By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—In mid-November, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) appeared before a Attorney General’s Special Grand Jury in Lee County, Alabama. This, according to sources who saw Marsh in the courthouse.
Marsh’s testimony before the gathered jurors lasted for a total of six hours; four before lunch and two more after the lunch break concluded.
Next to testify was Rep. Terri Collins, (R-Decatur).
What Marsh or Collins said before the Grand Jury is protected by law and this publication has no knowledge of their actual testimony.
We believe that they were giving testimony into possible wrong doings by the Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, (R-Auburn). Hubbard has been the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation into his activities as Speaker and during the time he was the Chairman of the ALGOP.
Hubbard has acknowledged privately that he is being investigated by the State’s Attorney General’s office.
Hubbard has also hired famed white-collar criminal defense lawyer J. Mark White.
As to Marsh’s involvement, there can be only speculation. During the time Hubbard was Chairman of the ALGOP Hubbard persuaded Marsh to serve as Finance Chairman for the Party. Marsh, easily the wealthiest AL state legislator, was a prime mover in soliciting the millions of dollars it took to secure the Republican takeover of the legislature in 2010.
Marsh was rewarded for his fundraising abilities by being elected to head the Alabama Senate.
According to Hubbard’s vanity publication, Storming the State House, he and Marsh “were tirelessly exploring ways to increase revenue.” They joined forces with then Gov. Bob Riley to raise around $4 million to field a handpicked slate of GOP candidates.
Marsh even solicited $350,000 from the Poarch Creek Band of Indians (PCI) to finance Senate candidates. All of the money Marsh receive from the PCI was routed through the Republican National Leadership Committee (RSLC). Large amounts of campaign contributions were funneled from Alabama donors to the RSLC and back under Marsh’s direction. There is believed to be an electronic file at the Birmingham head quarters of the ALGOP that tracks these donations including the dates and routing numbers of each transaction.
It is not certain if the Attorney General’s Office subpoenaed these records, but we were told that they may contain a very hot smoking gun.
What is also unclear is Marsh’s involvement with Hubbard and if Marsh knew of Hubbard’s propensity of routing money from the ALGOP and other PACs into his personal businesses.
Again, it is not known what knowledge or involvement Marsh had re: the transfer of over a million dollars into Citizens for a Better Alabama (CBA) and back into Hubbard-owned business.
According to A. Eric Johnston, the founder of CBA, efforts by then-Governor Bob Riley allowed over a million dollars to flow through his nonprofit, Citizens for Better Alabama, into to the hands of Mike Hubbard.
According to Johnston, “Someone from the Governor’s [Bob Riley’s] office would call and say you’re getting a check for $200,000 and you’re going to get a bill at the same time from [Mike] Hubbard’s deal and you need to pay that. That is what that money is for.”
Marsh’s connection to Hubbard may includes knowledge of Hubbard’s various consulting contacts and the “pay-to-play” schemes he ran on lobbyists and others.
The one thing that is certain: a six hour sworn testimony before a Grand Jury is an indication that the State believes Marsh knows a lot about the suspected corruption of Hubbard.
As for Rep. Terry Collins, she was recruited by Tim Howe a confidant of Hubbard. She quickly became a part of Hubbard’s inner circle. In his book, Hubbard says of Collins, “Collins, an attractive and intelligent woman with a personality as robust and vivacious as her red hair suggests.” The robust and vivacious Collins during her run for office in 2010 received $17,500 from Friends of Mike Hubbard and ALGOP combined. She spent $6,429.07 with Hubbard’s printing company, Craftmaster Printing, and $39,241.16 with SRM, a company registered with the Secretary of State to Tim Howe.
Howe is a partner with SAHR which is comprised of Dax Swatek, David Azbell, Tim Howe and John Ross all close allies of Hubbard. Collins also serves of the Education Budget and perhaps had knowledge of money from the charter school lobbying group, Students First, being given to Hubbard or others during or after the passage of the Alabama Accountability Act.
All of this is speculation for the moment, but it appears that a case is mounting against the beleaguered Speaker, as scores of legislators appear before the Special Grand Jury in Lee County.