State Seeks Restitution From Disgraced Speaker Hubbard

August 8, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—In a Supplemental Brief in support of a sentencing recommendation filed Friday, the State is asking that disgraced former Speaker Mike Hubbard be ordered to pay, $1,125,000.00 in restitution for his criminal acts.

SEE BRIEF HERE

In July, Hubbard was convicted on 12 felony counts of public corruption, sentenced to four years hard time and sixteen years probation. The State had asked trial Judge Jacob Walker, III, to order restitution for Hubbard’s acts. However, Judge Walker said he couldn’t find statutory grounds for the State’s request, but allowed the State time to present additional case law.
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Last Day of Hubbard Trial More Witnesses Were on Hand

June 22, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Perhaps the most damning piece of evidence in the trial of Mike Hubbard, was the proffer he signed in March, 2014. Certainly, when Lead Prosecutor, Matt Hart, revealed that Hubbard’s dead “close” friend was actually alive, that was the final nail in his coffin.

After Hubbard, the State called Senate President Pro Tem, Del Marsh, its only rebuttal witness. However, there were other rebuttal witnesses on hand, but the State must have realized the jury had enough information to decide the case. Those in waiting were, former House Rep. Blaine Galliher, Hubbard’s former Chief of Staff, Josh Blades and State Ethics Commission’s chief counsel, Hugh Evans, III.
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Moore Trial to Begin Today

October 27, 2014

By Brandon Moseley and Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—On Monday October 27 the trial of State Representative Barry Moore R- Enterprise, is scheduled to begin in the Lee County courtroom of Circuit Judge Jacob A Walker III.  Rep. Moore has been charged by the Alabama Attorney General’s office White Collar Crimes Division with perjury before the Lee County Grand Jury and with making false statements to investigators with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

On August 4, the ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ reported that: Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis, Miles “Matt” Hart, and Deputy Attorney General Michael B. Duffy provided Moore’s attorneys with: a certified copy of the official transcript of Moore’s testimony before the Lee County Special Grand Jury on January 24, 2014; the substance of oral statements made by Moore to Special Agents with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office; a CD containing two recorded telephone calls between Moore and Josh Pipkin; certified copies of the official transcripts of the two recorded telephone calls between Moore and Josh Pipkin; a CD containing a recorded telephone call between Moore and Jonathan Tullos; a certified copy of the official transcript of the recorded telephone call between Moore and Tullos; phone records from Josh Pipkin; phone records from Jonathan Tullos; and an executed copy of the oath from the court reporter for the Lee County Special Grand Jury.

The court documents revealed that the State also has a recording of Moore speaking with Jonathan Tullos, Executive Director at Wiregrass Economic Development Corporation. Tullos has refused to speak with the press, citing instructions from the prosecution.

In a recording made by Josh Pipkin, Moore is heard relaying threats that he says he is communicating on behalf of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn).  It can be surmised that Tullos may have made similar recordings of conversations with Moore. The prosecution may be using the Tullos recording to substantiate the validity of the threats made by Moore to Pipkin, on Hubbard’s behalf.

The charges against Moore stem from threats conveyed by Moore to Josh Pipkin, allegedly on behalf of Hubbard.  Moore threatened his GOP primary opponent, Pipkin, by saying that the Speaker would kill a job incentive program for Enterprise unless Pipkin dropped out of the June election. Moore also said that Hubbard would bring “Holy Hell,” down on Pipkin if he did not quit the race. 

The ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ was the first to report and release a copy of one of Pipkin’s recording.

Moore is alleged to have denied memory of the content of those phone conversations in questioning by state investigators and again in questioning before the Lee County Grand Jury.

Moore’s defense team, led by former Alabama Lt. Governor Bill Baxley (D) attempted to suppress the two phone recordings and the transcripts between Moore and Pipkin.  The Moore team even challenged the legality of the Lee County Grand Jury and the appointment of Acting Attorney General Van Davis by AG Luther Strange (R).  Judge Walker (R) rejected the defense motions to suppress the evidence. The Alabama Supreme Court has subsequently ruled that the Alabama grand jury law was followed and is constitutional in an unusual pre-trial appeal by Baxley and the Moore team.

Moore’s attorneys had argued that the tapes should be suppressed because Moore was in Florida at the time of the phone calls and therefore did not consent under Florida law to Pipkin’s recording of their conversations.  Prosecutors did not concede that Moore was in Florida during both calls and argued successfully that the point was “irrelevant” since Pipkin was in Alabama at the time and was operating lawfully under Alabama Law.

