It’s never racism in the Alabama Legislature

May 18, 2017

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

It’s never racism.

So, just stop it with that. You’re ruining racism for the people who really experience it – the kind where someone burns a cross in your yard, makes you drink from a different water fountain, won’t let you sit in the front of the bus, makes your kids attend a different school.

You know, real racism.

Not an email.

An email isn’t racist. Be serious. That was a joke – an innocent attempt at lightening the mood.
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Strange bedfellows: Big Luther hires associate of felon Hubbard

December 7, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama Attorney General, Luther Strange, sent a statewide press release officially announcing his run for the US Senate. The announcement was hardly a surprise in political circles, as Strange has made his desire to return to the hallowed ground of DC, and the Georgetown cocktail circuit no secret. Many agree he is a senator right out of central casting. But what was a surprise, was the identity of the individual who sent the press statement, who is also listed as the media contact for Strange’s Senate bid.
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Hubbard’s Co-author Receives a New Contract

September 22, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Co-author of convicted felon Mike Hubbard’s vanity fiction, “Storming the State House,” David Azbell continues to draw a taxpayer-funded check from the House Republican Caucus.

Earlier this month, Joint Legislative Contract Review approved a request for Azbell’s services as, “General consulting including constituent communications, written communications, strategic communications and other services,” for the House Majority Caucus.

Azbell’s contracts with the Caucus have brought him hundreds of thousands over the last several years, mainly doing Hubbard’s bidding. House Republican’s speaking on background express shock at Azbell being rehired. One lawmaker said, “If it’s a new day, why are we hiring Hubbard’s old cronies?” These lawmakers also say Azbell never worked for individual members, only Hubbard.
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Hubbard Wants Crony to Receive More Money from State

September 2, 2015

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter 

MONTGOMERY—The Republican controlled Contract Review Permanent Legislative Oversight Committee was scheduled to meet in Montgomery on Thursday to consider, once again, approving a fat contract for one of Speaker Mike Hubbard’s cronies. 

Hubbard, who is indicted on 23 felony counts of public corruption, wants taxpayers to foot the bill for a $96,000 contract for David Azbell, the co- author of his vanity tome, “Stealing the State House.”

Azbell is a political operative with a history of sexual harassment in the work place, as well as producing semi-pornographic videos, extolling the virtues of Las Vegas, and mocking Christmas.

Azbell has, for the last three years, received $96,000 a year in taxpayer money to, “provide strategic communications and public relations services to members of the House Majority Caucus,” according to the selling points on the contract proposal.

However, several lawmakers have said they have never seen a work product from Azbell. 

Over the last four years, Azbell has received over $300,000 in State funds, and few know what he has actually done for the money.

Hubbard’s Attorneys Ask State To Identify Witnesses Mental Health, Drug Abuse and More

November 13, 2014

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard’s defense team is on a fishing expedition to find addicts, mental patients, criminals and anyone receiving payola.

Hubbard, who is charged by the State with 23 counts of public corruption, is preparing his defense by asking the State to supply his legal team with a laundry list of materials.

In the discovery filing, J. Mark White, Augusta S. Dowd , William M. Bowen, Jr., Katherine R. Brown, W. Chambers Waller and R. Lance Bell are all listed as members of Hubbard’s legal defense team. In the background lurks Hubbard’s master attorney, Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, who is listed in the Hubbard indictments.

In the motion for discovery, Hubbard’s team wants to know all of the “dirt” on all of the witnesses the State plans on use during their prosecution.

(See motion here.)

They have requested:

The criminal records of all prosecution witnesses including prior convictions and cases pending at the present time or at the time of Hubbard’s arrest.

Any information of criminal conduct by any witness for the prosecution, although such person has not been arrested, indicted, or otherwise charged for such conduct.

Any evidence of law enforcement officers, investigators, or prosecutors making monetary payments to, or promises of monetary payments to, any material witness or informant in this case.

Any alias or other names used by any prosecution witness.

Any evidence of mental or emotional illness, drug or alcohol use by any of the prosecution’s witnesses.

Any information pertaining to whether any prosecution witness has been hospitalized for psychiatric or emotional disorders, including alcoholism or drug abuse, and, if so, the names of the institutions involved and the dates of any hospitalization(s).

It would be difficult to imagine who exactly the defense is fishing for, but the why of the expedition is simple: to discredit anyone who intends to give information about the crimes Hubbard is accused of committing.

Some of the potential witnesses against Hubbard are known. There is speculation about others. Then, their will be individuals who are only known to those who cover the State House.

Potential witnesses who are known are those listed in Hubbard’s indictments and, of course, former legislator Rep. Greg Wren, who turned State’s evidence back in April.

It is also know that Gov. Robert Bentley gave testimony about Hubbard lobbying him on behalf of Robert Abrams, d/b/a CV Holdings, LLC.

Potential witness number one is Gov. Robert Bentley, the man who Alabamians reelected in a landslide. Bentley is arguably the most trusted individual in the State.

