By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Over the last several weeks, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard has taken extraordinary steps to rearrange his business, political and legal affairs. In a flurry of activity he has shuttered one of his most potent political action committees, terminated a consulting contract worth over a hundred thousand dollars a year and retained a prestigious white-collar criminal defense attorney, who also happens to be a big democrat donor.
One of these events alone would be a significant move on the part of Hubbard. But, the three combined would seem to point to a coordinated effort on the part of the beleaguered Speaker.
On Friday, the Alabama Political Reporter confirmed that Hubbard has engaged super lawyer J. Mark White as council.
White is listed as one of the top 50 lawyers in the state, representing an impressive list of corporate and private clients, including Macon County Greyhound Park (“Victoryland”) and Milton McGregor Enterprises.
White received his undergraduate degree from Auburn University (1969), served in the U.S. Navy (1970-72), and earned his law degree from Samford University Cumberland School of Law (1974).
He has given at least $21,500 to Alabama statehouse candidates, and thousands more to congressional democrats.
In 2010 he backed Democrats with thousands in contributions. Only one Republican – Paul DeMarco – received $500 from White.
White is consider one of the best white-collar criminal defense attorneys in the state.
When asked by the Alabama Political Reporter if he was representing Hubbard with regards to any matters before an attorney general’s investigation, White said,
“I can only speak to the fact that we are representing Mr. Hubbard, generally, [pause], investigating—and we’re still in the initial stages of investigating—various false or misleading statements that have been made about Mike or his family or his company. That is all I can say.”
White then continued by stating, “I’m capable of saying [more] but that’s all I will say at this point.”
He did confirm that one letter had been sent to an individual concerning remarks that person had made about Hubbard. He did not disclose the name of the person or any details concerning the letter’s content.
If White does represent Hubbard before a attorney general’s investigation, he will most likely face an old nemesis in Matt Hart, as he did with when Hart led the federal probe into corruption within Alabama’s two-year college system.
Another interesting action taken by Hubbard recently was the shuttering of his political actions committee, Network PAC. The official filing (Statement of Dissolution) termination papers were filed with the secretary of state was on September, 3, 2013.
Network PAC was created on October 16, 2001, by Hubbard and his wife, Susan Sorrells Hubbard. Susan Hubbard has served as chairperson and Hubbard as treasurer since the PAC’s inception.
Over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have flowed from donors to Network PAC, into various political campaigns and then back into Hubbard-owned business. For full report click here.
Hubbard officially closed the PAC in September but he began clearing out money in June of this year.
In the June report, Hubbard began to move large amounts of cash from the PAC. The largest bundle went to Hubbard’s long time political associates at SAHR Group whose partners are Dax R. Swatek, David Azbell, Tim Howe and John C.M. Ross. To these political operative Hubbard gave $26,000 from Network PAC.
In June Hubbard gave Jim Barton’s campaign $10,000, and the Committee to Elect Matt Friday, $1000. He also paid Sidney R. Braigel, $398.74 for photography work.
Another big cash dump took place in July. The filings with the secretary of state show that Hubbard gave Gov. Robert Bentley’s Re-Election Campaign a contribution of $10,000. He also gave $1,000 to Sandy Stimpson for Mayor of Mobile, and $8,250 to Representative Bill Poole for polling conducted by McLaughlin & Associates.
Money from the PAC also landed in the bank accounts of Michael Joffrion, a longtime ally and political consultant, who received $7,000, along with $4,500 to Ryan Adams, a political operative and husband of Hubbard’s House communications director Rachel Adams.
In the August report, Hubbard transferred $17,797.44, into his personal campaign account, Friends of Mike Hubbard. He also gave contributions of $5000 each into the campaign accounts of Representatives, Ken Johnson, Jim Patterson, Wayne Johnson, Wes Long Campaign, and Becky Nordgren. In the same time period Hubbard also donated $5000 to the Kay Ivey Campaign for Lt. Governor. The last entry on the disclosure form was a contribution to Friends of Mike Hubbard for $2,797.44.
Finally, in a Friday news dump, Hubbard’s communications director Rachel Adams made it known to Max Reiss of WSFA http://www.wsfa.com/story/23364791/al-speaker-of-the-house that Hubbard had terminated his controversial consulting contract with Southeast Alabama Gas District, (SEAGD).
In the statement provided by Adams, she told Reiss, “Auburn Network, Inc. recently asked the Southeast Alabama Gas District to void their agreement with our company because of unfounded criticism being generated by politically-motivated liberal groups in Montgomery. Auburn Network is confident that the economic development contacts, leads and prospects it developed while working with SEAGD will soon lead to more jobs, industry and opportunity for the citizens of the Wiregrass region.”
SEAGD paid for Hubbard and his wife Susan to attend the Paris Air Show, for what Hubbard described as an economic development opportunity.
In her statement Adams didn’t identify the names of any of the so-called politically-motivated liberal groups that were attacking Hubbard.
SEAGD had been paying Hubbard $12,000 per month over the last two years for his consulting work.
The Alabama Political Reporter first brought the contract to the public’s attention in April 2013.
In just a few short days, Hubbard has taken dramatic steps to close his longest running PAC, end a lucrative consulting contract and hire one of the state’s best white collar criminal defense lawyers.
This trio of events appears closely related to the Special Grand Jury being convened in Lee County.