The recently indicted Speaker of the House Hubbard has also been critical of the Lee County Grand Jury and has called the entire investigation, “A political witch hunt.”

On Monday, October 20 the Speaker was indicted on 23 ethics charges.  In April state Representative Greg Wren (R from Montgomery) admitted guilt in using his state office for personal gain.  Rep. Wren resigned his seat in the legislature, accepted a suspended sentence, and agreed to cooperate with state prosecutors.

Legal analysts tell the ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ that the case against Rep. Moore appears strong and suggested that a plea deal similar to the one that Rep. Wren negotiated with prosecutors is possible if Moore was able to offer anything of substance to prosecutors.

Judge Grants Moore’s Request

September 12, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Judge in the Lee County perjury trial of State Representative Barry Moore (R) from Enterprise has granted his legal team more time to prepare their defense.

Following the rejection of his pre-trial appeal by the Alabama State Supreme Court, the legal team working for state Representative Barry Moore (R) from Enterprise told the court that they need more time to prepare a defense for the Republican lawmaker, who has been indicted by the Lee County Grand Jury on charges that he knowingly made false statements to both state investigators and the Lee County Grand Jury.

Judge Jacob Walker (R) agreed and granted the motion.  Instead of the trial beginning on Monday, September 15 it has been postponed to October 27.

Moore’s legal defense team which includes former Alabama Lieutenant Governor Bill Baxley (D) are argued successfully that Judge Walker needed time to consider a number of pre-trial issues that they plan to introduce before the trial can commence.

Baxley and Joe Dillard had argued that the case against Rep. Moore be dismissed because they argued that acting attorney general Van Davis and Matt Hart, head of the special prosecutions division of the attorney general’s office, were not properly appointed by Attorney General Luther Strange (R).

Strange had recused himself from this matter because of his relationship with Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn, among others who were likely to be investigated by the Lee County investigation.  Rep. Mike Hubbard was also Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party when Luther Strange was running for Attorney General and as Chairman Rep. Hubbard raised money for AG Strange.  There have been reports that some of that money came from Indian gaming interests.

Van Davis is a retired Republican St. Clair County District Attorney.  Matt Hart is a former federal prosecutor, who has been involved in a number of political corruption trials in Alabama.

On Friday, September 5 the Alabama Supreme Court rejected Rep. Moore’s appeal without comment in a 8 to 0 ruling, meaning his trial on perjury was supposed to begin on September 15.

In addition to more time to get themselves prepared, the defense has charged that prosecutors have withheld information they need to prepare their defense.

Prosecutors continue to deny the claim that they are withholding any evidence from the defense.

Rep. Barry Moore was first elected in the 2010 Republican tsunami that wiped out over 130 years of Democratic control of the Alabama legislature. Moore is a close confidante and ally of the Speaker.  Moore did not want to face a primary challenge from Joshua Pipkin. 

Prosecutors charge that an angry Rep. Moore in a telephone conversation threatened Pipkin that Speaker Hubbard would punish him and the district by killing an economic incentives program for Enterprise if Pipkin dared run and defeat Moore. Despite these threats, Pipkin ran anyway and was easily defeated in the 2014 Republican Primary by Moore, even though Moore was already under indictment.

Rep. Moore allegedly told investigators and the Lee County Jury that he never threatened anyone and denied there was ever a telephone conversation with Pipkin. Allegedly this story does not match other evidence presented to the grand jury, which reportedly includes recording of the phone conversation that was secretly recorded by Pipkin.

There is speculation Moore could be offered some sort of a deal if he will plead guilty and provide evidence against other parties, likely including the Speaker.

Former state Rep. Greg Wren (R) from Montgomery has already pleaded guilty to charges including attempting to use his office for personal gain.  Wren admits inserted wording into a bill to give one corporation a pharmacy benefits manager contract worth $billions in state and federal Medicaid dollars in exchange for a lucrative personal consulting contract.  Rep. Wren still claims he did not know that this was illegal.

Where Wren received no jail time, some sources in the legal community maintain that prosecutors will not be so lenient with Moore and he is unlikely to get a deal at this point that does not involve some jail time. Representatives Moore and Hubbard both maintain that this is all just a political prosecution

Moore’s trial is scheduled for October 27 in the Lee Count Circuit Court.

 

Moore’s Team Wants More Time to Prepare a Defense

September 9, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Following the rejection of his pre-trial appeal by the Alabama State Supreme Court, the legal team working for State Representative Barry Moore (R) from Enterprise are telling the court that they need more time to prepare a defense for the Republican lawmaker, who has been indicted by the Lee County Grand Jury on charges that he knowingly made false statements to both state investigators and the Lee County Grand Jury.