It is doubtful that Hubbard’s defense team is digging for dirt on the Governor, no matter how aggressive J. Mark White enjoys appearing in the press.

Other possible witnesses are former Gov. Riley, who while publicly supporting Hubbard, said that he was fully cooperating with law enforcement. Is this political rhetoric or is this a case of, “I support Mike, but, hey Mr. Prosecutor, I’m with you?”

Business leaders Robert Abrams, James Holbrook, Will Brooke, Robert Barton and Jimmy Rane are listed in the Hubbard felony indictments, and are, by most opinions, either targets, witnesses, or both.

Billy Canary, Dax Swatek, Tim Howe and Minda Riley Campbell are also among those who are possible targets, witnesses, or both.

Swatek and Howe are partners with John Ross and David Azbell at the firm, SAHR. Each man has very close ties with Hubbard. Azbell co-authored Hubbard’s vanity publication, Storming the State House, and was paid $96,000 a year by the taxpayers to offer PR for the House Caucus.

As for Ross, he was the Republican Party Executive Director during the period that Hubbard stands accused of violating State ethics laws (for funneling money from the party back into his business interests Craftmaster Printers, LLC). Azbell and Ross certainly sit high on the list of potential witnesses for the prosecution.

There is also Bill Ely and Ferrell Patrick who were both involved in lobbying for American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc, (APCI)  during that period as well.

Under the prosecution of that indictment there are a host of former and current lawmakers who are potential witnesses.

Former lawmakers, Rep. Jay Love and Rep. Jim Barton might fit into that category, as well as currently serving lawmakers Rep. Steve Clouse, Sen. Arthur Orr, and Sen. Del Marsh, who were all in some way linked to the APCI, legislation.

The APCI indictments may also see the State’s Health and Medicaid director Dr. Donald Williamson take the stand. Williamson is believed to have been a least one of the first members of the Governor’s cabinet to realize that legislation backed by Hubbard would give APCI a monopoly over the State’s Medicaid Pharmacy Benefits Plan.

Regarding the indictments involving SEAGD, we may see taking the stand, Ozark Mayor Billy Blackwell, who served as chairman of the SEAGD board, Wiley Lott, Director of Economic Development and Governmental Affairs for SEAGD, and of course, John Gregory (Greg) Henderson the CEO, who is Hubbard’s wife’s first cousin.

There are certainly more, but it begs the question: which individuals do Hubbard’s attorneys think are drunks, druggies, mental cases, or criminals?

 

Marsh Testifies Six Hours Before Grand Jury; Collins Follows

December 4, 2013

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—In mid-November, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) appeared before a Attorney General’s Special Grand Jury in Lee County, Alabama. This, according to sources who saw Marsh in the courthouse.

Marsh’s testimony before the gathered jurors lasted for a total of six hours; four before lunch and two more after the lunch break concluded.

Next to testify was Rep. Terri Collins, (R-Decatur).

What Marsh or Collins said before the Grand Jury is protected by law and this publication has no knowledge of their actual testimony.
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Hubbard Closes PAC, Ends Lucrative Contract and Hires White-Collar Criminal Defense Attorney

September 9, 2013

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Over the last several weeks, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard has taken extraordinary steps to rearrange his business, political and legal affairs. In a flurry of activity he has shuttered one of his most potent political action committees, terminated a consulting contract worth over a hundred thousand dollars a year and retained a prestigious white-collar criminal defense attorney, who also happens to be a big democrat donor.
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Republicans O.K. Contract for Admitted Sexual Predator-Will Gov. Bentley Give Final Approval?

September 6, 2013

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Thursday, the Republican majority of the Contract Review Permanent Legislative Oversight Committee granted a $96,000 contract to David Azbell.

Azbell, a political crony of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, has a documented history of sexual harassment in the work place, as well as producing pornographic videos which he has distributed on the internet.

Senator Bill Holtzclaw and Senator Arthur Orr were contacted by alreporter.com for comment on why they voted to renew Azbell’s state contract. Not a single man returned calls or text messages. According to the contract proposal, Azbell receives $8,000 a month at taxpayer’s expense to provide “strategic communications and public relations services to members of the House Majority Caucus.” Yet, the republican members of the committee did not question why such a high-priced consultant is needed to serve Speaker Hubbard and the House republicans.
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David Azbell Seeks Renewal of $96,000 State Contract, Do GOP Members Believe That “Cigars, Booze and Good Looking Women” Are The Way the State Should Roll?

September 4, 2013

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Tomorrow, September 5, the Contract Review Permanent Legislative Oversight Committee will meet in Montgomery.

One of the items on the agenda is renewal of the consulting contract for David Azbell.

Azbell is a political operative with a history of sexual harassment in the work place as well as producing semi-pornographic videos extolling the virtues of Las Vegas and of mocking Christmas. 

He is also the brains behind Speaker Mike Hubbard’s vanity publication “Storming the Statehouse.”

Azbell receives $96,000 a year in taxpayer money to “provide strategic communications and public relations services to members of the House Majority Caucus,” according to the selling points on the contract proposal.

