Some are using a stalking horse to undermine ethics laws

January 10, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The greatest challenge before the Alabama State Legislature when it returns in February is not the budget, schools or Medicaid. It is the slight of hand chicanery used to undermine the State’s ethics laws.

Since the conviction of former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard on 12 felony ethics violations, a coordinated effort has been underway to weaken those laws, with particular focus on how they identify a “principal.” Read More

Ethics Commission withdraws McCalla opinion after charities line-up

December 8, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In a unanimous vote on September 1, 2016, the Alabama Ethics Commission issued advisory opinion 2016-24, which it believed clarified the question regarding public officials soliciting lobbyists and principals for contributions to a charitable organization, operating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

The issue was raised by the nonprofit group, Friends of McCalla.

After approving the opinion in a 5-0 vote, the Commission gave a 30-day window for public comment; however, it was extended past the 30 days to December 7.
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Email Shows Plan in Huntsville Race

October 3, 2016

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama Political Reporter has obtained an email in which members of a special interest group appear to openly discuss how they hope to influence the Huntsville City Council in return for their organization’s campaign donations.

SEE EMAIL HERE

SEE EMAIL HEADER

In what looks to be an email from “The Committee of 100″ to the board of directors of BIZPAC, the Montgomery-based political action committee of Clark Richardson an unnamed author writes of its influence with members of the Huntsville City Council.
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BCA Today: Damaged Goods?

June 23, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—“Making a sweet home for business,” is the tagline for the Business Council of Alabama, commonly referred to as BCA around the State House and the Lee County Court House, during the trial of Mike Hubbard, who was found guilty of 12 felony counts of public corruption, with two counts related to the activities of BCA’s Board Chair, Will Brooke.

BCA has arguably become the most powerful lobbying group in the State giving around $2.5 million in the 2014 election cycle to elect pro-business candidates. However, on the witness stand in the Hubbard case, its President and Chief Executive Officer, Billy Canary, found it difficult to admit to Lead Prosecutor, Matt Hart, that the group was one of the most powerful players in Montgomery politics.
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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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Is There a Link Between Common Core, Illegal Gains Hubbard Received From BCA Chair?

June 16, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

According to prosecutors, disgraced Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) made $2.3 million in unethical deals over a four year period. Through it all the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) was there helping Mike Hubbard both professionally and personally,

BCA President and CEO William “Billy” T. Canary, Billy Canary, who is a registered lobbyist, testified that he was part of what he called a “kitchen cabinet” that met with Mike Hubbard every week of the legislative sessions. This group also included: Hubbard’s Chief of Staff Josh Blades, Dax Swatek (a lobbyist), John Ross (a lobbyist), and guests invited in by members of the group such as experts in the field being discussed.
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More Indictments Likely

June 14, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—When asked if there would be more indictments, Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis said, “No Comment.” That statement should strike fear in the heart of anyone named in the counts on which Mike Hubbard was found guilty.

Hubbard was found guilty on seven counts of receiving a thing of value from a lobbyist or a principal under Section 36-25-5.1 (a) which forbids “[a] public employee or public official or family member of the public employee or family member of the public official shall solicit or receive a thing of value from a lobbyist, subordinate of a lobbyist, or principal.”
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Summary of Charges Against Michael G. Hubbard

June 6, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

OPELIKA—In the matter of the State of Alabama v. Michael G. Hubbard: He is on trial for violating the State’s Ethics Laws. If convicted on any of the 23 felonies with which he is charged, Hubbard will be immediately removed from office. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison plus up to $30,000 fines for each crime.

The following is summary of the charges against Hubbard:
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Hubbard Trial Day Seven: Only The Jury Knows

June 3, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

OPELIKA—On Day seven of the Speaker Mike Hubbard criminal public corruption trail, we heard testimony from Bobby Abrams, Rob Burton, and Jimmy Rane.

Abrams, who owns the company Capitol Cups, paid Hubbard $10,000 a month ostensibly to sell cups. Abrams admitted that if Hubbard had secured the letter for his patent in a timely fashion, it would have saved him millions of dollars. And while Hubbard was successful in moving the process forward, it was too little-too late; but he really appreciated his help. It was evident that Hubbard would not have had any success if he were not Speaker of the House.
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Hubbard Trial Day Six: “Not no, but Hell No!”

June 2, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

OPELIKA—Day six of the Mike Hubbard trial, who is charged with 23 counts of felony corruption, began with a whimper, then exploded, and by mid-day it looked as if at least one more person might be going to jail.

Yesterday’s witnesses were: Governor Robert Bentley, Kate Grant, Dax Swatek, Craig Pouncey, Steve French, and Will Brooke.

Media outlets from across the State again crowded the courtroom in anticipation of Governor Bentley’s testimony.
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