Moore’s legal defense team which includes former Alabama Lieutenant Governor Bill Baxley (D) are arguing that the trial judge must consider a number of pre-trial issues that they plan to introduce before the trial can commence and there will not be enough time for the judge to rule on these motions for the criminal trial to begin on September 15.

Baxley and Joe Dillard has argued that the case against Rep. Moore be dismissed because they argued that acting attorney general Van Davis and Matt Hart, head of the special prosecutions division of the attorney general’s office, were not properly appointed by Attorney General Luther Strange (R).

Strange had recused himself from this matter because of his relationship with Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn, among others who were likely to be investigated by the Lee County investigation.  Rep. Mike Hubbard was also Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party when Luther Strange was running for Attorney General and as Chairman Rep. Hubbard raised money for AG Strange. There have been reports that some of that money came from Indian gaming interests.

Van Davis is a retired Republican St. Clair County District Attorney.  Matt Hart is a former federal prosecutor, who has been involved in a number of political corruption trials in Alabama.

In a ruling that surprised no one in the legal community, with whom the Alabama Political Reporter spoke, the Alabama Supreme Court on Friday rejected Rep. Moore’s appeal without comment, meaning his trial on perjury should begin on September 15.

In addition to more time to get themselves prepared, the defense has charged that prosecutors have withheld information they need to prepare their defense.

Rep. Barry Moore was first elected in the 2010 Republican tsunami that wiped out over 130 years of Democratic control of the Alabama legislature.  Moore is a close confidante and ally of the Speaker.  Moore did not want to face a primary challenge from Joshua Pipkin. 

Prosecutors charge that an angry Rep. Moore in a telephone conversation threatened Pipkin that Speaker Hubbard would punish him and the district by killing an economic incentives program for Enterprise if Pipkin dared run and defeat Moore.  Despite these threats, Pipkin ran anyway and was easily defeated in the 2014 Republican Primary by Moore, even though Moore was already under indictment.

Rep. Moore allegedly told investigators and the Lee County Jury that he never threatened anyone and denied there was ever a telephone conversation with Pipkin.  Allegedly this story does not match other evidence presented to the grand jury, which reportedly includes recording of the phone conversation that was secretly recorded by Pipkin.

There is speculation Moore could be offered some sort of a deal if he will plead guilty and provide evidence against other parties, likely including the Speaker.

Former state Rep. Greg Wren (R) from Montgomery has already pleaded guilty to charges including attempting to use his office for personal gain.  Wren admits inserted wording into a bill to give one corporation a pharmacy benefits manager contract worth $billions in State and federal Medicaid dollars in exchange for a lucrative personal consulting contract.  Rep. Wren still claims he did not know that this was illegal.

Where Wren received no jail time, some sources in the legal community maintain that prosecutors will not be so lenient with Moore and he is unlikely to get a deal at this point that does not involve some jail time.  Representatives Moore and Hubbard both maintain that this is all just a political prosecution

Moore’s trial is scheduled for September 15 in the Lee Count Circuit Court.  There is no word yet on how Judge Jacob Walker (R) will rule on Moore’s request for a continuation.

 

Hubbard Critical of Media Coverage of Wren Scandal

April 8, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday (as everyone in Montgomery has expected for weeks), House member Greg Wren (R) from Montgomery pled guilty to attempting to use his office for personal gain.  The loss of a key lieutenant was bad enough for Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn; but this was followed by Wren agreeing to cooperate with State White Collar Crimes Division prosecutors in possible further investigations and Wren naming the popular Speaker of the House not once, but three times.

Mike Hubbard has never been one to stand back and let events unfold.  Instead the Speaker has launched his own communications campaign to get his side of the story out in the public and influence future voters—and in the worst case scenario, potential future jurors.

Speaker Hubbard said on Facebook, “The smears from Montgomery’s liberal special interest groups are ridiculous and false. Even worse, the media treats distortions as fact. Share if you’re tired of the drive-by media working hand-in-hand with the Democratic machine.”

Speaker Hubbard told the Associated Press (AP) that despite Greg Wren’s statement to the contrary:  “The situation that happened this week has nothing to do with me.”

Eerily mimicking Governor Don Seigelman’s (D) strategy when prosecutors were investigating allegations of impropriety, Speaker Hubbard dismissed all of the allegations swirling around him as politics. “Ultimately it is political. You look at the position I have and it’s pretty easy to see why I’ve become the target,” he said.

