Missed Deadlines, Defense Whining Punctuates Hubbard Hearing

October 22, 2015


By Bill Britt

Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—At the October 20 motions hearing to quash subpoenas issued by Speaker Mike Hubbard, a few things became apparent: Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney J. Mark White would ignore the trial judge’s order, and that the judge would equivocate on his orders if White whined long and loud enough.

Hubbard’s attorneys were ordered by Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker III to file a complete witness list three weeks prior to the evidentiary hearing scheduled for October 26. However, Team Hubbard filed an amended list the night before Tuesday’s motions hearing without any penalty from Judge Walker.
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Paris Group Buys Company With Ties To Hubbard Indictment

February 3, 2015

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

An Auburn-based company with ties to Speaker Mike Hubbard’s felony incidents has been sold to a global investment firm.

CSP Technologies, whose parent company is CV Holdings, LLC, has been purchased by the Paris-based investment group Wendel for $360 million.

Among the State’s 23 felony charges against Hubbard, CV Holdings, LLC, is listed in Counts 11-14. The Chairman of CV Holdings, LLC, is Robert Abrams, a New York State business executive with extensive holdings in Auburn. Count 11 of the criminal indictments states that Hubbard received money from Abrams as part of a lobbying (consulting) contract through Hubbard’s Auburn Network. Hubbard is also accused in Counts 12 and 13 of lobbying the Alabama Department of Commerce and Governor Robert Bentley on behalf of CV Holdings, LLC. Count 14 states that Hubbard used state property and personal to further business interests on behalf of Abrams and CV Holdings, LLC. It is not known at this time if Hubbard played any roll in the CSP Technologies sale.
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Davis Addresses False Allegations Made by Hubbard and His Attorney

November 19, 2014

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—In the boldest of terms, Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis let it be known that Speaker Mike Hubbard and his attorney J. Mark White have been making false and unfounded statements in the press about the investigation that lead to 23 Felony indictments  against Hubbard.

“The indictment of Mr. Hubbard was the result of a lengthy, thorough and lawfully conducted Grand Jury investigation – not a “political witch Hunt,”said Davis in a release to the media at 9am Tuesday morning.

Davis, who serves as the lead prosecutor in the investigation and prosecution Hubbard said, “false allegations” by Hubbard and White  “require[d]” that he “respond as Acting Attorney General.”

So extraordinarily brazen have Hubbard’s attacks been on Davis, Attorney General Luther Strange and Matt Hart, the Chief of the AG’s Public Corruption that prosecution felt a need to respond with the facts.

Prosecutors are limited by law as to what they can say about a case, however, under State law, they can respond to the types of unfounded allegations made by Hubbard, White and their surrogates.

Davis first reminds the press and public that it was a Grand Jury of 18 citizens in Lee County that found, “probable cause,” that Hubbard had committed the crimes and indicted him on 23 felony ethics charges,” not the prosecution.

Next he explained, that the timing of the indictments was the result of the “four-year statute of limitations,” and not an election, as Hubbard has stated.

Davis also revealed that the Grand Jury heard testimony for 46 days over a twelve month period, from October 2013 to October 2014, with hundreds of thousands of documents reviewed as well as the testimony of over 150 witnesses considered.

The sheer volume of documentation and witness testimony is enough to qualify this as one of the more complex and thorough investigations in State history.

Davis made it abundantly clear that, “the Grand Jury proceeded at a proper pace to conduct a thorough, fair, and complete investigation of all of the criminal acts alleged in this case.”

Davis, who has served for 18 years as a district attorney, made it clear that assigning a political motivation to the investigation that led to Hubbard’s arrest was simply a lie.

Davis last ran for office as a Republican and won in 1998. Since then, he has served as Supernumerary District Attorney, for the State in many cases.

Davis said that he had, “no political allegiance to anyone – including Attorney General Luther Strange – which would affect my role as the Acting Attorney General in the prosecution of Mr. Hubbard.”

Davis took exception with Hubbard’s repeated accusation that “rogue” prosecutors were out to get him, stating, “the prosecutors and investigators assigned to me are not “rogue” – to the contrary, they have conducted the investigation under my supervision, direction and control. The prosecutors and agents utilized standard, conservative methods and techniques in the investigation of this matter.”