While Communications Director to former-Governor Bob Riley, Azbell was hit with the threat of a civil lawsuit after he repeatedly harassed a young female staffer in the governor’s office.

The Riley administration paid $53,000 in taxpayer funds to pay-off the woman Azbell harassed. The Settlement Agreement, dated December 17, 2003, was signed by Riley, Azbell and Riley’s chief of staff, Toby Roth. It described Azbell as having “harassed” and “discriminated” against the young woman.

Questions as to why an admitted deviant is still employed by Hubbard and the Republican House Supermajority still remain unanswered. 

Why would a self-proclaimed conservative and family man like Chairman of the Committee Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) continue to approve a state contract for a man of such admitted low character?

Azbell, chief consultant to Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, made a video of himself partying in Las Vegas and distributed it on the internet while receiving his enormous paycheck from the state. In the video, Azbell proudly praises, in song and dance, the virtues of gambling, strippers, sex-clubs and other vices

Azbell proclaims his mantra of “Cigars, Booze and Good Looking Women” during the professionally-produced video.

Why would a responsible republican like Senator Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville) who sits on the contract review board continue to tolerate a man like Azbell being paid $8000 a month by the hardworking men and women of Alabama? 

In another professionally-crafted video entitled “Azbell Christmas Special,” David Azbell, one of the Speaker’s righthand confidants, disparages Christmas as a holiday and a deeply-held religious season.
In one of the songs, Azbell uses it to express his views on what many consider the most holy event in Christianity. The lyrics are, “Santa brought me two aces, I wonder if I should split? Hey waitress, bring me a drink, while I think. What would Jesus hit?”
To use the term “What would Jesus hit?” referring to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as a person who would gamble is beyond the pale for most Alabamians.

Yet, tomorrow, republican members of the contract review board, Senator Bill Holtzclaw, Representative Steve Clouse, Senator Arthur Orr, Senator Trip Pittman, Senator Paul Sanford, Representative Paul Lee and a handful of democrats will decide if the taxpayers of the state should continue to pay a disgrace like Azbell.

When republicans won the Statehouse in 2010, they promised to clean up Montgomery. This is an opportunity for them to show they mean business.

 

YOUNG WOMAN’S SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIM AGAINST SPEAKER HUBBARD’S HIGH-PAID AIDE COST STATE TAXPAYERS TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS

May 8, 2013

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—A decade-long rumor of sexual harassment involving Speaker Mike Hubbard’s key communications consultant and a young state employee can finally be laid to rest.

Rumor had it that David Azbell – who is currently paid an $8,000-per-month state salary by Hubbard – used his position at the time, Communications Director to ex-Gov. Bob Riley, to allegedly sexually harass and discriminate against a female staffer in the Riley administration.

The story is no longer just an undocumented rumor.

The Alabama Political Reporter has obtained a copy of the Settlement Agreement in which the Riley administration offered a $53,000 pay-off to staffer Melissa C. George, an employee in Riley’s proclamations office, to drop the threat of civil lawsuit, quit her state job and quietly go away. The Settlement Agreement, dated Dec. 17, 2003, was signed by Riley, Azbell and Riley’s chief of staff, Toby Roth. It described Azbell as having “harassed” and “discriminated” against George. The document also states the neither RIley nor Roth were aware of the Azbell’s boorish behavior.

According to settlement agreement, the State of Alabama paid $53,000 to George  – with the stipulation that she leave her state job, but as part of the agreement Toby Roth was to write her a letter of recommendation on his official letterhead.

Melissa George was contacted for this report but would only say, she was not suppose to talk about it. However, there can be no valid confidentiality agreement when state dollars are used in such matters.

Telephone messages seeking comment were left for Azbell.  He did not return the calls. George apparently provided the Riley administration with a lengthy written complaint documenting Azbell’s alleged harassment. No records beyond the Settlement Agreement were found by the state archives. Roth refused to answer questions presented by the Alabama Political Reporter concerning the case.   “It was the policy of the Riley administration to not comment on past employees,” he said.

The Settlement Agreement authored by Riley administration lawyers forced Melissa George, the reported victim of sexual harassment, to quite her job, and to walk away. Azbell, too, was allowed  to resign. But no harm to Azbell. He found work almost immediately through his connections with Riley and Mike Hubbard.

Hubbard employed Azbell when he was House minority leader up until 2010. When Hubbard became Speaker of the House, Azbell was by his side.  Azbell is Hubbard’s go-to man for messaging and mischief. Azbell is currently paid $8000.00 dollars a month in taxpayer dollars to work for Hubbard under the corporate name of Azbell Communications.

Azbell is also the co-author of Hubbard’s vanity book, Storming the Statehouse. He is a founding partner in the lobbying firm Swatek, Azbell, Howe & Ross (SAHR). Dax Swatek, David Azbell, Tim Howe and John Ross lobby for some of the premiere companies in Alabama.

Documents: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8, Page 9, Page 10, Page 11.

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