By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The self-described architect of the 2010 GOP takeover of the Alabama Legislature has a new Political Action Committee.
Storming the Statehouse PAC, or “Storm PAC,” is the latest of the numerous political fundraising operations of current Speaker of the Alabama House of Representative Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn).
The new PAC was filed with the Alabama Secretary of State on October 12, 2012 listing Hubbard as Chairman, and Charles Hines as treasurer. Perhaps, coincidentally the formation of Storm PAC coincides with the timing of various news reports questioning campaign activities by Hubbard during the 2010 election cycle.
In a written statement, Hubbard said the new PAC was formed “in order to protect the incumbents in our Republican majority in their re-election efforts.”
Speaking on conditions of anonymity for fear of reprisal, a republican insider with knowledge of Hubbard’s tactics said, “Mike is going to try and control all the money to insure loyalty, to himself, well, maybe not loyalty but obedience for sure.”
Even in his book “Storming the Statehouse,” Hubbard emphasized that those who did not tow the line for him would be “punished.”
A growing number of republicans sight Hubbard’s heavy handed enforcement as a key factor in tearing the ALGOP apart. Currently, a battle is being waged for the Chairmanship of the Alabama Sate Republican Party. Matt Fridy, who is running to unseat Bill Armistead, has dropped Hubbard from his list of formal endorsements.
Hubbard, along with former Governor Bob Riley, is now being seen as a troubling faction of the ALGOP that is seeking to divide and control the party. The Riley-Hubbard PAC, 2014 PAC, has been in constant competition with the ALGOP for fundraising dollars.
This in itself has divided the ALGOP, while not threatening the parties statewide political dominance it has certainly strained the very fabric of the ALGOP.
Hubbard’s new PAC will serve as one more device to bring money into the lone control of the Hubbard machine.
During the 2010 campaign season, Hubbard used PACs under his control to feed millions of dollars into campaigns and also into his own businesses.
A study of campaign finance records for the 2010 election cycle shows that Hubbard’s business interests were paid over $1,000,000 in campaign expenditures from at least 18 GOP candidates and at least 4 Political Action Committees (PAC).
This does not include the almost $800,000 spent with Majority Strategies for GOP printing that was sub-contracted to Hubbard’s Craftmasters as reported by AL.com.
PACs under Hubbard’s control included 136 Years PAC, NETPAC, Alabama Republican Party and Alabama Republican Party (Federal PAC).
Hubbard said that Storm PAC was created because, “Fighting for conservative reforms, standing up for dramatic change and combating entrenched liberal special interests can often lead to some tough political battles….”
What liberal special interest could Mr. Hubbard be referring to since the republican party controls every aspect of state government in Alabama? Again, an insider gives his answer, “Anytime anyone challenges Mike, he whines about ‘liberal special interests,’ the only special interest to him is the one that keeps him in power, period.”
Hubbard, also said that Storm PAC would raise money to let “our members… know that I’m firmly in their corner, watching out for them and committed to protecting them.”
It seems that according to Hubbard, transparency, voting records and legislative accomplishment are not the items candidates need worry about, rather they only need to know that Hubbard is in their corner.
Hubbard has said in the past that he wanted to protect incumbents from faux republicans, to which the question should be raised as to who decides who is a real republican, Mr. Hubbard or the voters?
According to a report by George Talbot, Storm PAC “will get a high-profile kickoff later this month at the Auburn home of Tim Hudson, a star pitcher for the Atlanta Braves.”
Talbot reports that, “Invitations to the Jan. 24 reception were distributed in December by Kate Anderson, a GOP fundraising consultant who formerly worked for Hubbard during his tenure as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.”
He also reports that, “Recipients were invited to be a host sponsor for $7,500; a platinum sponsor for $5,000; a gold sponsor for $2,500 or a silver sponsor for $1,000.”
No one doubts that the Hubbard machine is a money raising juggernaut. During the last year, lobbyist have constantly complaint of Hubbard’s insistence on pay-to-play fundraising.
It has also been widely circulated to high profile donors that campaign contributions be directly given to Hubbard for distribution and not given to individual candidates. One North Alabama business person complained about a legislator from the Huntsville area who delivered that message only to be reminded that they would need the legislature in the future and that they had better follow the new rules. The legislator said, “There are consequences for making Mike unhappy.”
Many legislators and public officials are left scratching their heads as to why Hubbard needs a new PAC, this like other activities of Mr. Hubbard leave the real answer unclear for the moment.