Hubbard and White have also asserted that Davis had “smeared,” the name of leading business men in the State. Referring to the naming of Robert Abrams, James Holbrook, Robert Barton, Will Brooke and Jimmy Rane in the indictments, to this Davis said, “Anyone named in the indictment – other than Mr. Hubbard – has not been charged with a crime.” He referred to the other individuals named in the indictments as “witnesses to the alleged crimes and nothing more.”

Does Davis mean that former Gov. Bob Riley, Minda Riley Champbell, Billy Canary and the others will be witnesses against Hubbard?

Davis closed by stating that he, “intend[s] to try this case in a courtroom before a jury and not in the press.” However, Hubbard and White want to try this case in the court of public opinion and not a court of law.

Davis took a giant step forward by pointing out the false allegations made by Hubbard and White. It will be interesting to see how Hubbard responds. Will he “bring down holy hell or everlasting sh*t,” as he has promised to do in the past? Only time will tell.

After a seven hour lack, Hubbard’s attorney issued his press release.

 

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?

 

Hubbard Lobbying Governor Tied to $78 Million Dollar RSA Loan

November 11, 2014

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—In Count 13 of the State’s felony criminal indictments against Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, he is accused of representing Robert Abrams d/b/a CV Holdings, LLC., before Gov. Bentley.

State Ethics Law, Section 36-25-1.5 prohibits a legislator from representing any person, firm, corporation or other business entity before any executive department or agency.

In a report from al.com’s Chuck Dean, “Bentley, under oath, testified as to what Hubbard was seeking on behalf of the company. The questioning by prosecutors took place in Bentley’s office. At no time was Bentley a target of the investigation, nor did he seek to avoid testifying.”

(See article here.)

What is known from the indictments is that Hubbard lobbied Gov. Bentley on behalf of Robert Abrams d/b/a CV Holdings, LLC. Bentley’s testimony conferred to the State’s prosecutors that Hubbard in fact lobbied and exactly what he wanted the governor to do for his client.

The law as passed by the Republican super majority under Hubbard’s leadership, makes it a felony offense for a legislator to lobby the governor on behalf of a business client. 

Count 11 reveals that Hubbard, through his company Auburn Network, LLC., received money from Robert Abrams d/b/a CV Holdings, LLC.

These actions fall under the prohibited category of using ones office for personal gain, which is an offense punishable with fines and imprisonment. 

It was not publicly known before Hubbard’s indictments that he was working as a consultant for Robert Abrams d/b/a CV Holdings, LLC., it was known that Abrams had contributed liberally to former Gov. Bob Riley 2014PAC and that he also had business before the State, as well as the Retirement Systems of Alabama, (RSA).

(See article here.)

Abrams is the CEO of CV Holdings, which was founded in Amsterdam, New York in 2002.

CV Holdings, LLC., owns several other companies including Capitol Cups, also located in Auburn. Capitol Cups’ website states that the company “is a leading supplier of insulated and non-insulated travel cups, tumblers, and children’s spill-proof cups for the food, retail, sports and fundraising industries.”

Around 2010, Abrams began to seek investments in SiO2 which develops and manufactures …silicon-oxide coated containers, utilizing… plasma glass coating technology,” for medical products.

CV Holdings, LLC., needed $90 million to build the SiO2 research and manufacturing facility in Auburn and in 2012, they received $78 Million in a loan from RSA to realize that plan.

In March 2012, Gov. Bentley, Speaker Mike Hubbard, Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield, as well as RSA chief Dr. Bronner and others announced the development of the SiO2 facility and a reported 300 jobs that would be created as a result of the project.

(See article here.)

At the time, Bentley said about SiO2:  “An essential part of creating new jobs is encouraging our existing companies to further their investments in this state…SiO2 Medical Products is creating new opportunities in the form of additional well-paying jobs, and we appreciate their continued commitment to Alabama…and we look forward to even more announcements from SiO2 in the future.”

Speaker Hubbard spoke of the investment as well, saying, “If the recession has taught us anything, it is that we must keep innovating and keep finding ways to create jobs. I’m proud of the teamwork it took to make this project a reality and to bring so many high-tech, high-paying jobs to Lee County.”

Hubbard never revealed in his Statement of Economic Interest or in any other public way, that he represented CV Holdings, LLC., or any related business.

Hubbard and his allies have wanted the public to believe that he was just a business man trying to make a living, but at the press conference he was speaking as Speaker of the House and representative from his House District.