Mike Hubbard was elected to the Alabama Legislature in 1998.  Eventually he became House Minority Leader and then Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.   As Chairman in 2010, he used the combination of Alabama voters’ dissatisfaction with Obamacare, a vote selling scandal by Senate Democrats, and growing voter identification with the Republican Party to lead a campaign that led to Republicans winning super majorities in both Houses of the state legislature and every state wide elected office in Alabama

Wren admitted that he put language in the state General Fund budget at the request of the American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. of Bessemer.  The language would have required that the state Medicaid program hire the company as Pharmacy Benefit Manager a contract worth $ billions in revenue for the group of independent pharmacies.

Hubbard said, “The main thing to understand is I didn’t benefit one way or the other whether the language was in there or not.” The Speaker also denied stripping funding from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office in the 2015 budget as retaliation for the ongoing investigations.

Hubbard said on Facebook, “It’s that time of year again. The liberal special interest groups have started spreading lies about conservatives to win elections. I’m not backing down though; I’m still fighting for you.”

The Speaker vowed, “I’m going on the offense.”

Hubbard’s Attorney and Chairman of the St. Clair County Republican Party Lance Bell said on Facebook, “I am proud to represent the Speaker. Fine family man and great leader.”

Greg Wren’s Prescription for Alabama: A Breakdown

April 2, 2014

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

Yesterday, Alabama House Representative Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, resigned his office and plead guilty to a misdemeanor public corruption charge in the Montgomery County Courthouse.

Video highlights of Wren’s visit to the courthouse can be viewed here.

The charge was centered around actions that Wren took in his official position as an Alabama House Representative.

The story began in February 2012, when American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc., (APCI), a group of 1,200 pharmacies announced a partnership with RxAlly, a much larger National pharmacy conglomerate with around 20,000 members at the time.

A press release form the occasion read, “American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (APCI), announced the participation of its 1,200 independent member pharmacies in RxAlly, the first-of-its-kind alliance of more than 20,000 pharmacies nationwide, united to help patients achieve better health through personalized pharmacist care while reducing costs.”

“RxAlly was developed to provide a new solution to the critical issues of providing additional access to care and ensuring effective health care spending at a time when prescription medicine misuse is associated with $290 billion in annual costs.”

A few months later, and somewhat under the radar, Alabama’s Medicaid agency began to study the possibilities of cost savings through changes to PBMs, or Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) services. These exploratory studies included the agency receiving presentations from several private PBMs themselves.

In March of 2013, Representative Wren began a consulting contract with RxAlly, offering his services for $8,000 a month. Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard was also confirmed to have had a consulting contract with APCI, though no dollar amounts were disclosed.

A month later, SmartD, a medicare prescription plan owned by RxAlly, was the subject of a scathing expose by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare services:

“A prescription drug plan sponsor’s central mission is to provide Medicare enrollees with prescription drug benefits within a framework of Medicare requirements that provide enrollees with a number of protections…”

The expose continues:

“CMS (Center for Medicaid and Medicare services) has determined that Smart failed to provide its enrollees with services and benefits in accordance with CMS requirements. CMS has further determined that Smart’s failures pose a serious risk to its current and prospective members’ health and safety and therefore is making the sanction effective immediately.”

The sanctions mentioned included halting all new Medicare Part D prescription plans under RxAlly’s subsidiary, and halting all Medicare advertising.

Despite this, Representative Wren’s consulting contract with the organization continued. Even further, the same month that the CMS report was published, Representative Wren officially requested copies of the confidential PBM (Pharmacy Benefit Management) presentations given to the state from the Legislative Fiscal Office, an act that was one of the pivotal moments leading up to this week’s events.

The next month, after receiving the requested confidential documents from LFO (Legislative Fiscal Office), Representative Wren sent copies, through a “commercial carrier,” to high level management at RxAlly.

Finally, in June of 2013, things came to light when Alabama Political Reporter broke news of certain language – about 23 words in particular – added into the general fund budget that gave a virtual monopoly to one group in the State, the American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc., and – in turn – its inextricable partner, RxAlly.

“23 words requiring the PBM have a purchasing base of 30 percent locked in Hubbard’s client, APCI, as it is the only company that fits the description,” our editor Bill Britt reported last year.

“Asked if Hubbard pushed for the PBM language to be added to the bill, Rep. Clouse said he did not recall. ‘You know we [Clouse and Hubbard] talk about a lot of things with the budget. I don’t remember in particular.’ Clouse said he recalled Rep. Greg Wren suggested the passage benefiting APCI. Wren was ‘concerned about independent pharmacists and he wanted to add language in there… Greg wanted to put the language in there, so I told him to go ahead and write it up.’”

