By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—As the dominos continue to fall in the Lee County Grand Jury investigation, the spin doctors are weaving a tale of political persecution, grand jury leaks and special interests attacks.
After the indictment and arrest of Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, Speaker Mike Hubbard issued a statement through his white collar criminal defense attorney J. Mark White. In the statement White said, “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.”
Everyone should agree that Moore deserves the opportunity to demonstrate his innocence.
But, how is Moore, “…the victim of the abuse of power?”
Moore lied to a Grand Jury, perjured himself and made false statements. That is clear from the indictments and the tapes that are extremely clear.
White’s insinuation that there is something untoward happening in Lee County would seem outrageous on its face. Beyond the fact that it is unusual for Hubbard’s attorney to be commenting on Moore’s arrest and indictment, it is highly suspect that White would be making accusations that the State’s indictment of Moore is politically motivated.
Early on, Hubbard toted out this spin, telling anyone who would listen that the Attorney General wanted to be Governor in 2018, and that he stood in “Big” Luther’s way of ascending to the Governor’s mansion.
Hubbard has stated publicly, “They want me out of play because they fear I may run for governor in 2018.”
Accusing prosecutors of using their positions for personal political gain is a strategy often employed, but seldom effective. The fact that Strange recused himself early on, when there was little evidence that Hubbard was in real trouble, or the fact that Strange could go to jail for obstruction of justice if he in anyway inserted himself into this case, is left out of the dubiously reasoned argument proffered by Hubbard and his attorney.
Hubbard wants people to believe that this is all a political ploy (as darkly insidious as the ones he has employed against anyone who dared to stand in his way).
He has also stated, “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.”
White originally said he was hired by Hubbard to investigate those who were making defamatory statements about Hubbard and his family. White, even while defending Moore, has not yet acknowledged any change in his mission.
When White first announced his intention to send “letters” to anyone defaming Hubbard or his family, I called White to ask if I should wait by my mailbox for a letter. He said that I would not be receiving a letter from him. Only two people have ever been know to have received a letter from White and as of yet, nothing has been done to follow-up on White’s threats. The only lasting effect of White’s earlier spin and threats, has been to muzzle the establishment press.
Now, Hubbard and White are bringing out the concept of a political prosecution as the next line of defense. The idea of prosecution for political proposes is a catch-all for most endangered politicians. When crimes come to light, it is invariably political enemies behind “baseless” attacks.
In 1998, Hillary Clinton appeared on the Today show to talk about the vast right-wring conspiracy against her husband during the Ken Starr investigation. Clinton told host Matt Lauer,
“This is—the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president. A few journalists have kind of caught on to it and explained it. But it has not yet been fully revealed to the American public. And actually, you know, in a bizarre sort of way, this may do it.”
Lately, Hubbard and his attorney seem to be reading from the Clinton play book. Or perhaps they are looking homeward to former Gov. Don Siegelman who has long claimed that his prosecution was politically motivated. Siegelman, pointed at political operatives Karl Rove and Billy Canary, (Speaker Hubbard’s personal friend and head of the Business Council of Alabama), as behind his political prosecution.
But why is a lawyer, who is supposed to be defending Hubbard and his family against false accusations, speaking out for Moore.
In White’s statement defending Moore he says that, “Speaker Hubbard wants nothing more than to ensure that the law is followed fairly and is free of political and personal influence.”
The perjury and making false statements charges against Moore are relayed to Moore’s, denying that he had communicated threatening statements to Josh Pipkin. Pipkin, who is running in the Republican primary to unseat Moore in House District 91, recorded their conversations.
In Alabama it is legal to record a conversation even if the other person is unaware of the fact that they are being recorded.
In a tape recorded conversation between Moore and Pipkin, Moore explains Hubbard’s willingness to stop approximately 100 jobs coming to District 91, if Pipkin continued his challenge to Moore in the Republican primary. Pipkin, being an attorney, would have realized that making such threats is illegal. If the threats are proven to have actually been made by Hubbard, then the Speaker could be in very deep trouble. Threatening another individual is a very serious crime. A threat is basically a warning of an individual’s intend to perform a malicious act. Even if the threat is not acted upon it is a prosecutable offense.
While Hubbard speaks of political prosecution he is possibly guilty of political repression of a Republican candidate by way of threat. This is certainly part of why Hubbard’s attorney wants to defend Moore in much the same way Hubbard defended disgraced lawmaker, Greg Wren, who is most likely a witness in any prosecution against Hubbard.
White also tries to cast doubt on the Grand Jury proceedings saying, “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.”
For months, White and Hubbard have tried to forward the notion that somehow there are leaks in the Grand Jury proceedings. Somehow Hubbard and White want people to believe that if a news outlet reports a factual account of potential wrong doing, then there must be a leak. Or if anyone is reported as being in Lee County on a given day there is some kind of leak. This is the kind of game White is known for, if he can’t woo the press to do his bidding (which is most often the case), then he will demonize the reporter or the press.
People who understand the roll of investigative journalism and law enforcement know that in many cases, it is the press that first uncovers wrong doing and then the prosecutors follow those stories to see if crimes has actually been committed.
Most reasonable people know that anyone —including a member of the press— may visit a courthouse or drive through the parking lot to see who might be inside.
Is it a leak if a legislator drives his truck to a Grand Jury hearing with a Reelect “so-in-so,” on the tailgate of his truck? Is it tampering with a jury if a citizen notices a lawmaker from North Alabama has his legislative ID hanging from his rear view mirror, in the Lee County Court House parking lot? No, it is not, but more than anything these are tactics used by criminal defense attorneys to cast doubt and raise questions.
White also stated in Moore’s defense, “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.”
Again, White is setting up his defense of Hubbard, by using the Clinton/Siegelman strategy.
Like the disgraced lawmaker Greg Wren, Moore lied to the Grand Jury. Unlike Wren, Moore did not get a sweetheart deal to testify against Hubbard. Moore is a small-fry in the scope of the investigations, and a deal with perhaps some jail time may be in the offing for Moore, if he tells what he knows about the alleged Hubbard threats.
What is almost certain is that Hubbard and White will continue to howl political prosecution to anyone who will listen. Almost assuredly like Clinton and Siegelman, most will not listen. The spin will only be believed by those who put politics above justice or those who are paid propagandists or heavy Kool-aid drinkers.
No, it is not Luther Strange, or special interests, or certain news reporters who are after Hubbard. It is a thing called blind justice, the nemesis of criminals and the champion of all those who love truth.