By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) and his attorney J. Mark White have said that Hubbard’s consulting contract with American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (APCI), was vetted and by the Alabama Ethics Commission.
They have sought to portray Hubbard as an innocent bystander in events surrounding the arrest and plea bargain of former House member Rep. Greg Wren (R-Montgomery).
However, the statements by Hubbard and White do not align with testimony or the accounts given by others. In press accounts, Hubbard and White have tried to imply that the lucrative consulting agreement between Hubbard and APCI was approved by James Sumner, the Director of the State Ethics Commission. According to Sumner he only spoke with Hubbard about the contract but never saw it or issued a formal ethics commission opinion. By parsing words, Hubbard’s attorney seems to indicate that Hubbard had approval for the contract before he voted to give APCI a monopoly over the State’s multi-million dollar Medicaid prescription drug program.
But, recent statement’s made by Hubbard to the Opelika-Auburn News, show that Hubbard went to the Ethics Commission only after he had voted 12 times to pass legislation that would have benefited his client APCI.
This addition of the 23 words placed into the General Fund Budget —benefiting Hubbard’s client—was first reported by the Alabama Political Reporter in June, 2013.
Patrick Johnson, writing for the news on April 10, 2014 stated, “Hubbard said he met with the Ethics Commission after the vote to ‘make sure’ he didn’t do anything wrong.”
James Sumner, Executive Director of the Ethics Commission told the Alabama Political Reporter in June, 2013, “I don’t know whether some issue was raised over there in the Legislature or whatever but it was at that point that he called and said, ‘Hey, I want to come over and run something by you.’ I said, ‘Would it be good for Hugh to sit in [Hugh Evans]?’ He said, ‘Yes.’”
In April, 2013, there were rumblings that a blow-up had occurred surrounding the Speaker’s voting on an piece of legislation. Sumner says that he and Hugh Evans III, the commission attorney met with Hubbard, “some time in the middle of the Session. Some time in that period.”
“We sat for about 30 minutes or so. He laid it out and we talked about it.” This would have been in April according to statements provided by Sumner. Sumner further stated in 2013, that he never asked for or saw the contract Hubbard had with APCI. “He just came to talk to us because he just wanted to make sure everything was in order and not an issue under the ethics law. He didn’t bring anything with him. He just…It was him sitting here by himself and Hugh Evans and I sitting there talking to him….So, no I never saw a contract and never asked to see a contract.”
Hubbard also told the News, “When the language is put in, I find out when I’m walking in the chamber to vote on the budget that the way it was written that the only entity in the State able to do it is APCI.”
This assertion by Hubbard is contradictory to the Statement of Facts filed by the State’s white collar crimes prosecutor in which former state representative Greg Wren (R-Montgomery) plead guilty to using his office for personal gain in connection with the language placed into the General Fund Budget, benefiting APCI.
According to the court documents , “Among the meetings Wren participated in while attempting to obtain legislative support for the Co-op Exclusive Language were meetings attended by the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives [Mike Hubbard]. These meetings included, variously, other legislators, legislative staff, members of the Speaker’s staff, and lobbyists.”
Hubbard, says he did not become aware of the language until he was about to enter the House Chambers to cast his vote, yet, under oath and facing criminal procession if found lying, Wren says Hubbard not only attended meetings concerning the language but also, “endorsed the Co-op Exclusive Language and directed staff to add it to Medicaid’s section of the General Fund Budget.”
Yet, Hubbard told the News, “The language that Greg Wren put in, I didn’t order that to be put it. I didn’t bless it. I didn’t say, ‘This is what we want.’” Again Hubbard’s account to the Opelika-Auburn News is not consistent with court documents filed by the Attorney General’s Office.
Hubbard and his attorney J. Mark White have repeatedly made statements that are inconsistent with sworn testimony and other witnesses to the events.
Hubbard says he’s under attack and is going on the offensive. It appears that Hubbard is looking for friendly media in which to tell his side of the story no matter now much it contacts the facts.