Even Dr. Bronner at the announcement of the companies expansion acknowledged Hubbard as being in his official capacity: “We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with SiO2 Medical Products’ Chairman Bobby Abrams, Auburn Mayor Bill Ham, Auburn Economic Development Director Phillip Dunlap, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, and Governor Robert Bentley to expand the plant in Auburn.”

Bronner said that the RSA was, “excited to partner with…Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard… to expand the plant in Auburn.”

When the Alabama Political Reporter spoke with Abrams in September, he expressed a close, working relationship with Auburn Mayor Bill Ham. But, when asked about his relationship with Hubbard, he did not reply directly, only saying he worked with all those in business development in Auburn.

When asked if he was aware of the Lee County Grand Jury investigation into Hubbard, he said he was unaware of the investigation. 

The conversation with Abrams occurred before Hubbard’s relationship between he and Abrams was made public by the indictments. 

Several past and present members of the RSA board said they were unaware of the $78 million loan that financed the expansion of SiO2. They expressed shock and concern over the enormity of the loan against the collateral. According to Dr. Bronner, the $78 million dollar loan was secured by “37 patents and other intellectual property, covering the company’s developments, a pledge of stock, and all other assets of the company. The interest rate is 8% and the company will pay the RSA a success fee upon maturity of the loan. The success fee will be 22% of the average daily outstanding balance of the loan for each year the loan is outstanding.”

Abrams also contributed $33,333.00 to former Gov. Bob Riley’s 2014PAC, and other $66,666.32 was funneled into the Riley PAC by others in $13,333.33 increments, except for one transaction of $13,334.00.

How much Hubbard was paid to lobby the governor is unknown at this time. 

Hubbard’s contract with Southeast Alabama Gas District was for $12,000 a month plus expenses, which included a trip to the Paris Air Show with his wife.

 

The Nexus of Big Business and the Hubbard Affair

October 27, 2014
By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, has been charged with 23 felony counts of public corruption. Many of the indictments stem from Hubbard receiving significant quantities of cash from some of the State’s largest business owners.
The indictments issued by the Special Lee County Grand Jury, name Gov. Bob Riley, his daughter Minda Riley Campbell, BCA Chairman Billy Canary, Tim Howe, Will Brooke, Dax Swatek, Jimmy Rane, Rob Barton, Robert Abrams, James Holbrook, as well as American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (APCI), the Southeast Alabama Gas District, (SEAGD),  Edgenuity, Inc. and/or E2020, as all having given a thing of value to Hubbard, or playing some role in Hubbard’s using his office for personal gain.

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Hubbard Arrested, Charged with 23 Felony Counts

October 21, 2014

 

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

October 21, 2014

READ COUNTS

MONTGOMERY—After a year’s worth of investigation by the Special White Collar Crimes Unit of the State’s Attorney General’s Office and a two-year investigation by this publication, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, has been arrested and charged with 23 felony indictments.

Hubbard was allowed to turn himself in at the Lee County Courthouse around 4:00PM Monday evening.

Hubbard has been charged with using his office for personal gain, receiving cash and contracts from lobbyists and business associates, and receiving assistance with his business interests from high-profile individuals and companies, including former Gov. Bob Riley.
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Hubbard Investigation May Reach Inside RSA and Commerce

September 9, 2014

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—After months of investigation, the Alabama Political Reporter now believes that a donation of $33,333.00 made to former Gov. Bob Riley’s Alabama 2014 PAC can be linked to a $78 million dollar loan made by the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) to fund Si02 Medical Products. The loan’s genesis began with a $750,000 economic development agreement between the State’s Department of Commerce and CV Holdings, LLC, in 2010.

According to the company’s website, Si02 Medical is a “160,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Auburn, Alabama. The facility houses research and development and the manufacturing of “…silicon-oxide coated containers, utilizing… plasma glass coating technology.”

The company website states that SiO2 Medical Products is a “privately held company… founded and supported by CV Holdings, LLC.”

Bloomberg Business describes CV Holding LLC as a company that  “engages in the design, development, manufacture, and marketing of polymer products primarily for packaging applications. It provides packaging solutions to the pharmaceutical and diagnostic markets; manufactures and fills vials; and manufactures children’s cups, as well as insulated and non-insulated cups for promotions and retail applications. The company has operations in Amsterdam, New York; and Auburn, Alabama. CV Holdings, LLC was founded in 2002 and is based in Amsterdam, New York.”

