By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Over the last two weeks, the beleaguered Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard has been barnstorming the state trying to hold together his splintering House coalition.
Last week, Hubbard met with the Madison County Area House Republican Caucus and Tuesday night he had dinner with the caucus for the surrounding Birmingham area. According to several caucus members who were present at the events, the message was the same.
“Stick with me and big money is coming your way. Oh, and that Matt Hart guy is crazy.”
These hastily arranged meetings follow closely on the heals of revelations that Hubbard has hired famed white-collar criminal defense attorney J. Mark White, shuttered his longest running political action committee NETPAC and terminated his lucrative consulting contract with the Southeastern Alabama Gas District (SEAGD). No word yet on his other consulting job with American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc.
The meetings along with the cease and desist letters are further examples of Hubbard’s attempt to stop the bleeding.
One of the resounding themes at these dinner gatherings has been Hubbard’s promise of $100,000 to each legislator who sticks with him for a win in 2014. But the catch is that the legislator only gets the $100K bonus after he or she wins, not before.
Hubbard is offering a huge reward for loyalty and this seems to be playing well with starry-eyed freshmen, but is causing eye-rolls and head-shakes from veteran legislators.
If Hubbard is capable of retaining control of the House for the next four years it should be easy to keeps his promise of big bucks to his loyal minions. But why make such a promise now?
Over the last several months, Hubbard has been saying that he had $10,000,000 on hand for incumbent protection. But in recent meetings, Hubbard has been reciting a list of groups from which he holds promises or IOUs.
Perhaps these IOUs should be called IYDs (in your dreams) if Hubbard is indicted.
Concerning the rumors of an investigation by the attorney general’s white collar crime unit, Hubbard has begun referring to its chief, Matt Hart, as “crazy.” Also saying that Hart was fired from his job as a federal prosecutor because he was unstable.
The fact that Hubbard is disparaging an officer of the court while his super lawyer White is threatening lawsuits against those who have made false or libelous statements about Hubbard would be funny, if it were not so very pathetic.
Of course, there is great irony in the fact that Hubbard—who has spent much his career railing against democrats, trial lawyers and gamblers—should, when faced with troubles, hire a man who represents them all.
Hubbard has told his members to raise as much money as possible, but for those in trouble he has got their backs with a hand full of IOUs.
Over the last year, Hubbard has called me crazy, wrong and out to get him when I have reported on his misuse of campaign funds, using his office for personal gain and almost single-handedly corrupting state government.
Recently, Hubbard has told supporters that AG Luther Strange is overly-ambitious and out to get him because he wants to be governor in 2018. Now, it is Hart who is deranged and out to get him.
It seems to me that it is Mr. Speaker who has a problem, not Britt, Strange or Hart.