By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
Yesterday’s indictment and arrest of Representative Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, has brought the public corruption investigation in Lee County one step closer to the Speaker of the Alabama House Mike Hubbard.
Indictment documents in Moore’s case, available here, include transcripts of the Representative being questioned about the Speaker in reference to a recorded phone call in which Moore relayed to his GOP primary opponent, Joshua Pipkin, that around a hundred jobs in the Enterprise area were in danger unless Pipkin dropped his candidacy.
The interview, conducted by special prosecutor Matt Hart, reads as follows:
Matt Hart: Okay. Now, Mr. Pipkin – you’ve never said to Mr.Pipkin, hey, if you’ll promise to tay out of this race, or words to that effect – if you’ll promise to stay out of this race, I’ll go back to Speaker Hubbard and tell him that you’re out and be sure that he does this economic incentive thing for us?
Barry Moore: No, sir. I told him – I said, if you – it was up to him if you want to run. But in my opinion, we were – I was going to do everything I could to make the deal happen, just to keep the jobs.
Matt Hart: Okay. And – and you didn’t assert to him that if he promised to stay out, that you would encourage the Speaker not to do this threat the Speaker had–
Barry Moore: No, sir. I –
Matt Hart: –allegedly made?
Barry Moore: I told him I couldn’t – you know, I can’t control the Speaker. I don’t have any control in that area. But I was going to do everything I could to make the deal happen.
Matt Hart: Okay. And you didn’t assert to him that the Speaker had, in fact, made that threat?
Barry Moore: No, sir.
Matt Hart: Okay. But to your knowledge, the Speaker hasn’t made any assertions to anyone that he was going to impede incentives to keep them here in order to keep people out of a primary race?
Barry Moore: No, sir. He’s trying to actually get the deal done. And from what I heard, it’s now in the – the actual company’s ball park. In other words –
Matt Hart: Okay. In that –
Barry Moore: To try to get them to stay. But they’ve got – they’ve got to figure out their finance. I don’t know. It’s something – they’re trying to work out something with the banks to – to get them to stay in Alabama.
Matt Hart: Okay.
Barry Moore: But I haven’t heard anything else.
The audio recording, which the Alabama Political Reporter released here, of the actual phone conversation between Moore and Pipkin tells a completely different story, with Moore clearly relaying to Pipkin that with his dropping from the race, Moore would talk to Hubbard about securing the Enterprise jobs in question:
“I’m waiting to meet with the Speaker… I don’t want to put the Australians [EEC] off too long so either way I’ve got to meet with Mike (Hubbard) this week. This deal is too important to our city. I know some think I have nothing to do with it but they are very wrong. Mike controls this deal and my relationship with him has everything to do with it. Relationships in politics are everything. And Mike is very loyal to his friends. He just is,” Moore says on the recording.
“I got a meeting with the Speaker and he is furious… At the end of the day, yeah, because we were fixin’ to land a pretty good deal, and there’s a lot at stake, I can assure you, for our City and our community… If you’ll give me your word that you’ll get out, when I meet with him [Hubbard] next week, I’ll tell him… he’s going to get out, so we need this deal for him to stay out, but I need your word on that. And I’ll talk with the Speaker.”
Hubbard released a statement on Moore’s arrest yesterday, seemingly in an attempt to frame it as a possibly politically motivated move on the part of the Attorney General’s Office:
“We totally support Representative Moore being given the opportunity, guaranteed by the laws of the State of Alabama, to demonstrate his innocence and that he is the unfortunate victim of the abuse of power. We are confident that the citizens of Alabama will recognize and reject any misuse of the grand jury system to advance a political agenda or goal, the statement said.
“Speaker Hubbard wants nothing more than to ensure that the law is followed fairly and is free of political and personal influence. Speaker Hubbard has at all times cooperated with law enforcement authorities.”
“The primary purpose of a Grand Jury is to investigate and determine whether, after a fair and impartial investigation, anyone should be charged with a crime. The Grand Jury process is sacred and is supposed to be accomplished in total secrecy in order to protect the good name and reputation of those falsely accused. The Grand Jury is supposed to be an independent body devoid of outside influence and should not be dictated by politics, political or personal feuds, or individual personalities. ”
This is not the first time that the Speaker of the House has been implicated in court documents related to the Lee County public corruption investigation. Early this month, Hubbard was directly implicated in the plea deal documents in the case of now convicted former Representative Greg Wren, R-Montgomery. Wren agreed to a plea deal, receiving only a misdemeanor charge in exchange for total cooperation in the Lee County investigation.
Wren had obtained confidential medicaid documents from LFO and illegally provided them to RxAlly, a pharmaceutical company for which he consulted; he also added language to the 2013 General Fund budget that granted an monopoly for some medicaid prescription plans to APCI, an RxAlly affiliate, a move that garnered the company hundreds of thousands of potential new customers.
Wren originally lied to investigators, claiming that he had obtained the confidential medicaid documents online. This alone could have landed the former Representative a felony charge. Clearly, Wren’s cooperation means a great deal to the prosecutors in the case.
The plea deal documents, which are sworn to by Wren under penalty of perjury and a revocation of his year sentence’s suspension, shed light on just how much his cooperation has given the prosecution.
According to the “statement of facts,” Hubbard not only knew about the monopolizing language that was being added to the budget, he both “reviewed and endorsed” it, without ever disclosing publicly – or to Wren and other legislators – that he himself had a financial relationship with APCI, the pharmaceutical company gaining a windfall through the 23 added words in the 2013 budget.
In fact, Hubbard went on to vote for that version of the budget not once, but a dozen times.
After Wren’s arrest, which occurred as the 2014 legislative session ended, Hubbard released a short statement through his attorney saying that it had absolutely nothing to do with him.
After Sine Die, though, the Speaker went “on offense,” doing a two hour interview with the Opelika-Auburn News.
In it, as in his statement on Moore’s arrest yesterday, the Speaker played the blame game, taking aim at not only “liberal special interests,” but seemingly at other Republicans, particularly Attorney General Luther Strange.
“When you’re in my position and you’re viewed as the leader of the reforms,” Hubbard said, “you take a lot of bullets from a lot of folks. They want me out of play because they fear I may run for governor in 2018. That comes into play. There have even been some that are jealous in the Republican Party that they aren’t the ones who led the takeover. You make a lot of enemies when you take this job, unfortunately. It’s political. I’m under political attack … by people who are desperate and will try to do anything to get me defeated, or hurt me and my family. Overall, it’s to try to get us in position where we don’t have the power in Montgomery to continue to do reforms.”
Notably, Democratic Senator Lowell Barron, who is facing campaign finance violation charges, has also accused Strange of selectively, politically prosecuting cases.
Also in the interview, which was clearly aimed at helping his public relations, Hubbard ironically admitted to having known about the budget language and its effect as he walked to the floor to vote.
“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,” Hubbard said.
Any person convicted of a felony cannot serve in the state legislature. Representative Moore, though charged with four felonies, has not resigned, and will keep his public office throughout his trial, but if convicted, he will be barred from office. Representative Wren, while only convicted of a misdemeanor, agreed to step down from office as part of his plea deal.
More on Wren’s arrest and his actions leading up to it, what the Alabama Political Reporter calls “Wren’s Prescription for Alabama,” can be found here.
Finally, further details on Hubbard’s role in Wren’s plea deal documents is available here.
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