Most shocking, retrospectively, from our coverage in June of 2013, though, was the following: According to Dennis L. Tumminia, Senior Employee Benefits Consultant Edgewood Partners Insurance Center, “PBM’s typically employ a “balloon strategy” in their price negotiations – if you squeeze one element of the pricing matrix another element inevitably “pops” out somewhere else. Ask for a lower administrative fee, for example, and the dispensing fee becomes non-negotiable. Ask for a lower ingredient cost discount and rebates begin to disappear.”



Tumminia says that it is important for those seeking contract a PBM understand that, “PBM’s utilize a “per script” net revenue model that combines all of the revenue elements. So, if you are going to be successful in your negotiations, you need to understand what those specific revenue elements are. Some PBM revenue elements, like administrative fees, are highly visible. Others, like rebates, are shrouded in confidentiality agreements.”

Those “revenue elements….shrouded in confidentiality agreements” now appear to be exactly what Greg Wren admitted to having illegally provided to RxAlly’s management.

The same month that the Alabama Political Reporter published the above mentioned article, which can be read here, Representative Wren ended his $8,000 a month contract with RxAlly.

Two months after the story was published and Wren’s contract ended, RxAlly, whose SmartD program had been deemed by CMS to be a “risk…..to health and safety,” officially closed for good.

“Just over 18 months ago, RxAlly brought together an unprecedented alliance of pharmacies united to help patients achieve better health through personalized pharmacist care while reducing costs,” RxAlly’s statement on their closure read.

“The RxAlly board of directors has decided to close the company effective August 23, 2013. While we are disappointed in this outcome, we appreciate the progress we made in developing a shared interest in advancing pharmacist care and thank you for your support and belief in our company and our mission.”

It should be noted that RxAlly’s failed Medicare prescription program, SmartD, was bought by another pharmacy conglomerate, Express Scripts, in September of 2013, just a month after RxAlly closed its doors. Express Scripts currently has lobbyists on Goat Hill, and donated money to Speaker Hubbard’s PAC, Storming the State House, as recently as last year.

In any case, outside the Montgomery County Courthouse this week, Representative Wren’s attorney said that his client’s actions were unintentional, and that he is ready to get it behind him. He also claimed that RxAlly was not affiliated with APCI, and that Representative Wren was not even aware that APCI had business interests in Alabama. The facts tell a different story, than what Anderson claims.

Wren’s attorney said that the now-former legislator will cooperate with any testimony needed, saying explicitly that there would likely be more testimony from his client before the Special Grand Jury that has been convening in Lee County, which is, notably, Speaker Hubbard’s home.

The full video of the events at the Montgomery County Courthouse this week, including Wren’s statement to the press, as well as his lawyers, can be seen here.

Wren Plea Deal Shocks Legislature

April 2, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Today, longtime incumbent Greg Wren (R) from Montgomery went to a Montgomery courthouse and confessed to his involvement in using his office to enrich himself and possibly other lawmakers. The news shocked his fellow legislators, many of whom would not comment on the record.

Representative Mack Butler (R) from Rainbow City said, “The House has come to order. As I arrived here in Montgomery today I learned of former Rep Greg Wren’s plea deal and resignation. Most of us detest corruption and are greatly offended by these actions. I knew as I arrived here last year that even though a great deal had already been done to clean up corruption there was still work to do. Public service is a calling but regrettably a few are listening to the wrong voice as evidenced by this. Numbers 32:23 states be sure your sins will find you out, and Proverbs 22:1 states a good name is more desirable than great riches. If someone is guilty then they shall reap what they have sown and deserve what judgment comes to them.”
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House Passes Bill to Deal with Changing Energy Sector

March 20, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama, like other states, funds its interstate, road, and bridge construction and maintenance with taxes on gasoline and diesel.  We pay for the roads that we need to go to work, to church, to get groceries, etc. when we fuel up at the pump.

The vehicles that we drive however are starting to change and Alabama has to adapt to the vehicles of the 21st century.  HB 552 sponsored by Representative Greg Wren (R) from Montgomery is an acknowledgement on the part of the state to make an effort to do just that.
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Advocates Urge Ways and Means Committee to Fund Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Program

February 18, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Wednesday, the Ways and Means General Fund Committee of the Alabama House of Representatives met as part of the annual general fund budget.

Advocates for the fight against breast cancer spoke to the Ways and Means committee asking them to continue to fund the Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer program.

Representative Greg Wren (R) from Montgomery was presiding because Chairman Steve Clouse (R) from Ozark could not attend due to illness.  Rep. Wren welcomed the group of women.
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