There is already a fix to clarify and strengthen the ethics laws

February 1, 2018

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Before then Attorney General Luther Strange took his ill-fated appointment to the U.S. Senate, his office prepared legislation to clarify and strengthen existing ethics laws.

Amidst all the nascent posturing about a dire need to, “Reform and Clarify” current ethics laws, there seems to be a pretense that no such clarification exists and, therefore, the Legislature needs to do something.

One proposal is to establish a committee to make recommendations for ethics reforms before the 2019 Session is currently the preferred solution thereby stalling any reform measures while giving special interests groups sufficient time to work to muddy laws that hinder their businesses.

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State responds to Hubbard appeal: “Hubbard sold his office to benefit himself”

July 6, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

Former House Speaker Mike Hubbard – facing four years in a State penitentiary – is another step closer to finding out if he will actually serve that sentence.

But prosecutors from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office showed in a brief filed Monday that they are no more willing to go soft on him now than they were when he was convicted of 12 felony ethics charges last year.

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A year after his felony conviction Hubbard remains free, ethics laws in jeopardy

June 13, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

As the word “guilty” rang out twelve times in a Lee County courtroom on the evening of June 10, 2016, Alabama’s political world was rendered breathless as if dropped to the canvas by a body blow to the liver.

The conviction of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, who led Alabama’s Republican party from the backwoods of political power to an overwhelming supermajority in the State House and Senate, was a singularly dark moment in the State’s history. Yet, the date marking one year since he was found guilty of felony public corruption charges passed, seemly without notice.
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Politics continue to overrule ethics

May 15, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The State Legislature begins its four-day sprint to the finish this Tuesday. To-date, 1025 bills were introduced over the 27 days, and still, there is much more to be accomplished. The Legislative leadership hopes to sine die on Friday, ending a drama-filled Session that saw Governor Robert Bentley resign, Governor Ivey sworn in, topping the melee of competing interests that always seems to accompany a Legislative Session.
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Us or Them?

July 25, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The government has a role in the lives of its citizens, but it should be a government of the people, by the people, for the people, as Abraham Lincoln memorialized at Gettysburg.

Of the many lessons learned from Mike Hubbard’s time as Speaker, the failure of his strict mode of divisive leadership, is the most important one for us to remember. Hubbard embodied and advanced the paranoid politics of “us” against “them,” a foreboding trend growing stronger throughout our nation.
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State Recommends 18 Years for Hubbard

July 1, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Policial Reporter

MONTGOMERY—On Thursday, the State filed its Brief In Support Of Sentencing Recommendation for Mike Hubbard, who will be sentenced on July 8, for 12 felony counts of public corruption.

The State recommends Hubbard be sentenced on each of his 12 felony Ethics Law convictions to an 18-year base sentence, split to serve 5 years in prison, followed by a term of supervised probation equal to the time remaining. It also asked the Court to require Hubbard to pay $1,125,000.00 in restitution (Hubbard’s ill-gotten gain); the maximum fine of $360,000.00 ($30,000.00 per count); the maximum amount to the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund, $120,000.00 ($10,000.00 per count); and court costs and fees as determined by this Court.
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Hubbard Trial Day 10: What The Jury Didn’t Hear

June 8, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Politcal Reporter

OPELIKA—In what one veteran attorney called a desperate move, Michael G. Hubbard took the stand in his own defense today, the tenth day of his criminal trial.

The day began with Hubbard’s attorney, Bill Baxley, continuing his cross examination of former Governor Bob Riley, who was trying to woo the jury with his “political” charm.

Under cross examination, Baxley attempted to solicit Riley’s thoughts on the Ethics Laws. That led to an immediate objection by Lead Prosecutor, Matt Hart, which Judge Jacob Walker, III, sustained. Again, Baxley asked Riley to give his opinion on the Ethic Laws, to which Hart objected again. This resulted in Judge Walker telling Baxley, that line of questioning was not going to be allowed, and that he should move on. Baxley ignored the Judge’s instruction and attempted a third bite at the apple. Hart objected, and said the State would ask for sanctions against Baxley, if he continued. This led to a contentious sidebar, during which Baxley could be heard pleading with the Judge, and Hart saying we handled this yesterday. Apparently, there had been a hearing, without the jury or press in attendance, in which Judge Walker disallowed any testimony from Riley about his interpretation of the Ethics Laws. Baxley moved on, questioning Riley about economic development issues. Once again, Hart objected, and the Judge told Baxley to try something else. Riley’s testimony ended with a whimper, not with a bang, as Baxley had planned.
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Hubbard Trial Day Nine: Testimony Indicates Hubbard Merged Speaker’s Office With Riley’s Lobbying Firm

June 7, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

OPELIKA—Emails entered into evidence during former Gov. Bob Riley’s testimony on day nine, was a matrix of deals that benefited both Riley and Hubbard. Lead Prosecutor, Matt Hart, in email after email revealed a disturbing pattern where Riley would ask something from Hubbard, receive it, and vice versa, in a quid pro quo style transaction.

Under the Ethics Laws that Hubbard and Riley championed and passed, just one such action would result in a felony charge. These two men repeated the scheme numerous times.
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Hubbard Trial Day Five: Sumner Fries Hubbard

June 1, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

OPELIKA—Former Alabama Ethics Commission Director, Jim Sumner, testified authoritatively and effectively with devastating consequences for the defense on Day Five of the criminal trial of Speaker Mike Hubbard.

In spite of Hubbard’s attorney, Bill Baxley, attempting to marginalize Sumner’s testimony, Judge Jacob Walker, III sided with the State and certified him as an expert on Alabama’s Ethics Laws.

Sumner’s twenty years as director proved invaluable in making the case that Hubbard had, in fact, violated the Ethics Laws for which he has been charged. Under direct examination by Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart, Sumner gave testimony to the various charges against Hubbard. Court observers agreed that it was the most devastating day for Hubbard since his former chief of staff, Josh Blades, took the stand. One defense attorney said Sumner’s detailed testimony was “damning” to Hubbard’s cause.
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Ethics Commission Continues To Issue Opinions Contrary To Law

April 11, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

It is almost laughable and tragically so to use the word “ethics” when referring to the commission charged with overseeing the State’s ethics laws. In a recent opinion concerning Rep. Randy Davis (R-Daphne), the ethics commission approved Davis’ request to take a job from a principal with business before the State. This is not the first time this so-called “ethics” commission has issued an opinion that would allow lawmakers to receive “a thing of value” from a principal. The last time it was forced to reverse itself under pressure from the State’s Attorney General and District Attorneys.
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