By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
“I feel confident there’s going to be indictments. I think it’s going to happen. I don’t think they would have invested this much time and energy investigating it if there’s not something to it,” Hubbard said.
Of course, that is a quote given by Mike Hubbard to ABC 33/40 back in August of 2010, about the investigation into the “Sweet Home Alabama” pay-for-votes, better known as the “Bingo Trials.”
I recently had a conversation with a legislator who testified before the current Grand Jury in Lee County. He would not tell me anything about the proceedings, but he did say that everyone was scared. And, unlike the run-up to the Bingo Trial, no one was talking to each other about the case.
But, there was a lot of chit-chat back then, I am told; legislators gossiping about what might happen and who said what about whom in the Bingo investigation was constant. So tantalizing for the ALGOP that Democrats might be indicted, Hubbard, then Chairman of the of the party, could not help but weigh-in. But this time, the shoe is on the other foot, as they say, and the conversation is very muted. A veteran lawmaker said that at a recent gathering of Republican House members, there was a decidedly somber tone surrounding the whole event. “Everyone knows that Hubbard’s in trouble,” he said, “…but we are all too afraid to talk about it.”
One reason for the temerity is that this time it’s the Republicans whose backsides are in a sling. The other thing is that Hubbard has tentacles that touch almost every elected member of the ALGOP. “Everyone is guarded because no one is sure who might be indicted along with Hubbard,” said the lawmaker. Hubbard has misused, manipulated, bullied, bribed and controlled so many legislators, that there are only a few that have not been tainted by his corruption.
There is a foul stench over the State House. It is the smell of a malignant cancer that has grown to such proportions that just removing Hubbard will do little to heal the body politic. No, just replacing Hubbard will not wash clean the sickness that now resides there. Why? Because the whole state government has been infected. Too many blindly obeyed, too many colluded and perhaps worst of all far too many—who knew better— did nothing.
I came to Montgomery thinking that the Republicans were going to be men of principle who would change the culture, but they turned out to be little more than servants in the house of a tyrant.
There is an old story about an evil beggar who stole a precious lamp. From the lamp appeared a genie who offered the man one wish. “I will grant you one wish and one wish only. But know this: whatever you wish for yourself, I will give double to everyone else in the kingdom.”
The beggar thought for a minute and then slyly smiled at the genie and said, “ I wish to have one of my eyes put out.”
The beggar then became ruler over all the inhabitants of the land because in the kingdom of the blind a one-eyed tyrant is king.
There will be indictments, and Hubbard will be gone. Even now there are powerful men planning the coup d’état.
But what will be left behind?
For now that is a question that bewilders the mind. No doubt the Republicans will still hold a majority but can they learn to govern without a dictator?
Can they learn to not bend their knee to the Business Council of Alabama?
Can they learn to represent all the people of the state and not just the narrow interests of a few?
Mostly, I wonder if they can unlearn the ways of Mike Hubbard and build a new Alabama Legislature that governs fairly and honestly.
Right now that remains an open question.