CV Holdings, LLC owns several other companies including Capitol Cups also located in Auburn. Capitol Cups’ website states that the company “is a leading supplier of insulated and non-insulated travel cups, tumblers, and children’s spill-proof cups for the food, retail, sports and fundraising industries.”

Chances are high if you drink from a cup with an Auburn or Alabama sports logo, you are holding a cup manufactured by Capitol Cups.

The president and CEO of CV Holdings which oversees Si02 and Capitol Cups, is Robert Abrams of Amsterdam, NY.

It was Abrams who made the donation of $33,333.00 to Riley. It was also Abrams who signed the economic agreement shortly before Riley left office in 2010. And it was also Abrams that signed the loan agreement for the $78 million from RSA.

The donation of almost exactly one-third of $100,000 to Riley’s PAC, appears as a huge red flag.

When the Alabama Political Reporter called Si02 in Auburn the receptionist took our name and number and promised a returned call. Within 15 minutes of our call to Si02 headquarters in Auburn we received a call back from the President and CEO of CV Holding Mr. Robert Abrams.

When we spoke with Abrams in early September, he did not offer an explanation for the unusual amount of the contribution, only saying that he supported those who worked to promote business development in the State. When asked about the remaining two-thirds of the possible $100,000 he simply stated that he gave to groups that worked in business development in Alabama.

On October 10, 2010, then, Gov. Riley, signed a project agreement with CV Holdings worth $750,000 in taxpayer dollars, once the company met certain conditions.

The two major conditions of the agreement between Riley and Abrams were that the company would secure $90,000,000 in funding to be invested in the building of a new manufacturing facility in Auburn and that the company would employee at least 250 individuals to work at the facility.

In March, 2012, RSA Chief Executive Officer Dr. David Bronner, along with Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and other State dignitaries, announced the investment of $90 million dollars into SIO2 Medical production facility in Auburn, with $78,000,000 in loans from funds belonging to State workers.

According to Dr. Bronner, the $78 million dollar loan was secured by “37 patents and other intellectual property covering the company’s developments, a pledge of stock, and all other assets of the company. The interest rate is 8% and the company will pay the RSA a success fee upon maturity of the loan. The success fee will be 22% of the average daily outstanding balance of the loan for each year the loan is outstanding.”

Bronner also stated the the agreement between RSA and CV Holdings, LLC was two years in the making.

Individuals with knowledge of the protracted negotiations between RSA and CV Holdings, LLC,  contend that Bronner initially expressed a reluctance to such a high-stakes investment.

In the Alabama Political Reporter’s conversation with Abrams, he expressed a close working relationship with Auburn Mayor Bill Ham. When asked about his relationship with Hubbard, he did not reply directly, only saying he worked with all those in business development in Auburn.

Since the 2010 takeover by the Republican Supermajority, Bronner has been under constant attack by GOP members in the House and Senate.

These attacks ended when in January 2012 Leura Canary was hired as general consul for the RSA. Leura Canary is the former United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. She is also the wife of Billy Canary, the head of the Business Council of Alabama, (BCA) and a close associate of former Gov. Riley and Speaker Hubbard.

Publisher and journalist Bob Martin writing about Leura Canary’s hiring said, 

“Two capitol observers told me they believe Canary is being hired because of other reasons; one of them being that Bronner needs to improve RSA’s relations with the Republican-controlled legislature.

Canary’s hiring not only coincides with an improved relationship between Bronner and the Republican leadership, it also aligns with the closing of a $78 million loan made to finance Si02 in Auburn.

The $33,333.00 donation from Abrams to Riley occurred in November 2012, eight months after the closing of the loan from RSA.

The hiring of Leura Canary, the improved relationship with Republican leadership, the closing of the loan from RSA and the donation to Riley’s 2014 PAC falls neatly into a pattern, that has become a signature of Speaker Hubbard and his close associates.

When political experts have been made aware of the $33,333.00 contribution the overwhelming response is “Where is the other $66,666.00?”

An exhaustive search of public records has yet to yield another a similar donation from Abrams or any entity under his influence.

But a preponderance of the evidence, perhaps, has been enough for those investigating Hubbard and his allies to use the might of the law to compile answers.

 

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