By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Today, longtime incumbent Greg Wren (R) from Montgomery went to a Montgomery courthouse and confessed to his involvement in using his office to enrich himself and possibly other lawmakers. The news shocked his fellow legislators, many of whom would not comment on the record.
Representative Mack Butler (R) from Rainbow City said, “The House has come to order. As I arrived here in Montgomery today I learned of former Rep Greg Wren’s plea deal and resignation. Most of us detest corruption and are greatly offended by these actions. I knew as I arrived here last year that even though a great deal had already been done to clean up corruption there was still work to do. Public service is a calling but regrettably a few are listening to the wrong voice as evidenced by this. Numbers 32:23 states be sure your sins will find you out, and Proverbs 22:1 states a good name is more desirable than great riches. If someone is guilty then they shall reap what they have sown and deserve what judgment comes to them.”
In a written statement State Senator Paul Sanford (R) from Huntsville said that he ran in 2009 on a platform to clean up corruption amongst elected officials and lobbyists in Montgomery. Sen. Sanford said, “As a newcomer to Alabama politics several years ago, I pledged to fight corruption in state government. Unfortunately, corruption and abuse of office is alive and well in Alabama government today.”
House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D) said in a statement, “I believe Mike Hubbard’s own words reflect what is taking place: ‘The [state’s] ongoing investigation and the subsequent arrest should serve as a referendum on the culture of corruption that has been prevalent in Montgomery’ for the past four years.”
Sen. Sanford said, “As someone who declined $250,000 from a lobbyist before getting elected, it is unimaginable that any legislator would sell out the people of Alabama for any amount of money. Obviously, the oath of office means different things to different people in Alabama government.”
Rep. Butler said, “If anybody has a chink in their armor I think this would flush them out. I sure hope so. If he has any dirt it will soon see the light of day very soon. He sold out for 24k. No amount of money would be worth the shame. For all the good he may have done over all those years I am afraid this is all he will be remembered for. As I said before in Proverbs 22: A good name is worth more than riches.”
Wren’s guilty plea is tied to his effort to place 23 words into the State’s 2013 General Fund Budget that would have granted a monopoly for the American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc., (APCI), a Bessemer based company. Rep. Wren allegedly profited $24,000 from a firm working for APCI, RxAlly. RxAlly has since been shut down.
APCI would have become the sole provider of pharmaceuticals for the State’s $700 million dollar Medicaid program a contract could have been worth hundred’s million.
Wren reportedly said on Sunday, “People will no longer trust their government.” After the two year college scandal, the Seigelman/Scrushy convictions, and the bingo corruption trial most of us long ago stopped trusting government in any form or run by any political party.
The Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard’s (R) from Auburn office has not returned our requests for comments.
Attorneys for Speaker Hubbard, J. Mark White and R. Lance Bell, however did say in a release that Wren’s resignation do not ‘involve or affect’ Speaker Hubbard. “The matters related to Representative Wren’s actions today do not involve or affect Speaker Hubbard,” and that “Mr. Wren’s actions will not stop or affect the work that is left to be done during this legislative session.”
White and Bell said, “Speaker Hubbard has never failed to cooperate with any law enforcement authority. Unlike his political opponents, the Speaker respects the need for the legal process to operate free of political influences.” “Speaker Hubbard will continue to focus on the current session of the Alabama Legislature and his work in the House of Representatives.”
Speaker Hubbard did say on Facebook, “It’s that time of year again. The liberal special interest groups have started spreading lies about conservatives to win elections. I’m not backing down though; I’m still fighting for you.”
Wren has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ethics violation and agreed to cooperate with state prosecutors. Wren’s attorney, James Anderson, says Wren made an unintentional violation of state ethics law.
Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis said in a statement,
“Citizens of the State of Alabama are entitled to the honest services of those who hold public office. Public servants who violate their oath of office in order to achieve personal gain should expect to be held accountable. Several months ago, I was appointed as Acting Attorney General in a matter involving alleged corruption at high levels of state government. Former Representative Wren’s guilty plea, negotiated in light of his acceptance of responsibility and cooperation with the State, marks a significant point in the ongoing investigation. We will continue to enforce the laws of the State of Alabama vigorously and professionally without regard to political affiliation or position.”