By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—At least two individuals identified Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, as being at the Lee County Courthouse on Tuesday. It can be surmised that Clouse was there to either give testimony or speak with Special White Collar Crimes Prosecutor Matt Hart of the Attorney General’s Office. His appearance at the courthouse could be linked to the fact that Clouse served as acting Chair of the House Ways and Means General Fund committee, during the 2013 Legislative session.
Clouse presided over the House General Fund Budget during the time 23 words were added to the Medicaid portion of the budget, that guaranteed American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc., (APCI) would become the sole provider for a Pharmacy Benefit Plan for the State’s then $600,000,000.
Disgraced lawmaker Greg Wren R-Montgomery turned State’s evidence in April, and has agreed to testify on behalf of the prosecution. Wren, in a sworn statement, said that he was present at meetings in which the monopoly wording was worked out for the benefit of APCI. According to Wren, these meetings were attended by Speaker Mike Hubbard, “…other legislators, legislative staff, members of the Speaker’s staff, and lobbyists, affiliated with Pharm Co-op.”
(It is important to note that Speaker Hubbard, through his business interests, had a consulting contract with APCI and that Wren had one with an affiliate, RxAlly).
As acting budget Chair, it is reasonable to believe that Clouse had intimate knowledge of the events surrounding the monopoly legislations.
When the Alabama Political Reporter first broke the story about the 23 words in June, 2013, Clouse said he did not recall speaking to Hubbard about the APCI exclusive language, but did say that he thought that Wren had introduced the wording.
In January, 2014, Clouse was appointed by Speaker Mike Hubbard as the new Chairman of the House Ways and Means General Fund. Clouse replaced Jim Barton, R-Mobile, who left the Legislature prematurely to take a lucrative lobbying job.