By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—For the last month, an attorney general’s special grand jury has been meeting in Lee County. On Thursday, Mike Hubbard’s Chief of Staff, Josh Blades, was seen in a Lee County restaurant with white-collar crime defense attorney Ron Wise.
Wise, considered one of the state’s super lawyers, was council for former state Sen. Jim Preuitt in the bingo corruption trials. Preuitt was found not guilty of any wrong doing to the pay-for-votes case that mesmerized the state and cost several democrats, including Preuitt, their seats in 2010.
Wise, a Montgomery-based attorney, also represented Joseph “Eddie” Yessick, who received a two-year sentence for his part in the Jefferson County bribery and conspiracy case (stemming from the Jefferson County county sewer system debacle). The case that was successfully prosecuted by Matt Hart while he served as assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
Hart left the U.S. attorney’s office to head up the white-collar crime division under Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.
Hart is said to be conducting the special grand jury in Lee County that is rumored to be looking into alleged criminal actions perpetrated by Hubbard.
Another notable client of Wise was Don Siegelman’s former chief of staff, Paul Hamrick.
Blades has served as Hubbard’s Chief of Staff since the Republicans took control Statehouse in 2010.
Blades has been reported as being, “looped-in on every single things the Speaker does,” according to a blog closely aligned with the Hubbard arm of the ALGOP. The website also reported that a House member said, “When he calls, we all know the Speaker is 100 percent behind him.”
Blades was recently implicated in an effort to keep certain members of the Republican House caucus from “talking” after reports of derogatory comments made by Hubbard against Hart were revealed by this publication.
During a private meeting at Birmingham’s Jim and Nick’s, it was said that Hubbard called Hart crazy and that Hart had been fired from U.S. attorney’s office because he was unstable.
This and the attempt to quiet legislators could be considered an obstruction of an attorney general’s investigation, should the reports prove true. If convicted of such a crime, a person could face felony charges.
Blades, 31, is married with one child. He previously served as assistant chief of staff to former Gov. Bob Riley.