By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY— Lee County voters were treated to a campaign-style push-card this week, paid for by the Friends of Mike Hubbard. The mail drop is an unusual direct response to a stinging—and humorous—flyer branding the Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard as “The Graftmaster.”
The “Graftmaster” label is an ironic play-of-words on Hubbard’s prized business holdings, the Auburn-based Craftmaster Printers Inc. A state grand jury is hearing testimony regarding an investigation into how more than $800,000 was secretly funneled from the Alabama Republican Party to a Florida vendor and then to Craftmaster Printers Inc. during the 2010 election cycle. Hubbard was chairman of the ALGOP at the time.
Now, Hubbard is striking back with a glossy, high-production quality direct mail piece that insists he is a “conservative leader” who “works for us.” The irony should be lost on no one that Craftmaster Printers appears to have printing the flyer, and the Craftmaster postal permit was used to pay postal costs. The printed address for the Friends of Mike Hubbard campaign committee uses is, naturally, the headquarters of his other lucrative business, Auburn Network Inc.
It seems in keeping with Hubbard’s usual business practices that he would use his personal business interests to support campaign activities. Hubbard delivers to constituents a high-quality—and likely high-priced political mailer, paid for with donations to his campaign committee. And then he pays his own companies to print and deliver the propaganda. It’s Diamond Mike at his best.
But exactly how Friends of Mike Hubbard paid for the mailer and postage costs is unclear. State campaign finance laws require political communications state clearly who pays the costs. The mailer states that is was paid for Paid for by Friends of Mike Hubbard. Yet, Secretary of State records show that Friends of Mike Hubbard as only having $607 dollars in its account as of January 31, 2013. Keep in mind that it is illegal for him to raise or transfer money until June, after the legislative session ends.
Where did the money come from to paid for a mailer that could cost anywhere between $20 and $30 thousand dollars to produce?
The front of Hubbard’s card reads: “Under Attack: Liberal special interests are at it again.”
This begs the question, “What liberal special interest in Alabama still has the juice (or money) to launch the Graftmaster attack on Hubbard?”
Certainly not the fractured and virtually bankrupt Democratic Party.
Alabama Appleseed? Alabama Arise? These groups hardly constitute a threat to Mike Hubbard or the ALGOP.
Does he mean the Alabama Education Association? Perhaps Hubbard doesn’t realize that a large percentage of AEA members are, in fact, conservatives, who vote Republican.
“Liberal special interests” are simply buzzwords Hubbard uses to stir the base. And the conservative base seems to have figured this out. Speaker Hubbard’s rhetoric has no virtually no impact on conservatives.
Hubbard’s propaganda card goes on to say, “They want to protect the status quo, To keep their grip on Montgomery, to stay in control and do what is right for them, not us.”
Of course, Hubbard knows that the Business Council of Alabama now has the “grip on Montgomery” and is now the status quo. Hubbard knows this because he pushes through the BCA, corporate agenda—all the while imploring conservatives to believe he “works for us.” Under his leadership the ship-of-state has become a money-ladened barge hauling off the taxpayers dollars for big dollar donors. It is Hubbard and his band of crony-capitalist that have a “grip,” on Montgomery not the mythical “them.”
The talking points here are as silly as they are old. Grassroots conservatives are not fooled by such petty blather, neither is the Tea Party. Hubbard and those he controls in the Legislature, abandoned conservatives on Common Core, even though the RNC, Governor Bentley and ALGOP Chairman Bill Armistead wanted it killed by state lawmakers.
Hubbard and his band, passed meaningless and weak gun bills that will have little effect but look good in direct mail pieces. Hubbard is a fraud, and the Graftmaster mailer called him out for it.
Talk around the Statehouse is that Hubbard’s ego was bruised, so, he struck back with this latest piece of mail. Closer to the truth is probably that Hubbard is in real trouble back in his district and has a tenuous grip Speaker’s gavel. Hubbard has promised so much money to those who he seeks to control that not even Midas has enough gold to keep all the Speaker’s promises.
The push-card spins a tale of how Hubbard has lowered taxes, created jobs and made Alabama safe for democracy. How? In bold headlines the text of the card reads, “Changing the way Montgomery operates.” Diamond Mike certainly has done that. He has ushered in an era of pay-to-play that is unparalleled in since Reconstruction. Like a mafia Don, Diamond Mike sits on the fifth-floor of the Statehouse handing out favors and dealing out punishment.
On the backside of the push-card it reads, “Mike Hubbard is no typical politician.” Most everyone would agree.
Hubbard’s pushback on the Graftmaster mailer is little more than a steady stream of buzzwords, codewords, half-truths and total fabrications. It seems hurried and ill-conceived. Totally lacking the ability to grab a reader. Mike says, “When the attacks come from the left, you know you’re doing something right.” What it should say is, “When the attacks come from the RIGHT and the LEFT, you know you are WRONG for Alabama.”
The 2014 campaign season will soon be in motion. Hubbard will need a better strategy than this to stay in power. Of course an Attorney General’s Special Grand Jury (that dreaded liberal special interest group) may have more to say than any push-card….maybe something like— “Hubbard indicted!”