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Carter Returns to Finance in Troubling Times

August 29, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Former Deputy State Finance Director, Clinton Carter, is returning to the government service to advise on revenue and financial policy.  According to sources in Governor Robert Bentley’s inner circle, and those with close ties to Finance, Carter is being groomed to replace Acting Finances Director, Bill Newton. Reliable insiders claim Newton hand-picked his successor to ensure access to the department, and those who are well-tended by cushy contracts doled out under his watch. But there is doubt that Carter is that pliable.
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Is eSTART the New STAARS?

July 19, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Even though the shoddily implemented STAARS accounting software is still causing major headaches for agencies and vendors, the Department of Finances is doubling down on a troubled new time and attendance system named eSTART.

All agencies, major and minor, are reporting unanimously: eSTART doesn’t lives up to the hype.

eSTART is the State’s name for the Kronos time and attendance program that, according to the company’s website, “makes easy work of the tedious tasks involved with monitoring employee time and attendance… simplified time-tracking software — working in tandem with our data collection devices — helps you control labor costs, minimize compliance risk, and improve workforce productivity … without breaking a sweat.”
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Hubbard Sentenced to 96 Years

July 11, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Almost two years after his indictment, Michael G. Hubbard was convicted and sentenced to 96 years, with a split sentence of 4 years in State prison, with no “good time” or chance of parole, and 16 years supervised probation. Judge Jacob Walker, III, also ordered Hubbard to pay fines equaling $210, 000 plus other court costs.

SEE SENTENCING BY COUNT

The State asked the Court to require Hubbard to pay $1,125,000.00 in restitution. Judge Walker denied the State’s request saying, there no case law showing the State as victim. However, he gave the State 30 days to show case law where a state is considered a victim.
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Gov. Bentley Wants Taxpayers to Pay Legal Fees

July 6, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY— Former “Top Cop” Spencer Collier is suing Governor Robert Bentley and Stan Stabler (Collier’s replacement) in a civil lawsuit as individual citizens and not in their official government capacity. However, today, Bentley and Stabler will ask the Legislative Contract Review Board to approve $150,000 for lawyers to represent them.

Bentley and Stabler want the taxpayers of Alabama to foot their legal bills in a Civil matter with Collier.
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Is French Next?

July 6, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—On day six of the Mike Hubbard felony trial, former Republican State Senator, Steve French, took the stand to testify about a meeting between he and Hubbard.

Under oath he recounted that he was sent by then Sterne Agee’s CEO, Jim Holbrook, to discuss with Hubbard the pending Jefferson County bankruptcy. During the meeting, French expressed Holbrook’s desire to avoid a bankruptcy, how it would be embarrassing to his business, every other corporation in Birmingham, and in the county. French explained that should the Jefferson County Legislative Delegation came to Hubbard with a bill that would avoid the bankruptcy, would he support it? Hubbard agreed that he would give his full support as Speaker. Hubbard then pivoted to his financial woes, explaining to French that he had a plan to raise $1.5 million from 10 investors, and if his boss (Holbrook) would be interested in being one of the 10. French took the offer to Holbrook and he agreed to an investment.
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State May Come After Hubbard’s Assets

June 17, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Under the 2014 Forfeiture Act, the State can seize Mike Hubbard’s assets, because they were used in the commission of a crime. Hubbard, on June 10, was found guilty of twelve felony counts of public corruption for which he faces up to twenty years in State prison, and $30,000 in fines for each count.

The Criminal Proceeds Forfeiture Act provides that “any property, proceeds, or instrumentality of every kind, used or intended for use in the course of, derived from, or realized through the commission of a felony offense, as defined in this act, or as inducement or attempt or conspiracy to commit such offenses, is subject to civil forfeiture.”
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